miércoles, 8 de febrero de 2012


There are places you know you will love, places you fall in love with at first sight, places you get used to but Madrid wasn’t any of those. I went there without high expectations, for what I had known it was just another capital – a couple of average monuments, lots of museums and it takes ages to get from A to B – nothing particularly special. I don’t know when exactly I actually started to love the city; it happened in the meantime, unexpectedly and progressively, not a bold from the blue. There’s something about it, maybe the architecture, the atmosphere, nice bars and cafes, the people.

Although weird at first it felt great to be able to understand everything around – no Catalan, just the most Spanish castellano. Only Spanish flags.

In an inexplicable way people seemed different too. Somehow I thought they were more relaxed but maybe it’s just because I was carefree and on holiday. What is definitely different is Madrid’s sense of fashion. I saw high heels! People dress more elegant in comparison to ‘alternative’ and ‘arty’ citizens of Barcelona. 
Food isn’t much different from what we have here. They seem to like puddings more; churrerias and pastry shops are all around the place. Cakes in San Miguel market are heavenly.

We visited Retiro park twice, it’s a massive complex and must look fantastic in spring. Even in February though it is pretty impressive.

The museum are very impressive too. I visited Prado and Reina Sofia and it was a really really good dose of art.
Other random but amazing thing in Madrid was traffic lights. The sound they make is just like the sound of shooting in one of the good old Pegasus games. Purely beautiful.
I can’t deny it, Madrid has seduced me. Many times I asked friends who had visited the capital: do you prefer Barcelona or Madrid? Now I see it’s impossible to say – the two cities are too different, too unique to be compared. It was not love at first sight but I know I want to go back. 

jueves, 2 de febrero de 2012

The Catalan Stereotype

From our foreign point of view we all know – and probably cherish – the typical stereotype of the Spanish: loud, happy, carefree, party animals. There are even more of those inside Spain. And so people in Madrid are arrogant, those in Andalusia – traditional, happy and they dance flamenco all day long, the Basque Country is full of pig-head ignorants and Catalans… what are Catalans like? According to the local stereotype they are stingy and closed.
During my 6-month stay in Catalonia I’ve come across all sorts of Catalans. And yes, some of them seemed closed, some were stingy, some were not as friendly as I would have wished. In total those made only a handful of people I met. Most of the them, especially the ones I got to know better, turned out to be absolutely great people and lovely friends.
On the top of it, I’ve experienced quite a few acts of friendliness coming from total strangers. Like this woman on the metro one summer night who reminded me of the main character of the Spanish show Aida: short, curvy and motherly. She must have noticed I was in pain after wearing heels for too long and, like a guardian angel, kindly offered me a sticking plaster to soothe the pain. Or like the guys who shared a cab with me at 3am on a Sunday night because I was not aware of the fact there are no other means of communication at this time of the night and in this area, and I was freaking far away from home. And like the numerous maintenance/construction/road workers with their ever creative piropos, varying from ‘hey beautiful’ to ‘sweetie, don’t walk in the sun or you’ll melt!’ (OK, I never actually heard this one myself but my Spanish teacher swore it’s a true story). Or like this guy who saw me walking down the beach and asked if he could be my friend. He was very determined to make friends so I eventually gave him my e-mail (the one I never check).
And now who said Catalans are not friendly?