Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Aqui in Madrid

Hola amigos!

After almost 24 hours of flying, I made it to my hotel--HOSTAL ORIENTE- near the theater and Royal Palace in Madrid. Unfortunately, my luggage didn´t make it with me. Ít´s somewhere at Heathrow-they are hoping that they´ve located it, and if Í´m lucky, I can pick it up sometime tomorrow.

Hours of wandering the Madrid airport looking for mi equipaje without any sleep made me a little loca. I did meet a really nice couple from the UK visiting their son who is in a language intensive here to teach English in Spain. But I eventually braved the Metro (underground transportation, like a subway) Three stops later, and I was near my hotel (near being the key word here.) My friend Andrea had FAXed me 6 pages of info before we left to Dan´s office. But, as you all understand my tardiness issues, we forgot to pick it up on our way to the airport, and didn´t have time to go back! I didn´t bother to write down the direccion of my hotel because I thought I´d have it with me in the notes. So needless to say, I wandered the one street over and over--Calle Arenal--up and back with a stuffed backpack and computer bag.

I asked so many people for directions, some thought they knew, some had no idea, and some spoke so rapido in Spanish that I had no idea! I entered several dark, hidden places claiming I had reservations, then found out I was in the wrong hotel. Instead of freaking out, I really starting laughing about my plight, especially as the rain started, and all I was wearing was a light jacket. I felt like a tiny little invisible hormiga, an ant, crawling around on the wrong ant hill! But, with perseverance, and the patience of a nice, elderly man, we found the HOSTAL ORIENTE right across the street from the metro station. A tiny golden sign adorned the inside of the door frame! It´s a quaint little hotel type place with a common room, and tiny rooms (the size of a walk-in closet) but it has a nice bathroom...perfect for me. I slept for 12 hours, but woke up to all my party neighbors returning at around 4 am.

Today has been so pleasant. I explored the Royal Palace and gardens. The third-largest palace in Europe. Commissioned by King Phillip after a fortress burned down in the 18th Century. He ordered it to be built as his own Versailles with more than 2000 rooms, luxurious tapestries, chandeliers, porcelain, bronze and gold leaf decorations. The royal family lives in a mansion nearby, but the palace is used for formal ceremonies. A truly extravagant place! The frescoes on the ceilings of every room were incredible, and so was a street musician named Alfonso who played lovely Spanish guitar. I helped an elderly, blind man find his way today. And it made me realize how grateful I am to speak Spanish. I think about the human connections that I am able to make, and it makes me very happy.

Í´ve wandered through the old town, PLAZA MAYOR-- and I´m currently in an internet cafe in PUERTA DEL SOL. Both places are bustling downtown plazas full of people shops, and restaurants. Í´ve met lots of nice people from the states, Europe, and India. I just ate at a little vegetarian place called Maoz (falafel) So yummy! I was bad and ordered papas flamencas-- Spanish fries. Boy were they tasty!

The architecture and carvings in the city are especially beautiful and telling. I think about all the stories that have happened beneath, within, or next to them. The history. The tragedy. The joy. All a part of human life in every city. I am in awe of being part of such an old place. I look forward to telling some new stories inspired by the ancient energy that still occupies the hustle and bustle of Madrid. Encuentro de Cuentos.

I hope to send photos soon. My electrical adapter is in my luggage...vacationing somewhere in London!

Hasta Luego!



Steve said...

Glad you found your hotel. When you mentioned that it started raining, it sounded like a scene from a movie. Remember that the journey getting to where you're going can be the most interesting part of the trip! I hope you get your baggage so you can charge up your camera. Have fun and be safe.
I'm watching Nova overnight Wed, so with me luck...

Steve said...

Uncle Steve again. My friend Bob at work said that there are lots of pick-pockets on the Madrid subway.

May the Force be with You,