Monday, May 05, 2008

Madrid Observations

I really enjoy discovering the little differences between home (New York) and the places I'm traveling to.

When I go to New Jersey, for example, I notice that they have a governor who isn't addicted to prostitutes.

In Delaware, I notice how it takes only 5 minutes to drive across the entire state.

While in Hawaii, I notice that we're on a tiny speck of volcanic rock in the middle of a vast ocean - and it freaks me out.

And when in Spain, I notice that they have different urinals and toilets than we have back home.

But there were others things I obseved while in Madrid that may be worth noting - at least, worth noting in my mind.

At first, I thought there weren't very many dogs in Madrid. But I live in New York City - the self-proclaimed dog capital of the universe. Often it seems as if there are more dogs than people in NYC. I'm pretty sure that if you took every dog in New York, and lined them up snout to butt (which is their preferred configuration anyway), this canine carpet would stretch to the moon and back over 500 times.

That's just a guess. But my point is there are a whole shitload of dogs in New York. So anywhere outside of New York will likely appear to have fewer dogs in comparison.

Madrid is no different.

However, after a few days, I began to notice more dogs. This in of itself is not very surprising. Once you've seen all the tourist sites and museums, you naturally graduate to observing the local plant and animal life. Then, you notice stuff like the size of the urinals. And after that, it's time to go home.

The odd thing with Madrid, is the unusually high concentration of West Highland Terriers - aka Westies - within the greater dog population.

I'm not kidding. It was weird. Basically every other dog was a Westie. Don't get me wrong - those things are damn cute. But why would they be so popular in Spain? Why not the lovable Pug, or the adorable Goldendoodle?

I have no reasonable answer. But here's an unreasonable answer: Westies in Spain are actually Spanish babies dressed up like dogs. So it's no surprise that there are so many.

So many Westies, so few Chihuahuas - Real dog? Or baby costume?

A few other observations:

- Tiny elevators in the apartment buildings. These would NEVER pass code in New York. They jam elevators into the empty space of small stairwells. I could have easily reached over the flimsy metal fence along the staircase and grabbed the elevator as it passed by. They must not be nearly as litigious as we are.

- Cool kitchen appliances. Little dishwashers that blend into the rest of the cabinetry (we rented a studio apartment, and it took me 4 days to realize that there was a dishwasher in our kitchen) and combo washer/dryer built into the kitchen so you can do laundry while you cook.

- Excellent tap water. It is very safe to drink, and not the least bit alkaline or sulfurous.

- Good beer. Available basically everywhere. People drink beer and wine with breakfast. Not kidding. The most popular brands of beer are "Mahao" and "Cruzcampo."

The breakfast special includes toast, scrambled eggs, and a choice of coffee, tea, or beer.

- Great Indian food. I think the place is called "Delhi" and everything was delicious. The best part is hearing the servers speak Spanish with an Indian accent. I found it spellbinding.

- Only 10 or so Starbucks locations. I lost track at 9, but I'm sure there are a few that I missed. I didn't actually get coffee at any of them, as that would be tantamount to going to The Olive Garden while in Rome. Most places serve very good cafe con leche, for a fraction of the cost of a Starbucks coffee.

Enjoying a cafe con leche with my left hand while holding a beer in my right hand.

- Spanish people are very nice. We spent a decent amount of time with M. Borja Esteban (the boyfriend of Jaimi's awesome friend Susan). He was a perfect gentleman, fun, and very patient with our limited knowledge of his native tongue. If you're out there Borja, many thanks for lunch, and for car rides to the park and the airport! I should call you "Bro-ja", because you were a real bro to us.

A fine Spanish gentleman (el caballero de gracia) and his fine American lady.

I'm sure I've forgotten some other important observations, but none as important as those included above.

Adios amigos.


Dennis said...


You look kind of scary behind that cup of joe.

It looks like you're hiding something.

Tomorrow I will investigate.

The Mill said...

Dennis, as you saw today, I do have fairly normal teeth, mouth and chin behind that spooky coffee cup. And I don't always hold it like that - only when I enjoy a fine cafe con leche in a Madrid cafe. Otherwise, I dump the coffee on my head, and hope to absorb the caffeine and dark, rich flavor through my scalp.