Pursuit of Truthiness

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Madrid- New York meets Paris, buys her some Speed

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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).

Madrid MorningMadrid Night

Written by James Bailey

December 6, 2007 at 4:53 pm

Posted in travel

New York City

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Is a marvel of engineering…  and I’m not talking about the buildings.

I am amazed that men could create such a vast and finely tuned machine for converting money into fun.

Written by James Bailey

August 21, 2007 at 12:30 am

Posted in travel