Meeting Steve and Johana
Trip Start Apr 02, 2007
6Trip End Apr 28, 2007
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We liked Madrid quite a bit. It's pretty much in the middle of Spain at 2000 meter elevation. Steve even claims you can go skiing in the winter in nearby mountains. The city's buildings are more modern than Barcelona and with wider streets, which seemed to mean more room for outdoor restaurants. They were everywhere, and perfect for everything from enjoying a plate of tasty olives for lunch to trying to wash down nasty pigs ears
We spent our three days in Madrid at Hotel Europa in Puerta Del Sol. This is as central as you'll ever get in Madrid and an excellent hotel. 80 Euros seemed like a bargain. Steve and Johana took us to a Thai restaurant as soon as we got there. Every time we are out travelling, the Thai and Indian curry cravings set in, this time was no exception. Ah, nothing like a spicy curry to make you feel at home again! Dessert? $18 drinks at another bar - did we mention the exchange rate was poking us in the eyes?? It hurts.
Madrid was sunny and unseasonable warm. Couldn't have been better. After a round of laundry the next morning, Steve, Doyle and I headed out for the cultural part of the day; inspecting the Palacio Real (Royal Palace)
However, one of the highlights of the entire trip, was quite the opposite of the fancy palace. Sitting in Steve and Johana's kitchen that same afternoon, eating some kick-ass empanadas that Johana
Besides people watching around Madrid's many buzzling plazas an streets, we also visited the Retiro Park
Back in the city, we witnessed a somewhat heated Sahara demonstration, enjoyed more Sangria at a local bull-fighting bar where the walls were filled with pictures of famous bullfighters, one hanging upside down with the bull's horn through his foot. Guess it's only fair that the bulls get to have a little fun as well before they go to bull heaven. The Plaza Mayor
Although not specifically related to Madrid and Spain, I have to mention something that struck me again and again while in Europe. Even though I grew up in Europe myself, I have to admit that the level of service and politeness you experience when eating out or just dealing with people in general in the U.S., are fantastic, and something I now take for granted. However, travelling around Europe after having lived and worked in the U.S. for the last 8 years, is a rude awakening. Even though Europeans are not intentionally rude and impolite (I hope ...), it seems that way if you are used to living in the U.S. People will bump into you on the street, run you over in the airport with heavy suitcases, without offering any apology at all. Waiters or waitresses often don't seem to care what you think of the service or food as well. Besides maybe the culture difference, Europe has a lot to learn from the States in this area. I eventually dropped my "excuse me's" and "I'm sorry's" and just elbowed people like a pro! Ah, that felt really good :-)
Where I stayed