Madrid postcards from bus line 1
Line 1 runs through the brightest Madrid or showcase like a spine. A spine is a very delicate thing, it holds your head, leans on your back, distributes the action and is sensitive to massages. So, why not give the Uno route a chance as a tourist line. Yesterday I bought a tourist ticket for one day (8.40 euros) to get on and off as many times as I wanted, and I tried it.
Let's say you enter Madrid for the first time through Moncloa. Arrive in one of those buses that come from the north or in your own car, which parks there as good as you can (if you can). You may be entertained with a first walk through the bucolically rare Parque del Oeste, where égloga streams and bunkers of the Civil War coexist. Or I may look sideways at the Moncloa Lighthouse, that viewpoint that seems to look more at the war of the worlds than at Madrid and that has been closed since 2008. Anyway, in the end, you will have to stop shyness and enter Madrid through Princess Street. If you turn on the first street on the left you will run into the first stop of Line 1.
The first thing you see on Line 1 is that everything is unpolluted, soils not so much on a rainy day. The blue benches are not at all uncomfortable, they seem to have a simple maintenance and are not easy to vandalize. The first seat on the right offers panoramic views of everything. It's working hours and I'm the only tourist on board. In the Gran Vía two more will go up, two ladies whose only interest is to reach Cibeles and chat sitting for a little while. All other passengers doze (a lady drops her umbrella and wakes up), listens to music and remains in an unchanging silence.
After some attempt to glue the thread to which I respond with suspicious or escaping looks, I give up and dedicate myself to look out the window. The silence is total and continuous. People arrive running and wet at the door of the bus and enter a space that stops you instantly, with some submarine or spaceship. The silence is fine in Tibet, but in the center of Madrid it worries and distresses a little. When you climb the street Princess crosses next to the Liria Palace. If you have booked a visit two years ago, congratulations, get down to browse some of the 200 rooms of its 3,500 square meters. If not, it is not worth it, because it is an airtight enclosure where even the peek through the lock is forbidden.
The Palace of Liria, inscrutable © Corbis
After a square of Spain, which is a tourist attraction - it is the favorite place of the sunny days on the day - one goes to Gran Vía. With a bit of bad luck, the almost 24-hour traffic jam on this street I may hardly allow you more than seeing another bus's butt. That will take you panoramic, but don't forget that the action is on the sidewalks.
When you enter Gran Vía for the first time you have the feeling of being accessing a grandiloquent and emphatic city that is not. But what you are doing is really immersing yourself in Madrid. Sensations such as these are provided by its first stretch of slope, which looks like a palatial stairway in some way, an ascent between large moles that culminate in Callao, that pocket Times Square. The Gran Vía is divided into two very marked halves. Before Callao are the theaters and bars and then the shops, mainly clothes. There is a third addition, between Montera and Alcalá, with hotels cool and tendrils.
The typologies of the pedestrians of the Gran Vía have the distance that goes from the tracksuit to the Armani suit (which is not the same). It is impossible to find more common elements than the entrusted lightness that paradoxically gives them, being walking along a large escorted avenue of very heavy packing buildings. A little bit Parisian thing, but without going over. The weirdest thing I see on Gran Vía is a couple. He has a round earring that almost covers his ear, as big as a bicycle wheel. She, the split lobe and an earring in each part. I'm pretty sure that Almost any visitor can take a walk and in less than five minutes find something they have never seen. Make game. The best time for that and for everything on the Gran Vía is the late sunset, when the sky is still blue and illuminated with a bounce and the lights of buildings, shops, hotels start to turn on ... And of course, the Schweppes poster, that dance of neons that from one heights unconsciously optimistic, I think that because of the multicolored.
La Gran Vía: the showcase of Madrid © Corbis
The thing does not vary much when Gran Vía and Alcalá become only Alcalá, which in that section towards Cibeles is an Alcalá disguised as Gran Vía. La Cibeles, a great place to celebrate football victories and regime changes, is also a Optimum vanishing point to walk to the Holy Trinity of Madrid's museums: Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen. For the rest, Cibeles, if you take away the symbolism, can be a bit of a disappointment. That if you do not see it at night, with that illumination in contrapicado and trembling by the water that gives the left lion, which you see from the bus, a spooky air of Simba's father in a movie of the Hammer.
Then, you climb a little to the door of Alcalá, which is fine for a peek. But what really attracts the visitor's attention is the main entrance of the Retreat from that square, that of Independence. On a good day it is difficult to resist that greenness that seems so little Madrid, but that it is as much as a couple crossing and rowing boat through the park's lake. With the bus you leave it on the right to enter Velázquez street. At this point you may be hungry and want to get off at the stops in front of the Wellington Hotel (and its Kabuki, the only Japanese restaurant in Spain with a Michelin star) or the Hotel Adler, a refined oasis with a very affordable offer of t-bone steak and red wine from Ribera, the breakfast of the champions. And if not, you can entertain yourself along the way by looking far ahead of the advance that Velazquez's windows show to the stores of the Neighborhood of salamanca, refined and fickle like the waves in Valery's poem: always the same and always renewed.
Then the bus twists through Ortega and Gasset to cross the Plaza del Marqués de Salamanca, with its mansions on the left facing buildings well in which it seems that you could live an existence in which nothing bad ever happens around. The Plaza del Marqués de Salamanca is an old square that has never unraveled, neither in the monarchy, nor in the Republic, nor in the dictatorship, nor in post-transition democracy. Or because they have not changed or because the essential things have not been so different either.
At the end of Ortega and Gasset, when the route crosses Francisco Silvela street to head towards Cartagena, the same thing happens to all border places. Those on this side want to mark the distances with a final berth in which the Sixto restaurant, Gold Gourmet deli and Tandoori Station, which Chicote described in its program as the best Indian restaurant in Madrid, follow one another. .
You enter Cartagena and indeed, things here are different. Fruit shops run by Orientals, still, treasures, aesthetic and tasting franchises. Tascas in which the calluses and the Galician ear feed you almost from the bus. Here you can get off at the corner with Hernando de Acuña, where, if you head towards Las Ventas bullring, you find yourself halfway with a prodigious neighborhood of villas. In the center of Madrid and with garden. You are right. You see right away that there are new owners who have glazed them and coolized living with life-long neighbors, who pluck weeds, paint a little from time to time and, otherwise, take it easy.
When crossing the Avenue of America take a brief look at Heraclitian creek of cars that go to the polygons and the airport. It no longer dries a bit even in August and gives a thorough idea of the dimensions of this city. When you cross the avenue, you enter the area of Clara del Rey and start a rare tour, little tourist and little tourists. The landscape on the banks is already computer stores, banks, hospitals, nursing homes ... Here you can take notes of the 21st century Madrid: In the habitable square of the Sacred Heart of Jesus an old woman passes quickly riding a bicycle and a teenager sings something that seems reaggeton to the girl in a cart. Pure Madrid that overflows at the last stop of the route: Prosperity Square, escorted in its four corners by a Lidl, a Jesuit church, the fast food Faraón Pollo and the Prospe market. A poker of aces for a square of old and immigrants, mothers and bottle racks, so madrileña that even has its own bear and madroño In tiny.
Before I get off, I take a last look at the locals on the bus. Asleep, distracted, silent and music lovers. It is seen that they are tired differently from a tourist who has hit a joyful dash. Because this is not a tourist bus. But they have that special something of who discards the subway and changes a bit of the rush that is in their capital DNA to look around. For participating in the epic that brings the Gran Vía, the updating neighborhood of Chueca or Malasaña, from the memories of the terroir that emanate from the Retreat or from the illusory prosperity that their passage through the Barrio de Salamanca transmits in what they arrive precisely there, to Prosperity.