Jan 31, 2009

Feeling left out in the rain

A photo to reflect my melancholy mood today... I took this photo in the rain in Cadiz near the Balneario de la Palma on Playa de la Caleta. 

Jan 30, 2009

Slow Rides at the Amusement Park

I was surprised to discover that my instinctual reaction to free fall and rollercoaster rides is no longer to scream. I laugh instead. I laugh until tears stream from my eyes. I got some free passes to the Parque de Atracciones from a generous student so I decided to return to the thrill seeking days of my youth for a few hours. We first went on the Lanzadera (63 meter drop at 80 km/hr) and I loved it. I would've gone again again, but M wasn't into it.

Next we went on the Tarantula, a crazy rollercoaster 25 meters high and 700 meters in length with carriages that twist arbitrarily 360 degrees at 70 km/hr. That ride was a little too much fun for us. I laughed a lot while M swore. But weirdly enough, it was the classic swing carousal that actually did us in and left us feeling quite ill. After that we went on the slow rides...

We enjoyed the view from the good ole Ferris Wheel..

Then we toured the grounds on the slow moving Zepplin.

While the amusement park was fun for a few hours, I think this experience has reminded me that my thrill seeking days on puke inducing rides are firmly behind me.. bring on the slow rides!

Jan 29, 2009

Riding Teléferico

One of my students gave me free tickets so I decided to check out this ride in the Madrid sky. Teleferico is a 2.5km cable car ride that ambles 150 feet above the city. The sky tour begins from Paseo del Pintor Rosales, near Metro Arguelles and takes you over the Manzanares river into Casa de Campo Park.

Palacio Real and Almudena Catherdral from the sky.

As you can see, the views are quite spectacular. For a mere 5.10 Euros return trip, I think the price is totally worth the ride. In fact, I plan on doing it again when the weather is better.

Jan 25, 2009

When the food and decor don't match

Last night, M had to be coaxed into going out for dinner. A new Thai place opened up on my street and I've been pouring over their promotional paper menu, salivating at the thought of Tom Yum soup and Green Curry. My craving reached a peak last night and I just had to have some. M reluctantly joined me after I offered to pay for most of the meal.

Upon entering Rama Thai, I was struck by the prominently placed, large-framed poster of the Taj Mahal. Looking around, the decor was unquestionably Indian. Several smaller framed Taj Mahals, elephants and other Indian kitsch adorned the walls. But the waiter was Bangladeshi, which is typical here in Lavapiés since most Indian restaurants are actually run by the Bangladeshis.

But wait, didn't I come in for Thai food? Turns out the this used to be an Indian restaurant but the competition was too stiff so they changed their menu to become the only Thai place on the street. This made me immediately suspicious about the quality and authenticity of the food. Our waiter assured me that the chef had spent 10 years in Thailand cooking Thai food. So we ordered the soup that compelled me to come here in the first place and a chicken green curry. The Tom Yum soup was tasty but expensive. For 4.5 euros, I wanted a larger bowl. What I got was a small bowl stuffed with 3 prawns and 6 thick slices of ginger. The green curry was fine.

Overall, I'd say that the menu is overpriced and Indian decor is off-putting when you've come in for a Thai meal. This incongruence doesn't sit well with me. Call me old-fashion but I think that the decor and the food should complement each other not clash and confuse. Besides, it makes me wonder, if a restauranteur can't be bothered with changing something as basic as the decor, what does that say about their attention to detail in the kitchen? What further put me off was the rumbling and gurgling in my belly afterwards. Seems the soup didn't sit well with me either. I don't think I'll be back. My search for good tom yum in the barrio will continue....

Jan 24, 2009

Bar FM

Located on Olmo Street in Lavapiés you will find this cozy grandpa rustic bar, which boasts some surprising and eclectic ornamentation, such as, a painted folk-art rendition of a beefcake Adonis, calabashes dangling from the rafters, a large b&w poster of a 1950s biker and African wire figurines.

Featured with a spotlight, 1980s pop sex goddess, Samantha Fox, coyly beckons us to touch her.

The charming abuelo owner serves delicious jamon and cheese plates as tapas.

And adorable Luna is always nearby with her pleading eyes, begging for a little jamon.

So the next time you happen to be wandering around Lavapiés and feel in the mood for a uniquely decorated bar to have a caña or two, check out Bar FM.

Jan 23, 2009

Reflection: absorbed in a crowded bar

I took these photos in La Mulata in La Latina. Maybe it was all the red wine I'd been drinking that night (some of which ended up on my yellow tunic) but when I caught a glimpse of the crowd reflected in the huge mirror, I saw poetry. 

Although I see myself absorbed in the group, I am kept separated by the act of persevering my observation. The observer doesn't participate in the action of the moment and so becomes the other, an island exiled from the rest. 

Jan 18, 2009

Snowball fights in Lavapies

Last week's snowstorm caused many fights to breakout all over my barrio, Lavapies. Locals (young and old) collected what snow they could from car hoods and began flinging it at their friends.

All photos taken by me.

From what I could tell as I wandered through the barrio with my camera, there were no casualties from any of this friendly fire.

See also:
Retiro in White
Snowmen in Madrid

Jan 17, 2009

Retiro in White

A rare snowstorm in Madrid last Friday turned Retiro into a winter wonderland. While most of these photos don't seem extraordinary winter shots to those of us used to seeing snow, it was quite an unusual sight to see here in Madrid.

Retiro dressed in white.

Madrileños flocked to the park to enjoy the snow. Snowball fights spontaneously broke out everywhere..

All photos taken by me.

It was a beautiful snow day and one of the heaviest snowfalls in decades. In fact, my neighbour told me that she hasn't seen snow like this since her 35 year-old daughter was a small girl. The sweet dear warned me to be careful outside and I reminded her that I am Canadian and thus used to such weather. I dug out my boots with Vibram soles from deep in my closet and was good to go.

While the snowstorm caused chaos for cars, buses, planes and trains, for those of us who were able to avoid the traffic woes, it was a magical day of romantic walks in snowy lanes, snowmen, and snowball fights with friends.

Next time, I'll post photos of some of the snowball fights I captured in Lavapies.

See also:
Snowmen in Madrid
Snowball Fights in Lavapies

Jan 16, 2009

Snowmen in Madrid

Last Friday there was a freak snow storm that covered the city with white flakes. In the city centre, the heat of the street, the many bodies and feet and tires, melted the snow quite quickly but there was still a lot of snow in Retiro Park. Today, I'd like to share the faces of some of the snowmen and women I met in the park.

Here are the King and Queen sitting on a park bench:

Here we have ET the alien:

And the smoker:

All photos taken by me.

In my upcoming post, I'll show you Retiro Park as a winter wonderland. And in subsequent posts I'll show you snowball fights on the streets of Lavapies. So stay tuned!

See also:
Retiro in White
Snowball Fights in Lavapies

Jan 6, 2009

They might be giants

They might not be properly called windmills but they are giants.. giant wind turbines to be exact. While we were on our coastal jaunt of Cadiz province, we drove through one of Andalusia's wind farms or parques eólicos. These magnificent giants dot the skyline with their imposing sleek beauty. And I couldn't help but wonder what Don Quixote would have made of these giants.

All photos taken by me.

Spain is one of the three world’s largest users of wind power. In 2007, wind farms accounted for almost 10% of the electricity generated in Spain. [source wiki]

see also:
A Civil War Bunker on the Beach
Fishermen of Conil de la Frontera

Jan 5, 2009

A Civil War Bunker on the Beach

Christmas day happened to be a rare windless day in Conil so we took a long walk along the beach from Playa los Bateles north towards Playa El Roqueo. Here we were pleasantly surprised to find a stone bunker from the 1936 Spanish Civil War.

View from the inside...

All these photos were taken by me.

Conil de la Frontera has around 19,000 inhabitants and six beaches: Playa La Fontanilla, Playa El Roqueo (location of the 1936 Civil War bunker seen above), Playa Fuente del Gallo, Playa Punta Lejos, Playa Cala Del Aceite and Playa los Bateles. Playa los Bateles, the beach which we overlooked from our holiday apartment, is the longest and the most popular in the summer.

For more photos from this beautiful paradise, stay tuned.

See also:
Fishermen of Conil

Jan 4, 2009

Fishermen of Conil de la Frontera

We spent Christmas week in the picturesque white fishing village of Conil de la Frontera in Cadiz province's La Janda county in the southwest of Spain.

All these photos were taken by me.

This charming seaside town gets its name (some experts claim) from an Arab term meaning "place of pleasure." The spectacular and unspoiled natural beauty of this area in the Costa de la Luz makes it one of the finest jewels of Andalusia.

In my next post, I'll show you more stunning vistas from this area so stayed tuned.
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