In the spring of 1995, I spent a month in Madrid and enjoyed life as both a tourist and a local. I lived with the gracious family of a close personal friend and they immediately gave me family-like responsibilites such as walking to the markets to buy bread and/or other food for the daily meal.
These small specialty markets have a typical old-world ambiance with bustling energy and protocal all their own. There are markets for breads & pasteries, fruits and vegetables, meats, seafoods, and others for sweets.
Daily (well, almost daily), I would wake early and prepare myself with the screenless windows open, breathing the cool city air. And sometimes, over the low din of morning traffic, would hear the song and accordian music of the wandering gypsies who would roam the city streets, hoping for coins tossed from balconies in appreciation.
If I needed to traverse the city quickly I would take the efficient metro, but most times I would walk under the rising sun from Barrio Lucero, just west of Rio Manzanares, in order to experience the not-as-busy outer circle. I strolled along in no particular hurry, pausing to look in the windows of small shops whilst the owners raised their retracting metal storefront doors to the public. I loved stopping in some little panadera (bakery) for a little tasty pastry or bread for my morning snack "a-pie" (pronouned "ah-pee-ay") or "on-foot".
So, with my breakfast to-go in hand, up and down gentle hills, through small markets or other open-air business, I casually meandered my way towards the city's old, historic center. On some mornings when my energy levels were lower, I would take the bus to Plaza Mayor, the main plaza, and there my day would begin.
After arriving in the city's old center or thereabouts, I often took a short tour around the arcade of shops inside the Plaza Mayor and exited on my way to somewhere in mind or nowhere in particular. Window boxes lined the narrow, shadowy,
cobblestoned old streets away from the principle roads and waiters busily prepared their café patios (terrazas) for a new day's business.