The German Girl Whose Name Sounded Italian To Me

Trip Start Sep 15, 2006
Trip End Oct 10, 2006

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Saturday, September 30, 2006

MOOD: Tired but intent on getting this journal up to date
DATE/TIME: Oct 2, 1:43am, Hotel Paraiso, Rm. 110, Ciudad Real

The two big museums in Madrid, the Prado and Reina Sofia, are both free on weekends, with the latter free after 2:30. That's pretty astonishing to me. And since I love free, I planned to hit the Reina Sofia this day (Sept 30). But as I still had some time, I walked around Renife Park, which was really nice, especially the lake in the middle.

On my way to the museum I wandered through the back streets, finding a fruiteria where I bought the tastiest yellow apple I've ever had, and then later finding a neighborhood market where I bought a custard filled doughnut and a large bottle of strawberry yogurt drink. This probably wasn't the wisest choice as I've had some congestion with an irritating cough that's only really been bothering me at night, and I'm sure it was bothering my hostel dorm-mates as well. But it wasn't slowed me down any, and I'm really quite pleased about the whole thing. I knew I was going to get sick on this trip what with the sharing of train and hostel space with so many, and my total disregard for taking it easy, but for it to be so minor, I really lucked out.

I arrived at the museum around 3, and it wasn't all that packed then, but soon after it was. Guernica was actually kind of a let down. I had seen a full size reproduction at LACMA some years ago, and the real thing didn't lend anything new.

What was amazing was the Surrealism room with all the Dalis. Just to be standing in front of "Monumento imperial a la mujer nina, 1929" made me feel priviliged. And I also noted down a bunch of Spanish artists I'd never heard of but liked: Anglada-Camarase ("Retrato de Sonia de Klamery"), Joaquin Mir ("La encina y la vaca, 1915"), Jose de Togores ("Formas, 1930") and Alfonso Ponce de Leon y Cabello, "Accidente"), just to name a few.

I hurried through the top floor as, besides the Goyas, it was all pretty dumb abstract stuff, and I was pooped. I went back to the hostel, waiting for Miguel to call about going out, looking forward to it but hoping he wouldn't call for awhile as I needed sleep.

Well, he never called. But I lucked out as my dorm-mate Katerina was looking to go out, and so we did.

The night before we had actually held a 15 minute conversation in the dark as we laid in the same bed, different bunks, with her above me. I think it was just that I was tired, but also a little lonely, that I felt somehow quite close to her because of that talk. It was just so weird having a semi-intimate conversation in the dark, in bed, with a female, and yet I wasn't in the same bed with her, and I couldn't quite remember what she looked like (although I knew I was attracted to her). So to get to spend time with her was a great thrill.

I was having trouble remembering her name, thinking that she had said Kathleen, but thinking that her name was Katerina. And I was right -- she says Kathleen as she doesn't think non-Germans can pronounce her name. And indeed, I had trouble, pronouncing it with an Italian accent by accident. (Kat-uh-REEEEN-uh) And so it stuck.

We used my guide book to hit up a tapas bar renowned for their cheap wine, Casa del Abuelo. The place was packed, the waitstaff harried, the floor a mess as you're supposed to throw your trash in the footwell of the bar (or wherever), and it was pretty stressful. The book said to order the garlicky prawns, and I had to guess as there's three shrimp dishes. But I guessed right (the Aljillo, I think), and we got the wine as well, which is 1.70 for a copa of sweet red house wine. Unfortunately, Katerina said she doesn't "eat anything that comes out of the sea," and she really missed out. I think all of their dishes (5 or so) involved seafood, and besides, the place was stressing me out, so I suggested we buy a bottle of wine for all of 7.10 Euros and drink at the plaza nearby, and Katerina was agreeable.

We sat under a statue, which is something I loved in Rome -- sitting under a statue with a bottle and talking. We had a great talk, and I was feeling very close to Katerina, who I learned was 19, though I would have guessed older from her composure. I loved looking at her brown hair and eyes, incredible body and big smile. She had had her day bag stolen on her first day in Spain, when she was planning to be here for three months, and yet she was very upbeat and laughed easily. At Casa del Abuelo I tried to pay for her as she said she only had a few Euros to her name, but she insisted on contributing, saying I could buy us dinner later.

After the bottle was downed we moved to another tapas bar suggested by the book where we had two sandwiches: manchego cheese and jamon serrano. I divvied up the ham and cheese so we could share, and we also got some beer. For some reason the tables felt very small and our faces felt so near. It was there that I tried to hold her hand and, though she didn't recoil, she told me she had a boyfriend. By her tone I think she thought that I had known this, but it was news to me. So I immediately reined in my affections (well, almost immediately), to which she said to me in a teasing tone, "You poor man."

Back at the hostel I kissed her cheek good night, and though I slept under her, it was not next to her. Something tells me she'll be breaking men's hearts for years to come.

I did get her e-mail, as for the future, one never knows. But what I didn't get was a picture of us under that statue, and I'll always regret that.

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