Madrid, Capital of Spain and Cool

May 27, 2008 at 5:50 pm 4 comments

I thought I published this back in Barcelona, after staying in Madrid for about a week and a half. Now I’m in Nice, and heading to Paris tomorrow, where the internet is 4 euros an hour, but stay tuned. For most of the time in Madrid, I stayed with my friend Molly in a quiet but convenient neighborhood called Embajadores. It was relaxing. I spent a lot of time in nearby Lavapies, a ethnically diverse and architecturally barrio. For the first couple of days, I couldn’t help comparing Rome, where no one would dream of there being an openly gay neighborhood like Madrid’s Cuerca, to the modern bustle of Spain’s capital. Indeed, I once again found myself in a “stand on the right, walk on the left” escalator city. Madrid has a better Metro system, more interesting fashion, and much more interesting nightlife. However, they have far more Starbucks, McDonalds, and Burger King. Still, the two countries have many of the same social problems. They are both plagued by high real estate prices, unemployment, and incapable governments. More after the jump.

And perhaps more than Rome is to Italy, Madrid is in many ways the cultural ambassador of everything that is Spain. Tapas, flamenco, and bullfighting are very much a natural part of Madrid. You can even have good Paella, even though it is from Valencia. And I did enjoy the food. Some of my favorites were pulpa la gallega and tortilla. Also, it’s common to drink beer with tonic or seltzer (called a clara), and that was really delicious. Of the three cultural things above, the only one I didn’t manage was flamenco. The bull run (no one is pretending it’s actually a fight) was extremely interesting but I’m not sure where I fall morally even after seeing it.

I ended up doing almost all the touristy stuff there is to do in Madrid, especially after Mia arrived. The Prado was great, and so was it’s modern art sister the Reina Sofia, but I might have actually enjoyed the  Thyssen-Bornemisza museum the most, because of its interesting arrangement. And it was great to be there during the festival of San Isisdro, which mainly meant light and fireworks shows in El Retiro. Molly and I also took some day trips out into the country. We went to Valle de los Caídos and Toledo, which really reminded me of Assisi. Now we’re enjoying Barca, which is an entirely different thing, and next we head off to Nice and Monaco in Southern France.

All images from creative commons flickr users. First from Álvaro Herraiz San Martín, second from Octavio Rojas, third I took on Molly’s camera (goodgolly), fourth from ctankcycles.



Entry filed under: europe, food, spanish, travel. Tags: , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dckaplan  |  May 28, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    I’m enjoying your pics, It’s like being there. Love

  • 2. dad  |  May 28, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Well it’s about freakin time there was something to look at on your blog. Gimme more !!

  • 3. Adrian Elliot  |  June 4, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Excellent post. You might expand on the comparison between Spain and Italy’s governments though. Spain is currently suffering the consequences of the global credit crisis and the end of a property boom however until a few months ago it had been experiencing an unprecedented period of growth unrivalled in any other western European country, except for a time, Ireland. Spain has also a much more stable political system. Since the restauration of democracy and under the 1979 constitution, Spain is on its 5th prime minister, who has in fact just been reelected 3 months ago on account of his record. Italy is on something like its 30th and its political system is riddled with corruption and has been hijacked by the xenophobic right. It has also not been experiencing growth for many years, and recently slipped behind Spain in GDP.

    Clearly there are many ways in which the Spanish government could be criticised however mostly for similar reasons to Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy or Angela Merkel. It has been especially succesful in developing social equality, allowing gay marriage and adoptions, and providing financial support for people who can not fend for themselves. For the first time, a majority of Spain’s cabinet are female. I can hardly imagine the same even being even feasible in contemporary Italy.

    Suggesting that Italy and Spain are united by the incompetence of their governments thus seems to me to be a rather subjective statement.

  • 4. Flamenco dancer  |  December 16, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Flamenco has never been more popular in Spain and abroad than it is today with a new generation of new flamenco performers in the post-Franco era who have broadened flamenco’s appeal to an international audience.


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Shit Just Got Real

Josh Kramer is a blogger, cartoonist, journalist, etc. I'm the Editor of The Cartoon Picayune. I live in Washington, DC and I just graduated from the Center for Cartoon Studies. See work by me and my classmates.

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