Was it good or poor planning on my part? Well, I think I made the right decision to book a trip to Madrid, just for one day, before returning to the good ole London. What better way to end Spring Break 2018 than in another major and popular Spanish city. Arriving at Madrid was not easy. It required hard labor, mainly just waking up extremely early in the morning to catch a 7:30AM flight. When we arrived in Madrid, 9 in the morning, we were drained. I was torn between staying at the airport till the next morning to catch the flight back to London or heading out to the city. Well, since I was there already, I might as well see what was the talk of the town. But a major dilemma: what do I do with my carry on? I had two carry-ons, both of which I was not willing to drag along with me in the city.
Should I go into the city?
There was a company within the airport where I could leave my suitcase, but for two bags it would have cost me 20 euros. Too expensive. Luckily, I had recently met a friend back in London, who was studying in Madrid. After hours of waiting for a response, we finally had a plan that was affordable and allowed us to explore the city. I stashed my bags at my friend’s host family’s place, as I roamed around Arguelles. We worked our way down to Gran Via. Gran Via, also known as the Great Way, is a large upscale shopping street filled with high-end brands to affordable brands. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re most likely going to find it on this Spanish Broadway. The ZARA was like a mansion, decorated with mirrors and white interior designs. Primark was multi-leveled and stocked with clothes I haven’t even seen in London’s Primark.
Tobacco & Art
Honestly, the main highlight of this day was going to La Tabacalera de Lavapies. Tabacalera was a Spanish tobacco company, monopolizing Spain since 1636 and merging with SEITA in 1999. La Tabacalera, formerly the tobacco company’s factory, was the workplace for over 1,000 women. These women shredded, chopped, and tobacco throughout the 19th to the 20th centuries. The building was originally built in 1790 and an example of Madrid’s early industrial architecture. In 1809, it was the Tobacco and Snuff Factory until the company was privatized in 2000. Spain’s Ministry of Culture took over the building in 2003, and that was the beginning of the well-renowned art community in La Tabacalera. Now La Tabacalera is run by locals, who used the building to showcase art and host concerts. The building illuminates and highlights the diversity and the multicultural neighborhood in Spain. Currently, the walls showcase different local artist each week and the gardens are tended by the local community.
The sky-high walls surrounding the building were filled with a variety of art, some more serene and others more child-like. My favorite one was the depiction of a sensual woman with flowers surrounding her while exposing her blossoms. It is the way her hand seems to almost depict the vitarka mudra, an iconic hand gesture seen on sculptures of Buddha. The gesture represents the discussion and transmission of the teachings by Buddha. For me, the hand gesture seems to be reaching out to me. Telling me to reach out to my own feminine side and sexuality. To love and explore the female body. In a single art, it seems to be empowering women from around the world.
Inside was a different world, with the variety of people their own stories through art. Most of the art can be found underground and in the garden. Some I can not understand, but others that made me laugh. There were moments where I had just stood there and lost myself in the colors, the strokes, and just the way the light reflects the art.
Most of the basement windows were covered and sunlight barely touched the concrete floor. Therefore, pictures did not come out as clear as I hoped for. But for my readers, I managed to capture a few panoramics. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.
Many people said Madrid was a city on a hill, for me, that hill brought you to a world of color in corners you may never expect to explore. These corners were filled with talented people who embraced their culture. Remember, learn to love yourself and the culture you grew up in. It shapes the way you think, react and view the world. For everyone is one of a kind, worthy of love, and true to themselves. Until the next time my readers.