Madrid: Day 1 Observations

[Journal Excerpt]

The best thing about my hotel room in Madrid is that we can throw open the doors to the balcony and let the smells, sounds, and breeze of the city drift in.  My room is located immediately above the front entrance to our hotel, so it’s got a perfect central view of the street in front of me, and we’re a two-minute walking distance from Puerta del Sol. Through the open doors, I could hear a man singing to new age-y/Spanish remixed music while the breeze brought in some cold air, but it smelled so good! It didn’t smell polluted or like exhaust fumes as I figured a city’s air would smell like.

View of Madrid from my hotel room’s balcony

One of the things that has struck me since I first arrived is how clean these Madrileños keep their city.  That’s great because it allows people to have pride in where they live.  I’m constantly seeing street sweepers and people in bright green outfits picking trash along the sides of the roads.  At around midnight these big vehicles come out and splash some sort of soap water all over the cobblestones and then these green jumpsuit guys come and brush it into the drains.  Now, as for the ciudadanos themselves, one of my friends said he just sees them toss their trash right on the street. I have yet to notice that, but maybe they feel like they can do it because someone will be there to pick the trash up? In any case, there are tons of green trash receptacles everywhere I look, so people really have no excuse for tossing it in the street.

Also, the Spaniards have some great ideas that need to make their way to America. They are much more blind-friendly than we are, that’s for sure. The crosswalks emit a high-pitched beeping noise when the pedestrian walk signal turns green, and then when the time to cross the street is almost up, it starts to beep much faster. Like this:

beep.. beep.. beep.. beep.. beep.. beep.. beep.. beep-beep-beep! beep-beep-beep! beep-beep-beep!

That way a blind person can hear when it’s safe to cross. And, at first I’ll admit I made fun of the money because it looks fake, or like Monopoly money, but the concept behind the size of each Euro relating to its value is really helpful for blind people, too. I know we apply that concept to our coins, but why not to our bills as well?

They also have these GREAT blinds outside almost every window that are really thick and can be lowered and raised from the inside.  They can completely block out the sun. I bet it’s used a lot for the siesta, since they’d need to block out the sunlight if many people nap during the middle of the day.  I know I definitely needed a siesta of my own after my flight! I crashed onto my bed and fell into a coma for two hours, so those blackout blinds came in handy.

The pace of life during the day is much slower here, much more relaxed.  But at night is when the city really comes alive. All of a sudden the streets are crowded with revelers enjoying the nightlife and going to dinner or to tapas bars, street vendors come out and lay their wares on the sidewalks and plazas, and droves of promoters come out to try to get you to check out their bar or club.  I love it! Such a great city for a night owl like myself.

But not tonight. Tonight I’m in desperate need of a shower and a good night’s rest so that I have enough energy to explore the city on Day 2! Hasta luego!

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