Madrid Travel Blog› entry 19 of 49 › view all entries
October 18th, 2007 – by: bvanb
I took the underground metro from the airport to the Banco Espana stop. Walking up out of the metro I was greeted by Fuente de Cibeles at the center of Paseo de Prada, which is one of many fountains commonly found at the center of the major ever so popular round-about intersections. Around it stood the Banco de Espana, Palacio de Communicaciones, and Palacio de Linares.
Paseo de Prada is the largest boulevard cutting through the center of the city with four lanes of traffic in each direction and a long parkway in between. Which is where I sat for two hours, talking, or trying, to old men and waiting to meet up with my host Gilberto. I welcomed this time as it was warm and sunny, a huge relief from the cold grey of Ireland and England. Every once in a while a man would go to the tree in front of the bench I was resting on, pull off some leaves, and chew them while they walked away. I am curious what kind of tree it is, only one comes to mind, but I do not have the knowledge to feel comfortable in making such assumptions.
I met up with Gilberto and he took me to his studio and we hung out during his two hour lunch break, which are typically 2-4 in Spain.
I have gone out a few nights here and there with him and his friends Christian and Bea, all of whom speak English and even though I have requested Spanish, talk to me in English, so practicing with them has been difficult. Saturday night we stayed out until really late, Gilberto and Bea returned home. Leaving me with Christian who was trying to conquer women in effort keep his ego inflated. Soon after I decided to make my home alone. I could not really bare the crowd, the difficulty in dancing, and the smoke filled air of the popular Junco Jazz Club.
Spain passed a national law banning smoking in public places and certain types of businesses, but as far as restaurants, bars, and clubs go, it was left up to the owner to decide.
I started the walk home not scared at all even though it must have been about 4 in the morning. The streets were crowded with people, and in major sectors, police were present. Everyone was simply moving from one good time to another. I was told that you could do this starting Friday night all the was until Sunday late morning without ever going home or sleeping, which certainly requires more than open venues and Red Bull.
I started by trip going the right way, but then found myself going the wrong when I recognized the streets near Plaza del Sol, where I started my Friday adventure from, and the increasing number of prostitutes (which is legally solicited in certain areas).
Everyday I have headed out on some sort of walking adventure through the city and have found that everything central is pretty close to each other, even on foot. Madrid has great pedestrian only areas especially surrounding Puerto del Sol which leads to Plaza Mayor, to the Catedral Nuestra Senora de la Almudena, and the Palacio Real.
I have also returned to Paseo de Prado, venturing to and through El Parque de el Retiro, the City’s central park, and to the Reina Sophia Museo de Arte. The Parque is beautiful, but high manicured in to geometrical paths and portions.
I also took a night away from Madrid and entered the suburb of Malajahonda (spelling could be way off, and the h is silent). It was crazy! Giant complexes of flats and apartments, each dense within themselves, but spread out from each other and the shopping areas. I went here with a friend of a friend from Madison, named Diego. This is where he grew up and lives, minus the year he was an exchange student in good ‘ol Marshfield, Wisconsin.
Before heading to his house he gave me a tour of the main university campus of Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria, where he goes to school. This was the first time too that I would learn about he freeway system in, out and around Madrid.
Diego is very nice and very hospitable, and so are his friends that I met that night when we returned to Madrid for an apartment party. We left the party around 3:30 in the morning to return to his place, where I got a great silent sleep in a big bed all my own. The next morning I went to his team’s, made up of a lot of the guys I met the night before, first soccer game of the season, which they won 4-3, despite being hung over and dehydrated, which was obvious in their near defeat in the second half.
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