Saying Goodbye to Madrid
The time has come for me to somehow pack up my all my belongings, leave the keys to my flat in Madrid, jump into a taxi and begin the journey home to England. The definition of ‘home’ has become a lot clearer in the last 6 months. ‘Home’ has been a frequently moving goalpost during the last 7 years since I moved out of my mother’s house aged 18, and for a long time it was a future concept imagined somewhere in Italy. During these 6 months in Madrid I’ve missed England more than I expected, and more than any other time that I’ve lived abroad. Not enough to abandon Madrid before I had planned, and not enough to say I’ll never move abroad ever again (I certainly will!), but enough to be looking forward to returning, to settling back into London and seeing everyone I’ve missed. If I’m honest, Madrid didn’t quite live up to my expectations… (But then again I do have very high expectations of everything). Living abroad in Madrid just hasn’t thrilled me as much as my previous three stints in Italy, my stint in Córdoba nor my long stints travelling in Chile, Cuba and Asia.
What’s changed is that I now equate ‘home’ with wherever the people I miss and most want to be with are. As much as I’d love to pick up all my family and friends and plonk them down on a perfect Italian island (for example), that’s not very realistic. So the new plan is to have London as my home and a base to travel to and from.
That said, I have loved being here exploring Spain and it’s been wonderful to have a change of scenery, which in turn allows me appreciate London all the more. I do like Spain and Madrid a lot – I’d definitely recommend the city to anyone, it’s beautiful. But Madrid doesn’t make me anxious to stay longer, which is my acid test for whether or not a place is right for me in the long term. I’m sure my parents and others will be pleased to hear I’m not intent on emigrating to Spain permanently!
But still, it’s always quite emotional to leave somewhere and finish another ‘chapter’ (a cliché, but it serves a purpose). I have met some wonderful new people out here and I’ve had the chance to explore a bit more of the Iberian peninsula (Toledo, Valencia, Segovia, Porto and San Sebastián) as well as Madrid itself. Before I even arrived back in February, my friend Sarah sent me a list she’d found on the internet of ‘101 cosas para hacer en Madrid antes de morir‘ (translation: ‘101 things to do in Madrid before you die’), of which I’ve managed 58 in the last 6 months. I don’t think that’s too bad considering a full-time job and various other travels to France, Italy, England, Wales, Hong Kong, Bali and Portugal. A few others that aren’t on this list, that I’ve particularly loved are: the always enjoyable Arabic Baths, a walking food tour around Madrid’s literary quarter, seeing a performance of García Lorca’s ‘La Casa de Bernarda Alba‘ in the Teatro Español, seeing Flamenco in Casa Patas and in Nuevo Teatro Alcalá, seeing a Catholic procession during Semana Santa, seeing the newly-crowned King Felipe VI wave to the public on the day of his coronation, many delicious breakfasts of churros con chocolate and of course the fantastic climate and sunshine.
There are of course a couple of things I didn’t manage to do… Before I moved to Madrid I wrote a short list of things I wanted to do in the blog post ‘Moving to Madrid… in under 2 months!‘ and the only ones that actually went to plan were the promise to eat lots of tapas, to practise my Portuguese by visiting Porto and to visit the Arabic Baths. I actually failed to manage all the others! These included returning to Córdoba, making paella on Sundays, travelling south to Gibraltar and Morocco and visiting a Balearic island. But plans change and I did a whole lot of other things so I don’t really mind. One regret I do have is not making more friends that are actually from Madrid. The new friends I made here in Madrid are from South America, from other European countries or from other parts of Spain. As I wasn’t sharing a flat with locals, like I did in previous stints living abroad, I didn’t integrate into the city as much as I’d have liked…
So for now it’s farewell Madrid, and today I fly back to London. Thank you to everyone I’ve met here and above all thank you to my employer for sending me here in the first place and funding it all! It’s certainly been another adventure and I do love having a variety of adventures. I don’t regret coming to Madrid in the slightest and I’ll remember it fondly.