This week has seen us enjoying the glories of phase one and life couldn’t feel any more normal on the streets of Madrid. Bars and restaurants have dusted off their tables and chairs, laying them out in the plazas for thirsty Madrileños to sit at and have a drink. Naturally most people have taken to their nearest open establishment to lift their spirits with a coffee or beer so those who haven’t made a reservation should expect to join a socially-distanced queue snaking around the corner. Although bars are open for service some other draconian measures remain in place most notably the strict timetables determining when we can go out. One laughable inconsistency in the governments deescalation plan is that people are only allowed to be out of the house outside of curfew times if you are drinking in the terrace of a bar. As all other activities are prohibited, the police are well within their rights to stop you if they believe you aren’t either drunk or on your way to get drunk.
In an attempt to rid myself of the haunting images of grey, empty streets that have filled my mind for the last couple of months, I have been taking short strolls around Malasaña and Chueca during work breaks this week. Removing these thoughts from my mind has by no means been a difficult task as the relaxing of restrictions in phase one has breathed plenty of life back into the streets. Each venture into the new world below is a much-welcomed sensory overload. The smell of freshly brewed coffee and stone-baked pizza. The clink of glasses full of beer and wine. The soft music floating out from the open doors of boutique clothes shops. The click-clack of a car driving over the cobbles. The swoosh of the leaves in the trees as a warm breeze blows through the narrow streets. As I wander around the city centre taking in the joy of the people so happy with their much-deserved rewards after two months of sacrifice, I feel a gentle tug of nostalgia for the lockdown. It was a simple way of living and I will miss it. Social pressures are already beginning to creep back in and the routine around which we built our lives is being gently forgotten.