Madrid Travel Blog

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I arrived in Madrid around 0930-1000.  Walking through the airport I realized just how heavy my stuff is.  I vow to consume and/or jettison as much stuff as I can as quickly as I can.  I already ate three a couple granola and Balance bars on the flight; I'll have to eat more.

The Metro ride to town is easy and fast.  And a day pass costs the same as the trip from the airport plus one more, so that's good - the rest of the day Metro-ing around town will be free.   I get to my hostel around 1030 and I tell the bloke at the counter my name.
"Ah yes," he says, "Daniel Hungan."
I look at his screen and it does indeed say Daniel Hungan.  Well, when I called a couple days ago to make the reservation we got cut off three times, so I am not surprised.

"Sure, that's close enough," I tell him (it is not really that close).  
When I give him my passport with my real name, however, he says the following: "Ah it's you!"
I reply, "I know! I spoke to you on the phone and we made this reservation that we've been talking about the last five minutes!"
"No, no, I mean a guy just dropped off a package for you ten minutes ago but we didn't know who you were because our only reservation was for Daniel Hungan.
Now is my turn to be surprised.  The other guests beg me to open it immediately so they can see it.  "Looks like someone has a secret admirer," says one woman.  The hotel guy confirms that this is unprecedented.
It is flowers!  Thanks SA, you rock!
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After I checked in to the hotel, I went to see the chabad rabbi, since I heard I had to show my passport to the shul for them to let me in on Shabbos.  I went to the street where the shul is located and I saw a plaque on the outside of one of the apartments that said "Chabad".  Nobody was home.  Remember this story - this will be important later on.  I waited a little while and then I left to go touring.

I walked and subway-ed around a lot of Madrid on Friday.  I saw the Royal Palace, which is apparently based on Versailles.  I took a lot of pictures, but I wasn't allowed to, so I did it surreptitiously and none of the pictures are well composed or focused.  Sorry.  The King's armory was very cool.
  Lots of guns and swords and coats of armor.  Each one of those = cool, and all of those = very cool.  The Spanish word Real means "royal" so everything in the area is Real This and Real That, even the movie theatre.

So here are three important things I have learned about Spanish transportation:
  • A. When a sign wants you to go straight, it has an arrow pointing down, not up.
  • B. When it's your stop on the Metro, you have to push a button to open the door; the subway doors do not open automatically.  Does it really cost that much more electricity to open all the doors on the train?
  • C. There is no blinking red man at pedestrian crosswalks.  Instead, the green man blinks.  When the red man comes on, that's it, it don't blink and the cars they are a'coming.  At first I thought this was stupid, but the more I thought about it, I came to believe that our way is stupider.  After all, why should you hurry up when you see the red, stopped man?  But a blinking green, walking man, now that means walk quickly.  So far, that's the only thing I've seen in Europe that I wish they had in America.
wherezmiriam says:
Did u try the coffee yet? That would be the second thing you'll wish they had in America:)
Posted on: Sep 01, 2009
photo by: vulindlela