Madrid unfurls from lockdown
And just like that, the city is alive again.
A slow awakening started a few weeks ago, when some sectors were allowed back to work, but as Phase 1 was (finally) declared in Madrid this week meaning people have been allowed to meet friends (groups of 10 maximum) and go to cafes and restaurants (only on terraces at half capacity); life does seems as though it is back to (a slightly off, and rather different kind of) normal.
Madrid is a city that prefers to lives its life on the streets and its not surprising that people are packing out the terraces. Anyone over the age of 6 must wear a face mask (by law) and some people are wearing two, one on top of the other. The memory of how fearful everyone was here in March is still fresh in many minds.
Hand sanitizer is everywhere - in cars, in handbags, at the entrance to each shop. People leave their own pots on the cafe tables beside the coffee, like a talisman, putting it on every few minutes in some kind of nervous ritual.
People ask how you are, how is the family, the children ....and really mean it. You learn to read the eyes above the masks. No kissing, no touching, strange in a country like Spain.
On day one we went out for lunch. Locals dressed up, as úsual for Spaniards- perhaps a bit more effort was taken that day. The maitre d’ quietly sweltered in his dark suit, mask and plastic gloves. No menus, just a card with a code to scan for the menu.....and lots and lots of space since only 50% capacity is allowed during this phase. But smiles everywhere.
In the streets look up and you see people on their balconies, working on laptops, (people are still to work from home if they can), doing exercise, chatting, drinking coffee, smoking.... or just watching, as the streets below fill up again after months of being empty.
While traffic is still a lot lighter here (long may it last) the streets are busy - especially with builders....this morning I spent 45 minutes circling the streets looking for a parking space in Barrio Salamanca.
The state of emergency was declared here back on March 15th, just as the blossom had started to come out on the trees, when suddenly we were all locked down.....more than ten weeks later we have come out blinking nervously yet hopefully into the hazy heat of the beginning of the Madrid summer....
Spanish beaches this summer?
Who will get there first?
Yesterday I went to the Corte Ingles and saw that all the summer clothes are now on sale for the great Madrid exodus to the beach.....But when?
Spain talks about letting tourists from abroad into the country as of July 1st, so dependent as the country is for the tourist EUR - yet we have not been told for sure we will have been allowed to leave Madrid by then. Madrid, along with a couple of other areas of Spain, didn’t move into Phase 1 until weeks later than the rest of the country. We still need to go through Phase 2 and 3 before being allowed to travel within Spain, and with each stage lasting a minimum of 2 weeks we do not have a fixed date. It would seem illogical to start to let flights in from countries such as the UK which are behind Spain in terms of the curve and not let visitors from Madrid go to their homes on the coast.....