Many moons ago (half a lifetime in fact), I lived and worked in Madrid. At the end of my teens/start of my twenties, it was an amazing place to be and more than two decades on - lord how old that makes me feel - I still find sights, sounds and smells that transport me right back to that beautiful vibrant city.
These vespas were just one such sight. I came across them the other night, parked neatly outside a townhouse not dissimilar to the old coaching house in which I shared an ‘apartamento exterior’ back in the early nineties.
Madrid is a wonderful city. Back then, it was still ravaged on a pretty regular basis by ETA car bombs and the boys from the milli (Spain’s military service) were a frequent sight in many of the city’s bars and clubs most nights which did sometimes lead you to wonder who was guarding the place, but to Madrilenos, that was just part of daily life. As were the pre-dawn street cleaners, the chink of last night’s bottles on the pavements at 5am and the sound of vespas starting up their little hair dryer engines to ferry their riders through the city traffic to office jobs in the financial district each morning.
Whenever I hear the sound of vespas in a city street, I’m transported straight back to my wrought-iron balcony looking out onto calle Argensola and those amazing carefree, formative days in a city that I still love and miss to this day.
I wonder what the owners of these two vespas are like? Young trendy types or a couple of elegant sixty-somethings zipping around town, stopping off for regular espressos and art gallery visits? Whoever they are, I hope they’re having fun.