My humble apologies for the long pause between posts. My laptop won’t boot up, so that makes blogging more difficult, and it will be impossible for me to post pictures. Nevertheless, my goal this week is 5 posts. Thanks to everyone for your comments. It’s nice to know that people are reading at the other end. Anyway, let me catch you up on what’s happened in the past week or so...
Speaking Spanish feels more natural now. Last week for class we had to read the newspaper every day on our own, then present an article and the class would discuss it as a group. My personal highlight was when I gave a report on the Detroit Auto Show that led to an hour-long conversation about cars.
I’m surprised by how thorough the coverage of the inauguration was over here (for example, there was a sketch and technical specs for Obama´s limo). I don’t typically read the newspaper when I’m at home (although I do log onto espn.com several times a day), so ironically I’m more informed about US news than I would be at home. It’s also nice to know what´s going on in the local news... it makes you feel less like a tourist and more like an insider.
I spent a few afternoons just walking around the city to get re-acquainted. Sadly I can’t show any pictures since my laptop died, but here are a few places I went, and you’ll just have to take my word for it that I was there.
- Plaza de Cibeles - An intersection of main streets that is probably the most recognizable landmark in Madrid. In the center is a fountain with a sculpture of the goddess of fertility in a chariot pulled by two lions. The palatial-looking building in the background used to be the main post office, but is now city hall.
- Gran Via - Madrid’s main street. Upscale shopping, great architecture, and lots and lots of people.
- Palacio Real - Built to be the biggest palace in Europe.
- Parque Retiro - Madrid’s version of Boston Common/Public Garden.
- Atocha Station - The site of the 2004 bombings. The station also has a large tropical garden inside complete with a turtle pond.
- Plaza Mayor - This main plaza is beautiful... I don’t think we have anything like it in the US. My Madrileño friends tell me that the apartments on the periphery are the most coveted in Madrid, and are often passed down through the generations.
- Puerto del Sol - This intersection is literally the center of Spain. There is a marker on the sidewalk indicating kilómetro cero; for postal purposes, all distances from Madrid are measured from this spot.
Sunday I took a tour of the venerable Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (the home of Real Madrid). This is like the Fenway Park of Madrid, but if I’m honest, I thought it lacked a little personality. I’m sure I would feel differently if it had been full of 85,000 screaming fans. And the history of the team is undeniably impressive.
I’ve had some great food since I’ve been here, and tomorrow I’ll go over it in some detail.