another year, another country… (AKA hey madrid!)


I’m not sure if having been through several international moves before — packing all your belongings into two oversized suitcases and three bags to travel, like a turtle with its home on its back, to a new land — makes it any easier or any harder. On one hand, you know what to expect; on the other hand, you know exactly what you’re in for: a lot of unavoidable hassle and stress.

On Tuesday I got on an overnight, 20-hour train from Frankfurt to Madrid, which is a little (lot?) bit crazy, but seemed somehow less stressful than dealing with airports and airlines and overweight baggage… and it’s also one of those “only in Europe” kinds of things, so fun in its own ridiculous, anachronistic way. It was actually quite comfortable, with beds folding out in our cabin, which I shared with a nice woman from Morocco, also an immigrant to Madrid, chatting in our broken Spanish. Luckily she didn’t want to talk my ear off the whole way though, and most of the time was spent having the train rock me gently to sleep.

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I made it in one piece and checked into my Airbnb near Plaza de España and the beautiful Templo de Debod, which reminds me of home in some odd way, of our own Temple of Dendur in the Met Museum in New York. (I have yet to perfect taking the requisite artistic sunset photo of the temple however.) With a little help from my great (fellow American) host and my cousin who lives here I’m already scoping out apartments and neighborhoods with fingers crossed, but trying to get a little time to take in the beauty of Madrid too.

There are these buildings decorated like ornate wedding cakes dotting the center, street musicians (and Oxfam harassers) on every corner; I’ve probably gained 5 pounds in patatas bravas alone, and marvel at the recession-friendly ads everywhere for a 70-cent caña (beer). They are probably tiny, but even so, it’ll make for a much easier country to live in when you’re broke than Germany.
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I think my favorite place I’ve stumbled on so far is the Mercado de San Miguel (which I didn’t take a picture of, because why would I do something clever like that?) with its rows of different kinds of tapas, sweets, wine, and yes more beer. I didn’t really ever get into going out for tapas when I studied in Barcelona, but I can envision spending quite a few evenings doing so here — however don’t hold your breath for me to try gulas, as mystifying as they look (they’re baby eels, I think?)
DSC03271Hasta pronto…

This entry was published on June 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm. It’s filed under Spain, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

7 thoughts on “another year, another country… (AKA hey madrid!)

  1. This is exciting news, Kat! Bienvenida!!

    Best of luck with the piso-search. Take heart, at least you won’t be fighting the swarms of university students which descend in September.

    If you don’t mind garlic and fish, you should try gulas! They are imitation baby eel and usually have a strong garlic flavor. Often they are spicy, with the tell-tale guindilla peppers flecked throughout.

    Templo de Debod is one of my favorite places, too–it exudes a certain tranquility that is rarely found in city centers.

    • Gracias! There seem to be a lot of apartments available at the moment, since erasmus students and some auxiliares are probably leaving… which is better than too few options, but kind of overwhelming to sort through!

      Very garlicky dishes don’t really agree with me, so I guess I have an excuse to not try gulas after all :p

  2. Cool news! My favorite spot in Madrid is the Parque del Retiro.

    And I’m with you on the gulas front. They really creep me out! They put them on so many things and I just think they look really unappetizing. They are baby eels, right?

    • I haven’t had time to check out Parque del Retiro yet, but hopefully soon! I feel like there are enough other actually delicious tapas options to safely avoid anything eel-related 🙂

  3. Debod Temple is one of my favorite places in Madrid!!! Angulas are eel babies but very hard to find and also very expensive… gulas are an imitation made with some other fish meats and who knows what else, just like the crab surimi ones…

  4. daleangloitalian on said:

    Patatas bravas are eeeeevil.

    Don’t expect to be able to eat any if you’re near me, I barely even stop to breath.

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