Sunday, January 13, 2019

Thoughts from Madrid: 13.1.19

Well, here I am in the hospital, awaiting the (reluctant) birth of my 3rd grandchild. And 2nd grandson. Who will apparently be called either Pablo or Daniel. I go with the latter, if only because the diminutive - in English, at least - is only one syllable. In Spanish, it reduces to 2 - Dani. Whereas the 'diminutive' of Pablo isn't Pab but Pablito. Which is longer than the original name . .

It didn't take me long to encounter the polar Spanish approaches to strangers. First, the cheery woman in the petrol station who chatted about grandchildren and insisted life was better in Spain than in the UK. And then, this morning, the blunt shout of 'Closed!' when I tried - twice - to get a coffee on Gran Via in somewhere other than Starbucks or MacDonalds. A smile, direct eye contact and some Spanish take you a very long way in Spain but these aren't always possible and, then, brusque treatment is the norm. The 'personal' factor is all. One simply has to avoid being affronted by taking it (im)personally.

Query: Does any Madrid metro station have a large map near near the ticket machine where you can work out your trip and any connections? I couldn't find one last night at Callao but did know I had to travel on Line 3, which fortunately passes through Callao. So got to the hospital without any problem.

Until the light finally went, my drive on empty, excellent roads down to Madrid was delightful. Spain's scenery is nothing if not dramatic and, in the gloaming, the distant silhouettes on the skyline were truly spectacular. I'd never done this route at night before so it was interesting to see semi-familiar buldings ablaze in lights. None more so, of course, than the roadside brothels, with their gaudily suggestive neon lights. The bodegas around Rueda were less 'appealing' but still pretty.

Finally . . .  I must report an entirely new concept in food, clearly meant for vegans on the ferry - Chili sin carne. Chilli without meat. But with something said to be 'cheackpeas' . . . The mind boggles.

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