The Scenic Route: Madrid Details on Foot

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.

Madrid Details

Religious art in Plaza de Manuel Becerra

madrid details

A now-closed restaurant still crawling with snails

madrid details

Madrid details along Calle Francisco Silvela

madrid details

Madrid details must include Mahou

madrid details

Building for sale: I didn’t notice this ’til I walked on the other side of the street

madrid details

 This little guy popped up several times along Calle Francisco Silvela

madrid details

My favorite building along the route

Which Madrid details caught your attention?

Are you a fan of the scenic route?

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  1. Love this post! I need to do this more often rather than just whizzing by things to wherever I’m going!

  2. I loved this! A fascinating peek into everyday, anonymous Madrid with fun pictures to boot. I liked the caracoles picture the best, but I am a professed snail-lover, so… hahaha

    • Cassandra

      Aren’t the snails great? I also love that peeling paint next to them! I took so many pictures of them and had a hard time choosing which one to use.

  3. That last building is gorgeous! I like the snail graffiti too. I love seeing all the little details that you would miss if you were taking public transportation.

    • Cassandra

      Agreed! The building is located on a side street that is otherwise normal. And then–bam!–this gorgeous facade.

  4. This post and photos make me miss Madrid. Even if we spent only a week there we loved the city and its little unseen streets and details as you said. One day I’ll go back 🙂

    • Cassandra

      Thanks, Franca, I hope you get the chance to visit Madrid again!

  5. You’ve beautifully captured the joys of walking everywhere in Madrid 🙂 The city is always full of unexpected details that will never stop surprising (or amusing) me.

    • Cassandra

      Gracias Courtney! You’ll get to explore more of Madrid this upcoming school year, too!

  6. I’m not much of a runner, but attempting a running regimen in Madrid last year was great for this same reason! I got to see loads of areas I never would have explored and details I never would have noticed in my normal commutes.

    • Cassandra

      Agreed! There is so much to see, and I think one of the reasons I’m feeling adventurous is because we moved to a new barrio in December. Now, there’s even more to explore.

  7. I visited Madrid this summer, but didn’t have much time to explore the city properly. If I ever come back and I hope it will happen soon, I’ll ask you for more tips! 😀

    • Cassandra

      Yay! Please let me know if you visit again, I’d love to meet up. And I can share some of my favorite corners of Madrid!

  8. I want to walk at a snail’s pace through Madrid, for hours, days, and weeks.

    The guy with an eye for a face is very big-brotherish – you’ve got reason to be suspicious of him!

    • Cassandra

      Haha, I agree!

      Hope you get the chance to walk around the city again soon 🙂

  9. Loved Madrid!
    I find it unfair that it’s not showed off on television. Among all major capitals in Europe, Madrid is one of the most downrated ones.

    • Cassandra

      Agreed! Madrid isn’t an instant charmer for many people (like Paris, Barcelona, London, often are), but I love it and think it has a lot to offer.

  10. Lovely pics,shame the snail restaurant is closed someone took time to decorate it`s wall outside.I love walking these out of the way streets.

    • Cassandra

      Thank you, Ian! I really loved the snail picture, too–if the restaurant were open it would be a memorable dining experience, I´m sure.

  11. Looking up plans for Madrid in summer and you have convinced us to avoid the Metro all together (well, depending on hot it is in July). I suppose this is why many long term travelers shun air travel as there is no doubt that you observe more when going slower and on foot. Plus, the people watching, too!

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