Aside from the smog and the cigerette fumes, Madrid is a beautiful city. I would move here except that everyone smokes and no one thinks it´s the slightest bit disgusting. I have huge issues with this. My eyes are red from all the toxic air. But I don´t want to sound like I´m complaining.
Anyway, Miguel and I arrived Saturday morning and eventually found our way to our overly-luxurious hotel, NH Alcala. Tonight, we´re moving into a two-star hotel more in the center of town. No doubt that room will reek of cigerette smoke, too, so what´s the difference. But I don´t want to sound like I´m complaining, BUT Madrid is one of the most beautiful cities I´ve ever seen, what with the museums, the architecture, the history, the sidewalk cafes, the fashion, and why does everyone have to ruin it all by smoking these horrible twigs that give you wrinkles in the worst way, and eventually cancer, but I´m totally digressing.
Yesterday, Miguel and I walked around Madrid for most of the day. I have so many photos but I lack the technology currently to post them here. Perhaps later. The highlight was the Museo del Jamon (Museum of Ham), which we came across quite randomly, but we were immediately astonished and awed by the respect paid to this often ignored meat. I do have plenty of photos of this site, which, by the way, Miguel´s cousin Eugenio says is perhaps one of the best museums of Madrid, which is for some reason missing from my guidebook. Picture, if you will, hundreds upon hundreds of hamhocks hanging from the walls, from the ceilings, with spotlights illuminating their beauty. We don´t have this in America!
Another thing we don´t have in America are parks. I mean, we have parks but nobody goes to them, except to maybe get through them, but their not exactly gathering places, like malls. Here it´s completely different. They have parks and they are used, by everybody. Last night, while walking back from the Museo del Jamon (good eats, as well) we were struck by the crowds of families, generations worth, which filled the Parque de Retiro near our hotel. Children rode their bicycles, people roller skated – it was quite dangerous for us, actually – young men juggled, women with blue hair walked with canes, gray haired men with berets sat on benches and smoked (of course, everyone smokes), and it was hard for us to find our way out of the park through the crowds. It was much more crowded than Great America, for example, and yet everyone somehow maintained enough interest level to stay their without the rides. Amazing.
I have five minutes left so I have to go. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to be brief.