Madrid is full of arches. Sometimes in surprising places. Buildings converge and converge again and just where it seems there should be a dead-end, there is an open arch leading into a square.
Sometimes a really big square.
Places that, if they existed in the US, would have 4-lane roads, lots of traffic, and would be surrounded by parking garages suddenly appear through a discrete arch in the midst of narrow pedestrian passageways. It gives the feeling of stumbling upon a well-kept secret.
This particular arch led to an extraordinary square that once again made me wish I’d looked up some kind of information about Madrid. Since I have the luxury of google to assist me now, I discovered it was the Plaza Mayor, one of the more famous plazas in Madrid that was originally constructed in the early 1600’s.
It’s kind of interesting to have wandered around just seeing what we saw without knowing what it was we were looking at. I’m sure someone knew. They probably even told me. But, it’s nice to know that I made it to the Plaza Mayor while I was in Madrid. Kind of a second surprise to find out where I was!
That said, I find myself googling a bit too much to see if I can identify any of the other sites we walked by. Over-googling leads to regrets. It starts innocently enough. You wonder what that cool statue was you saw. You google something vague like “Madrid Square with Horse.” Along with the photos of the place you actually were, you see photos of places like Plaza Puerta del Sol, Plaza del Callao, and Plaza Espana. The list goes on. You look at the images and think, “Really?? I was minutes away from this incredible place and I didn’t get to see it!?? Really??!! I spent 18 hours getting from my house to the hotel in Madrid and I didn’t get to see any of this stuff!!??!”
I was perfectly content that I got to spend one afternoon wandering around Madrid taking in whatever was in front of me. Then, I over-googled and now I wish I would have done a little more research before the trip and made some sort of plan on how I was going to get to at least a few more of the incredible sites in the city’s center.
Sadly, it’s been nearly 15 years since I was last in Madrid. There’s no telling if I will ever be there again or not. You’d think I would think about these things before I went on a trip instead of after.
When I was much younger, I wanted to take a summer off and backpack around Europe. There were rumors that people used to do that in college. I never took a summer off to do anything like that. Maybe I’ll take a summer off some day and make it to all the plazas in Madrid.