Waking up in Madrid

January 19, 2020

Scenes from a morning walk around the center of my favorite city on earth.

My favorite film, probably my favorite piece of art, is Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza. It’s on iTunes and similar stores as “The Great Beauty”.

(I know maybe 10 words in Italian and they’re all from watching Formula 1. But as Bong Joon-ho says, once you get over the one inch barrier of subtitles, there are a lot of amazing things to discover out there.)

The opening scenes are a beautiful collage of life occurring across Rome early in the morning: quiet moments in a park, tourists, and fountains bubbling, all set to an operatic performance from the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. These build a foundation for the entire movie, which uses art, parties, death, literary quotes, casual conversation, and other scenes from daily existence to paint a picture of life rushing past as the world ages.

On our first morning in Madrid, I woke up at 6am after a long flight and a longer first day. I’m terrible at changing timezones, anyway. So I grabbed my camera and took a three hour stroll around central Madrid, beginning from our temporary home in the corner of Plaza Mayor. It was great to remember my way around, taking a quick self-guided tour of some of my favorite memories in Madrid — but on a Sunday, before the city was really awake.

I saw the bakeries and coffee shops beginning to open, fountains turning on, and my favorite city waking up. It was life rushing past as it always does, only that I was finally here to see it.