aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Ourminds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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changing perceptions in madrid
between ages 19 to 32

At Retiro Park

Retiro Park

Travel is such a personal experience.  We've hated places that other travelers loved.  We've loved places that others have hated.  On more than occasion, we've decided that must-see sites are overrated.  We all know this; we understand that travel is about personal taste and experiences and that there are no universally agreed upon "bests" or "worsts."

But, I didn't expect that my own perceptions and opinions about a city would change simply because I've grown older.

Madrid Retiro Park Chewy at Retiro Park Retiro Park
Fountain in Madrid

Retiro ParkRetiro Park

Retiro ParkMadrid

Retiro Park

Views of the parks and streets in Madrid

I was eighteen when I first came to Madrid with my university study abroad group.  It was my first time traveling abroad without my parents.  Patrick and I had been dating for about nine months and we hated being apart.  I was excited --- ecstatic, even --- to travel to Spain, a country that I'd dreamed about seeing.  But, I was nervous about communicating in Spanish, finding vegetarian food, and getting along with the 30 other people in my study abroad group, the majority of whom hoped to see Spain through an intoxicated haze. 

Reina Sofia

Reina SofiaReina Sofia

Exhibit at the Reina Sofia

Reina Sofia Street in Madrid
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Reina Sofia

I remember thinking that the city was filled with uninteresting concrete buildings as my taxicab took me to my hotel.  We went to the Reina Sofia museum and I was amazed by its assortment of modern art including the rightly famous Guernica.  I called Patrick up one night after walking through the Plaza Mayor and told him about its beautiful immensity.  But, I also remember not being able to converse with locals, walking the quiet streets at night with other students in my group, and being ready to leave after three days.  Frankly, I remembered Madrid as nice but a bit boring.

Palacio Real Madrid

Palacio Real Palacio Real View outside Palacio Real
Palacio Real Outside Reina Sofia Palacio Real

Palacio Real and Reina Sofia

We arrived in Madrid a few months back and I was stunned.  Everything I thought I had known about this city had changed. 

Or, maybe the city hadn't changed.  Maybe it was me. 

Yes, it was me.  As it turned out, what I wanted in a city and found interesting when I was eighteen is very different than what I want at thirty-two.

This time around, we spent our afternoons wandering with Chewy and Abby through the numerous parks, the trees that sternly guarded the sidewalks, and the vibrant grass.  I conversed in my hesitating Spanish with local dog owners as they told me about their pets or complimented ours.  We watched gray-haired men playing checkers and bocce ball and elderly women walk arm in arm. 

Plaza Mayor


Madrid Templo de Debod Templo de Debod

Plaza Mayor and Templo de Debod at Parque del Oeste

I loved how slow the city felt.  We walked around in the evenings and, while there was never a crowd, there were always a few people.  We dined alfresco on the cobblestone streets --- something I enjoyed when I was eighteen --- but seemed even more charming now that I shared it with Patrick.  We ate every night at nine o'clock, relishing the slow process of hopping from bar to bar, snacking on tapas and pintxos, and never felt the need to head to the clubs for which the eighteen and twenty-year-olds stood in line.


El Escorial
El Escorial El Escorial
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            El Escorial

After eight days visiting museums, walking through parks, and eating like a Madrileno, we wanted more.  We wished we were staying in Madrid much, much longer.  We wanted to savor this slow and comfortable place that perhaps may not attract the teenager but was entirely appealing to someone a decade and a half older.

02/14/2012 19:49
Lakshmi Sankar
Excellent post, Akila and amazing pictures. The tree-lined road reminds me a little of Tallahasee, FL. Love, Mom
02/15/2012 10:04
Patrick's recent blog post: changing perceptions in madrid
02/17/2012 19:40
Bravo on these gorgeous pics! I love that your opinion about Madrid changed. :)
Andi of My Beautiful Adventures's recent blog post: 7 Super Shots From Andi’s Travels
02/18/2012 01:31
wonderful wonderful photos you have right there!
03/12/2012 09:05
Thank you so much Glenn!
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
02/23/2012 01:41
Reina Sofia, a contemporary art museum in Madrid was always on my list of must-see places and your post and pictures have increased my chances to be there soon. Great post.
03/12/2012 06:20
Thank you very much. The Reina Sofia is definitely worth seeing.
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
03/10/2012 16:06
Perception with age....I agree we do change.Nice posting.
03/11/2012 13:41
Thanks Patrick!
Akila's recent blog post: spain: the low-down
06/08/2012 09:26
been meaning to visit Madrid hopefully this coming december,
and you're probably right, what used to be your favorite then, may seem to be boring now.
thanks for the quick tour, gave me a quick insight to this nice city,
arabesque's recent blog post: " Institut de France "
07/08/2012 17:35
I really enjoyed your post about Madrid. I spent part of my life in Spain, but did not discover Madrid until 2007. I literally fell in love with that beautiful city, and would rate it as one of my top 5 cities in the world. It is a friendly city, lots of green spaces, the stunning architecture, so much to photograph and savour!
07/17/2012 15:52
Audrey, agreed! It's so green and beautiful and I actually think a bit underrated. Everybody always talks about the beauty of Barcelona but I think that Madrid is equally wonderful.
07/17/2012 15:52
Audrey, agreed! It's so green and beautiful and I actually think a bit underrated. Everybody always talks about the beauty of Barcelona but I think that Madrid is equally wonderful.

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