13.05.2016 - 13.05.2016
For some reason I never get to blog as much as I intend to but nevertheless day 3 of our travels brings upon a new reflection.
The efficiencies of medical school have carried over to the vacation as it looks like we've almost conquered the adventures of Madrid from a sightseeing point of view. They say there's a difference between the wandering traveller that comes in for a dip to experience a new city and the traveller that stays and embraces the culture and tradition the city has to offer. I believe we've mastered the tourist life of Madrid but have barely scratched or understand what it means to be a "Madrid-ian".
As you stroll the streets of downtown there are striking similarities between Madrid and the rest of the major Metropolitan centres of the world; street performers,"I am a girl" donation seekers, bustling Zara and H&M stores and burger kings galore. But mixed in with the common is the not so common. You'll be hard pressed to find an automatic car on the streets or the well known Mazda's and Toyota's of North America and are instead greeted by the Renault's and Opel's of the European world encircling their endless roundabouts and plazas de_____(insert famous person here).
Food here is backwards and complex. First off, not entirely sure the Spaniards embrace the culture of whole wheat anything, breakfast is often black coffee and a scrumptious pastry or churro (could just be a touristy thing). Lunch here is often the largest of the days meals during the "siesta" when families can dine together. In medical school I had mastered the 5 minute scarf your sandwich down between OR cases and dictations (unless you were on family where you had a pleasent 2 hour lunch) and in Madrid the lunch never ends. Lunch is a 3 course affair with copious amounts of bread and olive oil accompanied by a large appetizer, a second course of a main meat (usually involving some sort of ham or jamun) or fish dish and finally a third course of dessert and espresso. Talk about itis. My GI system was not ready for this afternoon carb loading. What struck me was the diligence of the wait staff. Unlike North America the staff is in no rush to turn around a table. Eating at hakka food joints in Toronto the main meal can show up before your appetizer but here in Madrid the waiter won't even think about bringing the next course until everyone on the table is done the previous course.
Dinner is a more complex issue, this epic idea of tapas. Rumour has it that back in the day the king was very fond of wine but also experienced reflux (my long lost twin) otherwise known as GERD (gastroesophgeal reflux disease #nerdstatus). To combat this the physician at the time had prescribed a tiny meal alongside each glass of wine and tapas were invented! Dinner here is a tapas affair, the more to share the better. Spain culture has it that at the more traditional places (El Tigre in Madrid) you walk in and are rushed over to thr bar and order a cervezo (beer) or via (wine) and are then given your drink. Seconds later they are piling food on your table ranging from potatoes to chicken wings to ham and bread, the more stingy places at least give you chips. The idea is to share a meal and have drinks with friends and family in a festive environment with a bunch of different tastes. We're still getting used to this whole idea and figuring out which tapas are better than others slash suit our taste buds. A palate designed for the mirch and masala associated with Indian cuisine or the siracha and taco bell hot sauce culture of Toronto create a struggle with Spanish cuisine which leads itself to a different set of ingredients.
Events done so far:
Day 1: walking tour of the city to get accustomed to Madrid followed by the Plado Museum in the evening
Day 2: Real Madrid stadium in the morning followed by people watching and a trip to the Sofie modern art museum in the evening
Day 3: Day trip to Segovia looking at the amazing Cathedrals, Alcazar and UNESCO heritage Roman aqueducts
Day 4: Bullfighting museum in the morning, Royal Palace in the afternoon followed by San Isidro festivities at night
Tomorrow's plan: Day trip to Toledo!
Stay tuned for a more in depth look at our favourite and not so favourite attractions!