Friday, 6 July 2012

Oh my God, Madrid.

I was about to post about our recent trip to Canada when I realized I haven't even talked about going to Madrid with Penny last month! Whoopsies!!

We had originally planned to go here:
San Sebastien. It is on the north-eastern coast of Spain, and is supposed to be gorgeous. Sandy beaches, hot sun, great food - every single person I told that we were going there said, "you will love it." Except that the weather forecast for the region was grey, rain, grey, rain, and then some more grey and rain. Sad faces were us. So rather than hang out in our crappy hotel room - I'd deliberately booked a crappy hotel room since we weren't planning on spending any time there - we booked a new trip to Madrid, where the forecast was 28-34°C. Hello, heaven. Madrid is inland, and a city-city... lots of things to see, and places to visit... but we had planned on a beach holiday... so we booked a nice hotel with a rooftop pool! Voila! If you can't get the sun at the beach, you bring the beach feeling to the sun.

It was a great trip. We started at the butt crack of dawn - when I had a major panic that my suitcase would be too big for carry-on, and the cheap airlines are sticklers for it. I ended up just putting my stuff into Matthew's backpack, and good thing I did, because I saw a girl paying 50£ because her suitcase was a centimeter too tall. I am not joking here, people, these budget airlines are strict. So it was a good thing I chose to worry about that at 4 am, and woke Matthew up about it, right? Right.

The sun shone, the food was delicious, the sangria was refreshing. We lazed by the pool, I had 4 naps in 2 and a half days, I read a book and a half, and Penny read about 14 trashy mags. I felt super out of touch because I didn't know who any of the 'celebrities' were - seriously, supermarket mags can get a whole new roster of peeps in 2 years. Here are some of the highlights:
Enjoying the rooftop pool - and view - to the fullest
Faux-sightseeing - really we just saw random stuff when we were on our way to or from a restaurant...

Normally when I go on holidays with Matthew, he gets a guide book and reads it on the plane, and then when we arrive, he has pretty much memorized the whole thing. This makes sightseeing very easy, because you'll run into any random statue, and he'll say, "Oh that's Sir So-and-So, and he saved this city from the Emperor of Blah-Land, and all the people worshiped him for restoring the country to awesomeness" or whatever. So on this trip: I did it all by myself. Which is how I knew that the statue of the bear eating the fruit of the tree was the symbol of Madrid because the Church owns the land but the people own whatever grows on the land, making the Church the tree and the Madrilenos the Bear. Ha! Penny was so impressed with me. It felt good, friends, it felt good.
After the dismal weather in England for April & May, I did a lot of sun-worshipping in Spain. An awful lot.

We had to have evening naps because Madrilenos don't eat dinner until after 10 pm. So one night we were on our way to some restaurant, and BAM, we walk right into the middle of a huge gathering of people in the middle of this one piazza. (I was going to look up which one, but let's get serious: I had no idea where I was the whole weekend, so it would be totally lying to tell you which square we were in.) And there was a Catholic priest speaking, and microphones, and a lot of rosaries and praying happening - oh, and a lot of cops too, for crowd control maybe? I asked them (in my horrid Spanish) what was happening, and they told us it was Corpus Christi . It would have helped if I had asked, "and what is Corpus Christi?" because wouldn't you know it, we walked down the exact street of the huge procession of believers who were walking towards the priest, chanting and singing the whole way. It was huge. Thousands of people walking down this little street, following about 300 or so priests and other dudes in Church gear. Obviously, the place we were heading to was against the tide, so we had to just stand there on the side of the street - unfortunately beside a dude begging for money - and try not to stare at all the people walking and singing and believing. It isn't hard to wait respectfully, but seriously there were thousands of people. And the square was full before they arrived., so I don't know where they all squished into. Finally, the last folks walked past us and we felt it was appropriate to carry on. Oh, and we also saw a bunch of little girls who might have had their First Communion or something - you know, when they are all so beautiful in their white dresses and everything? I didn't read any of the Religion section of the guidebook, I guess.

That night we finally found the place for dinner, and then had a hi-larious evening - made possible by this elderly gentleman in a beret:
Sorry for the crummy photo, but I had to do a covert shot of him - imagine a Spanish Junior Soprano wearing a striped t-shirt and a burgundy beret, and that was the dude. He must have known the owners of the cafe, because while we were happily eating our patatas bravas and our tortilla espanola, he arrived and stood at attention, saluting, while they played the Spanish anthem on their stereo. The whole song. What's the protocol here? Are you supposed to stop eating? Stop drinking? Watch him, or deliberately not watch him? We probably just kept giggling and drinking... After the anthem finished, he sort of just... hung around the restaurant for a while. Then he started talking to the people eating, and so we half-talked to him, and half-tried not to talk to him.

A bit of a side-bar here: You know those guys at the bar who start selling those crappy roses towards the end of the night? And all the drunk dudes buy them for the drunk ladies? Well, one of those dudes was coming along, and Grandpa Crazy bought one from him, and gave it to me!!! hahahahahah!!! We were laughing and laughing, and then Penny did the "what am I? Chopped Liver?" arms and face, and he bought her one too!! It was a classic, hysterical situation.
We took a lot of drunky photos of each other that night, and I particularly like the one of myself on the top-right.

The ultimate highlight of the trip though, was the first evening we were there and went out for dinner. We were at a sidewalk cafe, eating our grilled vegetables and chorizo and deliciousness, when a stagette party walked past. Not just any stagette party - one where the bride was wearing a veil, was clearly drunk, and was handcuffed to a midget in a clown costume. I wish I was making this up. We were this odd combination of (a) shocked that there was a midget in a clown costume, (2) amazed that this man was doing this for a living, and (d) kind of saddened that this girl's friends thought that humiliating a little person was an appropriate way to celebrate her upcoming wedding. We chose not to covertly photograph that guy, and I don't think I'll get any appropriate photos if I google: "Spanish stagette Midget Clown Costume"...

All in all: go to Madrid!! Get a tan!! Fill up on Vitamin D and friendship!!


Sapna said...

Good to know that Madrid is a sunny getaway from the U.K! Sounds like fun times :)

Janine said...

We are going in September! And we are going to San Sebastian along the way!!

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