Thursday, November 7, 2013

Madrid Day One: Guapas, Bread and Wine in brightly lit places

Check out previously on: Allison went to Spain a long ass time ago and will not shut up about it.

The train ride from Sevilla to Madrid was probably picturesque. I say probably because when I wasn't focused on the intensely attractive fellow passengers in my train car, I was fast asleep. I did wake up a few times when the train stopped, yanked out of my deep sleep with that panic of "omfgwherethehellami??" every single time. In our train car was a group of people who had just walked out of their fashion shoot and onto the train. Likely they were just normal people who were guests at a wedding (if their overnight bags and conversations reminiscing and recapping the reception were to be believed) but there is something in the water in Spain and France especially that makes people grow into intensely good looking individuals. That alone is reason to live there, really.
Also, on trains they apparently give you free headphones in their own little plastic case. I am, in fact, listening to music on them as I type this. I enjoy free stuff that I can actually use. It is so different from all the crap I actually pay for that I never use. How American of me.

We made it to Madrid in a couple of hours and got into a taxi. The taxi driver was not as loquacious as the one in Barcelona had been but he did call me guapa. For all I know, everyone calls everyone else in Madrid guapa but I got a kick out of it nonetheless. The cab couldn't drive up to the entrance of the apartment building because it turned out we were staying on a pedestrian only street, heavily occupied by tourists and locals alike. I was thrilled. Also, why don't we have more pedestrian only streets in our big cities. I love the idea of streets where no cars go.

The landlord of the apartment met us just as we walked up to the entrance and he basically sprinted up the stairs, of which there were five flights. I'm not sure where you are on the fitness scale but carrying a rucksack, after vacation eating for a week and change does not augur well for climbing five flights and arriving at the top not looking like an asthma attack made flesh. The landlord just breezed on up and started opening windows and doors. He gave us a quick tour of the apartment and was, as I found most Spanish people, friendly but not too friendly. I think they have that in common with New Yorkers. He explained a bunch of stuff about the place, including how to use the dag nabit washing machine but I couldn't focus because I had fallen in love with the apartment. Here are some photos:

The view from the teeny tiny porch.

The apartment's living room

Roof of the building across the street

Extreme spoons sizes, no in betweensies

After the landlord left I went to stand out on the porch to take those photos and my necklace got caught on the railing. When I went to stand straight up, my pendant fell from the chain and landed, five flights below on the street. Heartbroken, I ran all the way down and against all odds found both pieces that the pendant had broken into. I still have to glue that back. Still, I took that as a good omen: maybe I'd find something I thought I'd lost here.

Since we had such a close view of the building across the street it was possible to witness a nightly show of daily life through the window. For example, one floor below us and across the street, an older man would sit on the edge of his couch with his cat sat next to him, only the glow of the television set illuminating them both until well after midnight. Neither of them seemed to move much during the couple of hours that they watched TV together. There were clothes hanging up to dry in virtually every apartment I could see into. Again I say that apartment rentals for vacations are the absolute best way to travel. 

We had some time to kill before Rowan's flight arrived so we went to wander around and find a supermarket to stock up on a lot of wine fruit and vegetables strictly. Being in a busy center of town afforded us a lot of options. We stocked up on wine and supplies and checked out the immediate area. Apparently we were half a block away from the Plaza Mayor which is a major destination, and just a really beautiful and lively place. Here's my first photo of it.

There are better pictures of this on the internet.

The weather was just like that for our entire stay in Madrid: clear, blue cloudless skies and zero humidity. It got hot but nothing in the way of what we experienced in Sevilla or Barcelona so hours of meandering were called for and completed.

While we waited back at the apartment, we got our first chance to see some Spanish television. This apartment had come equipped with cable and there was, just like back home, nothing to watch but it was nothing in about six different languages. We landed on a Korean music show that was some kind of singing competition but none of the contestants seemed to be doing any actual singing and all of the competing groups had no less than 13 members that all looked identical to each other. The music was so computerized and high pitched that it produced a very bizarre, melody free sound. I fell in and out of sleep while this was on which left me with a strange premonition bouncing off the walls of my brain that the horrible "singing" and the futuristic, stylized doppelgangers that were on that competition is what the future will sound like. It was a comfort to wake up and realize that I was in the middle of such an old world city since the future often scares the living crap out of me.

Rowan arrived later that night and we chatted, drank wine, caught up. Lorraine stayed behind to rest some more while Rowan and I went out for a stroll in search of the endless nightlife Madrid promised. Perhaps because it was Sunday night, or perhaps because we had no clue in which direction to walk, we didn't see a lot nightlife happening. The Plaza Mayor restaurants seemed to be closing up for the night and though we were so close to the Puerta del Sol, the only things that seemed to be going on there were people milling about fountains and hanging out outside. We saw plenty of open bars but they were all brightly lit and empty. We didn't know a basic fact about Madrid yet which was this: all the bars are always brightly lit. It is considered strange to drink in a darkened bar there. This did not translate to my American/New Yorker brain nor to Rowan's Scottish one. Who wants to drink and ogle strangers in a brightly lit room?? Madrilenos apparently. The idea seems to be see and be seen and, not to put too FINE a point on it,  the Spanish people are distractingly hot so I completely get it. Still, it threw us off that first night and led us to believe that everything was getting ready to shut down.

We walked back to the apartment took off our shoes and drank to excess, ate bread, listened to  music and enjoyed each other's presence after a two year hiatus. The last time we were together was Paris, 2011 and it was so nice to feel at home even thousands of miles away.

More Madrid to come.

1 comment: