The first impressions of Madrid, were silver. Maybe because that was the colour of the sky and the buildings. The clouds had formed - which many will class as being gray. But considering this city as being gray, would take away much of the glow that would otherwise be experienced in this Spanish Capital. So, silver it has to be!
The train journey yesterday brought me back to reality. We travelled at 150km an hour, through the midlands of Spain. We moved across more than 200km in only 2 hours. This is of course normal. I know. But when you've been moving at a 'speed' of 5km per hour, for 3 full weeks, then to suddenly be moving hundreds of kms in the space of a few short hours, it's quite... different, amazing, odd, fast and EFFICIENT! I sat, staring out at the landscape racing passed the windows and realized it would take 7 days to walk - if a walker is moving at 'high speed'. Just goes to show how the perspective of time and distance can change, when a person is solely reliant on their feet to move them forward around this world.
Since finishing the walk on Friday, the temperatures have dropped. In Salamanca the skies were blue, but it was only 2 degrees at 8am on Saturday morning. Listening to the locals, it seemed to have come out of nowhere; only a few days previous it had been hitting 30! When I left Salamanca, I'd hoped Madrid would be a little warmer. But it's just a chilly and the silver clouds hanging above have opened themselves up, making me look at the locals and tourists with envy, seeing how they´re snuggled up in their wintercoats, hats and scarves.
Today, as I walk the unknown streets of Madrid, looking like a person who has just come from the wilderness, I'm wearing every stitch of clothing I've got (which I've been wearing everyday now for almost 4 full weeks) to keep myself warm. I'm feeling very much misplaced and in need of some pampering. Also aches and pains have started surfacing, from the walking. Obviously these are pains I had to suppress these past weeks. And when a person slows down, what needs to surface, will arise. My energy feels lower than it did, now that I've slowed down. But that's a normal effect - nothing some rest and refuelling won't cure.
Everything is happening as it should - as I cool down in Madrid. Everything is only adding to the experience.
As I walk, I'm browsing this life, this city, the locals and their ways. I'm taking in how the tourists stroll, snap pictures and try to figure their way around the maze of this city centre. I contemplate a life here in this silver city, as I've contemplated a life in the golden city of Salamanca, the authentic Sevilla and all the other 20 or 30 places I've roamed through, this past month.
I can only conclude, that it's not really possible to know if I'd be suited to any individual city, town or village here in Spain. Only by doing something, can we know if it suits. Therefore I can't yet know. All I DO know is that Spain is quite a special place. There's a spirit here, that's unique. There's the warm temperament and passion of the native people, together with the language. There's the relaxed attitude and the importance that's placed on social interactions, above everything else in life. These could be reasons for Spain to hold a special place. Or maybe it's simply because I've had my first REAL experience as a 'wanderer with a purpose'...
This is where I've roamed the roads step by step; where I've struggled but grown; where I've felt challenged but still was able to overcome. It's where I've appreciated the uncountable different landscapes I've come to cross paths with and watched the wildnerness change before my eyes with every km I moved.
For sure, this past month has awakened many things. For sure, it's opened my world. For sure, it will move me onwards. Right now, as I sit in an internet cafe in the centre of Madrid, I can't be sure exactly where it will lead. I can't know until I take the next step and distance myself a little.
The next stop will be Dublin. Tomorrow morning I fly back, or onwards should I say. With eyes wide open and a wish for new opportunities to present themselves, I know that the place I came from will have changed - even if it's just a little - by having had this experience of the Camino and of Spain.
Warmest greetings from the silver city.