More than Main St.
We’ve all seen the tourist guides and post cards advertising the landmarks of the cities we visit. Of course, what trip to Paris would be complete without the Eiffel Tower or NYC without the obligatory Lady Liberty. While this is natural and encouraged we often find ourselves lost in a vast unexplored city after having ticked the big sights off our list. Now what?
Well the answer to that isn’t easy and will usually require much more in-depth research than browsing a LonelyPlanet Guide. In extreme cases you may have to go so far out of your comfort zone as to confront a local and ask them about the perks of the neighborhood they’re from (chances are they won’t be from the city center). A bike may become your best friend as it allows you to cut across the city in routes which may not be connected by public transport and lets you cover way more ground compared to going on foot.
In this case the area you’re looking at is the urbanization of Vallecas, in south-east Madrid. Though mostly residential, Vallecas boasts several large and very green parks, some of which rise higher than any in the city. Another curious discovery was Eco Boulevard: a remedy for poor urban planning which looked like it might have suffered a similar lack. We’ve all forgotten to water plants at some point in our lives but at least our mistakes didn’t sink several million dollars of municipal funds (I hope). You can read about the intended effects here.
Just get out there. There is life outside the center.
Also as important is knowing when you’ve gone too far. This was when I knew it was time to go back.