29.11.2012 - 29.11.2012
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As I had mentioned in my previous post, Abby was not feeling that well yesterday and unfortunately today she is out for the count and has taken Hannah down with her (unintentionally of course). Both girls slept late only to both go to bed late in the morning and to sleep into the mid-afternoon.
After seeing that the kids had their tea and Tylenol and were comfortable Muriel and I went for an hour and a half stroll of our neighbourhood. We like our neighbourhood which is very close to Centro Madrid, the centre of historic Madrid. It is a well-kept area which is not in the least bit touristy. The buildings are all no higher than 6 to 8 stories high much like in Paris. The beautiful sunshine is sheer pleasure even with a frosty nip in the morning air. It is lively out on the streets but just not frenetic like Paris seemed be. People are just smiling a bit more and walking just a little slower.
There is no doubt that Madrid is a world class city. Unfortunately, we noticed globalization has had made its mark over the past 20 years (the last time Muriel and I were here). There are many Starbucks and McDonalds along with Taco Bell and Burger King. There seems to be a bit of a sushi craze here as we also noticed in Paris. In front of one sushi restaurant here I counted 13 delivery scooters. American clothing, makeup and fragrance stores abound. Fortunately they are interspersed with many Spanish stores. Beer is equal in its presence to that of wine. In the grocery store I saw cerverza for as little as .27 euros a can. I splurged and spent .55 euros on a non-generic Spanish beer.
When we came back the kids were still sleeping so we had a little lunch and followed it up with some lemon loaf we bought at year round covered market (lots of fish mongers, poultry and rabbit sellers and fruit sellers in one area and olive sellers and bakeries in another). You buy your cake by weight at 12 euros to the kilogram.
Muriel took a nap while I tried to sort through computer issues. I have subscibed to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that allows me to make my computer appear that it is Canada or the US. This helps us to see Canadian and US TV and Movies that would normally be blocked in Europe. I set it up on Abby's laptop as mine still isn't working and the kids need a little something to cheer them up while they are sick. We have been watching Modern Family, The Middle and started watching the Downtown Abby series on American Netflix, which we are all enjoying immensely.
While doing the dishes I came across a stovetop expresso maker so I decided to try it out. I hadn't used one but a quick YouTube video showed me that it was as straightforward as it looked. I warmed some milk and cut some lemon loaf and enjoyed a little quiet time while everyone was still sleeping.
Muriel and I went out for another couple hours of walking in the late afternoon. We went to Plaza Mayor a location we had stayed close to when we visited in the distant past. We had a hard time recognizing it since it was filled with stalls selling Christmas items. We think there must be some festivities around Christmas that involves crazy hair, masks and hats that are a bit like Halloween. Many stalls were selling these items. Many of the city work crews are out setting up large Christmas trees and lights in the plazas and squares as well as along the streets.
Signs of the hard economic times might be seen in the selling of lottery tickets. Hundreds of independent lottery ticket sellers are along the streets. It would seem hard to tell if all the tickets could be legitimate. We saw a more official lottery ticket storefront that had a line stretching for a few city blocks leading up to it. It seems lottery fever or desperation is in the air.
The kids perked up a bit in the middle of the evening but still aren't eating. We hope tomorrow will bring better news for them.
One last note to everyone who thinks we only eat cake and pastry. We have big salads and lots of fruit too! Today we bought a huge Mango for a euro and clementines can be bought for .60 euros a kilogram so we are getting our vitamin C. These items just are not as interesting to report on.
I will upload our photos in the days to come when I get my computer problems sorted, so until then you will need to use your imagination.