Friday, July 17, 2009

Madrid - Wednesday/Thursday

We decided to make a trip out of dropping Jenny off at the airport.
The six hour drive had a mix of desert, orchards, and mountains. Close
in to Madrid, the mountains in the distance line the freeway on both
sides. A fun moments was singing along with Jenny to John Denver's
tribute to West Virginia and its mountains, "Country Roads," on the
radio while driving through the mountains to Madrid.

Once again we had traffic adventures. At some freeway exits, the
traffic splits into three directions, only one of which is labeled
with an exit number. That got us a little lost. Heading into
construction which diverted us from our path into a tunnel, where the
GPS signal vanished, got us more lost. But we eventually found the
Hotel Cervelo and parking.
We explored the city for a while and then looked through a half-dozen
sidewalk cafes, all on the mayor's square. The square was full of
crowds and street performers, from a faux American Indian in plastic
(not pleather, plastic) pants to trumpet and accordian players to TWO
faux Mickey Mouses making balloon animals to a guy playing a
disembodied head to a streamer covered faux goat to jugglers to silver
covered man to an aspiring flaminco dancer. Both Jenny and I
independently commented to L that at some point it stops being
charming entertainment and becomes a freak show. Again the question
comes up: how do you create something historic, wonderful, worthwhile,
and popular without it being overrun by tourists, post card and
trinket shops, heavy traffic, and aggressive beggars and pickpockets?

The next morning, I slept in while L and Jenny went to the Royal
Palace. The hostess at the hotel said the airport was 30 minutes away.
Again traffic and the cursed one way streets conspired against us (you
can see the street you want, but you can't get there) , and it took us
1.5 hours and a lot of effort. We luckily chose terminal 4 for Iberia,
which was a completely different exit than the other terminals. We
don't have a cell phone, so she couldn't tell us if she made her
flight. We called her after lunch,hoping to go directly to voicemail,
with her phone turned off during her flight, but she picked up,
having missed her flight. We stopped at another payphone on the way
home and confirmed that she had a seat assignment for the next flight.
So we learned a frustrating lesson to leave tons of time for

We stopped at Monasterio 2/3 of the way home to discover restaurants
there didn't start serving dinner until 8:30. I guess people here
don't have sugar lows. This led us to continue on and find a nice
pizzeria on the outskirts of Seville. We sat at an Ikea table within
view of the Ikea store sign. The Ikea chair was real wood, unlike the
plastic chairs that seam to dominate the reclining landscape here, so
my broken chair count remains at 3. I am not the heaviest man in
Europe, but I feel like it when chair collapses into the sand as I
attempt to enjoy the sunset at the beach.
Back to the pizza, it was good and the waitress was very friendly with
good English. There were no street perfomers, but there was a band
playing in the park across the street. Maybe practicing is more honest
of a description than playing. I guess it's boring to play exactly the
same note with each instrument. Slight variations in pitch add some
creativity? But it had a charm of its own, and they didn't even ask
for tips.

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