As I write this I am sitting in La Latina, Madrid, the capital city of Spain. The warm summer breeze flows gently through the rustic wooden windows, along with scents of freshly served queso manchego tapas and the sound of gentle laughter. Even that has a Spanish accent. I can almost hear the waiters cracking jokes in their thick Madrileno accents and all though I don’t understand 50% of it, it still makes me smile. One thing about life in Spain is clear, it’s good. People make sure to make the most of it. Every street corner offers a fresh approach on the Spanish classics: tortilla, patatas bravas, sangria, rioja. But at the same time, it’s not as important as enjoying what you have right in front of you. Spain is not about tomorrow. It’s not about mortgages or work. It’s about enjoying each other, your family, today – right now.
Families flock to the streets, their children Joan and Maria run free without fear. Padre sits quietly on a street bench enjoying a 5.5% Mahou beer, one or two is sufficient. This is not about excess, it’s about just enough. You wander through the winding streets lined with pastel pink walls and extravagant carpentry, lost but not without cause. Spain is not about the destination, it’s about the journey, trust me. OK, so I only lived in Barcelona for 2 years and maybe I only visited Madrid 10 or 12 times, but I’m pretty sure I have a good feel for it.
This may sound like a world away from Benidorm, from the British filled Pacha Clubs of Ibiza, and you’d be right to think so. Spain has more than just cities built around nightclubs and strips of bars, banana boat rides and flocks of tourists. Spain is about adventure and discovery, about you and me, and everybody who has ever loved this country. This is not the Vida Loca. This is the good life. This is the real Spain.
Ben Holbrook – 19/07/2011 – La Latina, Madrid