• A Morning Walk in Madrid

Up before sunrise to walk around what's quickly becoming our home away from home

A little over a year ago, I came to Madrid for the first time, and I had no idea what to make of it. Jenna and I wandered around for a few days, reuniting with friends and eating amazing food, but we never really found our rhythm before leaving for Sevilla on the Ave a few days later.

When we came back for our flight back to Chicago, though, it immediately felt like home. It clicked and it was magical. Our second hotel was cheap and amazing (our first was an AirBNB with a window-facing fishtank as a shower wall?). We knew some places. We were truly upset to leave.

My favorite movie – and maybe my favorite piece of art, period – is Paolo Sorrentino's La Grande Bellezza. It's a longingly beautiful portrait of life, achievement, and disillusionment that begins with scenes from the start of a new morning in Rome.

These are just a few images, but this walk was the beginning of my Great Beauty. I got to see Madrid, a city I quickly fell in love with (after the jetlag wore off), starting a new day just as I really needed to do the same in my life. I found my way on familiar streets past landmarks from our last visit. It was a gift I hope I get to open again and again.

The storefront of a wine seller that had been open since 1895. It looks closed, but a sign explains that they moved a little further down the street.
I was scared this was another piece of Old Madrid that had closed forever, but happy to read they had only moved down the street
A Metro station on a damp street, brightly lit by the glow of a digital billboard
The light from the huge LED billboard on Cines Callao reflecting in the street
A statue of a king on horseback on top of a fountain outside the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Outside the Palacio Real
A photo of a dog waiting outside of a classic-looking cafe
Mom went inside for some coffee
The burnt orange buildings in Plaza Mayor as seen through one of its entryways, as people set up for a market in the plaza
The day begins in Plaza Mayor, our home for the first part of the journey
Many balconies with white shutters contrast the burnt orange paint of Plaza Mayor, and two women sit on one in the morning air
Starting the day with a smoke in the cool air of central Madrid
A view of people walking down the street with the dramatic background of a cathedral dome and other classical architecture
Life continues for Madrileños beneath scenes of striking beauty
Pastel buildings continue around a curve in the distance as people walk down the street in Madrid
I don't remember if we were going for coffee at Mercado San Miguel or cheap umprellas at Ale-Hop

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