The city of siesta, bull fighting and the graceful flamenco! ‘Serious’ is not a word that exists in people’s vocabularies here (not because they don’t speak English!) But because they are so laid back through out the day! Crowded streets at 5a.m and people partying like crazy, just celebrating life – yup, that’s Madrid for you!.
The Spanish way of life is truly very different from the rest of Europe or for that matter the world! Why, you ask?
Ok, a typical day in an average Spaniard’s life – wake up at 10 in the morning, go for work, come back by 2.30 for a good siesta (sleep) or time out with family or friends. Back to work from 5pm till about 7.30 and the rest of the day is reserved for a drink of Sangria (a cocktail of chilled red wine and apple juice, with ice cubes and freshly cut fruits) and loads of Ollays! And Whopas! Dancing or watching others dance the flaminco.
Wow, what a life!!
You thought it was all about partying? Think again! Before I got my dose of Sangria and pubs, I religiously visited Madrid’s ‘Big Three’ – the outstanding Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums – I have to say that they should be the first things on your to-do list.
Madrid’s 18th-century architecture is a lesson in what can happen if you give your interior decorators a free hand. Madrid’s main palace has some of the most elaborately decorated walls and ceilings imaginable, including the sublime Throne Room. This over-the-top palace hasn’t been used as a royal residence for some time and today is used only for official receptions.
About the food, meat eaters will have a blast but there wasn’t much of a variety for me, vegetarian you see. But I was lucky to find some good tapas bars that served vegetarian tapas. Tapas are like starters with a bread base and any meat, fish or vegetable topping all held together with a tooth pick. Our bus guide told us something really funny though, apparently the dirtier the tapas bar, more tissue papers lying around the floor, the tastier the place!
We later found out that she was actually right!
The part about bull fighting, the process in which they kill the bull was just too brutal for me to go check it out for my self. And when I researched a little to find out the reason for such brutality, here’s what I came across:
“Bullfighting is a ritual. It is a ceremony that is carried out in carefully prearranged steps, the lead roles of which are played by the bull and the matador in the arena. It is a ritual that requires a sacrifice, a sacrifice to the death.
Man, in his complex relationship with the fear of death but also his willingness to risk it, seeks to vanquish death. He does that by physically overcoming death; and doing so in the arena, he seeks immortality. The bull, therefore, is death personified.
‘Man’s melodrama is forgotten for an instant. The matador, representing mankind and dressed for his date with death in the fantastical if impractical traje de luz, suit of lights, goads, mocks and sentences the bull to death with the estocada, the death blow, from his sword. The most spectacular estocada is the estocada recibido (‘received’, when the matador stands his ground and lets the enraged bull charge him) but it isn’t seen that often. The ritual has been carried out, the bull is dead and the matador is triumphant. Man has defeated death – today he is immortal.”
“Spain is different!” Spaniards say. They don’t specify compared to what: to the rest of Europe, to the rest of the world, or even to itself?
Well, what can I say – Ollay!