¡Viva España!

I missed the parade this afternoon to check out the final of the Euro Cup; I simply could not miss it! I really wanted Spain to win, not only because it is Spain but because I really like the kind of football (aka soccer) they play and I really didn’t want a defensive team to win. They played really well the whole tournament, scoring 11 goals in 5 matches with only 3 goals against. Plus, Spain hadn’t won anything for decades and needed a bit of a boost in confidence.

And they got it! Germany 0 x 1 Spain in a match filled with opportunities for Spain and really tense towards the end (as any final should be). Enhorabuena España!!! As the Sport newspaper says, the “buen fútbol” won.

Busy day in Madrid

After four weeks in Spain, we began our journey home early wednesday morning (June 18th) when we left the house at 7 AM to catch the 8:30 AVE to Madrid. The plan was to stay overnight in Madrid and catch the new Air Canada flight to Toronto. Although we don’t know Madrid very well – the weather prevented us from really enjoying the place last time we were there – we had quite the day meeting friends.
We arrived at 11:15 in Madrid and after checking in at our hotel, we went off exploring. The weather was much nicer than in our previous visit (a sunny 20 C) and we wandered the narrow streets of the Huertas (aka Barrio de las Letras) and the Plaza Mayor. For lunch, we took advantage of the tradition in this part of Spain of the tapeo – which basically consists of ordering a drink to get a free tapa at local bars and cervecerias. Luckily, in Madrid one can get a free tapa by ordering a very small glass of beer (a caña), smaller than a half pint. Here are some random pictures of our wanderings:

Click here for slideshow

After a short nap, we went off to Atocha station to meet a friend from the blogosphere – Erin, the wandering woman. I was so happy to be able to meet her in Spain, a place we both like so much. Erin is a true free spirit and it was so easy to wile away the afternoon in a shady spot of Plaza Santa Ana, hearing about her exciting plans for the future and her experiences on the camino de Santiago.

After accompanying Erin back to the train station, we visited the memorial for the victims of the 2004 Madrid bombings. Hundreds died when bombs were simultaneously detonated in commuter trains arriving at Atocha station and last year a memorial was inaugurated to remember the victims. It is quite a moving site. You can see a picture of it in the slideshow above.

After resting a bit at the hotel, we met Mireia, a friend from Barcelona who is in Madrid on business, her colleague Lydia, and Yaniré, a Chilean we met in Barcelona who has since moved to Madrid after marrying her long-time madrileño boyfriend. It was great seeing Yaniré again after over a year. We had tapas and beer at a local bar until past 1 AM and it was a great end to our month in Spain. We have no idea when we will be back since I have decided not to make any travel plans until I’m finished my dissertation. But I’m finally mentally ready to get it over with so hopefully I can finish within the next 12 months.

Coffee heaven

cortadoI don’t think there are enough words to explain how great it is to be able to order coffee the way I like it without having to go through lengthy explanations of how I want it done. In France, all I had to do is ask for a café noisette and here in Spain I ask for a cortado (or tallat in Catalan). No eyebrows get raised and back they come with exactly what I wanted: a long espresso with a bit of hot milk. In Toronto I always have to explain that I want an espresso with a bit of hot milk. “You mean, a latte?” In North America, a latte is usually a short espresso with at least a cup of hot milk added to it making it more of a coffee-flavoured milk than a real coffee. So I have to say, “No, it’s not a latte. It’s an espresso, made in an espresso cup, with hot milk to the top”. In some places I can make myself understood by saying it’s a macchiato with more milk than foam. It’s always a struggle. But for the next month, I don’t have to worry about it. All I say is “un cortado, por favor/ un tallat si us plau”.