Saturday, October 22, 2005

Madrid: Under Construction

The weekdays are all pretty much the same: I wake up too late, I go to the library, and I try to make sense of a manuscript or two, and then get bogged down in secondary sources. I've been eating a lot of grilled cheese-with-spinach sandwiches for dinner, since by the time I get home it's pretty late, and I'm never all that hungry. Plus, when I was in Italy earlier this summer they had tramezzini (basically, sandwich halves on American-style sandwich bread--they sometimes have two layers of filling between three layers of bread, as per my first-year Italian textbook and just a couple of actual sandwiches that I saw, but for the most part were just regular sandwich halves, with the crusts cut off), and a fairly common option was cheese with spinach. And how can you go wrong with cheese and spinach?

The weekends are all pretty much the same in the see-something-on-Saturday, see-something-by-bicycle-on-Sunday pattern. Since there are too many people in the center of town, and riding a bike isn't fun if you're trying to dodge pedestrians, I've been going to the edges of town. As mentioned before, since Madrid is a landlocked city in the geographical center of the country, it doesn't really have a defined edge.

On Saturday, I went first to Lope de Vega's house (it doesn't have very many opening hours, but it was both open and free), and then to the Reina Sofia museum. Last time I went to the Reina Sofia, I only managed to see the temporary Juan Gris exhibition. This time around, I saw a lot of the permanent collect: lots of Miros, lots of DalĂ­, lots of Picasso, Guernica.

After riding my bicycle around on Sundays, I try to make it to the Prado for an hour or so before it closes. Three Sundays ago, I went southwest; two Sundays ago, I went northeast. Last Sunday, after a picnic with friends, I went to the Casa de Campo, which is a sprawling park that was once royal hunting grounds. Now, strangely, it's full of prostitutes: I had been told this but didn't believe it. For the first twenty minutes or so that I was riding my bicycle around, I didn't see any, and it just seemed like a regular extremely large park. At some point though, when I was riding back to town from the teleférico (cable car), I noticed that, standing along the side of the road, were prostitutes wearing barely anything. For miles. Bizarre. This is in the middle of the woods, people.

This Sunday, I just took laps around the Buen Retiro Park. I started off by taking laps in the park, but eventually I got fed up at all of the people just ambling and decided to play on the road that surrounds it. It's not too bad, actually, even though the traffic is at a fairly quick clip; circulation is clockwise for the entire park, and there aren't too many hazards to watch for. One major annoyance, though, is that cars here double park, even on busy roads, and don't leave hazard lights on, or they just sit in what is obviously a traffic lane and wait for a car to leave, and I don't mean a car that's about to leave: they just sit there and wait. Madness.

Another thing that drives me batty about Madrid is that absolutely everything is under construction. Around the Buen Retiro, a tunnel is being expanded, some roads are being worked on, and some paths in the park are being worked on. A fair number of plazas are under major repairs (largely for metro work--did I mention that an entire metro line was closed for repairs when I got here? A small stretch of it has since re-opened) and everything is far behind schedule (which is par for the course in construction universally, I suppose.)

The outskirts of Madrid are under major construction: sprawl goes for miles. There are hundreds of apartment buildings with maybe a couple of hundred people (estimating by the lack of cars and traffic) living in a place designed to hold thousands. Where I rode my bicycle two weekends ago (to Alcobendas, beyond the Northeastern reached of the city) is having an entire new metro line built. Apparently, there's a bike path out there; when I asked people where it was, they said, "oh, well, it starts right over there, but it doesn't really go anywhere yet" (I'm translating and paraphrasing, but you get the picture.)

In case you don't, here are some:


Anonymous Ben C said...

hi AV! just checking in. i'll try to come back now and then, but you can certainly let me know when there's an update via e-mail. hope you are able to enjoy yourself!

2:21 AM  
Blogger Zora said...

Ah, tramezzini. Until I went to Italy, I didn't realize that Italians had invited the baloney sandwich--but, duh, there it was, a slab of mortadella, a schmear of mayo and the squishy bread. A much better tramezzino I had: tuna chunks, green tomato and basil leaves. One bread side had mayo; the other bread side was olive-oily from the tuna. Went strangely well with cappuccino in the morning.

I will have to try this cheese-and-spinach idea. So simple, yet so smart.

11:43 AM  

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