La La Lavanderia
Madrid and Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Beautifully patterned tiled floors, complementing wallpaper on one side, age-old stone wall on the other, antique furnishings mixed with framed quotes hanging indiscriminately in different languages and an open door leading to a garden courtyard with yet more seating and art donning the stone enclosure. This was at the top of our list, essential really to the comfort and enjoyment of our month-long travels. Obviously, I’m referring to the Lavanderia (the laundromat) and boy does Spain do laundromats right. They are sprinkled through the country in big cities as well as small towns and I found them quaint, relaxing and surprisingly quite beautiful.
Now I don’t mind paying the hotel for laundry service for a few things but we were traveling for a month and weren’t interested in a $500-plus laundry bill. When you have more than a few days, it becomes part of the experience and really gives that local feel, like you’re living there versus passing through site-jumping. You, for a brief moment, become a part of the community which I believe is where the value lies … in the connection to a place, to the people, to the culture. Wining and Dining is great. I highly recommend it. But it’s merely one piece of it. There’s just so much to experience and, believe it or not, the lavanderia has always been an eye-opening pleasure.
In Madrid from our hotel, one block left and two blocks up to the right, walking past bakeries, butcheries and shops led us to our first lavanderia. Getting there at opening is essential to make sure you get a machine. The little dog lounging in front of the machines, sometimes stepping out to the sidewalk to sniff the aromas of food being prepared at nearby eateries was a sweet little accent to our day. He came as the trusted sidekick to the lady working, who for a small fee would wash and fold your clothes to pick up later, but we enjoyed the short wait and opted to do it ourselves, people watching and catching up on e-mails and such.
- Side Note: Travel brings you to Appreciation better than anything I’ve come across. Clean clothes, hot showers, comfortable beds, cold water and a good pair of shoes reveal their true worth in our lives and this empirical knowledge stays with you, becomes part of your DNA almost when you return back to daily life at home. That, among other perks, is why travel is so beneficial … It promotes by osmosis a Sense of Gratefulness.
But then, there is Santiago de Compostela. Beautiful City. Beautiful History. And the most beautiful lavanderia I have ever seen. It’s almost a spiritual experience which makes sense as this city’s cathedral is the final resting place for St. James the Apostle and the end destination for the Camino de Compostela. Pilgrims from all over the world, from various starting points in France, Spain and Portugal, walk for days, sometimes weeks, with only backpacks, walking sticks and hopefully an overnight in a hostel or two to complete a spiritual journey of purging their souls of sinful behaviors, meditating on selflessness and gratitude. Walking up the steps to the cathedral the sound of bagpipes are playing in one of the porticos leading to the city’s cobblestone streets. This is Gaelic country and the Celtic influence is present in all aspects. Everyday, every single day, large groups and single walkers as well, make their way singing, dancing, celebrating their pilgrimage taking up almost every inch of the huge stone plaza in front of the cathedral … wind lightly blowing, bagpipes playing, energy buzzing. And waiting for all these weary and accomplished pilgrims one street away is much needed relief in the form of beautiful atmosphere to cleanse their clothes after they have just cleansed their souls …
And … It … Is … Appreciated 🙂