Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jack Hawksmoor

Sometimes I feel like Jack Hawksmoor. Like I said, Barcelona was like a city trying to be a resort, or more realistically a resort trying to be a city. It failed at both, not really knowing what way it wanted to commit to. But it had a beach, and there is definitely something to be said for that. I miss it already.

But, stepping off the train in Madrid, it was as if I had come back to life after a few days in a constant daze. Here I was surrounded by tall buildings, organized, and disorganized. Graffiti covered the walls. People walked around with purpose.

I was in a city again!

The people here wandered the streets because they had things to do. Places to be. People to see. This wasn't a conglomeration of camera toting targets. These were real people living a real life. And there's something about that that invigorates me. I could feel the city breathing; I could hear the city singing. I was back where I was supposed to be.

For two days I wondered if I'd grown tired of cities, and needed a change. For two days, I thought this because I was out of my element. But now, returned, I'm in love with urban expanse once more.

As I walked from the train station, giant pack on my back, I looked to see where my hostel lay. It lay up a hill. Oh good! A hill! I had definitely hoped that a giant hill lay before me. That was just how I wanted to start my journey. But the hill would have to wait. First I required sustenance.

On the train, I was so hungry that I finally got around to eating the pack of party mix that I received on the flight from Toronto to Iceland. Yeah – I've been carrying it that long. There's one more left for another hunger crisis.

My first port of call was the McDonald's. Anyone who tells you that eating at McDonald's when you travel is a waste, or sacrilegious, or some other pejorative – well they have clearly never traveled on a budget. There's nothing like stepping into a place that feels familiar, and getting two chicken burgers for a euro a piece. It's quick, fast, somewhat filling food on the cheap.

I tell you – McDonald's is sometimes the only food to eat when you travel. And anyone that tells you differently, you tell them to try to find another place that will serve you with a thirty pound pack on your back, and a twenty pound one on your front.

Face stuffed, it was then time to head up to the hostel. It was a simple walk that highlighted some of the finer areas of what I imagine is the city's main street. However getting in the hostel was somewhat of a problem. You see, I thought it was closed. I couldn't see the doors. I know how stupid this sounds, but everything on the street was closed, some hostels have black out periods, and I couldn't see the doors – only two giant twelve feet tall doors that clearly were not to be opened. Didn't I feel the fool when i saw someone open the door within the door? But – seriously – who does that?

Cat's Hostel in Madrid is fantastic. More on this later, I'm sure. But as of right now that's all I have to say. It comes highly recommended. As I type a party rages on below, with music, and screaming, and what not. I figure I'll check it out eventually. But I do need to sleep tonight. I've kept telling myself I'll sleep early, I'll sleep early – but I never do. Tonight – for real this time, I'll get some much needed napping done.

But quick as I entered, I locked my stuff away in a magic “blue lagoon”ish locker and headed back out to the streets. First order of business was to get some juice. I miscalculated and bought fanta. It's been a while since I had orange soda. And I now realize just how much I've come to dislike all pop. Every now and then when I travel I lose the taste for it. It becomes near flavourless, and quite undesirable. And that's where I am right now. Last time it happened was my trip across Canada in '06. So juice from here on out. With vitamin C too – that's the ticket!

I passed some street art – most of it effortless throwups, but some of them – quite good. And from the drought that was Barcelona, it's good to start seeing some again – regardless of quality. Stickering seems to be big in this town as well.

As I walked towards the main park, I saw a great number of people marching past me. I have no knowledge of Spanish, but when I saw the world Aborto (like the little guy from Filler Bunny) and pictures of babies, I figured t was an anti abortion rally. But as I kept walking I thought there must be hundreds of them, thousands. No way could an anti-abortion rally bring this many people together. I kept walking – they kept marching past. I thought there must have been hundreds of thousands, but no – that couldn't be true, could it?

As it turned out there were well over one million people marching, chanting, and screaming – all in protest of a woman's right to choose. Well, that's for the best, right? These one million people have the right to make decisions for the other six billion people, yeah?

But religion and politics – they make for bad conversation, so I'll stop there... I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit, but as it tasted mostly like orange soda and chicken burgers, that wasn't all too bad. Gross.

And then I was in the park. A rowing regatta was underway. So, taking seat on a monument, bathed in the slowly setting sun, I sat back and watched the event play out. I also used it as a further chance to relax, and read some more of my novel. It's getting near the end now. It's almost time to break out Rainbow Six.

And then, as the sun set, I headed back to the hostel. And that was that. Another laid back day. It seems as if that's what Spain is turning out to be for me. And it comes as a much needed break in the middle of my European journey.

[Authors Note: the Madrid hostel does not like me uploading, and cuts connection randomly - so pictures and videos will have to be added later. This means the fountain, and the upcoming B.F. post will be delayed as well. But text updates will keep on coming.]

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