Monday, August 27, 2007

Getting lost in time in Madrid


Bourbon Madrid - Columns, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Back in Holland today, a day in the office in Amsterdam. Strange not to be getting out of bed at 11.55 am as I had done the previous two days. By that time today, I had woken up, showered and shaved, bought some bread and milk at the butchers, eaten my breakfast, cycled to the Amstel Station, taken the train to Capelle and done three hours work. A lot more effort than lying in bed asleep.

Still, it has been a nice enough late summer’s day today and the sun was shining as we walked down to the shopping centre to buy some rolls for lunch. I was again with my Norwegian colleague from last week with whom we had bought the ham and today she was wanting to buy some Gouda cheese, nice and old and tasty for her children. It seems that Norwegians are brought up on brown cheese, which, if I can remember, is almost sweet. Anyway, the cheese shop in Capelle shopping centre was quite different from our ham shop in Madrid. At the airport, I had seen a plastic packet of top quality jamon for sale at € 51 for just 200 grams. To think that we had each bought a kilo of the same quality ham for two-thirds of the price. As I told a friend at the weekend, I am Dutch enough to enjoy food more when I know it is not costing too much!

Anyway, back to Madrid and yesterday we rounded off our visit with a couple of large (one litre) beers (San Miguel) at our favourite tapas bar. Fred had his ham and potato croquettes, I had my paella and our Australian friends went bizarrely for the snails. Hmmmm…. So, we were in a fit state for our taxi ride to the airport for a delayed fight back to Amsterdam with Transavia, operated by Air Finland.

Earlier, in the day, but not too early, as you can imagine, we walked over to Retiro Park, where Madrilenos are famed for spending their Sundays in the summer. At least this is what I had always heard and it was partially true. There were lots of people there but not quite the whole city (most of whom were probably still in bed). It was hot and sunny and people were out on the rowing boats on the lake in front of the Alfonso Memorial.

We then walked back through the gay area of Chueca, which was now relatively empty, with just a few foreign couples sitting outside at the tables in the square. It’d have been a lot busier twelve hours earlier in the early hours of the morning, apparently.

It was odd walking around looking for breakfast. By now it was already after 1 pm, but still felt like morning to us and it looked odd to see people at tables eating lunches of pasta and salad and meat and patatas, accompanied by vino tinto or cervezas while we were looking for coffee and a croissant. It was a while before we realized that we were the ones who were out of synch with everyone else and that it really WAS lunchtime.

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