I have never been to Spain. In fact, going to Spain was not in my short- and even medium-term plans. Not that I have anything against the land of Cervantes, Picasso, El Cid and paella. It’s just that, going there simply hadn’t really crossed my mind.
“The whole world is a bigger Bilbao.”Miguel de Unamuno, tranlsation mine.
About two months ago, I received an email that contained an invitation to participate in a five-day seminar in the city of Bilbao. Since I’d never been there and the seminar sounded great, I decided to go.
I found Bilbao the same way I’ve found so many places: reading. I walked its streets and breathed its air through the words of Félix G. Modroño, the author of the novel La ciudad de los ojos grises (The City of Grey Eyes).
Historically speaking, Bilbao is one of Spain’s most important industrial centres, but nowadays, it is known for its gastronomy, its services and its culture, among others. Its growth has been so significant, that in 2010 it was awarded with the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, which ‘honours outstanding achievements and contributions to the creation of liveable, vibrant and sustainable urban communities around the world.’
“Madrid is having an overcoat that covers much and with which one can peacefully go to cold damp funerals. Madrid is not admitting the Gothic. Madrid is improvisation and tenacity. Madrid is staying happy with no money and not knowing how it was that one bought what one has at home.”Ramón Gómez de la Serna, translation mine
I’ll stay less than three days in Madrid, which is not a lot, but I’ll try to see as much as possible. I wish I could tell you now what we’ll do and see in Madrid, but honestly, we don’t have a fixed plan. One thing I do know is I want to go to the Barrio de las Letras (Las letras quarter), which is where Lope de Vega, Miguel de Cervantes, and Luis de Gongora lived during the Spanish Golden Age. I will also go the Museo del Prado and to the Casa Natal de Cervantes museum. The rest will be a surprise, I suppose.