We are always capable of change

When I last visited Madrid 16 years ago, it was hard to love it. The city felt crowded, the traffic was a mess, and tobacco smoke was everywhere. The city center, so well known as a gathering for the typical European town, smelled like diesel and tobacco. In 2011, the city moved all the traffic into tunnels below the city and banned smoking in restaurants. It was a big year for the capitol of Spain, apparently. Now, as a mostly pedestrian city, Madrid is easy to be with. The lovely cobblestone streets now feel spacious and welcoming. The city is calm and relaxed and one can actually hear the light breeze through the trees and your own footsteps on the cobblestone because there is no longer the chaos of deisel-fueled engines and honking horns. The historic charm is now apparent around every corner and tree-lined alley. I am so glad I came back to see how this city has evolved and grown to care for itself. I am sure there were growing pains, but Madrid came out of the hazy smoke shining like a diamond that just needed to be polished. Proof that we are always capable of change. We just have to be willing.