Published: May 4th 2008April 30th 2008 Kate:
Nice picture to look at in a bar
while you're eating. A man killing a bull. Romantic.
Hola! Que tal? It's been a while since we did a Madrid blog, so we thought we'd update you on what we have been up to in the city, apart from teaching people to speak the lingo, obviously....
Kate and Kris try to appreciate art.....
We have been increasing our knowledge of art by visiting another of Madrid's famous art museums, the Thyssen-Bornemisza. It's a private collection and contains works of art from different eras; medieval, renaissance, baroque, modern.....It's all in chronological order over three floors, the top one being the older stuff, including the religious paintings by the likes of Caravaggio, El Grego etc. that you get in the Prado museum. The middle floor has still lifes and landscapes as well as Impressionist paintings by Monet and Manet etc. The top floor is the modern art like you find in the Reina Sofia; Dali, Picasso etc. You may not have noticed, but we aren't really art enthusiasts. The Thyssen museum is relatively small and doesn't take long to look around, but we felt like we had seen al ot of famous art, and had our 1-2 hours of culture. It was good. On
Mark Owen's guitar in the Hard Rock cafe
Mark Owen? Mark Owen? Since when has Mark Owen been ROCK???
the top floor, in the modern art, there is obviously the sort of modern art that is just a big canvas with blue and red stripes. I'm sure it is supposed to represent something deep and meaningful...but as I said, we don't really appreciate it. There was one huge painting; it took up a whole wall. It was a big green square. And there were several people stood in front of it, admiringly, for about 10 minutes. We were intrigued. What were they looking at? We were obviously missing something. Was it like a magic eye picture? If we looked at it and squinted, would we suddenly be able to see dolphins? After they moved on to the next picture, we stood in front of it for a good 30 seconds to look, but no dolphins appeared. It was still just a big green square. Perhaps the people before them had been looking at it for 10 minutes and they wanted to find out what they were looking at. Perhaps it was one big 'Emperor's New clothes' type illusion? Very much like Magic Eye I guess, I've never been able to see anything in them, I think its all just
Take Hard Rock....
There is a Hard Rock Cafe in Madrid, as I'm sure there are in most cities. We used to like going to the one in Leeds for a very overpriced drink, to watch the music videos, admire the memorabilia and check out the number of 'rock hard' people eating in there. The one in Madrid was similar, except the drinks were about 1/4 of the price. Again there were few 'hard rock' people there. In fact, there was also some suspect memorabilia. Mark Owen's guitar for one. Mark Owen? From Take That? Rock?.... Kris:
It's worse than Kate says above. We've been back since she wrote that. I was sat at the bar just the other night drinking a pint (which, incidentally, isn't even a pint, just a large tumbler...) and I glanced up at the "Hard Rock" memorabilia. "Ah" I thought. "That's more like it". I spied the guitar of the bloke out of Sepultura. Chaos AD n that. Rock on. Then I realised that to the left of it was Mark Owen's guitar....and above it (yes, ABOVE) was the guitar of no other than...............................................Gloria Estefan.
In fact it was coupled with a signed gold disc display...and cassette. Yes, there's even a display of Gloria Estefan's cassette. I do hope she wrote "Dr. Beat" on that very guitar. Then probably snorted cocaine, drank a bottle of Jack Daniel's and threw a telly out the window - such is she known for rock n roll excess.
As my eyes wandered from the Estefan's guitar I didn't dare look at another in case my eyes alighted on Paula Abdul's kazoo or Rick Astley's nose flute. But I couldn't avoid the Kylie video playing on the giant screen.
The Spanish. They don't get rock. Stick to flamenco...
Amigos and Bodies Kate:
A couple of weeks ago Mike and Monica came to visit. For those of you who arn't aware, Mike and Kris studied zoology at Sheffield uni together, and Monica is his girlfriend. She studied languages at uni and spent some of the time in Madrid. They knew the city already, so we just hung out and caught up. It was cool to see them, our first visitors to Madrid. Since our
We couldn't take pictures of the Bodies exhibition
but here's a picture of some Spanish ham to give you the idea
number of visitors in Asia was something of a record, it was about time we got started with visitors to Spain!
While they were here we went to the Bodies exhibition. It's basically lots of dead bodies in various stages of dissection, that's used to teach people about anatomy and health. It's by some German guy and has been shown all around the world. You walk through the exhibition and each section teaches you about a different function of the body: respiration, movement, digestion and of course reproduction. All demonstrated by cut up, preserved dead bodies. It's not as disturbing or disgusting as it sounds, actually it was rather good and very clever. Ironically for Spain though, it looked very much like Spanish Jamon. It made us see the Museum de Jamon in a different light.
If the head on your pint is too large we'll be happy to top it up for you... Kris:
Since living in Spain I've realised how obsessed we are with exact measures in the UK. Like, a pint is a pint. And you can only buy beer in a pint or a half pint. And should the head on a
Mike and Monica drinking complimentary shots
They give you these drinks al ot after a meal. The one that looks like wee tastes a bit sweet, the other tastes like cough mixture
pint be 1 millimetre bigger than you think is correct you can complain and have more beer added. In fact, the more I think about it I realise that specific laws are in place to govern this. Aren't pint glasses even marked with the emblem of the crown??? Even the Queen's in on it. She wouldn't accept a pint with an overly large head. Then there are spirits and optics. Aren't they always exactly 25ml or something. We even have special technological advances (the aforementioned "optics") to precisely measure the amount of spirit served.
Anyway, I'll get to my point. In Spain, you never know what you're going to get. A standard glass of beer is called a cana (it actually has a wiggly thing above the n to make it sound like "cania" - think "Espania" - but I don't know how to do it on here...). But this has no bearing on the amount of beer delivered. In my experience it can vary from a teeny tiny glass no bigger than the smallest coffee cup...to a reasonably sized tumbler. But it doesn't end there. You can also order a doble (like a "double" beer) which can sometimes
In an Irish pub
Beer: 5 Euros
Wine came in a big glass too....
be just enough to wet your lips...and other times be approaching a pint. Then there's a pinta. Yes, like a pint. But usually a few mls short (see above entry regarding Hard Rock). Not to mention a jarra (sounds like "harra"). Which is usually more like a pint and often has a handle. Anyway, all these drinks are served with varying sized heads. Sometimes they're tiny, other times it's half the glass. But rest assured if you complained you'd be regarded as an anal Brit. Let's turn now to spirits. No optics in Spain. Just slosh a glass full of whisky, rum or gin. Then add a splash of mixer. Can't complain really. I really can't imagine a Spanish bartender working in Wetherspoon's...
It gets crazier. Wine is cheaper than beer....!
Plus I can't leave the matter without mentioning the Spanish procrastination over a beer. A Spaniard can spend an hour over a tiny glass of beer no bigger than a thimble when a British person would have had 3 pints. The longer I'm here the more I realise how much more healthy their relationship is to alcohol. But I still opt for a pint if it's available
....so Kris became a convert to wine
This is the first time he's drunk wine in a pub....
(I put it down to maintaining my "culture"). And it still makes me chuckle when we're in our local Irish bar (god bless the Irish for their pubs colonising the planet by the way - they were a God send in Bangkok too) and the footy's on and all these blokes are sat about drinking halfs. It just looks odd. I know the British Isles may be slightly unique in it's typically large rations of beer, but I still find it funny. I can't imagine anyone in that part of the world going to watch footy in the pub and saying "just a half for me". It would be frowned upon. It's the sort of cultural awareness I need to teach.
One final thing. The Spanish people I know always think they are all crazy party-animal alcos and bemoan the fact that they drink too much. When they do this, I have flash backs to Leeds city centre at 3 am on a Sunday morning with the streets running with vomit and blood and people kicking shit out of each other in drunken stupors...and I think - I wouldn't worry so much about your national association with alcohol. You
Ah! A monster!
This was on the bar when we were having a drink. Don't know if it was a display, or just trying to escape.
should see Britain....
Time differences and eating tea at 11pm...
4 months in and we're finally adjusting to the Spanish daily schedule. Now, if going out at the weekend we actually rarely leave the house until 10pm. We eat late and don't turn up at the pub till after 11. It's taken some effort not to fall asleep, but we've even been out till 5am. Like, at least twice. The Spanish are largely nocturnal. Which is a shame cos they miss all the lovely weather. It's normal to meet people at midnight. We're desperately trying to shed our Anglo-Saxon shock and horror at late nights. As an example I was telling someone I had a late night and I was tired. They asked what time I cam home. I said 4am. They, with all honestly, replied - "Not too late then". And I thought I'd been a party animal. I even bragged to one of my students that I'd been in a club till 4am. She asked why I left so early. My British reply of "Well, because it was 4am!" fell on deaf ears. I dunno. They miss the best part of the day...as
dad's around England would back me up on, I'm sure. Kate
The title of this blog is a bit weird. Kris wrote it. Don't worry, I haven't acquired facial hair in Madrid. Kris just can't be arsed to shave.
There are more photos below