Here we are – in Madrid. The airport Barajas.
- Anyway, I don’t like capitals. Why are they so dirty in most cases?
- Yes, Seignior. The first impression is always the masses of rubbish. Seems, Madrid would not be an exception.
That’s why I’ll start my story from the second and the third impression of the Spanish capital and then will go back to the first one.
The third impression: Empire
Madrid is the imperial city. It occasionally reminds of St. Petersburg. High and haughty buildings, gothic towers on the corners, roman statues at the pediments, bass-reliefs, windows, doors – everything is monumental, everything talks about the Empire. The chin is up in proud. Lots of stone, lots of marble, lots of granite and lack of grass. The streets are wide, perfectly planned, and the traffic signs above all praise.
The old part of the city looks exactly how an old part of any European city of more than a hundred years old should look like. Narrow streets, block-stones pavement, monasteries on every street corner, churches, shops and cafes, however this part of Madrid is still royal.
When King Philip II moved the capital from Toledo to the tiny village Madrid, he wanted to get away from the influence of the church and build another capital – his own. He actually did it, and his descendents did not step out of his line and kept expanding the imperial capital.
Fountain of goddess Cibeles. The daughter of Heaven and Earth, Saturn’s wife, the mother of Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto – she is depicted in a chariot drawn by lions. The fountain is not simple – with a secret, even the few citizens of Madrid know that underneath of it at a depth of forty meters is located the bunker with gold reserves of Spain.
The palace behind the fountain is not a palace, but the chief postal department of Spain. You must agree, it does not come near the usual office.
Well, those who are keen on architecture from the old gothic to Art Nouveau should definitely visit Madrid.
The second impression: Cuisine
I’m afraid I was mistaken with all my previous stories combining the cuisine of a whole country – the cuisine of Italy, the Austrian cuisine or the German cuisine… It might be better to examine, to try and describe the cuisines of the separate regions, this applies especially to Spain. Here some two cities located not far than 80 kilometers from each other have not only different level of cuisine performance, but even the different names of the same dishes. The simple scrambled eggs cooked in the tree cities-neighbors of Madrid was called differently.
Even the pronunciation seems to differ in every province. During the time of staying in Madrid I learned how to pronounce “two cappuccino” in pure Spanish (I fondly believed that), but when I came to Avila and proudly ordered two cappuccino to the first barmen… I was not understood. After some clarifications it turned out that my “cappuccino” was okay, but “two” is pronounced the different way.
So, let’s narrow the frontage: the cuisine of Madrid.
The quality varies a lot. On the very first day after we settled in the hotel and went out to the old square, we came to the first little restaurant and got a great steak and very good wine from the vineyards of the Hollywood macho and Spaniard by birth Antonio Banderas.
Yuppie! This is not Barcelona; we will eat the well prepared food in here! It turned we will not. On the next day we ate once, ate a second and eventually felt a desire not to eat anything in this city except the bananas (which are really delicious – from Canary Islands). All the dishes had a taste mostly of salt and the degree of roasting the meat reaches 100%. I do not know the measures for roasting the meat, but in Madrid they roast it quite a long time and seriously, until the meat starts crunching.
One of the points of our plan in Madrid was visiting the restaurant, where the rabbit is served. We did. The rabbit had a taste mostly of salt and the roasting degree… well, you already know – cooking meat in the Madrid style.
So, we decided to end up with our gastronomic experiment having a lunch at that first restaurant where once we had some good steaks – will we be lucky again? No way.
The conclusion: cuisine of Madrid is a sort of lottery – may be you will be lucky. The same about wine.
The first impression: Trush
Madrid is strewn with trash, all the time. There are some street garbage collectors, but you see them seldom, and even after they do their job the quantity of cigarette-butts hardly ever decreases. People sit and eat at the street tables surrounded by pieces of paper, receipts and packs. It seems like they throw the garbage right to own feet, although the trash cans and ash-trays are at every corner.
I was walking and thinking: is it all about the Madrilenians or some special kind of tourists who come here? Or maybe the main public-service civil servant is a slob? And I still think, ‘cause later on when I visited Toledo, Avila and Segovia I saw the streets that were not just swept, but washed! And they were always clean, even when we went out for the night photo-shoots at four o’clock in the morning; all the same the streets were cleaned and washed, although the amount of tourists per square meter in Toledo is no less than in Madrid. I was shocked!
Then we met a couple of garbage collectors in Toledo; they cleaned the streets with big washing vacuum cleaner!
But the most vivid impression is waiting for right now. The thing is that when you are walking along Madrid your head is always lifted up in order to see the true value of its wonderful monumental architecture.
But in the process of soaking this historic cultural magnificence of Madrid, you may easily step not only into a used pack, but into the dogs’ excrements, and sometimes even the humans’. Looks like the garbage collectors simply ignore all that, so be aware – watch where you step! You’re in Madrid!
Sorry, I am not going to provide photo evidences.