We arrived in Madrid a few days ago, and are mostly loving it. One of the funny things about trying to get practicalities taken care of in a foreign land is how nothing works as you expect, and there is a high probability of being taken for a ride at least once. For us, it was a run in with the lying bastards of Vodafone, who made all kinds of representations about their cell and internet services which were, well, lies. And getting on the internet in the hotel as well has been challenging, so while I have been taking all kinds of photos, they are difficult to upload as of yet. (That said, check out the unsorted, untitled first mess here.)
So as in any culture, there are things that strike us as funny or odd coming with our own frame of reference. Here are some of those things we have noticed here so far:
– It seems almost impossible to order regular tap water here. We suppose that the environmental benefits over bottled are not yet evident. And I am sure they like charging for it.
– The napkins seem mostly to be a form of wax paper, not exactly conducive to soaking up anything, but very good for smearing the mess around.
– The metro is fantastic and very easy to use, but it does have one peculiarity. Many different lines are listed above each door in the metro cars, making it very difficult to determine what line you are actually riding on.
– The crosswalks all flash a green man when there is little time left (instead of warning you with red), which makes it a bit confusing to us. It seems to be saying “go”, but there is almost no time left when the green man starts blinking and we have almost been run over more than once.
– This siesta business is not a joke, stuff is really closed all over the place in the afternoon for several hours. More than once we were unable to visit something because the Spaniards are fond of napping.
– And speaking of napping, they clearly need it, because the hours they keep here are very difficult to adjust to. Dinner is later than any place I have ever been (except Argentina) and going out on the town lasts easily until 5 or later.
– Without fail, the people we have met out on the town are friendly and easy to get to know, and are way less uptight than the French. To put my finger on it, I would say the French are much more mannered, and the Spanish are more natural and gregarious, at least in the gay community.