"Dar una vuelta" is one of my favorite Spanish phrases. Literally translated, it means "to give a turn" and is used to say "to take a walk." My principal pastime in Madrid is to take a turn because I am convinced it is the best way that a person truly becomes familiar with the city in which they live.
I've taken the metro since the beginning, and it makes me feel suffocated. I become a sardine, shoved into these tiny tubes under the ground. I always feel as if I'm missing something up above the concrete because I'm stuck in between two gossiping old ladies on a stuffy subway car.
Don't get me wrong, the metro system is phenomenal in Madrid. I can get nearly anywhere on the train, but it's not as fulfilling as I would like it to be. If I need to get somewhere via transportation, I prefer taking the bus so I can catch some vitamin D through the windows.
Walking is by far the most gratifying mode of transportation there is in my Spanish city. Now that the weather does not blast me with freezing air and sprinkles of water, I can truly enjoy a nice "turn" about the neighborhood without complaining about the cold.
I've been able to see things to which I was blind when I was fighting the below-freezing weather. There's that gorgeous Gaudí-like building just a few blocks away from my apartment and the beautiful view from el Templo de Debod that overlooks part of the city.
One of my grand pet peeves is seeing young foreigners walking around plugged into their iPods, drowning out the sounds of the city. If this is how they always walk through Madrid, they will not understand much about the musicality of the town. There's this intense rhythm that drives Madrid day-by-day. It's cyclical and picks up tempo as it gets later in the afternoon, evening and night.
It disturbs me how people must constantly be doing something while walking by themselves, whether they are listening to music or texting. Unplug, relax and don't be afraid to get lost by yourself. If you're attached to ear buds listening to the grand art of Pitbull, you will never actually see and feel the city you're in as it is meant to be seen and felt. Become a local by simply integrating yourself and making yourself a part of the beat of the town.