Saturday, April 19, 2008

Finishing Up Madrid

Sorry about leaving you hanging there last nite, but internet access is kinda sketchy as we´re constantly on the move trying to maximize our time and there´s always a long line at the hostel.

Anyhow, to finish up the story I started for you yesterday.... It was around 5 p.m., we hadn´t eaten since breakfast, and I was getting mighy cranky (Brian´s description, personally I thought I practiced enormous restraint as we passed tapas place after tapas place with yummy food and I was reaching critical mass, or rather lack of mass). After a lot of back and forth and stopping back at the hostel to check for recommendations, we finally made it to a decent place to have tapas, our big food fest for the week. We step in and look at the blackboard where tapas are listed for 2.5 euros each, which we thought were about as cheap as they come, but still out of our budget, but something we had to do (cuz we were starving and cuz we didn´t come to Spain to not be able to say we had tapas). We asked if we could get a table to order those tapas or if we needed to stand at the bar. That is when the ´trouble´started. Apparently, they have a cheap blackboard menu for the locals, and an overpriced menu for the touristas. They shoved the expensive menu in our hand and tried to make us order from it. Well, we were having none of that silly business! So, out came my rusty high school Spanish and apparently it was good enough to qualify us for the locals´ cheap blackboard menu. I even got complimented on my Spanish, and told that it is ´muy bueno´. Ha! Pretty funny. But, it got us what we needed, the cheap food. Along with that we also got some sangria to make us forget Charlotte´s cranky pre-nourishment demeanor. All was good again.

Afterward, we headed out to shop in Chueca, the gay neighborhood in town. All of a sudden Brian became very concerned with if his shirt was tucked in the right way and sat just right under his fleece jacket. It was cute. And he got his fill of eye candy. I have been getting my fill of eye candy all over Madrid. This city is loaded with tall, slender, dark haired, and seductively handsome brown eyed men. Oy! I feel as though this is paradise for man watching. I also feel that for the first time in my life, I´m in an environment where my dark hair & brown eyed looks don´t make me stand apart from everyone else. I actually fit in here and look like one of the locals. But, I guess being 50% Spanish and all of it Madrileño on top would explain that. It feels really good to have that sense of belonging for a change and not stick out like an Easter bunny at Christmas.

Another thing I´ve noticed about the city is that the people have fun, unique, and very individualistic styles of dress. Brian thinks it´s more of a European look as opposed to people just showing off their individuality. I dunno. But, it´s definitely fun to people watch.

I´m also super impressed with the subway system here. It is by far the best, cleanest, and most convenient subway system I´ve tried, and I´ve tried Stockholm´s (which kicks ass!), London and Paris´(although I admit that it was a long time ago), as well as NYC, D.C., and San Francisco. Chicago's doesn´t count (for more than the obvious reason that it just plain sucks). Aside from being very clean, frequent, and user friendly, there´s another really cool thing about the Madrid subway - the trains. Some, although not all of the trains, have all the cars connected as one long bendy tube. It is the coolest thing. When the train turns, you can see the curvature of the train from the inside. And when the train´s straight it looks like it extends forever. Super neat.

People watching on the subway is great. Today, we saw a guy that we actually saw yesterday too in an entirely different part of town. How do we know it was the same exact guy you ask and what is the likelihood that we´re not mistaken in this city of millions? Well, it´s simple really, he had the most distinguished hairstyle we´ve seen in the longest time. We weren´t sure whether to term it Dread-et or Mullet-dreads. But, no matter what it was, it was an absolutely dreadful hairdo! Dreads and a mullet into one. Not a good combo. They´re pretty disastrous as separate entities, but combining the two should simply not be done. It´s kinda like combining Bush and Cheney in the White House.

Speaking of likelihood...did anyone do that whole calculation on the likelihood of two days of rain since it only rains here in Madrid 10 days out of the whole year....well, get out your fancy calculators because it rained today as well, and not just a little, but a whole lot! That makes for three days of rain in a row, which means that there´s only seven days of rain left in the whole year. But, that´s ok with us because we had some cool indoor plans. Brian had scoped out this interior design exhibition in the northern part of the city. We hopped on the subway and were there in a jiffy (even though we had to change trains twice). It was a really neat thing to see interior design styles a la Spanish style. After that, we headed back to our central area for more indoor culture: the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.

After 2:30 on Sat afternoons, the museum is free. We got there at 2. We hadn´t planned it that way, it just happened so. We debated whether to stay and wait or walk around until free time. Luckily, we made the call to stay and wait and were at the front of the line. By 2:30, the line snaked all the way around the plaza and around the corner, with us not even being able to see the end of the line. And it rained too. But, inside was dry and amazing. There was a Picasso exhibit (this time we knew to grab the free tickets before heading upstairs). I have recently begun to appreciate Picasso more and this exhibit solidified it. His art is simply spectacular. However, as much as I enjoyed the Picasso stuff, it had nothing on the handful of Dali art I was able to indulge in. I love Dali the way some people love their children. In fact, I would probably sell my first born to buy a Dali to hang on my wall. Art is not really Brian´s big passion in life, but he was very thoughtful and considerate of the fact that it is mine. So, kudos to Brian, a man with known little patience, for being so patient with me while I lost myself in the fantastic Dali landscapes.

After some more shopping and calimari sandwiches, we´re about done with Madrid, for now. We are catching the midnight bus to Barcelona (combining sleeping with cheap transportation to save on time and moola). We´re planning on staying in Barcelona for three nights. Then, we found some cheap and fab airfare on RyanAir to get us up north to Eindhoven, where we´ll catch a bus to Amsterdam. The plan is to stay there for two nights as prices seem to skyrocket on night three (4/25) for some reason. We´re not sure what big event is going on then, but it´s too pricey for us so think we´ll head to Berlin after that. And, that is all the planning we have for now. More from Barcelona.

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