I can say for a fact that my face drops tremendously when I see my ruby red glass of vino tinto and it’s followed not by plump olives or a towering pinxto, but stale, week-old peanuts and ambiguously shaped puff balls. It’s true that the tapas in cities like Córdoba, Granada and the pinxtos in the País Vasco put the rations in Madrid to shame, but a girl can dream. I must admit that the disappointment and disdain I feel for free peanuts (that I’m sure everyone in a 3km radius has touched) is nothing compared to spending 10 dollars on a micro-cocktail in Chicago and expecting nothing but a napkin and to reach in my purse to give the bartender a tip. You’ve got to pick your battles wisely.
All is fair in metro and war.
I’ve had to explain to my out-of-town guests on several occasions that the Madrid metro is—without exaggeration—another world and because of this, conforms to different standards of etiquette. I mean, we’re underground, so all rules go out the window, right? Staring, pushing, shoving, and swearing aloud for no apparent reason: no problem. Oh, why yes, that is a man sleeping on the floor, he’s always there. Don’t worry, he’s very kind. Mom, you said you liked classical music, so here’s a string quartet in three-piece suits playing on the platform for your listening pleasure. Don’t mind those two in the corner, they may or may not be having sex, but that’s ok here. No, headphones aren’t extinct; some just prefer to share their music with the entire train car.
Watch out, that’s pee.
We get used to a new kind of gross in the city between over-flowing garbage bins, spit, vomit, and poop. I some times make a game of rayuela, or hopscotch, to help pass the time I spend dodging poop and spit. Wait, is that just me? I enjoy living in the city center, and the smell of Mahou and urine on a Sunday morning when only the abuelos venture into the streets reminds me I’m home.
What do you mean you don’t have whatsapp?
Well, I don’t have saldo, so we’re at a standstill. I feel like I’ve been launched back into the year 1999 with a pre-paid phone, but hey, contracts—all contracts—are hard to come by in Madrid. Your social life depends on whether or not you can get a whatsapp. Times have changed, so long unlimited text messages and free nights and weekends. Hello, whatsapp, viber and line messages. I’ll call you, but don’t you dare answer (that costs money), I’m just trying to get your attention because you haven’t been on whatsapp in, oh, seven minutes.
Why are they in line?
I’ve seen lines stretching for kilometers and I’ve arrived at the simplest conclusion: Madrileños love standing in line. They come with food, beer, friends and family and they simply camp out. I’ve seen lines leading to government buildings, lottery stands, the Apple store, clubs, metro offices, and most importantly, Ryanair flights. As much as I consider myself a logical person, I too get in line for Ryanair flights. What’s that, they have assigned seating now? Well, my brain told my legs, but for some reason it still didn’t register. I’m between two abuelos wearing an insane amount of layers and rolling my eyes at my lack of will power. I’m only human.
- I’ve got to go to Aluche.
- Let’s just go to 100 Montaditos.
- Their menu del día is HOW MUCH?
- There’s a manifestación today, __________ is closed.
What's on your list?
Danni, Community Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native who currently resides in Madrid, Spain. She's a lover of language, words, and travel and has managed to combine all her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flights deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful life partner. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.