So far, so good!
Madrid is a very pretty city with lots of grand buildings adorned with decorative sculptures or intricate grillworks. There are lots of good pictures to be had here.
Everything is fairly close together and the subway stops are every where. It is easy to get around.It is also very hot so walking under trees to get the shade is worth it.
My hotel is better than I expected. Thank goodness for reviews on Trip Advisor and Hotels.com. I got a great rate and a quiet room. If the only words I knew in Spanish were ¨no fumar¨then those were the right words to make sure I got a no smoking room. A little Spanish can go a long way.
Internet is odd. Without it, I feel disconnected. I have free WiFi ( pronounced WE-FE) in the hotel and can send and recieve email and web pages. But on my iPhone, all data and email are charged extra. Tough to get used to. I´ve heard of people raking up thousands of dollars in roaming charges in foreign countries, so I set my phone on airplane mode to be safe.
Speaking of differences, here are a few:
1. People wait for lights to change. They don´t cross against the light.
2. No aggressive panhandling.
3. Coffee is small – even at Starbucks.
4. McDonalds has a fancy cappucino area (no, I didn´t eat there. )
5. Every restaurant serves paella.
6. Lots of big cars, like any American city and traffic seems manageable, although Í´d never drive anywhere outside the US or Canada.
7. The keyboard is different. Forgive the typos.
8. I saw a bullfight on TV. Absolutely disgusting. Sounds cool until you see a bull withering in pain, bleeding, dying. Too add insult to injury, they drag the dying bull out of the ring by attaching a rope to his horns and hitch it to a pick up truck. Yuch.
9. Surprisingly, I understood most of a 2-hour lecture geared for all levels of speakers.
10. Surprisingly, all the Spanish I studied before coming here is difficult to speak. There’s a big difference between book learning and actually using it. Hopefully after a week, that will change.
11.First thing I saw when emerging from the subway: Ginormous billboard for ¨¨Sex en Neueva York II¨ with Sara Jessica Parker. I wonder if it is better in Spanish.