Well I’ve got still another hour to kill on the bus, so I may as well write a bit about Madrid. To be honest, I’m trying to keep an open mind but something about Spain just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s that everything is run down or poorly made, maybe it’s that everything is done at their own pace and with no order, maybe it’s the horrible service and strange format of consuming food, but I think it can all be summed up by the huge lack of clocks in this country. I can think of about two wall clocks I’ve seen this whole week.
Anyway, my entrance into Madrid was great. The sun was shining and it was warmer than I’d been in a while. Rather than go straight to the hostel to drop off my bag, I opted for a walk in Madrid’s large and central park, where I could also search out a Geocache and drop off a trackable.
I made my way through the park and then set off in the direction of the hostel. There are a lot of grand fountains and grander buildings along the main roads, heading to the appropriately named centre of the city (and country), Sol (though, due to a desparate need for money, the city-in-crisis was forced to rename this landmark to Vodafone Sol).
There are nice parts of the city for sure but the culture isn’t for me. This was confirmed wholeheartedly by the types of people staying in this hostel. It was a hostel for people who either hadn’t yet grown up or never would. Although the rules were to be quiet after 11, it was still noisy after 12. But when you’re tired after a day of walking, it’s not a big deal. In fact, the only time it was quiet was in the morning, when most people were drunkenly asleep. In Spain, it’s common to party until 7am even and then go home and waste the day sleeping.
But it wasn’t a total loss at the hostel. I did meet an interesting teacher from Texas. He is over here to teach English (he wasn’t the only English teacher I met; a girl on a tour told me she was one of thousands who Spain hired – with no requirements for qualifications – to come teach English to a populace where it is almost unknown). We talked mainly about history and politics, skirting around the issues where Canadians and Texans generally don’t meet eye to eye. There was even a short mention of Star Trek!
On the full day I was there, Saturday, I decided to do two walking tours, to beef up my knowledge of Spanish history, which is mainly non-existent. They were both interesting but the free one is almost always more so and this time was no exception. Interestingly, Madrid hosts the oldest still operating restaurant in the world.
I popped into the art museum at the end of the day because it was free after 6 but it turned out to be a bore. Next was time to follow up on a recommended Spanish restaurant.
Tortilla sucks. That’s all the space I’ll waste on my continued disappointment in Spanish food. I don’t know where you get the good stuff but maybe you need luck or local knowledge. We found awesome tapas in Barcelona but all the other meals were bad. There’s a great Spanish place in Wiesbaden; I’ll stick to that.
This morning, I took off as soon as possible to Sevilla, wishing I had done that already the night before. Madrid was nice but it’s not my thing. I could say that about Spain as a whole. I enjoy experiencing it but I look forward to leaving it. You’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelette and not everywhere you go is going to be a winner.
So I’m on my way back to the good ol’ Commonwealth. I wonder how English, Spanish, or whatever Gibraltar is. Apparently, there are dolphins, so that’s cool. If I’ve seen one before, I have no recollection. Again, I’ll be walking between countries, as this bus only runs to the border. Spain isn’t so cool with the UK holding onto this piece of land but the people of Gibraltar unanimously rejected joining Spain, so what’re you gonna do?
The adventure continues! Oh, I’m really enjoying picking up what little bits of Spanish I can.