I’ve barely set foot to soil in Madrid and already I am planning to move beyond the city to the outer boundaries of Spain. First stop: Barcelona.
Tomorrow I go to Barcelona for a bit of a treat (Gaudí), and official stuff (job interview). This will be the first of hopefully many excursions around the country—it would of course be easier to plan them all if I knew how long I’ll be here for, but for now I am assuming I am here for three months only, and so need to get out and see as much as I can.
The last time Barcelona loomed large in my mind was the 1992 Olympics, though with the time difference, everything was on delay. I’ve known about Gaudí for much longer, but never really made the connection between his work and Barcelona before. The job interview is one of a number I have lined up for my stay here, although so far it’s been a mixed bag. Perhaps there will be more on that later.
I went to Atocha to collect my tickets from a vending machine today, to ensure the trip was reserved. Atocha station is a mix of old and new. The old station, a grand steel arched structure typical of the early industrial revolution, has been retained in the extended complex, though the platforms have been transformed into a huge indoor garden area. Paradoxically, the big open space in those old train stations seems to be undergoing a bit of a revival of late.
Despite being a fan of architecture, and as such being suitably impressed by the way in which the old station had been preserved, it was the new station that drew my attention. The station building itself is the standard rabbit warren typical of such buildings from the mid-late twentieth century. It was the platforms, and the tracks beyond, that caught my attention, as the memory of seeing this place on the television in 2004 was revived.
The area at which I was looking was not where the bombs detonated (that was in the cercanía station as well as elsewhere), but I couldn’t help but wonder if I was looking at the spot so many had died.
It seems Madrileños have put the event behind them, mostly, and have now got on with living life. The only real remnant of the Madrid bombings (and I’m really only speculating as to whether or not this IS a remnant), is the airport like security for departures. Everything going towards the departure gate gets x-rayed and people without tickets are not permitted into the departure area.
It’s a far cry from train travellers, or even domestic airline passengers for that matter, go through back home.