Saturday, March 1, 2008

Madrid!


For all my gentle readers out there, all 4 of you, let me tell you rather abruptly that we are not moving to Madrid. We are still moving though and still leaving our cute little life in Durham. But, first let me tell you a little bit about Madrid... and a little it will be since my flight was delayed and I missed my connection and had to stay in a hotel and then spend Valentine's day in Philadelphia. So an already short trip was cute to a complete unfunny joke! As long as I am mentioning my string of bad luck, let me mention that my luggage didnt show up until the night before I was supposed to leave (which we had to go and pick up!)which forced me to buy socks, undies, and another outfit.

For the doomed trip on the way home: The new clothes were put in my carry-on bag which I accidentally left on the subway enroute to the airport. My carry-on also contained my beautiful diary Hicham got for me in France last summer, my airplane book, some jewelry and airplane snacks... making my 8 hour long flight home even more boring (and it was the very last row so my seat didnt recline- it was my personal hell on Earth... nothing to do for 8 hours, repulsive vegetarian airplane food, sitting upright - what could have been worse?)

So, now that we have the traveling trauma and tedium out of the way, let's talk about how one spends 2 and a half days with their husband they haven't seen in over 6 weeks in the city that will become your home in the near future? Our mission: to meet the city and get a feel for the place.

To that end, we walked mostly, took some buses, took the subway, and took taxi's. We went to clubs until 5 am and interesting tapas places, vegetarian restaurants, enormous parks, colorful stores, eclectic neighborhoods and majestic plazas. Madrid is such a fantastic city! Everything I would have ever wanted in a city. The people were charming, attractive, and polite to each other.

Tangent Alert: After having been in or living in big cities, Hicham and I were equally amazed when a man gave up his subway seat to a slightly older woman. Now, one might think that is 'just the right thing to do' but in most places that just doesn't really happen on the subway. It is not due to rudeness, it's just that most times, a rider doesn't spend more than 5-7 minutes on any given train. If a guy was to get up every time a woman came on the train there would just be too much chaos and for such a short journey. Women get on and off every minute. But anyway, we witnessed it and looked at each other in amazement (yes, I was sitting and he was standing by the way) and then all the people around us seemed to notice us being amazed, it was all very weird BUT ANYWAY... the people are just cool.



Since our plans were to move there, we neglected the big museums and most justly skimmed the surface. We did catch an energetic Flamenco show on our last night. We were surrounded by American's who video taped, talked loudly and snapped photos for the ENTIRE duration of the show. I was appalled. We then walked all the way back to the hotel along cobble stone streets and through majestic English garden plazas. It was our last night and we didn't want it to end.

Our weekend on the town could have been amazing but unfortunately our experience in Madrid was polluted, literally! It is true, the initial factor in our deciding to derail the move to Spain and instead go to ----- was all the damn cigarette smoke. They smoked while walking, talking, sitting, eating, dancing, probably while pooping! It was unreal. Just toxicity no matter where you were, it was amazing, there would be the most glamorous woman EVER- who clearly cared a great deal about her appearance- with beautiful shoes, perfect style, great haircut, wow! Standing there in a cloud of filthy, stinky smoke... surrounded by her friends all smoking. After going out on Saturday night, my lungs ached!

It became a constant topic of conversation. "Can you believe how much they smoke? I can't stay in here, it is too smoky. Wow, they are smoking as they eat!" and on and on. It was a distraction big time. So, after much discussion, we decided that to have any quality of life, we simply couldn't live somewhere that we can't breathe...

Of course Hicham did get an internship offer in Madrid and in Paris...so we had a choice. Ironically, I was a little pissy about Hicham even applying in Paris because (insert whiny voice)"I don't want to live in stupid old Paris". He would just say that it was good to have options. Of course, that is true and especially now!

Hicham has always wanted to stay in Paris- but out of respect to me was willing to go to Madrid (what a wonderful partner!). And starting in Jan. 08 France banned smoking in all public places! SO, we will go to Paris. There are other benefits to Paris as well:

1. I will learn French so then I can talk to his family.
2. At least one of us will be native speakers.
3. He will work less for more money.
4. Olivia the dog will be able to do more and go more places with me.
5. I will learn more about the French culture.
6. Free health care!
7. More of my friends want to visit Paris then Madrid, so hopefully I will get to see familiar faces more often!
8. I do not know, I will tell you more as I realize them - if you see any other benefits, please comment!

So- I guess I will have to change my blog pictures to capture the Frenchiness of it all - oui oui! Merci!

3 comments:

Tammy said...

I have been SO anxious for this post -- to hear all about the details of your trip and, more importantly, to see if spending some time in Madrid eased (or, gasp!, exascerbated) some of your inner turmoil regarding this move.

What I have walked away with is this -- that your decision to move to Paris instead of Madrid due to a proliferation of cigarette smoke is just so pricelessly and fantastically "you", that it just makes me happy to be alive.

Magnifique!

Hich said...

Although we had that heavy bad luck, I do think the visit of Madrid was a lot of fun. Looking around and noticing the nightlife building itself around us.

I like your pros and cons list, especially the pros for moving to Paris ;), even if it was a hard decision to take.

In French, one would say that "the Spanish smoke like firemen". Maybe it won't last thanks to the EU. They are talking about trying to ban smoking in public places in the entire union by 2010ish. Who knows...

Anyway, I am still savouring the remaining feeling of having seen you during that weekend.

Love,

Hicham

Tammy said...

Nicole,

Due to a rather malevolent, dark-souled colleague at work, I have changed my blog address. The new address is:

www.groovyland-geekgirl.blogspot.com

Hugs,

Tams