Big, Green, and Beautiful
Trip Start Jun 13, 2012
13Trip End Jun 26, 2012
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Today we started our tour of Madrid with a panoramic tour of the city. Our tour guide Rosanna was wonderful. She is a third generation citizen of Madrid so she is known as a "cat." When Madrid was being taken back from the Muslims the Christians had to climb the walls of the fortress with a catlike abilities, hence the nickname of “cat” to those who have multi-generations living in Madrid.
Madrid is also the second greenest city in the World only following Tokyo, Japan. Lining the city streets are over 3million trees. This does not count trees in the many parks found around the city.
Madrid is the highest capital in Europe at 2100ft above sea level. Most people in Madrid live in apartments because single family homes are very expensive and there is a limited number of them. The tour guide said single family homes start at 5 to 7 million dollars, however, even though most of the population lives in apartments almost all apartments are owned not rented as we often think of apartments. The goal of the average family in Madrid is the same as it is in the US to own their own home or as in Madrid their own apartment. The average apartment which is three bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, and a salon/dining room starts at $600,000 dollars which is approximately $1,500.00/square foot.
Soccer or as the rest of the world calls it, football, is huge in Madrid. Right now the Euro cup is going on and I am happy to report Spain is still in it. The Euro cup is similar to the World cup, as it happens every four years but only European countries compete and in order to be on a European team you must be a citizen of that country. We passed by the main futbol stadium in Madrid while on our tour. It seats 80,000 people and with the field being ten feet below street level. It also has a central heating system since soccer is played in the winter and Madrid does get cold there is labyrinth of hot water pipes underneath the field which keeps it from freezing. In addition, beneath the seats warm air blows out to keep the spectators warm too.
Should anyone visit Spain the football stadium can be toured on your own for 16 Euro. If you stop at the gift shop wanting to buy a t-shirt plan on spending 100 Euro up.
Children start school at the age of four in Spain and continue on until the age of 18. The Spanish school system does not distinguish between elementary, middle, and high school they refer to all of it as college. After the age of 18 most students go on to the universities. At this time it is free for Spanish citizens to go to university. They pay a minimal fee of three to four hundred Euros for administration costs and because of the economic crisis in Spain the government is thinking of raising university fees. Within the city of Madrid and the surrounding areas there are five public and six private universities.
An interesting fact I learned is children in Spain are taught there are only five continents compared to American children who are taught there are seven. Spain (and Mexico) count north and South America as one continent and Spain does not count Antarctica at all. Interesting.
Besides free university education Spanish citizens also have free health care and retirement pay.
The city of Madrid gets it water from the nearby mountains. When the snow melts in the spring the water is damned and kept in reservoirs and then pumped into the city.
Madrid has many round-abouts and square/plaza’s and the buildings which encircle these do not normally have 90 degree corners. The corners are angled at about 45 degrees. They did this in the 18th and 19th centuries so nobility (those who actually owned these homes which are now usually apartment buildings) could ride their horse right through the door an interior courtyard where they would dismount. The unique building feature in Madrid adds even more charm to the city which is full of gothic, roman, and many other types or architecture. One thing I have noticed more of in Madrid than any other large city is the iron work. From scrolls on gates to decorative pieces underneath windows it is everywhere and it is beautiful.
Another interesting little tidbit is in regards to Spanish movies. Any movie that is made and spoken in English is adapted in Spanish. What this means is there are no sub-titles someone who sounds like each character reads the lines and the movie is then put back together using the Spanish actors voices. For instance a Tom Cruise movie would still have Tom Cruise acting but the voice would be a Spanish actor who sounds similar to Tom Cruise. The only exception is the person who plays Kevin Costner has a much deeper voice than the real Kevin Costner because the Spanish people think his voice is too weak to go with the characters he plays.
Ok I want to post this on travel pod so I’ll close for today. I am having fun but miss you all.