Last Winter, I was fortunate enough to make 3 trips to Madrid—thanks to Ellioto, who was on a 6-month fellowship to Universidad San Carlos III de Madrid. He was living on the top floor of university-housing, so we were living with the students, so to speak.
Coming from a college town, I probably felt more at ease with college students than they did with me. English is not so much a second language with the locals as it is for the students who have helped us more than once–otherwise, I would still be trying to figure out those coin washers at the laundromat!
Arriving on St. Patrick’s Day, my Irish soul felt the luck of amazing weather, fresh and clear, luring my jet-lagged self out into the day. This weekend the temps are in the 70’s, though it’s a bit early and not yet consistent. With nary a cloud marring the baby-blue, an occasional jet streaks stripes above me. The breeze gentles my spirit as I settle into this exotic land.
There are date palms trees here, the result of Madrid’s moderate climate. Birds harken in song and across the lush green lawn, groups of college kids dot the grass, their guitars plucking Spanish rhythms as they sing aloud. It’s hypnotic and I could not sit still as I acclimated to the Spanish thrum.
Others practiced gymnastic flips, on high and low bars, offering me a show. Boom boxes revved-up their moves, while their incomprehensible chatter reminded me that I am the foreigner here. And so, they posed and showed off as I snapped a few shots.
Similar to Oxford’s crosswalk-law, cars stop for pedestrians and no one seems rude or irritated. Thus, I vowed to return home with a more agreeable attitude.
There are not as many bicycles as in other European cities that we have visited, but there are bike paths, parks with fountains and playgrounds located every few blocks where families with dogs, complete the wholesome scene. Grandparents in tow, the children seem mellow and happy.
And what of Spanish food, you ask? It is not as spicy as Mexican; local cheese is delish; Paella is a staple and the wine is less expensive than bottled water however, I never did get used to having fried anchovies served up with my beer!