Madrid Airbnb (5’ from Anton Martin station)

Wow! First impressions are very good. Yes, 2 doors that open and face the morning sun, one each from the bedroom and living room. Sorts of facilities I’d expected and in good condition. Landlady seems nice and we operated in Spanish.

The area is surrounded by restaurants, bars, shops selling drawing materials, and not too far from a gym. After a coffee I’ll go to see if I can join it. Fingers crossed. And it’s all near my new school.

Ok. A bit more time to explore in the apartment. It’s short of decent bowls. The thing on the bench isn’t a microwave but an ancient grill. Ugh. The kettle doesn’t work. There are no small saucepans to fit the small sized lids. The knives are decades past their best. There are no matches to light the gas and both lighters in the back of the drawer are empty. The TV, described kindly, is old. Probably not the model John Baird built in the 1920s, but early and run using two old remote controls. There are strange packets in the freezer. I’m ignoring them. A small cupboard door in the kitchen is hanging half off. Best kept shut. Haven’t tried the shower or relied on the heating yet. Hmmm

Post a trip to two parts of the very large El Corte Ingles store I have an electric kettle, a very nice new mug and bowl, matches and a few more odds and ends. Back to the apartment to try out the heating and shower.

And the washing machine! I wanted a 30’ wash. It had a 3h light that I couldn’t turn off although I’d selected a 30’ program. Sigh. The clothes were deeply, very deeply, washed. A lot. Sigh.

Gym

Joined the gym. Thanks to a sale it cost me half the usual price and I now own an orange combination lock, orange towel, an orange drink bottle and orange earphones from the introduction pack. Guess the livery colour? Yup, orange.

And I now know why only men go to the lower floor: to grunt over very large weights together. The machines and a mat on the floors above, among the non-grunt sized weights, were fun.

Once again I’m wearing the wrong gym uniform: travel shorts (cargo), a singlet and wrinkles are not what women wear here. The men wear shorts but no wrinkles or singlets. Two days later and it’s clear I’ve not started a fashion change. But, I’m comfortable, will keep fit for the interim 3 weeks, as I become weirder without regular exercise. 😏

Now, in case you are wondering, El Papa was not here for Easter. He sent a standin. And rather than cleaning up sins I think the guy in a red skirt found some dog poo. The amazing bit was the number of priests beside the very small church I’d never previously noticed in an area seriously devoted to shopping.

Not far away the usual group of black guys with very temporary pavement ‘shops’ were hanging onto the ropes used to carry their goods in a sheet. Not long later I saw them disappearing in a very different direction, presumably having been moved along. Again.

Easter Thursday evening

Lots of shops were shut and the crowds in the centre unbelievable. Huge. Just ambling, as the spanish do. In groups. Ambling. Never hurrying. Rarely giving way on the footpath. Interesting how street behaviour differs between countries. I wonder what it says of the people?

Listen to great music, buy lottery tickets, many options if you need entertainment.

Good Friday

You could have shot a gun up my street this morning and not hit anyone. A quiet street with mainly only foot traffic, it was almost deserted when I went to the gym at the very early hour of 09:00. Just one dog walker and her small charge in the distance.

My favourite breakfast place should open at 10:30. It didn’t but my nearby second favourite did. Still very quiet.

Luckily commerce prevails and my favourite supermarket (El Cortes Ingles) was open. Still stocking up on the other essential things missing from the apartment like soap and hand wash.

Easter Saturday

No newspapers today as it’s a holiday/festival. Luckily commerce continues and some stalls at the local fruit and vegie market were open. The asparagus was sensational. Beats any I’ve ever bought in Australia, ever.

And a breakfast place quite close provides bottles of olive oil and fresh minced tomato so it may be my daily start as it opens at 7 whereas the earliest the gym opens is 08:00! True. Told you 09:00 is early here. Almost unimaginable a gym opening at 08:00 on week days a busy city. Whoops, strike that. Have found it possibly opens at 07:00 on weekdays. That will help organise my day: early gym, breakfast then school. Homework after school, depending on the activities they organise for us. I’d love to cross town and sneak into lectures in another school I used to attend. They were good and I’d understand more now. Sometimes in earlier years it was little more than the title!

Spring is coming

Flowering cherries in a major pedestrian thoroughfare and down the green strip near the big Retiro park. The ‘goat’ from the Plaza Major has relocated. Seeking better pastures???

Days are cool, no, cold, in the morning. Mostly glove-wearing cold. Too cold to sit in the park. That was until today, a much warmer day later on. Two great dancers performing outside the botanic gardens, beside Paseo Del Prado. Alongside the sun absorbing locals. The line to get into the gardens was about 50 people long. And it’s not free! I hadn’t realised. Tulips are out and looking spectacular.

Once everything is back to normal after Easter here will be more interesting still. The local restaurants include vegetarian, Russian, Indian, Mexican, Korean, various regional Spanish ones so, no lack of choices. If I have to eat out that is.

Saw a dog, admittedly much better dressed, that reminded me of Charlie. Yes, sigh, it took after a set of small town ankles that moved near it.

And neighbours over the street have a development project. From mattresses alone the other day they now have a better shelter. Dammed cold at present so I don’t know how they do it.

Planning

Another first world problem: so many things validate you now through your phone. I’m using a Spanish sim but my accounts only like Aussie phone numbers. If I try and change my number they won’t recognise the Spanish phone number. And apps, such as the RENFE train app, don’t like Aussie credit cards. Even PayPal insisted on contacting me via my Aus mobile number this morning to validate me. So I’m going to have to pay the exorbitant roaming fee Telstra charges to get a message to prove it is me in Spain. I told you, a first world problem! This follows a tortuous problem with one aspect of setting up a new iPad here again, because of their insistence on contacting an Aussie phone number. That was resolvable. Thanks JP. And yes, I could pay cash for the train but having an electronic train ticket would be preferable. Sigh. 😔

Ahhh. Success. And without resorting to the overpriced Telstra roaming for one message. PayPal offered options this time including secret questions rather than just my Aussie mobile. So, I’m now going by train to coastal Spain, Almeria to be precise, once school finishes. Phew.

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