I wrote this in January. I'm only just posting it now - everything remains the same except from the fact that I am currently writing my dissertation and not my cheerful essay on sexual violence through history :) 

I feel a little silly coming onto here after over a year's hiatus but it's almost 1am, I'm currently in the midst of planning an essay on the ways sexual violence has changed over time and across different societies, which quite frankly isn't very fun, and I am still hanging onto the joy I felt during my week in Madrid at the start of the Christmas break. I begrudgingly left Madrid after my year of living there in the middle of August to return to the UK and start my final year of uni. I'd actually caught covid in my last few weeks of being there and by the time I was out of isolation the city had turned into a complete furnace (43 degrees on some days!) that I didn't really get to do much and see the city properly before going back to London. I did get to have a final summer whirlwind romance so I guess not all was lost haha. But I suppose I felt like I had some loose ends to tie up. I came back to London and of course was hit with a great wave of sadness at the loss of the wonderful life I was living in Madrid. I booked at ticket back to Madrid for a week for the Christmas break and despite an unexpected infection (not COVID!) which left me bedridden for a week and the emergence of Omicron I made it! It was incredibly strange yet comforting being back, walking through the streets that I would pass every day and going to all my old haunts whilst very conscious of that fact that at the end of the day I'd be returning to a foreign Airbnb and not to my room in Goya with my beloved flatmates, that this wasn't officially home anymore.

Ambra joined me for a few days and it did feel quite full circle that I was finally able to show my best friend the city I had loved and raved about to her throughout all of last year when neither of us could travel to see each other, the city that was the backdrop of all the growth, all the awful date fails, all the new friends made. I really hope her few days in Madrid visiting the Prado, the Retiro, charity shopping in Malasana and Chueca, strolling in Salamanca and basking in the winter sun made her understand why I love the city so much! My sister also joined and again, it was so nice to be able to show her the place I called home for a year. I was worried neither of them would get the 'hype' I'd built around the city. There's a quote by Miguel Mihura where he says that at face value, Madrid isn't anything special, there are no big landmarks, no ancient ruins or sea, nothing super impressive, but it has people in its streets, unexpected corners variety, constant animation and its customs and that is what makes it so special.

I stayed with an old friend on my first night in Madrid and she asked me what I'd missed the most about Madrid. I said I wasn't too sure, a plethora of things. But as the days went on, if I was asked again I'd say the light. The light in Madrid is glorious. It's warm and soft and hazy and it glides along the balconies, bathes the narrow streets and illuminates the pale creamy buildings of Banco de Espana and Cibeles. Then the light changes and the sky turns pale and mottled with light pinks and oranges as sunset approaches. Then the sunset comes and it is glorious and soon settles over the city in a deep blue and then dark blue and then it is night time. Madrilenian sunsets are unbeatable. 

I think a close second of what I'd missed the most was the streets themselves and the people on them. Madrid's colourful houses lined with balconies and cobbled streets leading to more quaint streets are undoubtedly very pretty. Especially when you've grown accustomed to the streets of London and Exeter... The same applies to the actual Madrilenians themselves, I'd missed being surrounded by such well dressed people. I definitely took a lot of inspiration from the outfits worn around me during my year abroad and adopted oversized long wool coats, chunky boots, different cuts and washes of denim, loose silhouettes, new textures, namely through silk scarves, and more into my wardrobe. I find the style in Madrid so effortless, so chic and above all, it's not really like London where it's all very try-hard (I am the biggest hater of my home town, clearly!) And the incredible vintage shops in Madrid means that it's so much more sustainable and affordable to do so- I will never get over Madrid's vintage shops! 

I'm not quite sure where to end my ode to the city. I could go on for days. The nostalgia was warm and comforting but still tinged with sadness, I found myself almost crying on multiple occasions as I stood in familiar places and realised it's no longer so close and accessible as it once was. But just as I was determined to return to Madrid and call it home after my first time visiting Madrid in 2018 (which I ended up doing!), I will be back in Madrid very soon and hopefully for more than just a year this time and I cannot wait. So on that note, if anyone knows of any post-grad jobs in Madrid...send them my way ;) 

1 comment

  1. Yk it's been a long while the thought randomly came in my head back to that one time we took pics for one of these posts a long time ago and I was like ohhh yeah I wonder if she still writes on here so I was like lemme come check it out, I'm glad to see you enjoyed your stay in Madrid sounds like one hell of a adventure you've always been a beaming source of energy! Keep going Dalal I'm sure you'll get back there soon enough ✌️


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