When you live in a big city, sometimes you forget how to breathe. You are smothered by mile-high sky scrapers and endless city blocks of apartment complexes, choked out by the constant noise and air pollution and congested by the constant streams of movement, hustle and bustle up and down the busy streets. Over time, it can wear you down and cause sickness purely from the exhaustion of existing in such chaos.
The cure for this type of illness is simple, a day spent away from people, reconnecting with nature in the mountains. Two friends and I spent a Saturday in Cercedilla, a municipality of Spain located northwest of Madrid in the sierra de Guadarrama mountains. I feel lucky to have so much beauty and nature right at my fingertips, easy to get to when I need it.
To get to Cercedilla, take the C-8 Cercanías train from Nuevos Ministerios or the Atocha station (Renfe) all the way to the last stop on the line, which takes about an hour.
The walk from the station to the actual trailhead of the hikes was about 40 minutes uphill itself, along a quiet winding road. The offices have maps which show the different trails and indicate the points of interest that you’ll encounter along the way.
‘During most of the hike (in January temperatures) I was quite warm, since we were moving around and were protected from the wind while ascending on the trail. At the top, however, when we took a break to eat lunch and admire the view, it got really cold with the blistering wind and lack of protection. I was so glad I had my hat and gloves to keep my fingers from turning into immobile popsicles.
Another problem I always seem to run into when I go hiking is not bringing enough water. Don’t be afraid to tuck in an extra bottle, you will drink it so your bag won’t be heavy for the whole duration of the hike.
After we made it back down to the town of Cercedilla after our hike, we had some time to kill before getting back on the train to head back to the city. We stopped at the bar right next to the station and had some drinks and soup to warm back up after getting chilled to the bone.
Cercedilla is really an awesome way to spend a day outside of Madrid. If you live in a city and sometimes feel like the hustle & bustle of urban life is starting to wear on your soul, I highly recommend looking up hikes or other nature activities that you can do near to where you live. It can work wonders on helping you reconnect with yourself and getting quiet for your mind. Plus, the fresh air doesn’t hurt either.