6/4/10: Madrid, Spain
[Editor’s note: Whoa! Sorry for the faux pas yesterday – not really sure what happened (oh wait, yes I am – I screwed up and accidentally scheduled two blogs to post today and none yesterday). Yesterday’s post, Kevin and Zhou Go to the Museums, is now available for your reading pleasure. Think of today as a lucky Two for Tuesday!]
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that not once during this trip have I been jet-lagged. I’m pretty impressed by myself and proud of me all at the same time. (Come to think of it, I’m always impressed with myself. Have you seen my beard lately?) After all, we have now done four flights where we changed at least five time zones, and by my count we’ve changed 46.5 time zones in total (the half coming from our trip to Nepal).
These past few days in Spain though, we sure have been sleeping a lot. The staff at our hostel cleans the rooms until 1pm each day, and only once have we been out in time for the to change our towels and make our bed. (Side note: most hostels we stay at don’t have towels, or a cleaning crew, it seems. Here at Hostel Patria we got lucky and found a cheap, clean private room smack in the middle of town. However, with the good comes the bad – this hostel has no place to hang out and meet people, and there’s no one to tell us the good places to visit or eat at. We’ve pretty much been doing Madrid on our own.)
Back to the sleeping introduction: we sleep a lot. We bought cereal from the grocery store on our first day, but haven’t needed to eat it yet. We wake up, get showered, and it’s time for a 2 or 3pm lunch (right on schedule with most other Madroids). Today was no different. We slogged out of bed and were hit the face by the bright sun as we left the building (one contributing factor to sleeping late: our room has no windows). We bought a picnic lunch at the grocery store and headed to Retiro Park (similar to New York’s Central Park), where, guess what? Zhou took a nap.
The other thing that we do here is eat. I talked about the terrible service at many restaurants here yesterday, but I have another food-related rant to share with everyone. This one is regarding food prices.
Dinner bills here remind me of airline tickets and all their hidden fees. A flight itself may only cost $35, but with taxes, baggage, bathroom usage, departure fees, etc. you might end up paying $135. The same goes for Madrid dinners. For example, you may order something as simple as paella and a Coke. A sample bill for this meal may look something like this:
15% terrace fee: €1.66
17% IVT: €1.89
10% random fee (not tip, apparently): €1.11
Total bill: €15.75
You knew from the menu that the paella would be €9 including IVT, plus there’s that mysterious Coke price, but you didn’t even order bread! Why’d they bring it to you? And who could possibly get away with charging so much just to eat on the terrace? Spanish restaurants, that’s who. And despite the fee, the terrace is always packed. People eat up the outdoors here (not literally). By the time you leave and pay a small tip (the tip is assuming you don’t have the waiters I described two days ago), you’re out over €17 on a €9 meal. Even though the dollar is killing the Euro right now, this is still hard to get used to.
Pictures of the Day: Zhou made a daisy necklace just for me! Then she took it for herself.