As most of you know, we spent June in Europe. It was a wonderful, inspiring holiday, relaxing and energising all at once. This is the second in a series of posts sharing some peeks at the places we visited, as well as some of the lessons I brought home to my writing.
In Madrid, we tried someone else’s routine.
In Seville, we opened ourselves to inspiration.
In Granada, we looked at things from a different angle.
In Barcelona, we explored extraordinary art.
In Nice, we trusted the advice of the experts.
In Rome, we listened to local stories.
In Vernazza, we remembered to rest.
In Pisa, we took advantage of the unexpected.
In Florence, we soaked up rich detail.
This week, Madrid!
You know what the Spanish do really well? Lots of things probably, but the two we noticed first were meals and naps. Possibly because these are two things dear to our hearts.
It was in Madrid that we both crashed down with terrible colds–you know that dive that comes after a frantic time at work, or exams, or some great stress? In the end, those colds turned out to be a blessing, because they forced us to take it easy, slow down and look around, really seeing what was going on around us. Also, I learned that medicinal throat gargle is “gargarismo” in Spanish, and you can’t put a value on that kind of knowledge. Especially when your throat hurts.
We liked what we saw, so we tried out a few Spanish habits for ourselves. In Spain, it’s not unusual to find some or all shops closed for a couple of hours in the afternoon. We decided to close down as well. We napped in el Retiro, the beautifully landscaped park that adds an oasis of green to Madrid. We lay by the lake, read books, dozed, listened to music drifting across the water from a saxaphonist on the other side, and just soaked it all up. Without that slow-down, we would have missed all the nuances of the park.
Then we ate ice cream. See how happy I am?
The other habit we adopted? Tapas! We’re used to sitting down at a restaurant, ordering our dish each, then eating it. Tapas is a totally different way of eating–we’d order a little plate or two, grab a drink, chat, order another plate, another drink, chat some more. It changed the quality of our mealtimes into times to really talk and reflect, rather than a chance to refuel. Definitely a habit we’ve brought back home to Australia.
Below, the start of a long tapas fuelled lunch. Note also the large glass of sangria, and me in the background reading the Lonely Planet guide on my Kindle.
The Kindle was also useful for repeatedly refreshing emails when I was waiting on one from a certain agent… as demonstrated here at the Palazzo Real. (I promise that ten seconds later I looked up and continued admiring the view.)
Then we went for more tapas.
The writing lesson:Who says the way we’ve always done it is best? Who says we should keep doing things that way, and why? In Madrid we slowed down, looked around, and tried a different way of doing things based on the experience of those around us. Is there a habit you could challenge or change? Do you think it’s worth asking a few people you admire how they go about things, and trying that way out for yourself? If so, which area might you try that in?