Okay… I admit to a guilty little pleasure… I’ve ducked into a Starbucks to check my email and hear a little “American” spoken! I have YET to be able to connect to any of the other FREE wifi (pronounced “weefee” here) connections that are supposed to litter the city. It just doesn’t happen for me, but if you give me an access code, I’m in with no problem!
I’ve started to act a little more like a tourist today… I’ve gotten an all day pass to the open air “Tourist” bus that has two lines that circle the city. I’ve ridden one around entirely, and will ride the second after I eat lunch and blog a bit. So far… the area that I am staying in seems to be the most interesting… and it is very centrally located. I’ve signed up for another week… making a total of two weeks in Madrid. I think I will enjoy every bit of two weeks here!
A couple of days ago I spent the morning with my couchsurfing.org friend, Emilio. He took me on a fast-paced walking tour. He is very nice… friendly and passionate! And a bit of an anarchist! We had a really good time and will spend the morning together on Wednesday again! Couchsurfing is a really good way to get to know a city. I’m so glad my friend Julianne turned me on to it!
I spent that same afternoon in the Plaza Mayor (which is close to my room and my new “hang-out” spot in Madrid). There was a group of about eight Belgian men at the next table. They were having a bachelor party and were making the groom (who was very good looking!) try to collect “beer money” from the crowd. The crowd was asking him to perform a large variety of tasks to earn his beer money. To start out, the groom was wearing a white Karate outfit and with each 10 Euro he collected, he was allowed to “upgrade” the color of his belt. I don’t think he ever GOT to black belt… his clothes came off before then! He “streaked” through the plaza wearing nothing but a “Borat bathing suit” style one piece… that left him ALL BUT naked! In the one good photo that I took of him streaking (from the side) you really can’t tell he’s wearing anything! His mates were taking LOTS of pictures… poor man may never live it down!
I am getting my “tourist legs” back. Yesterday I spent nearly the whole day walking. I took a walking tour titled “Essential Madrid I” concentrating on Medieval Madrid (the “morning tour” here starts at noon… seriously!). Then I was going to spend a lazy afternoon in Plaza Mayor, watching my new artist friend paint. I got a cup of tea, (“Un vaso grande té negro Ceylon con leche para llevar por favor.”) but forgot to use a tray to bring it to my table. Suddenly I found it was burning my hand, so I quickly put it down on the nearest table… which was occupied by an Asian woman…. We struck up a conversation! Julia Chen is an representative for a umbrella manufacturer in Taiwan and was in Madrid to meet with some clients. She had yesterday “free” to sightsee… and being alone, she was happy to have me share the rest of the day with her… after all, I “speak Spanish”! I know… some of my Spanish speaking friends are rolling on the floor laughing right now (you know who you are!) . But I CAN at least ask directions in Spanish and order tea the way I like it… which is much more than Julia could do! What is the proverb… in a world of the blind, a one-eyed man is King? We took a long walk around the city, dunked our poor tired feet in a cool fountain, watched a flamenco show and ate a very late dinner together! Thoroughly enjoyable!
Oh… and yesterday there was a coin and stamp market on the Plaza Mayor. I finally managed to find a Roman As from the period of Emperor Claudius (of “I, Claudius” fame). I had looked for one all over Jerusalem, to no avail. This particular dealer had a small selection… it turns out HIS name is Claudio, so he liked coins from the reign of Claudius as well! It is a small enough souvenir to fit my overcrowded backpack!
Well… my “break” is over… it is time for me to get back to the important business of being a tourist!
Life’s a Trip!
View selected photos from my Madrid trip at: http://www.summerthor.phanfare.com/4812214_5354084