Having my parents visit for a week was one of the highlights of this trip to Spain. With them, Kim and I acted as tour guides to Madrid and showed them the sights: the numerous plazas with cute cafés, the Sunday morning flea market, the city rose garden, the royal palace. They, in turn, gave us experiences we'd never have done on our own, like an evening at a flamenco dance show, where we saw the dancers legs vibrate at a pace we didn't realize was humanly possible.
They left yesterday morning, and Kim and I are now back in the the mix of life in Madrid. After spending 3 of the past 5 weeks in Madrid, I feel like we've crossed the threshold between visiting a place and actually living there.
Madrid is like Boulder, Colo., in the sense that its a wonderful place to visit, but an even nicer place to live. It's sunny year-round, filled with large lush parks, great public transit, and an active and lively city life. In the winter, its 30 minutes from the nearest ski mountain. All its missing is a beach :-)
Here, we've transitioned from "vacationing" to "traveling."
On a vacation, people take advantage of each day: you might plan to spend a morning on an architectural tour, the afternoon at an art museum, the evening at a restaurant or nightspot.
But when "traveling," you re-create your daily life routine in a foreign setting, and the challenge is to navigate in a new setting and keep yourself entertained sans employment. You read books, watch movies, cook new experimental meals, and take long walks.
Thats our life here in Madrid: at home, we watch Wedding Crashers and Shrek 3, upload photos onto our MySpace pages and read business books. But each day takes on an international tinge, whether it be though asking the pharmacist in Spanish for contact lens solution, learning the Metro routes through greater Madrid, watching The Simpsons in Spanish, or seeing how the grocery stores shut down from noon to 4 p.m. each day for siesta.