Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On Madrid

Despite recent bad press about the state of Spain’s finances and the unruliness of protestors in Puerta del Sol, Madrid exceeded my wildest dreams. It is possible that my expectations were low and so easily met. The only thing I knew about Madrid before going was that, like drug-violence ridden northern Mexico, they spoke Spanish and, despite having Christiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s best and most annoying athletes, they still can’t win their league.

What I should have remembered is that Spain was one of the first world superpowers and that during the age of exploration the Spanish took a vast amount of gold out of the new world. And all that treasure got spent in Madrid.

After the dusty and monotonous hamlet that I work in, Madrid is a sexy paramour.  Forget the museums the guidebooks talk about. The whole city is a museum. It is glorious, each building is an architectural Mona Lisa for which no expense was spared. The parks are laid out endlessly for your enjoyment. And the food isn’t half bad either.

But what I most enjoyed was the Metro.

I once tried to explain the word ‘subway’ to some students. They had heard it in a song by James Blunt and thought it had voyeuristic implications. “It is like a train that runs underground in cities. New York, Washington DC, London, Paris all have subways.” I explained. I doubt they fully understood. The subway in Madrid or, Metro as it is called blows them all away.

It was really nice to be in a new country where I didn’t speak the language and yet, experience a system of transportation that was clean, that worked, that I understood, that was reliable, thay was new, and that wasn’t crowed.

Just thinking about that Metro I can’t wait to go back.

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