Monday, August 29, 2011

What More.

Singing and dancing.

Stomping and clapping.

Drinking and drinking.

What more could one ask from a night of Flamenco?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

All Along the Watchtower.

Oh, right, and the actual city of Avila that we visited a few weeks ago. It's really beautiful and just a quick drive from Madrid. The old town within the walls can be walked entirely in just a few hours, and you can even climb up onto the walls to get a better view out over the valley or of any one of the several huge churches inside.

We had a really great, long lunch at a table outside and then walked around a little longer before heading back home for the day.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Who would have guessed that down this stairway and along a corridor on the way to a parking garage one would find some of the best tasting and least expensive Chinese food in all of Madrid?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Life and Limb.

When a regular mail slot just won't do, try these lion mouth mail slots at the Avila post office. Want to send a letter but first feel the need to risk life and limb by putting your hand inside a lion's mouth? Well, you've come to the right place.

Poor cats.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

These Days.

You can probably just file this one under: They sure don't make 'em like they used to.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't Knock It.

If one were interested in such a thing as a competition for the creepiest possible door knocker, I would proudly submit the following:

Truly, just begging to be thrown into a horror movie.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Children's Crusade Just Doesn't Sound Quite Right.

Hundreds, if not thousands of uniformed bodies lay in the grass, scattered around the park. It looked like an impromptu field hospital from a Ken Burns documentary, but of course with much less blood and nary an amputation in sight.

Rather, all of these napping and lounging youngsters were wearing matching t-shirts and hats for the large gathering of Catholic Youth from around the world this week in Madrid.

World Youth Day 2011 is expected to draw over 100,000 young faithful from around the world. It will be a week long celebration of the Catholic faith with the grand finale being a visit from the Pope himself.

All very exciting I'm sure, but on this warm afternoon, it seemed as though all 100,000 kids had descended upon Retiro Park to take naps in the shaded grass. Not generally a bad idea, but Retiro Park is also the location of choice for amorous young couples, dog walkers, roller bladers, street performers, families and the occasional expat out for an afternoon jog.

I felt as though I were running an obstacle course of devout children.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Scraps.

Occasionally I'm asked about the current state of the Spanish economic crisis (or as we call it here, La Crisis), and my usual response is that I'm pretty isolated from it. There are protests now and then, and graffiti scattered around town but for the most part I don't see much. A lot of this is due to where we live (in the wealthiest neighborhood in Madrid) and who I see at work (mostly people who can afford to study or work overseas).

But today while on my way home I passed a younger guy standing next to his bike and furtively glancing over his shoulder up the street. As I came closer I noticed that he had pulled a small, discarded microwave out of a street-side dumpster. The guy was dressed casually, but neatly. Nothing about his dress or appearance indicated that he was living on the street.

He cradled the microwave in one arm and with the other was making small jabs into the back of the motor with a screwdriver. I stopped and asked him what he was up to. "El Cobre," he said. The copper. Hay un valor en este? Is there a value in this? I asked.

He nodded and then turned back to his task at hand. I decided that a person desperate enough to scavenge copper from a microwave in a dumpster was probably someone not to bother with too many probing questions. I offered him buena suerte, good luck, and continued on down the street back home.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Outside the City.

Several weekends ago (has it been that long already?) we took an hour long bus ride up into the foothills outside of Madrid and spent the day wandering around El Escorial, a palace, monastery and mausoleum belonging to the Spanish royal family. The palace is beautiful, and filled with rugs, paintings and other artifacts from the time that the palace was inhabited regularly by Phillip II.

A view out over some of the gardens. Located in the hills outside the capital, the palace is ideally built as a respite from the summer heat.

The main entry to the royal monastery. It give the impression that solicitors aren't really welcome, without having to actually put it in writing.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Seven different kinds of tomatoes?

A dozen different types of shrimps?

They really know how to live here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Safety First.

While out one day, wandering around by the royal palace (still used on occasion for royal events) we just happened upon this band playing near a park. It turns out they're the official Madrid Police Band. I had no idea there was such a thing.

This might be the place where a more cynical person would make some sort of remark about police officers playing music in a park while Spain has one of the highest petty theft rates in Europe, but I certainly wouldn't be the kind of person to do that.

I will say, that if I were to join a band like this I would definitely want to play the cymbals. Just look how much fun they seem.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I thought it was modern art, but it turns out it was just some construction debris.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011