Archive for Madrid

05 Sep 2013

The (be)Witching Hour

1 Comment Madrid

That old Spanish time chestnut again.

It feels like only last week I was adjusting my watch to South Australian time — not to mention twitching, stashing booty in the desert, playing class clown to the girls and first-mate to a camel — and crossing the Nullarbor at a snail's pace. Oh, but it was only last week! Now here I am having traversed several continents, travelling the most ineffable number of kilometres in a few short hours. My carbon footprint belies my size and Kevin Rudd has taken to personally calling me his mate (Err, thanks Kev but no thanks) and rubbing his palms with glee while sending mixed messages about whether he will or won't tax me on it.

After a quick siesta and a stroll around town — and what a beautiful town it is — the rooftop bar of the hotel I am staying at in Madrid seemed the perfect place to while away a couple of post-midnight hours. All the beautiful people were out: women with women; men with men; and shock horror, even a heterosexual couple lounging poolside in the chic and brilliantly white lounge bar. A few of us lonely souls propped up the bar. By 2am just as the place was beginning to liven up, I retired.

I slept in till 11am — what bliss — then strolled to the metro station in order to get to the apparently impressive Matadero contemporary art space before the crowds. I shouldn't have bothered. The Matadero (an old slaughterhouse) doesn't open until 4pm. Of course not. Why open at 10am when you can open at 4pm. Seems perfectly logical. Of course. Was it worth the wait? Probably not … a large panelled exhibition on Dracula, celebrating 101 years after the death of Bram Stoker — Bela Lagosi in all his gory, that sort of thing. Best viewed during daylight hours.

Still it gave me plenty of time to have breakfast at 12pm, lunch at 3pm and spend the hours in between sourcing a virtually elusive iPhone 5 micro-SIM card for my phone. It seems the iPhone 5 comes to Spain next year. Mañana mañana.

I have decided to adopt a slaphappy Spanish approach to all of this, discarding my sunglasses and walking Madrid's sun-dappled tree-lined autumnal main avenues squinting, and leaving my watch back at the hotel. It helps to go with the flow. Act local. I am feeling more and more Spanish by the minute (but who's counting).

PS: On witching hours, that frightful eve before the Federal election looms. If you are as nonplussed about the Australian election on Saturday as I was, may I suggest taking the Spanish approach and throwing caution to the wind. Think pin the tale on the donkey (apt when you think about it), wave your pencil around blindly in the polling booth and hope for the best. It can't get much worse!

Hasta lluego



21 Jun 2010

Vamos A Madrid

Comments Off on Vamos A Madrid Madrid, Spain

Blanca and Paul – icecream monsters


Raymond and Gill in Toledo


The further south we drove, the better the weather. When we woke the next morning in Madrid, the sun was shining and by the time I surfaced, Blanca was waiting downstairs with a big smile and kisses all around.

We strolled for a while (it’s a Spanish thing – if you have nothing better to do, go for a stroll), checking out El Rastro Markets and stopping to buy lots of presents for everyone (just joking – wanted to see if you were all paying attention). After a big lunch with lots of wine and Sangria and post-lunch helados (icecream) we said our goodbyes. Sidenote: icecream – another Spanish thing! It is not uncommon to see hundreds of people walking around licking various multi-coloured icecreams. The wail of a crying child standing alonsgide a spilt blob of icecream on the pavement is also common.

In the evening we met Raymond and Lesley and Les at the rooftop bar of the swanky Madrid hotel they were staying in for a few drinks and later a meal.

The next day the three of us + Raymond (sans Les/Lesley’s) hopped on a train bound for Toledo. We walked tirelessly past scores of shops selling nothing but knifes and swords and full metal medieval armour, resisting the temptation to purchase. We marvelled at old buildings, stopped in at a bar or two, and returned on a high-speed train to Madrid, weary in our legs.

09 Dec 2008


2 Comments Madrid

Either Paul or Gill has given me this damn head cold and the three of us, a sorry sight indeed, have spent the last two days coughing and blowing our noses all over Madrid and Phil and Carmen’s house. I know the food looks and tastes good. I just wish I could smell it!

As of tomorrow we are officially “estudianties” and all further blogs could be in Spanish, or not.

04 Dec 2008

Beware the bull

1 Comment Madrid

It is 8.30pm, and I am sitting upstairs in my room in St Agustin, Spain while the meal we are preparing for Carmen, Phil, Joseph, Alexandra, Anna and Thomas simmers away. By 9.30 we should begin eating and all being well we may get to bed by midnight.

We have been in Spain for a few days now and it has been a breath of fresh air (if you are a smoker that is) compared to the US. The Spanish like a smoke and at times it can be difficult to read the menu through the fog. The European lifestyle is relaxed, if not tiring. Our days in Madrid were spent wandering the streets, trying to gain our bearings, but more often than not getting lost in the maze of streets that all looked alike. Through some miracle though, we managed to find our way back to “Mario”, our hotel, every night.

Mario has big door numbers so when you arrive home at 3.00am, bleary eyed, you can easily find your room, which still leaves the actual problem of finding your hotel.
And when you do find it you will need sunglasses to get past the reception.

Other than watching the monthly changing of the guard at the palace, which is quite a spectacle, but goes on for about 3 hours….yawn, we have done nothing cultural. In fact we have adopted the Spanish way of living – eat, drink, be merry, for tomorrow we die.

The changing of the guard commences…
We have been having the odd one, two or five hour siesta most days and have established a routine of heading out for a Vino Tinto or Mojito, or two, most nights at around 9/9.30 and then perhaps sitting down for a meal at around 10. The food is good, consistently good and the wine is excellent. Perfecto.
We have taken care when ordering, avoiding the Bull’s tail, straight from the ring; my tail twitches just thinking about it! ‘Ole.