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Honeymoon, Days 5 & 6

April 22nd, 2009

Sach and I are not extremely tough, hardened travelers; put us through airports, planes, and trains for a day and we’re beat. So there’s not much to report from day four of our honeymoon. Day 5, however, we got around, at least some. We checked out the neighborhood, including a department store called El Corte Ingles, which is all over Madrid. Interestingly, it follows the exact pattern of Japanese department stores: food sold in the basement, restaurants on the top floor, and mostly clothing on the floors in between. We went to the restaurant on the top floor and had lunch–and it was very good. I said it before, I’ll say it again–the Spanish know food.



One thing I found interesting was the prices of the drinks. Not that they were especially cheap (which, relative to Japanese restaurants of the same type, they were), but because of the relation of a few prices:



As you’ll note, some of the soda prices were higher than some of the beer prices. Beer is cheap here.

When we took the trains, I was reminded of something that I was struck by the last time I visited Spain six years ago: people begging for money. Not just ordinary panhandlers, which you would see sitting on sidewalks from time to time, but musicians. Lots of musical panhandlers. And in Madrid, they ride the trains. Every other time you get on one, you can at least hear them somewhere on the train, and often times they will pass through your car. Caught this fellow in the next car on the train we rode to the palace.


Another thing we noted: a lot of public snogging. If I may jump ahead of my narrative (it is now a week later and we’re in Athens), it seemed to progress as we traveled: in London, we saw some; in Spain, we saw more; in Athens, several couples were practically humping on the trains. Well, not quite so far, but we’re talking three couples, in one subway car, giving each other quite thorough tonsil examinations. Nothing more than first base, mind you, but they were going to town on that one base.


Anyhoo, Sachi and I saw the Royal Palace, not used for much except ceremonial events. A lot of what you would expect–ornate rooms with nice tapestries and elaborate paintings on the ceilings involving lots of cherubim, with baroque furnishings and beautiful china on display. Some of the curtains, carpets, and furniture were kind of worn and tattered in ways, and frankly, I would have been somewhat depressed living in a place like that. Maybe it’s more that it is a museum now, but even so, it’s hard to imagine it as being a place to live. There were the usual odd details, like having one chamber exclusively set aside for the king to get dressed in, the act being referred to as “ceremonial.” Not much more to report, as photographs were prohibited. Some nice images from the outside, however:





On the way back to Opera Station, we stopped for some “Nice Cream and Coffee,” which delivered as advertised (mint chip and strawberry cheesecake).



That night, we visited my Aunt Berta and her husband Vicente. They have both lived in Madrid for quite some time, my aunt having moved there as an adult after growing up in New York. Bert worked on a U.S. Army base for some time, and Vicente has been the Guitar teacher at the American School in Madrid for the past 23 years. He loves the guitar and will play it for you at any opportunity. That, and his personality, which is flamboyant, vivacious, gregarious… not enough words to describe Vicente. He is constantly joking.

Sachi And Vicente

We got video of Vicente playing the guitar, and have put a few pieces–a Flamenco piece, and an improvised “Sakura”–on YouTube. Here they are.

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  1. Leszek Cyfer
    April 30th, 2009 at 18:39 | #1

    Beautiful music :)

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