On the night that I arrived to Madrid, I had slowly settled in to my friend David's city center flat. I slipped into bed and cracked open the window of the guest room and a cool Spanish breeze welcomed itself in. As I breathed in the chill midnight air and released a long sigh, I thought to myself, "This place is truly wonderful."
The three months that I had spent in Spain I was able to visit a competent of cities; Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Toledo, Alcala de Henares, Córdoba, Aranjuez, Móstoles, and Patones (for climbing). Of these cities, I've spent the major of the time in Madrid, and after the trip came to an end, I had come to the conclusion that Madrid is a seriously sexy city.
As discretion, I should add that I am in no way claiming that Madrid is "the" sexiest city in the world (although I'll probably have a few Madrileños who will tell me otherwise). I am simply stating that Madrid is one of the sexiest cities. I also know that I was not the first to visit the cities of Spain and certainly was not the first to explore the subcultures of the country, but Madrid's modern yet historical characteristics were nothing short of charming.
Of all the things I have considered, the following things on the list were the most significant:
Cost of Food:
Food is pretty cheap in Madrid, and while cheap is not often synonymous with sexy, your ability to enjoy luxuries (in some cases even like eating out,) is more probable, especially when your dollar is able to go a little further. In restaurants like "El Tigre", you order a drink and get a free platter of tapas. Granted they're not mind-blowing, you can still have a great time socializing with friends without busting your budget.
When I had to take an early flight to Belgium, I had to take a cab at 4am in order to get to the bus stop in the center of Madrid. I was afraid, very afraid, but also very determined.
Being the smart girl I was, I decided that dressing like I was homeless would be the most effective in deterring criminal. After all, criminals do not mess with other criminals.
As soon as I arrived to my bus stop though, I was both amazed and relieved to see tons of people sprawled all over the streets. I'm not talking 20-something partiers or ravers, mind you. The people have the mindset of work-to-live, not the live-to-work mindset that most North American's are familiar with. That mean two-hour lunch breaks as opposed to our one-hour (or even even half-hour) lunch breaks. Thankfully for me, that also meant that at 3am, all sorts of people of all ages were still out on the street. There was no stigma that only partiers or ravers were out at that hour, people were out simply because they want more time to spend with their friends. How they're still able to go to work in the morning? Do not ask me …
In Madrid, fashion is not reserved for the runway. I'm sorry Vancouver, but you're not winning any rewards here. From what I've observed, people dressed better in Madrid, period. The choice of clothing that was worn on a daily basis, even on a grocery store trip, would be me, trying. I'm not sure if that's knocking Vancouver's style or just my own personal ability to dress myself, but I digress. Does it help that Zara was born in Spain? Probably not.
When I'm with friends in Vancouver, hanging out is going for a hike or heading to the beach to soak up the sun. We are after all, located in a spectacular coastal location, surrounded by stunning and chiefly pristine nature … but in Madrid, a city far from nature or the coast, hanging out more often than not intent grabbing drinks at a Patio, or " Terraza "as the locals called it. (That's pronounced Terra (tha), by the way.)
In this Spanish city, chances are there will be a terraza not far from your doorstep, and it will be quite good. It was also here that I learned the art of Patio-hopping. You see, as a North American, when I go to a restaurant to eat, I will eat, and then I will pay and leave. (We do not like to be the inconsiderate jerks that occupy an otherwise empty table.) But when you're in Madrid, you eat, and then you talk with your friends for an hour, and then you order more drinks. When you finally pay and leave, you head to another terraza and get more drinks. I will not lie, it seemed like overkill to me, but that my dear friends, is patio-hopping … (and I also solemnly swear that I am not an alcoholic).
Patio-hopping never-the-less is an art, or in my case, an art of being patient … or the art of not asking why we have to stay for so goddamn long.
Modern yet classical; with a country this old, it's hardly a surprise that a city as metropolitan as Madrid could stay fixed to it's roots. From the Museo Nacional Del Prado (which boasts some of the world's finest arts) to Parque del Retiro (which once belonged to the Spanish monarchy), the architecture somehow still remained relevant to this day. When you feel uninspired, you can also head to the Palacio de Cristal to get some creative stimulus.
At the end of the day, I could only chalk it up to culture. The overwhelming feeling of unity, when Real Madrid played against Atlético Madrid in the Plaza de Cibeles during the World Cup of 2014, was enough to explain why the city was so sexy, and it all boils down to passion. Madrileños feel a strong passion towards their city, the same way that Vancouverites feel a strong passion towards the outdoors, and it's a thing I quickly learned to respect. I love my own city of Vancouver to bits, and as an overall outdoorsy girl, I would have it no other way. But after living in a city like Madrid where the allure of the city will reel you in one way or another, I can honestly say that this city will no less place as one of the sexiest cities in my books.