Friday, October 30, 2009

missing my mama; reflections on madrid

Madrid is one of those cities that surprises you every time, and an example of what a metropolis should be like--super navigable via your own two feet. I visited Madrid on three separate occasions, and loved it more each time. The first time, I was coming from Granada and shocked by the big city feel, but after a slice of tortilla española and glass of vino blanco, I was quickly comforted.

While volunteering at Pueblo Ingles, I made many Spanish friends who invited me to stay with them while traveling in their cities. Those have been my favorite and most memorable experiences--the first was with Lola in Madrid. I think her name says a lot about her. A remarkable, chic and classic Almodóvar woman. To the right her is dog, Cuba. Adorable, no?

After Portugal, I flew back to Madrid and spent a few days with Paloma's family. The English translation to Paloma is 'dove' and I don't think there's a better word to describe this woman. Always smiling and ever so patient, Paloma is a sweet Madrillena of many generations. She picked me up at the Metro and we had a beautiful afternoon-into-the-evening walk around El Retiro park, caught the Día de la Hispanidad (Columbus' discovery of the America's celebration) parade by surprise, and finished the evening with gourmet tapas and vino.

el retiro park
tapas in the plaza: camembert cheese sauteed with a little bit of sugar and topped with a slice of roasted red pepper; manchego and spinach salad with salmon; fried rolls stuffed with cheese

One of my fondest memories is of hanging out with her teenage son, David--we spent the entire afternoon at the shopping mall searching for a replacement battery for my cell phone, munched on candy-store bought popcorn and stoppped to talk to everyone he knew in town (I'm convinced he knows everyone in Madrid!)

Another memorable moment--hanging out with CSer Jose. He introduced me to one of my favorite parts of Madrid, Lavapíes. Lola calls it the worst and best place to go in the city. Lots of alternative bars and restaurants (had a very filling Lebanese din din), street dealers and alas in Spain, some ethnic diversity. That night we went to hear a friend of a friend's terrible rock band play followed by some strong shots of rum or something of that nature. Check out this pizza we made using all fresh ingredients found in Madrid...a Spanish pizza!

How fitting as I write this while in Itay where I've eaten one too many slices of pizza, plates of pasta and scoopfulls of gelato. That post and more to come.

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