Saturday, April 26, 2008

Great days in Madrid

It's wonderful to be back in Madrid, and particularly nice to know some "locals" our own age who can show us the city.

Yesterday Kim went golfing while I walked around Puerta del Sol (the historic square), we met at the apartment for a stir-fry lunch, and then she, Matt and I went to "University City" -- which boasts a total of more than 100,000 students -- for an outdoor concert.

I've never seen a university that officially sponsors the type of concert/party we ended up at yesterday; the cafeteria sells beer on tap and has full shelves of liquor.

We wandered away from the crowds, met up with Matt's best friend Abe and girlfriend Nicoletta, and went out for tapas in the evening.

A few more quirks about Spain I've learned -- wine is literally cheaper than water; you can find bottles of red wine for 0.55 euros. If you "splurge" on a 4-euro bottle, you can get really good stuff.

Also, two of the best museums, El Prado (12th century through 19th century European art) and the Reina Sofía (20th-century art featuring Picasso, Monet, and Dalí) are free once a week -- the Reina Sofía is free Saturday afternoons and El Prado is free Sunday mornings. Perfect! We're cooking paella and heading to the Reina Sofía today.

Unlike traveling in countries where no tourist knows the language (like Thailand or Czech Republic), the people of Spain really expect you to speak Spanish, and get a little snooty if you don't.