Donna and Joe have finished their assignment in India. Occasionally they still travel somewhere.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our visit to Spain begins in the Madrid airport. This is a moving walkway. To the right are windows, to the left is a glass partition separating you from a moving walkway going the other way.

Madrid is a wonderful mix of old, new and in between. The cabbie told Donna this is a "TV tower" It is so covered with antennae, I think it most have cell phone and other antennae on it, as well.

On our first evening in Madrid we went out for a stroll and some dinner. Along the way Donna spotted a hardware store and we went in to see what was there. They had liter sized cans of paint which are round similar to a quart of paint in the U.S.. But for a larger size, they had these rectangular paint cans which stack more efficiently. Only after we unloaded the pictures back at the hotel did we notice that the can has a picture of the Taj Mahal in India.

You can't tell from this picture but this street juggler has only one leg. Those are his crutches in the background leaning against the light post. In addition to juggling he balanced on his head on a ball. Then he stood in the middle of the ground as traffic went by so people could drop coins in his hat. In most big cities I've been in that would very dangerous, but drivers in Madrid (and also Segovia) are very respectful of pedestrians.
We are developing a collection of photos of street signs like this. Street signs are always on the side of buildings. Some are metal but more often they are ceramic tiles with the street name and a picture fired in the glaze.
This building has a very sharp corner to match the sharp corner of the intersection. The streets of Madrid were laid out long before anyone thought of automobiles and traffic signals. So in much of the city there is nothing which resembles a grid and right angle intersections are a rarity.
Most streets are designed to come together into round-about or central plazas.
The art of graffiti is alive and well in Madrid. Most of the messages seem intended to be easily read, unlike much of the graffiti in New York City, which seems be aimed at making it a challenge to read the message. Many businesses have pull down garage doors to close at night (just like in India!) But many of them have the business's name painted on the door in graffiti style. The best, most elaborate work, like the next photo, seems to be in the little ramps going to what I think are underground parking. (You have to be brave, and coming from the right direction--and have a small car to boot, I think!) Perhaps that is why the graffiti artists have so long to work on them!

Here are a couple of examples of food from Spain. The first picture is Huevos y patatas. Either the eggs are better here, or there is lots of butter or something, because they were really good. This was the second course of a three course meal we had at an outdoor table. We didn't care for the free appetizer, which seemed like rawhide covered on both sides by sort of mushy stuff. We found out later they were pig's ears. We didn't eat very many---even before we knew what they were.

At least in September, when the weather is very pleasant, Spaniards seem to prefer to eat outside. You find a place you want to eat and sit down at a table in front of it and the waiter will come and take care of you. An important phrase to learn is "la cuenta, por favor". It means "the bill, please". It is normal to linger after the meal and they will not bring you the bill until you ask for it.
The next picture is from McDonald's. I (Donna) had walked for miles that day looking for and at the costume museum, and was too tired to stare at a menu and try to figure out what everything meant--lest we end up with more pigs ears. Joe and I had had trouble finding each other at the pre-arranged meeting place--A tourist information center that is the best hidden one I have (finally) found in all my travels! Joe could tell I was ready to melt down so he steered me towards a McDonald's, which also have public bathrooms, another high priority at the time. We usually try to eat local fare, but it's also interesting to see, at least once, how each country does McDonald's. The meal combos give you a choice of a salad instead of french fries. It is topped with olives, corn, and cherry tomatoes. The dressing comes in a double packet: one side sherry vinegar, and the other extra virgin olive oil. By tearing carefully, I was able to pour both on at once. The bun has toasted onion pieces on top, and there were more in the sandwich, which seemed to be a much leaner and better grade of beef than in the U.S..

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