There´s always going to be cultural references and language stuff that you won´t be familiar with if you haven´t been brought up in a country. For example, I blame my inability to master the past and subjunctive tenses on my parents not having read me bedtime stories in Spanish (an unreasonable complaint given the fact that they don´t speak Spanish but nevertheless....)
Until I watched the movie the Tooth Fairy on a bus journey to Granada (a.k.a Rompedientes o Hada por accidente) I didn´t realise that the Tooth Fairy didn´t bring the money in Spain but, in fact, Ratoncito Perez. Cute! There´s a museum in his honour on Calle Arenal, go visit, it´s suitably random (and free if you just visit his statue on the ground floor) I brought my boyfriend but children would probably be more appropriate!
One of my favourite terraces to grab some alone time. Located on Calle Prado just around the corner from the Palace Hotel. The drinks prices are exorbitant but can be worth it if you want to play guest and just chill out with a book and a never ending drink...
Today is my 2 year anniversary in Madrid, how time flies! Unfortunately time is also flying me away from here pretty soon and, depressed as I am, I decided to make a list of the things I won’t miss to cheer myself up. Generally this blog is overwhelming positive so please excuse the quick sashay into the world of the negative. Promise to post a top 5 of things I will miss soon.
So here goes, The top 5 things I won’t miss about Madrid
Nuff said really, but just to elaborate in case you haven’t experienced Spanish customer service, it can be boiled down to one word – Shit.
People who can’t walk in a straight line
I’ve never heard anyone else complain about this but it seems to me that people here can’t walk in a straight line. The pavements are an obstacle of slow moving, careening human traffic. Pick a side and stick to it, jeez. Should I ever rise to power in Spanish politics (improbable) I will be implementing a 4 lane system on the pavements – 2 lanes per direction with a dedicated fast lane on both sides.
When they turn the escalator off in La Latina.
Worst. Climb. Ever.
People staring at me in metro
Though ironically, one of my favourite things in the metro is looking at the people around me as I am occasionally the tallest person in the metro. Amazing considering my statuesque height of 5,4. That said, though I enjoy a good gawp, I cannot stand people staring at me in metro. Yes, I have milk bottle skin, blond hair and blue eyes and I can see how that might be weird for you but seriously, have you seen the dwarves all around us?!
Oh My God / Hissing
Random groups of men who say ‘oh my god’ or hiss at me as I walk past. Yes, that’s how you will get my attention and friendship sirs. Jerks.
One thing I don't understand about Madrid is people’s (read Madrileños’s) unwillingness to give up their seats to elderly people or pregnant women. I’ve often been the only one on the bus or metro to offer my seat up and it surprises me that no one, not even the men, seems to think anything of it. Not cool folks, not cool. Granted the percentage of the population over the age of 65 is like 20% (note: this is a made up statistic but genuinely is around the 15 – 20% mark) so if you offer a seat up to every one who deserves it you’ll never sit down but that’s how it should be so cop on.
La Tabacalera de Lavapiés is an old tobacco factory in Madrid which has been converted into a social centre. After reading about in the English language paper In Madrid I wandered down to check it out. It’s a gigantic building most of which is closed off to the public, but what’s open comprises of a cafeteria, garden, exhibition spaces, classrooms... During the week it hosts classes and the cafeteria has a cool chilled out vibe as well as exceptionally cheap prices. Plus I saw le Cool Madrid recommending their sushi evening last week. Pop in and check out the wall art (amazing) and the hilarious notice board wall.
Spent a Saturday afternoon at the Reina Sofia museum. (free after 14.30) Not my favourite museum in Madrid I have to say. For me, Picasso’s Guernica is the only stand out piece and the Dali’s on display are disappointing (guess all the best stuff is in Figueres??). However, if you walk... and walk and walk... you’ll find their terrace. Unfortunately it’s cunningly located so as to force you to view all exhibitions first (philistine I know :P) but it’s worth it.
En route to Paris... The only restaurant open in Madrid Terminal 4 in the early hours of the dawn is McDonalds. Got to love the way McDonalds changes its offering for each country. McDonalds breakfast Spanish style - Tostada con tomate y aceite (toasted bread with tomato and oil) and a coffee.
They've done such a nice job of renovating the river bed. I've even recovered from the disappointment of going to see fireworks here a few months back and after 4 hours of waiting realising that I'd misread the programme and that fuegos sobre el río did not actually translate to fuegos artificiales. Ah wishful translation.
I've been meaning to big up La Casa Encendida here for a while. Discovered it a couple of months back and it's fast becoming one of my favorite places in Madrid.
It's a cultural centre sponsored by the bank / credit union Caja Madrid and is full to the brim with interesting events, great short and feature length sceenings, exhibitons, free internet and... an AMAZING rooftop hangout area. Apparently from next month, they'll be showing movies there at night so I'll know where I'll be this summer.
Check out some snaps from the weekend, hung out in the garden and then headed to the screening of the somewhat bizarre Aardvark.