A month ago l read an uproarious article in which David Sedaris becomes gripped with the fear of failing to clock thirty thousand steps on his Fitbit. In this exercise he notices trash along the roads–something he knows was present, but doesn’t fully understand until he starts walking. I don’t own a pedometer, but I’m also walking more these days. Last week I waved adios to my handy dandy monthly Madrid metro pass (el abono) and started relying on my own two feet to carry me. Like Sedaris, I’m noticing how details of life come into focus when you’re walking everywhere.
Each summer there’s a satisfaction in temporarily surrendering my monthly metro pass. Why? For the challenge of taking new routes and absorbing Madrid details I don’t typically spot. That’s the case this summer when it comes to my bi-weekly private lesson. Normally I would take the metro, begging off that the heat is brutal. In reality, it’s a 30-minute walk–roughly the same time it takes me to catch the metro anyway. I can walk, especially if it saves me 3 Euros in metro fare. It’s not always the most efficient way to get around, but in summer I have the time. Free time + less money = time to walk.
Starting from my place in Prosperidad, I stride north to south down Calle Francisco Silvela. Walking above ground brings me face to face with scenes that startle, humor, and sadden. I spy a nun toting an H&M shopping bag. A teary-eyed driver’s first fender-bender. The European love of boots reaffirmed in 95-degree weather. A man slumped over a park bench hitting the bottle before 5 p.m. Advertisements for the Christmas lottery (in July?!).There are nannies pushing strollers, couples walking dogs, a grandmother linked arm in arm between her twin grandsons. There’s street art, laundry stiffening in the heat, a whiff from the flower vendor’s tent. I may not hit thirty thousand steps, but I am delighting in just as many Madrid details.
Religious art in Plaza de Manuel Becerra
A now-closed restaurant still crawling with snails
Madrid details along Calle Francisco Silvela
Madrid details must include Mahou
Building for sale: I didn’t notice this ’til I walked on the other side of the street
This little guy popped up several times along Calle Francisco Silvela
My favorite building along the route