Madrid in All Its Glory

Well, we left Madrid today.  I don’t have my pictures yet because I need to steal/borrow/ask politely for Molly’s camera cord (she doesn’t know this yet).  I’ve definitely enjoyed my time, and since seeing Retiro Park (El Parque Buen Retiro) I think I could live here forever.  So to sum up, since I’m such a fan of Jon Acuff and his blog (stuffchristianslike.com), I’m going to do some lists today that cover my arrival in Spain at the Madrid airport (9/20) through our last full day in Madrid (9/22).
Creature Comforts:
–Kimberly Clark apparently toilet papers the world, including the airport in Madrid
–Country music on an iPod
–Highways that look American from the sky
–Toms on group members’ feet (yes, they remind me of school)
Culture Shock:
–Bidets and hotel keys that go in a slot to make the lights work
–Shower doors that only extend halfway (pictures to come soon)
–Scariest driving ever (which says a lot, given my recent wreck)
–Hearing Spanish everywhere
–The eating/sleeping schedule
Best Thing Ever:
–Jorge the Argentinean who lives in Madrid and works for PriceWaterhouseCooper, as my seat buddy on the plane
–Fabulous hotel breakfast (fruit, breads, cereals, juices [mango, anyone?], little bocadillos jamónes [ham sandwiches made with Serrano ham, a Spanish specialty], tortilla pieces [potatoes, not bread], cheese (which need labels; I can’t figure out what kind I ate that I liked], etc.)
–Cheap tapas
–the Reina Sofia Museum of contemporary art and seeing “Guernica” by Picasso
–Running in Retiro Park (I think if I could run here every day I wouldn’t hate running so much—I even liked the statue of Satan [El Ángel Caído])
–The waiter recycles glass mineral water bottles for our water and we don’t mind, because the tap water here is great
–The most amazing tour guide leading us around the Prado Museum (think of it as Spain’s Lourve) and the Palacio Real (Royal Palace)
–The weather here is amazing!  It was about 78 yesterday with a gentle breeze.
Not cool, sir:
–Hanging out at the airport for three hours waiting for ISA (they were on time, we were early, which we knew we would be)
–Bocarones and paying for tap water
–Grown men (not ignorant frat boys!) peeing in the street at midnight.  No shame, no embarrassment, and his girlfriend (?) talking to him from the opposite side of the street
–Possible (likely) transvestite prostitutes
–Cigarette smoke everywhere (my hair soaks it up!)
–Slow service at restaurants (we finished dinner at 12:30) and a long walk home through the gay bar district and the graffiti (even on nice shops!)
It honestly feels more like I’m on vacation with a bunch of fun strangers.  It hasn’t hit most of us that we’re not going back in a few weeks.  Luckily, Madrid has been a great introduction, and I’m considering coming back simply so I can take a boat out on the lake in Retiro Park.
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