Saturday, June 9, 2007

Catching up

Before PB leaves tomorrow, here's a partial list of what we did this week:


Lunch at Cubic, the little restaurant around the corner from school, and from PB's hotel. Menu del día, lingered until 5pm, in true Madrid style. El Corte Inglés. Drinks and tapas in the Plaza Mayor, people-watching and taking in a particularly beautiful changing of the light as the sun went down. Normally, I would avoid the Plaza Mayor as being too touristy, but this particular evening it was magical. A wonderful end to PB's first day.


Morning classes. Skipped conversation class to join PB at the Thyssen (my second visit, every bit as satisfying as the first), where we also had a late lunch, lingering until five again. Drinks, tapas, and people-watching in a cafe at the Plaza Santa Ana, less of a tourist trap than the Plaza Mayor.


Morning classes. Lunch at the cafe in PB's hotel. Headed towards the Prado with excellent intentions, but never quite made it, strolling instead through the Barrio de las Letras, the Atocha station, along by the Retiro, back towards school. PB took in the Museo de Bellas Artes, while I went to my culture class, joining her afterwards for a wonderful dinner at La Finca de Susana. Despite mixed reviews of la Finca de Susana by NY Times readers, our dinner was awesome (and incredibly cheap)


Skipped all my classes today (gasp!). But with good reason. First we had to go to the Grand Optical store on the Calle Alcala where, with the help of PB and a charming and competent optometrist called Amelia, I was fitted out with a totally bitchen new pair of glasses (gafas) and sunglasses. The sunglasses were free (except for a 40€ charge for choosing the polarized kind), as part of a "buy one, get one free" deal. But the savings did not stop there, nosireebob! The (truly stylish) pair of glasses came with a discount equal to my age, expressed in percentage terms. In other words, at half-price. So, all in all, a productive visit, and I had my stylish new gafas by 3pm. Photographic evidence will be provided, in due course.

Then we walked to the Museo Sorolla, which is simply a wonder and a jewel, and not to be missed by anyone spending more than a day or two in Madrid.

A late tapas lunch (surprise!), a little rest, culture class, and an early dinner, to get back in time for the third exciting episode of "El Internado (un lugar donde todo puede suceder)". An episode so exciting that it deserves, and shall receive its own post. In due course.


to be continued

Sunday, June 3, 2007


My good friend PB will be visiting for the next week, so there won't be much time for blogging. A post here and there perhaps. But between now and June 11th, why not take a break from your computer and get out there and enjoy life? That's certainly my plan.

Do not be alarmed by my absence. Have a great week!

Still life with lemons, oranges and rose.

Spanish art is not all Goya and Velazquez, Dali, Miro or Picasso. Seen above is the luminous Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and Rose by Francisco de Zurbarán, painted in 1633.

Big Bunny

Finishing the trifecta of links to Amy Winfrey creations. That's her (on the right) in the photo.

Personally, I think the woman is a total genius.

No hay miel sin hiel

My Dad would have turned 85 on the first of May this year. Maybe this was why I kept thinking of him all month, certainly moreso than usual. We celebrated his 80th, and final, birthday with him in a nursing home in Youghal (pronounced "Yawl"), the small town near Cork where he and my stepmother chose to live after they got married. It was a day of mixed emotions - by that time he had suffered a number of small strokes, and his condition was clearly deteriorating. Still, my sister and I had both flown home to be with him, and we celebrated the best we could in his room, with whiskey and chocolate cake, both of which rallied him quite a bit. He died later that year, in September, and I still miss him.

Oddly enough, one of the triggers which makes me remember him vividly is ubiquitous here in Spain - the ice-cream. I've already written on this blog that the quality of Spanish ice-cream alone is reason enough to make one consider a permanent move to Spain. Dad would have loved it. From our first travels abroad as a family (to Italy, when my sister and I were in our teens), the quality of the local ice-cream was one of Dad's main criteria for judging whether a destination might be worth another visit. My first summer in graduate school in Chapel Hill, my family came to visit, and daily trips to Swensen's ice-cream parlor were a key feature of that visit. It was a source of infinite disappointment to him that the rest of us united in opposition to him ordering one of Swensen's infamous earthquakes:

The photo doesn't even begin to do justice to the concoction in question, which - at 10 scoops - weighed in at 2.5 pounds of ice-creamy goodness.

So, every time I order an ice-cream here in Spain, it's with more than a tinge of regret that Dad can't be here to experience it as well. He would have such a blast.

But, as the Spanish proverb puts it: "No hay miel sin hiel". There is no honey without bitterness. Dad, I still miss you. I wish you could come visit.