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Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on August 17, 2009

Arrived in Madrid in the evening early in August.

Madrid, Spain

Lucía and Luis very kindly picked me up from the Barajas Airport. It’s just outside the city and only a 2€ 30 minute metro ride, but with two suitcases and no escalators (much less elevators) in the metro station by the apartment, the car ride was much appreciated.

My neighborhood is called Salamanca, which is a little ways from the center of downtown and filled with very old high rise buildings. Massive blocks of flats and very narrow streets. Old street signs attached to the buildings and no lack of trees. I’ve found the metro in Madrid to be incredibly efficient, though everything I need is in the neighborhood. This is a welcome change from the barren wasteland that was Daly City. Much of Madrid, and especially a few main roadways near my neighborhood, is under construction due to re-working of water pipelines and continued expansion of the subway. I’m told the city is bidding to host the 2016 Olympics, in competition with Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. It all makes sense that they’re working hard to expand and prepare long before. Still, this doesn’t make me any happier about walking around in sandbox sidewalks and dodging tiny speeding bullet cars in the makeshift crosswalks.

My first meal in Spain was Chinese take out. I arrived quite late at night, and my dear friend took initiative and ordered in. The next night we went out for typical cañas y pinchos in the late afternoon at a nearby terraza (casual outside dining, lots of little chairs/tables/umbrellas in a group) in a Plaza that I can’t remember the name of. They don’t really call them tapas here, I understand that vocabulary is more of the southern variety.

primera plaza

center of the plaza

The plaza was full of people, though the city is a ghost town right now. Apparently everybody in Spain (especially Madrid) vacations in August. Many of the businesses take advantage of this and shutter their doors for a few weeks, if not the entire month. About 40% of the businesses I’ve walked by have been completely closed, most with a little sign in the window, “cerrado por vacaciones en el mes de agosto.” Siestas, Sunday closures, holiday shut-downs… these people know how to relax, of that much I’m sure.

should have jumped in.

should have jumped in.

Lucía, la linda española.

Lucía, la linda española.

We ate Spanish tortillas, kind of like heavy omelette cake with potatoes and onions, and drank some tinto de verano (red wine with fruit and lemonade). Also tried toast with Brie and jamón iberico, which wasn’t even close to the quality of the ‘real stuff’ according to the españoles. Sat out there for a long while until the sun went down and the little old lady singing bad opera into a crackly microphone with a speaker on a cart drove us away. An entirely enjoyable night. I could get used to this.

Madrileña in the making

Madrileña in the making

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