So last week, yet another strike in Spain occurred. This time it was national. Every town and city went on strike on Wednesday 14th November to protest about government cuts. When I asked why people were striking I got told “cuts”. I assumed that meant cuts to everything..health care, education, benefits, etc.
I told madre dearest I was going to Madrid at the weekend when the strike was happening and needless to say she was a tad concerned, ´are you aware of the violence and striking going on Emma?´ was her reply. Yes mother, I do watch the news but the thing is after one day of striking, things go back to normal hence why I am going after the strike. Spain isn’t Northern Ireland.
The whole point of the trip on Thursday was so my flatmate could be reunited with her Scottish amigas and we could get shown around the capital city. I was a bit confused at the start with all the Scottish twang going on between three girls but I soon got used to it.
So my first impressions of Madrid…well it makes Cordoba look like a village, in fact a hamlet! It is just so big, nearly too big. Although everything being open on a Sunday was like a breath of fresh air, Madrid also has actual restaurants and not just tapas bars, civilisation does exist in Spain! Sunday was also a crisp autumn day, perfect for walking around Retiro Park. It´s a very romantic spot…guys if you ever have the chance of meeting a chica in Madrid…take her to Retiro and she will love you forever. I could have sat there all day watching people sail about in the little blue boats on the lake, people taking their dogs for a walk, crunching my feet on the autumn leaves, looking at cute families taking photos, imagining how amazing it would be to get wedding photos here etc. The only downside was the African men lined up along the walls trying to sell crap, they sort of ruined the whole family friendly\romantic vibe.
Whilst making our way from Retiro to the city centre a lot of people were walking about in white coats holding posters. I soon realized there was a health protest going down. I knew the whole carefree attitude was too good to be true. Sometimes, especially on Sundays you really would not think Spain had the worst economy in Europe. People are just so happy.
Then I went on the metro…scratch the happy scenario. Beggars, people jumping on carriages trying to sell crap every two minutes, old men with no teeth playing the guitar, serenading tourists, is what was going down. Might I add, I hate the metro…awkward moments looking directly at a stranger and standing so close to someone that you can smell their armpit sweat is not really my cup of tea. On the plus side, its quick and its cheap so my advice, grin and bear it, read a book if you manage to get a seat and try to avoid eye contact at all costs.
I didn’t get to see the Palacio Real or wander around any of the museums so if I ever have the chance of going to Madrid again, that will be on the agenda. All in all, after a hectic weekend, I was quite happy to get back to my little hamlet to have a good night’s sleep.