Let me tell you that there were cobblestones on the Paseo del Prado, trams running through the Arguelles district, two-story buses that were not meant for tourists and that at the Gran Vía subway station there was an elevator embedded in a sensational iron temple.
At that time Gran Vía itself was a Times Square” made in Madrid” and almost next to it, at the Calle del Barco, with its inexpensive restaurants, Latin American students, poets and diplomats received a warm welcome. Later, they all played a leading role in the activities of the Institute of Hispanic Culture in Moncloa.
Let me tell you that at Princesa Street and its surroundings, where only the Manolo restaurant survives, there were fabulous tapas bars full of college students cheerfully coming down from the Faculties of the Complutense University. And I can also assure you that I broke running records as I fled the dreaded Greys (the police force of the Franco Regime) when they charged to beat us up and break up our massive student demonstrations .
Let me tell you that at the bars of Madrid everything that was left over went to the floor and that clients engaged in conversations by “shouting” as loud as they could. I would come in, ask for a’ chato’ ( wine served in shot glasses ) , I would get it with a free ‘tapa’and enjoyed myself listening to the screams until I started to get deaf.
Then I would go out to the street and clap my hands so that the night watchman would come to open the door of my apartment’s gate.
I lived that Madrid that the blessed” movida” revolutionized, changed, improved, and propelled to unimaginable heights of freedom.
Let me tell you that Madrid and I are like an indissoluble marriage that with the passage of time does not decline; it reinvents itself.
I know the city like the back of my hand and I witness its constant rejuvenation.
Let me tell you that today Madrid is the region of Spain that contributes the most to national GDP growth. It is a favorite city for tourists, investors and expat workers.
I am pleased to say that there are now more museums in Madrid than ever before. And parks and gardens. Tourists and shopper addicts have a great time in the cozy shops of renowned Spanish designers, at” luxury boutiques” or at the El Corte Inglés or the world’s largest Zara shops. Madrid today has an incredible amount of sophisticated restaurants offering haute cuisine that surpasses the offer of London, Paris and Rome. On the other hand, there is no capital of Europe with a gastronomic offer as varied as Madrid.
I invite you to have a ‘chato’ in any bar which has witnessed our historic legacy. There is still a long way to go, but we have to know how to get there… There is no better place to tell stories about Madrid’s history, from the moment it was” converted” into a capital city to the beauty of Madrid Rio, the area that inspired the city’s name.
But better than talking about it, why not experience it first hand and see for yourself. Walk with us and live it all the way through.