Travelling to Madrid for work got me thinking about when I visited Madrid with my sister 16 years ago. I can’t believe so much time has passed. Since then I’ve achieved an MA, lived in both NY and LA and managed to get a short story published online as well as appear in a taxi commercial about zombies!
Sometimes (all the time) I forget how much I’ve done. I made a lovely friend at the conference and we decided to do some exploring with the 1 free hour we had! We went to the plaza de Espana and I told her that if it’s the same place I’ve been to, then there will be a man on a horse. She said she would be very disappointed if there wasn’t a man on a horse and at first we couldn’t see one. But sure enough there he was, straddling his steed! This was definitely the place I had been before. What we noticed about Madrid was that it’s not that multi cultural. My new friend is a Muslim and we didn’t see any other people wearing headscarves. Also the tourists they did have – were all Spanish! This has not changed from when I visited. The plaza itself is gorgeous. Beautiful trees, ice cream stands, and lovely old fashioned street lamps. Another thing we noticed was how ‘open’ the people were, and not just the teenagers – people were practically shagging on the grass. This is probably just because I am so British though – I’m not against it but you just wouldn’t get it at home. We are much more reticent.
Madrid is easy to navigate and the streets are wide so you don’t feel like you are being squished by other people. We also found the ‘green man’ on walkways amusing. He tweets like a bird when it’s safe for a pedestrian to cross and when you run out of time he gets faster. At first I thought it was someone’s phone, I was like is your rucksack making noises? And then I was like shit, why is your rucksack beeping?!
For our work meal we went to Dantxari restaurant http://www.dantxari.com/ - An old style place with excellent service by the very hard working waiters who don’t have a food lift so had to run around 2 flights of stairs serving the 40 of us. The style of the restaurant was to surprise us with different dishes which I personally hate as I have a delicate constitution and I’m fussy about a lot of things.
What passed? The salsa starter and my main which was grilled cod, fancy mushrooms and potatoes. What didn’t make the cut? The weird white asparagus which was bitter and had a cold sauce on it (yuck) and the squid full with charcoal coloured ink – no thanks. What I remember about Spain is that they don’t stop bringing food! We had 3 starter dishes, a main, a pudding (champagne sorbet, but more like a slushie), ice cream, liqueur shots, coffee and then wafers with almonds! Phew. I actually only had the sorbet as I was full. Something they offer a lot are bread rolls but where is the mantequila? They never serve with butter, which I’m told is not a Spanish thing. But I love my bread and butter.
Me and my chum discussed places I had been and she was amazed that I had been to so many places. I realised I had – Croatia, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the Middle East, USA Etc.
As I gulped down 10 teas my new friend remarked ‘you are such a Brit’ – (I had been complaining about the lack of the tea in the hotel and then proceeded to inhale it at the conference) - and you know what, I am, but I’m a very well travelled Brit