Thoughts. Words. Action.

A few days in Madrid and Lisbon

Madrid last week was quite warm during the day, around 30C, but the mornings and evenings were a little cooler and pleasant – apparently much more so than in San Diego.  Wednesday afternoon there were very heavy showers, which helped cool things down more.  On Tuesday night a huge fireworks display lit up the skies near Alcobendas.  A neighboring town was having a celebration and was doing fireworks every evening during the week!

Spain is one of the best places to indulge in one of the top three existential human experiences – savoring flavorful foods with all your senses.  Very few places compare to the steak eating experience one can enjoy while in Madrid.  A rock-salt seasoned version is served raw with an extremely hot stone plate.  The server prepares the plate by rubbing it – very carefully – with a piece of beef fat, after which you cook the raw slices of the steak on the stone plate.  It is very simple, but oh so delicious!  Of course, nothing beats the seemingly unlimited varieties of Spanish tapas (the extremely tender, sliced octopus with potatoes stands out as it melts in your mouth), except maybe Chinese Dim Sum.

Central Madrid is a great place to walk around.  Evening strolls on Paseo de la Catellana, walking towards the Plaza de Cibeles is amazingly relaxing.  Well-dressed couples of all ages walk hand in hand, heading to one of the many museums, or to a small cafe on the cobble stone paths around the Gran Via.  This part of Madrid is quite enjoyable.

In Lisbon, a generally laid back atmosphere permeates the air even more so than in Madrid. As you stroll around the small city, two monuments, both inspired by similar structures in other places catch your eye.

First is the Cristo Rei (Christ the King) statue, inspired by the Cristo Retendor (Christ the Redeemeer) statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The Portuguese statue is at a much lower elevation (341 ft. vs. 2300 ft.), but is much taller (260. ft vs. 98 ft.) than the Brazilian statue.  It is a sight to behold, arms outstretched, overlooking the second memorable structure – a very familiar, red painted suspension bridge that spans over the Tejo River.  No, it is not San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge.  But if you were just dropped at the southern end of the 7374 ft. long Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge) in Almada, you would find yourself disoriented, and reasonably so, wondering where you were.  Then you would turn around to come face to face with the Cristo Rei statue.  Hopefully you would smile to yourself, wondering how did these two world famous landmarks come to be placed together here?

Whether it is Madrid, Lisbon or any other place, a sense of wonder and discovery lives deep in the human heart.  Travelling is a wonderful vessel to let it blossom and overtake us, if we let it.

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