La Buenaventura

Going to Madrid was like returning home to something familiar. Being nomadic, third-culture, and generally described as ethnically exotic looking and ambiguous, I can usually say this for most other cities that I visit, but Madrid, like Rome, particularly struck me.

The small, accommodating pedestrian streets, the manageable size of the city and its accessible transportation system

The street signs of the historic centre

Knowledgeable citizens that openly tell you not to take pictures of odd trendy wall art in the centro storico, but rather of deep history engrained in the urban landscape

Being approached in Spanish over English

Chocolate con churros @ Chocolatería San Gines

Clean water (Tap water in Madrid tastes pretty good)

A beautiful museum of contemporary and modern art @ Museo Reina Sofía with valuable contrast to the great classical masters @ The Prado

Chueca

Malasaña 

Lavapiés

Calle de Las Huertas

Staying in one urban context for too long, particularly that of London, can be dangerous. But it wasn’t just the context of a spontaneous viaje to another significantly different context that woke my soul up again, it was the resonance of a real city, not a machine.

Madrid has had quite different, and some violent faces, just over the past 50 years, not to mention its imperial history. After three full days, it can be that I say that the city’s past, present, and future seem to be harmonising well.

La Buenaventura is the Spanish title of Georges de La Tour’s painting, The Fortune Teller, depicting a naive youth having his fortune read by a gypsy woman whilst her accomplices sneakily rob him. The painting is currently on view at the Museo Nacional del Prado on loan from New York’s Metropolitan Museum. I prefer the Spanish title over the English, as in Spanish, la buenaventura can simply mean, ‘fortune’. No need for the fortune-teller in particular. Perhaps it is fortunate that the naive youth decided to go to a fortune teller to then realise that he was tricked and robbed, and that he himself can only be the sole teller of his own fortune. 

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