You give a kid a perfectly good name and she boils it down to one tiny initial. So in that vein, this is V, G’s mom guest-blogging for the next two weeks from her latest home far from home, Madrid.
Got here about 7:15 a.m. local time and am not a complete wreck, to borrow from you-know-who’s vernacular. It helped that I was so sleep-deprived I slept for three hours on the first leg and four on the second. Interesting note regarding international flights: The people are friendlier than Americans on the go, at least in airports. Got a kick out of listening in on conversations of the Marching Mountaineers from Appalachian State University, band geeks extraordinaire who filled at least 50 seats on the flight from D.C. to Madrid and came off as sweet and earnest.
Checked one bag that got searched by TSA, a first for me. I could have done carry-on only but G’s requests included a dress that debuted on New Year’s in Vegas 2009, packets of instant oatmeal, a couple of Spanish textbooks (my daughter the nerd, love it) and mascara (“because it’s really expensive here.”) Took an hour for my bag to show up but after it finally did, I walked through the doors and like a scene out of a low-budget movie, G greeted me European-style with two kisses on the cheek and we took the subway to her apartment.
Her five-bedroom apartment in a very nice area of Madrid is upscale on the outside and kind of pre-World War II on the inside. Lots of hallway, little kitchen and one bizarro bathroom that is so narrow the toilet had to be installed at an angle.
We had our own little mini-Christmas by the 4 Euro tree, and I got a couple of cosmopolitan scarves that I am going to figure out how to wear properly and a box of chocolates inscribed on the front: “125 grs of big emotions from Salamanca.” It reminds me of the scene from “Love, Actually” when the Portuguese woman tells the Colin Firth character she learned English “Just in cases.”
Spent a couple of hours walking around Madrid, and happy to report Gillian didn’t get lost just confused. I mean, she’s only lived here a little more than three months, right? Madrid is more of a mixture of people than Barcelona, the only real comparison that I have …. meaning that Barca natives seem to abound while Madrid seems more like a big-city mix of cultures.
We wandered by palaces, fountains out of nowhere, up the occasional cobblestone streets, down lots of major streets with tiny cars and recognizable chain stores … and ate “lunch” at 100 Montaditos, a tapas-like place that lives up to its name. G orders, I pay. Pretty good deal, no? But for 13 Euro and change we had jamon iberico, shrimp and Caesar mini-sandwiches plus beer and a diet Pepsi for me (caffeinating my way through Day 1.) G’s goal: To eat all 100 Montaditos before she goes. (I taught her well: I’m a big believer in “attainable goals.”)
Tonight we are ringing in “Nochevieja” in the center of Madrid. Grapes are supposed to be involved and people were already lining up for the big event by 1 p.m. We’ll take pictures. Madrid definitely has more character than I expected … not the wild charm of Barcelona but still a lot of quirkiness going on.