Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Around the World: Madrid

March 6, 1992

The berth on the train was quite comfortable.  The only distraction being my room mates exiting and returning to the compartment throughout the night.  It's also a nice treat to use the time spent sleeping to complete a long journey.  I went to bed speaking French, using francs as currency, and woke up in a new country, one that speaks Spanish and spends pesetas.  

The Madrid subway system is pretty straight forward, much less confusing than the Paris metro.  Not far from the subway is the pensione where I will stay tonight.  The woman who answers the door is kind enough, but not overly friendly.  This is a type of bed and breakfast accommodation, without the breakfast, and only costs $11 for the room.

With my knapsack safely tucked away, I explore Madrid with the help of the map from tourist information at the train station.  Madrid is a beautiful city to wander in, with its lovely fountains.  I take my time figuring out where to go next in a gorgeous park, full of lakes, trees and a crystal house.

Madrid's Parque del Retiro
Photo by Alexander Boden

Around the city are vendors with little carts, much like the hot dog carts back in Toronto.  Here you can buy a drink, which is anything from coke-a-cola to a martini.  There is a little seating area that is available for an extra 100 pesetas.

Spanish coffee is strong, like the coffee in Paris, but with a slightly different taste.  The man at the bistro suggests I add lots of milk, stir and then sprinkle the sugar on top.  The result is very tasty.  While I enjoy my coffee, I discuss some of Spain's more popular festivals, like Tomatina, and the Running of the Bulls with another traveler. 

Madrid turns out to be more of a culinary experience, with so many interesting flavours of food and drink to discover.  A small restaurant prepares perfectly spiced ravioli, served with delicious wine for my post city sight seeing dinner.

Back at the pensione, and exhausted from a day of walking and eating, I flop into my bed.  The mattress consumes me, folding up on either side like a fluffy, thick hammock.  I have been transformed into a human hot dog, wrapped up a snug bun, covered with a blanket the exact same shade as French's mustard.

Pleasant dreams!

• ¤ •

"The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."
~G.K. Chesterton

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