It has been two months since the plane picked me up and dropped me off in the Spanish capital. The city has grown on me; daily life has settled in and I have acclimatised to the grandeur. It’s time to explore the wondrous world surrounding this city, getting high on something else than car fumes.
Who knew? Just an hours train ride (€11 there and back) takes you to Cercedilla, one of the many quiet and charming villages of the Madrillian countryside. The small city enjoys self-proclaimed fame for being the hometown of the first Spanish Olympic gold metal winner Francisco Fernandez Ochoa, who is honored on practically every street corner. However proud the locals are of this accomplishment, it’s seems to be the surrounding nature that attracts the foreigners.
Thick wooly socks, a NorthFace sponsored outfit complete with a fluorescent windproof jacket and a cold red drippy nose; Cercedilla offers everything any average open air lover could wish for. Although the town is surprisingly calm, there is a steady flow of nature seekers rolling in from the train station, dispersing into the nature reserve of Sierra de Guadarrama.
The mountainous area facilitates skiing in the winter and a labyrinth of hiking possibilities in the summer. For the outdoorsy bum who’s “been there, done that” there is a train nicknamed “The Nature Train” that takes you even further away from city life. Leaving from Cercedilla station, it ventures up into the depths of the mountains, eventually reaching the station Cotos at 1820m altitude.
Despite the temptations to board this legendary train, we decided to stay in and around Cercedilla. Our weekend hosted the first Spanish winter temperatures; the degrees plummeted into minus figures and the clouds let down the first watery snowflakes. Using our socks as makeshift gloves we wandered the forests, looking for the trails. As most things Spanish, the map seemed completely incomprehensible (although the female navigation skills could also take the blame here) but once on the right track, one walks on forever.
This weekend sums up the beauty of Madrid. The city is bursting with great people, culture and nightlife, but this ends abruptly at its borders, giving way for breathtaking and beautiful nature. The views of endless billowing Spanish landscapes make even me feel a whiff of the omnipresent Spanish pride.
- Marieke -