Archive for December 2007
The CIA getting something so right sounds like a wacky conspiracy theory… but a really cool one. The tale of the “accidents“.
Despite spending a semester in Europe and traveling extensively, I have little desire to turn this into a travel blog; I imagine it would be boring and repetitive to readers.
But Madrid made such an impression on me that I think I’ll have to make an exception.
Madrid is a city of grandeur, on the scale of Paris. It has broad, grand avenues, grand art, and grand architecture, together with a rich history that is still very visible.
It has a very clean and fast metro system, and people everywhere were just nice. I was reminded of a smaller, well-run town like Geneva.
The price level there is around the same as that of an average US city; this seemed incredible to me after spending 3 months on the French Riviera. I was blown away by its 10-euro buffet; the others I had seen in Europe cost over 20.
But the most surprising thing about Madrid is that it’s really New York City.
It’s full of American restaurants- McDonald’s, Burger King, the “Nebraska Grill”, Starbucks, and my personal favorite, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
It’s full of American music- most bars and restaurants were tuned to Spanish MTV. It’s not even fair to compare how much American music I heard to how much traditional Spanish music like classical guitar- a much more equal comparison would pit a single American singer, say Sheryl Crowe, against the sum total of Spanish musical heritage.
The area around my hostel reminded my of nothing more than Time Square; you can get a sense of this from the linked pictures.
But I knew for sure I was really in New York when I saw former U.N. Secretary general Kofi Annan pass me in the street, hiding behind aviator glasses and trailed by 3 body guards.
Madrid is definitely unique in one respect though- the whole city is on a hardcore party schedule. Breakfast is served until after noon; most people start supper after 9pm; and the bars stay open until the sun comes up.
I think the best illustration the traffic- this is the view from my hostel window. Streets are deserted for the morning rush hour (picture at 830 am), while traffic jams go well into the night (picture 11pm).