Ever since I can remember, the Malasaña district in Madrid had something special. It reminded me of the Quartier Latin and Montmartre in Paris or Greenwich Village in New York. As the Franco regime agonized in Spain, Malasaña was a sanctuary in Madrid for bohemians, students and artsy visitors from everywhere. Then, came the late seventies and the eighties, the time of the movida, an alternative cultural movement which boosted the careers of personalities such as Pedro Almodóvar and many others. Those were the times. From a historical perspective, in Malasaña took place a popular uprising during the French occupation in 1808. The Dos de Mayo Square hosts a marble statue commemorating that event which led to Spain’s War of Independence. Back in the early eighties, it was the place where you could pursue your intellectual inclinations engaging in lively debates at the local coffee shops. You could then explore possible hook ups at hip nightspots like the Via Láctea which still thrives. Freedom was in the air. Anything was possible in Malasaña. Musicians like Joaquín Sabina, started their careers at the Elígeme Concert Hall, now Taboo, a place which saw plenty of local talent emerge into the limelights. It was a neighborhood buzzing with a sense of opportunity. Today it still retains that atmosphere. A refuge for the sensitive, the curious, the easy-going. I still make a point of returning once in a while to Malasaña. Memories and stimuli for the senses intermingle as I wander through the district’s narrow and well kept streets. The Cafe de Ruiz is still there. It bears witness to many encounters which have marked people’s lives throughout these years. Mine, for instance. A cup of coffee accompanied by a piece of their excellent carrot cake or brownie, couples around you, partners negotiating a cultural venture and one’s thoughts, images and expectations easing into one’s stream of consciousness. Peace of mind, excitement and the unexpected is waiting for you at Malasaña.