Friday, September 09, 2005

Churros, chocolate, tapas, IKEA, and still no piso

Orientation for Fulbright is now over. Do I feel more oriented? I don't know. Today was a holiday of some sort (I still don't know which one. I asked a friend, who had asked a friend, who said that it was the day of the Virgen of something-or-other.) Also, and I can't quite figure this out, it may have been a Madrid-specific holiday. Things were still open. Not all things, I don't think.

IKEA was open, for one. I went there with my friend Rebecca, at whose house I'm staying tonight and tomorrow night, as she has a piso right in the center of town, and her roommate is out of town, and said that I could stay there for the weekend. She bought a bunch of stuff for her room (a bedspread, a rug, a couple of pillows), and I bought a comforter, which I'd planned on, since blankets in Morocco are no good (they're too heavy; I really enjoy a mixed feather-down comforter for maximum warmth with minimum weight.) There are two IKEAS in Madrid. One is accessible by bus, and the other by metro. We went by metro, which required something along the lines of three transfers. MetroSur, a southern loop line (line 12) hangs off of the rest of the metro system, kind of like an appendix in a medical diagram. There are a couple of really-big-box stores off of the stop where the IKEA is, like Sprinter, a sports superstore, and a giant supermarket, and whatnot.

The IKEA trip took a big chunk of the day. Afterwards (and this is at some point a little past 10 pm), we grabbed dinner at a cafeteria (which is basically a bar with food), consisting of (for me) a tosta with salmon, a couple of croquetas, and a couple of canyas (I can't do the ~ over the n on this computer since it's a PC) of beer. We went to the Plaza Mayor and got churros and chocolate at the Chocolateria de Santa Gines (Ginez? It's pronounced like Ines, but spelled with a G). It's the big chocolateria/churreria by the Plaza Mayor, and apparently a big tourist destination, and has mediocre chocolate and churros (for those of you who may not know, churros are linear doughnuts with a star-shaped section.) The chocolate is pudding-thick but, I thought, the thickening agent (cornstarch? flour? I'm not sure, but I think it's the former) wasn't cooked enough, so it had a slightly gritty mouthfeel. The churros weren't as light as I think is optimal, and they were only warm-ish. That chocolateria is the only one that serves churros late into the night (maybe there are others hidden somewhere?), instead of just at breakfast, which is when Spaniards like their churros.

There's a place in Granada with churros and chocolate that are many times better than those at today's place.

Oh, and I'm still looking for a room. There are a few websites for housing around here, and I've called a bunch of places, but places fill up within hours of having been posted, so basically what I'm doing is wasting a lot of (really expensive) calling card time calling people's cel. phones. Here, you pay for calling cel. phones, or calling from them, but not at all to receive calls. Everyone sends a lot of text mesages, because they're much cheaper. I haven't gotten around to getting myself a phone yet, but think that I will tomorrow, so that I can send some SMS messages.

If anyone knows of anyone looking for a housemate in Madrid, let me know. -AV


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