2022

Madrid’s Life-Affirming Slaughterhouse

Part of the Klimt installation at the Matadero

Today, I went to a slaughterhouse in Madrid. Called “Matadero” in Spanish, the site is an architectural wonder the city has transformed into an innovative cultural center. https://www.mataderomadrid.org/en/discover Before I arrived, I wondered whether I would feel the ghosts of the center’s past. Instead, I felt joy and gratitude.

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The Train in Spain

View from my train window near Burgos

Travel is always enlightening. It is also occasionally disappointing and tiring, and, if you are traveling alone, lonely. Sometimes it is more than all of this. Sometimes you find a “thin place.” A thin place is where the distance between heaven and earth seems shorter, and reveals something deeper. Yesterday, I rode the train from Bilbao to Madrid and found a thin place.

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Bilbao Wow

I just arrived in Bilbao near Spain’s northern coast. Bilbao is the capital city of Basque country and it’s beautiful! Part of its charm is how it seems to have been engineered for humans. Walkers and bikers enjoy the wide path along the tree-lined River Nervion. The city’s mix of old and new architectural styles seem to complement each other, as if to say “of course we get along — we’re all Spanish.” Lots of public transportation, no traffic, sidewalk cafes everywhere. But the real stand-out in Bilbao is the Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry. There are so many reasons to love this museum!

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The Smilers of Seville

Maybe I’m tired or uninspired or expect too much, but Seville, Spain has got to be one of the most serious places I’ve ever been. After a day of cranky shopkeepers, hotel receptionists who don’t look up from their computer screens, and cafe employees who treated me with suspicion, this morning, I went out looking for anything light-hearted, funny, or happy. Here’s what I found in three hours of walking around:

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