Ah, Madrid. If you ever wanted to visit a place that is packed, no, dripping, with Old World charm, you have to visit Madrid. Spain’s capital is so suffused with history that many of its cobblestones appear to have stories they are aching to tell. There is just something about Madrid that makes one look back to a grand colonial past and forward to a futuristic world all in one breath. Here are just some of the reasons why I can’t help but go back to Madrid. In fact, I come back every four years-it is like my personal cultural and social Olympics.
The Madrid lifestyle
I love the siesta concept. You wake up in the morning, go to work, take a long mid-day break, and live it up until the wee hours of the night. Who’s to say that the American 9 to 5 work day should be the standard for the rest of the world? The truth is that the heavy heat of Spain and other Mediterranean countries makes the siesta a necessity. Anyway, when I’m not busy studying I love the fact that you can go out at night and the stores are open longer-and I am not just talking about convenience stores.
Tapas, tapas, tapas
I have always been a sucker for finger foods. You know, small mini-meals you can eat in a few bites. Not too heavy but packed with flavor. Also, since they are available in mini-portions, you can sample just enough to get a good appreciation for the taste but not enough to gorge on calorie dense food. Hard boiled eggs (good recipe is on eggtutor) can also be used in tapas. Whatever food you are into-from seafood to meat to veggies, there is a tapa version of it for you to enjoy in Madrid. No wonder, many Spanish women are able to keep the weight off. Compare this with American ‘supersized'; meals. The portions are so huge that you almost feel guilty for leaving a portion half-eaten, even though you need to eat enough and healthy for all kinds of bodily functions (as well as natural hair) Of course, all that guilt of not leaving any leftovers is replaced by the guilt of becoming a human blimp. All those calories have to go somewhere, right?
One of the things we Americans assume is that the rest of the world shares our preoccupation for the whole ‘time is money’ mentality. While Spaniards also get stuff done, they do it at their own pace and at their own terms. Even in the very modern Netherlands last year doing a bike trip (with www.hollandcycletours.com) this was true for a lot of people we encountered. You can’t say the same about Americans. We run our little tails rugged and what do we get from all the stress, worry, and aggravation? A company watch after 20 years of service, a commemorative pen, and a pat on the back? Two weeks in Madrid will change your mind about the American rat race. There are better alternatives out there to getting stuff done the American way. You don’t have to burn out to make it to the top.