Saturday, September 6, 2008

Motos – how I missed you so!

After spending a hot but relaxing summer in Madrid, it was a bit of a shock to venture out into the business-y part of the city this week. While my neighborhood of Madrid stayed pretty much the same throughout the summer – a sign that neither the inhabitants nor the business owners in my area had the money to go on holiday for a month – the center of Madrid was, predictably, quiet. And I loved it.

Parts of Madrid are very beautiful (parts of it, such as the newer areas to the north and south, are full of cookie-cutter buildings that could just as well be the suburbs of anywhere else). At this point I think I've walked through almost all of the city, from Plaza de Castilla in the north down to Legazpi in the south, and from Lago (Caso de Campo) in the west over to Ciudad Lineal in the east. Not all on the same day, of course… And yet I still find something new almost every time I go walking in Madrid. I love it.

However, on a typical workday, I find walking down the Castellana or (trying to) stroll through Sol, Goya, or the Retiro to be a bit stressful. I mean, I far prefer walking to taking the bus or metro (as I mentioned in an earlier post) – but the experience is made less enjoyable by the constant car horns, speeding motos with their extremely loud motors, and the apparent inability of people in Spain to walk in a straight line or a single-file line.

In August, I was able to walk down the Castellana without encountering more than a few other people. It was wonderful. On this past Thursday, I walked from Nuevos Ministerios to Atocha and had to slip down side streets to find any semblance of peace and quiet. Even then, it was almost impossible to find anywhere that wasn't full of super-tanned Spaniards going for their umpteenth coffee of the morning (just a guess) and equally impossible to go more than 30 seconds without a moped revving its engine and speeding by.

And so, Madrid has returned to normal. It's loud, it's crowded, and I suppose that's what most people love about it. I, for one, prefer the quieter, emptier Madrid of summer.


ErnieLG said...

it's interesting to prefer a quiet city. a little bit of a... paradox or strange juxtaposition. i actually enjoy running through the city and ducking and diving by all the alleyways, bums, and babystrollers. but madrileños definitely suck in regards to using sidewalks/escalators properly. or making lines.

so you're out of madrid? you really didn't like it? i feel like it has great history and decent nightlife and lovely art. and people from so many different places. but i suppose those things don't appeal to everyone.

eslhell said...

I agree that it has great history, and I loved walking through the historic parts of town and checking out the museums. It also has a lot of great festivals and cultural opportunities, such as the music festival in the summer. But then again, so do a lot of places. And I'd rather live in a place that has history, culture, a mix of people, great art AND peace and quiet, polite people, and more diverse restaurant choices. That's just me. And by peace and quiet, of course I don't mean all the time (that would be impossible in a city!), but just some of the time. More than anything, though, I left Madrid because I was tired of living sin papeles. It was fun at first, but after a while it really started to weigh on me. I also got frustrated with applying for jobs, going through interviews, being told they wanted me, and then being told that it would be too difficult to get my papers. It just wasn't the right place for me.
But I understand why other people love it. I did stick it out for a long, long time, so obviously I didn't hate it... :)

ErnieLG said...

my biggest complaints are prolly also the food and the people. can't really compare the food here to america, and the people here i find less intelligent and more racist and rude than i expected or was used to. i have found what i feel like are a few diamonds in the rough in regards to spanish as friends. i'm sure that i'll leave once i'm a little more satisfied w/my spanish fluency, too. i already see so many opportunities passing me by since i don't have papers.

are you gonna head to another continent or are you sticking in the usa?

eslhell said...

i haven't given up on living abroad... i'll probably be in the usa for a while, but i'm looking into ways to return to spain or elsewhere in europe -- but on *my* terms! in the meantime, i'm taking advantage of the good sushi, pizza, and real hamburgers here. :)

good luck with everything in madrid. did you end up doing a tefl course? has it been hard finding jobs?

ErnieLG said...

gawd, i miss good food. i'm going to this place called 'bazar' at chueca tonight.

i actually still haven't done a tefl course, but i think i will. i make about 15E/hr as... the main english speaking tour guide of madrid. don't know how i fell into that. i get a lot of perks like free food and drinks at a lot of places where i go everyday w/my tourists.

i'm looking to make more money to be able to travel more, so, yeah, english teaching, here we come.