A Viva Espania

So, anyway, Madrid. I’ll do it in pro’s and cons, because I’m a geek and geeks like lists. There’ll be other stuff, of course – I always remember things I should have written after I post. But for now, here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of the latest stage of my travelling career:


  • Art. Art is good. Guernica, one of Picasso’s most significant works, is fascinating, and many of the other works at Museo Reina Sofia were great as well. Andy was impressed by a painting by Wilfredo Lam, an artist who, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve never heard of. It was something of a learning experience, which is always good.
  • Real Madrid. Great stadium. I know nothing about football, but I recognise a massive stadium when I see it. And I navigated by a giant poster of Raul.
  • Ben and Jerry’s. Nuff said. I know it could be seen as cultural imperialism, but I don’t care. The cheesecake icecream rules.
  • The Hard Rock Cafe. I’ve been in the same room as Springsteen’s gold discs for Darkness on the Edge of Town. That’ll do me.
  • The Madrid Vision tourist buses. Totally invaluable, even if it is cold on the top deck.
  • BA. Okay, so it was a nightmare on the way there, because he swore he wasn’t getting on no plane, but once we gave him some drugged milk he was fine…And British Airways were good too. The staff at Madrid airport who helped Paul out were great, so respect to them.
  • The Spanish girl who waved at Andy – she was cute and made eye contact, which made a nice change. It also balanced out the fact that a, well, lady of the night blew a kiss at Mr Dickens.
  • Cafes. We ended up sitting in a few cafes, and they were all very cool and chilled out places. We could do with more of a cafe culture here.
  • The Spanish equivalant of ER. Couldn’t understand a word of it but it was strangely compelling.
  • Being able, at the very last moment, to order a round totally in Spanish. I was impressed with myself.
  • Andy drunkenly singing Viva Espania in the Puerta de Sol. Yes, we crossed the line and became stereotypical Brits abroad. This is nothing to be proud of, of course, but I’ve lead a sheltered life. Well, everyone assumed we were tea drinkers because we’re British, so…(Okay, I am a tea drinker. But there’s no need to assume!)



  • Andy and Paul wouldn’t let me watch Buffy Cazavampiros on TV. This may not altogether be a bad thing, because my Spanish sucks. For all I know, Buffy Cazavampiros is the weather forcast, not a cult fantasy show starring Sarah Michelle Geller.
  • Passive smoking. Almost everyone in Spain seems to smoke. Now, I can handle that when I’m in a pub, but not when I’m eating a croissant. I mean, I don’t go around enjoying flatulance when someone else is eating.
  • Street performers, or rather street ‘performers’. They’re standing on the street, but they’re not performing. They’re standing still, dressed as a silver cowboy. Occassionally they’ll move. This attracts crowds of people who wait for that occasional movement. There’s something fundamentally annoying about this. Just down the road, there was a family playing instruments and flamenco dancing. There was an old couple who sang songs accompanied by the accordian. That’s street performing. And the standing still brigade has now invaded Wolverhampton. Next time I see one, I’m going to run off with his earnings. That’ll get him moving.
  • Graffiti. Look, if you’re going to spray something on an historic monument at least make it ‘Bad Wolf’ or something. I don’t have a problem with those big, colourful pieces of graffiti, they’re vibrant and expressive examples of outsider art. Spraying your initials on everything in sight is just daft. Do something constructive. Or maybe spray your initials on the Internet or something.
  • Freaky seafood (band name!). I’m sorry, I know I should try and experience the width and breadth of international cuisine, but I refuse to eat anything that looks like it should be singing a big musical number at the end of Finding Nemo.
  • Guidebooks. Darn it, they should be helpful. I think we were mislead by some of them, in terms of the location and ‘vibe’ of certain areas. It didn’t end up being a problem, but it did mean that we didn’t quite get what we were expecting.
  • Andy’s steak. No way was that thing well done. I swear, at one point it looked at me and said, quote, “moooo.” Paul and I both had good meals at this particular restaurant, so I figure it was one of those random things that happens, but still, it’s not what you want to see on your plate. The restaurant was recommended by a pinned-up letter from Wesley Snipes – I’m thinking that, when he said ‘well done’, he got ‘well done’. Dude was in Demolition Man, you know.

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