For whatever reason, I have a 16 hour layover in Madrid on the way to Johannessburg in each direction, but who am I to complain? After arriving, I took the subway to the city center, enjoyed the local cuisine including Manchego cheese and Galicia Estrella. I´ve never been to Spain (but I sure do like the music) and I definitely think I´m going to return. the weather here is great, the women are amazing, and the pace of life is pretty chill. There is a great mix of modernity and history, where people will wear current fashions but throw in a toreador hat or use a folding fan.

Across Europe, the formation of the EU has led to much immigration from all parts of the world, but it seems as if English are streaming here at a marathon pace. I asked one of them why and they said “the weather, duh”. Closely following them are the Americans, who all apparently use their High School Spanish, much to the dismay of the locals. (I do the same, I have to admit) The fastest growing group is apparently the Chinese, who have established a Chinatown here in Madrid. For some reason, that blows my mind. I only saw one Indian dude and he was at the Indian restaurant, so I don´t think that counts.

I made a friend on the plane who comes every year for the bullfighting season (May-July) as part of his retirement and to remind himself of his youth in Mexico City. Since I had nothing but time on my hands, I took him up on his offer to see a bullfight in the evening. I spent the afternoon walking around, taking pictures, and trying to practice Spanish with whomever would respond. As far as cities go, Madrid is clean and well managed. The transit system here is impeccable and even the street cleaning staff is populated with blonde lithe chicas. Definitely worth a more substantial visit.

The bullfighting was interesting, as a part of the national history, and pretty much everyone in town goes to watch. This version had toreadors on horses, which is a more unusual variation, but its still bullfighting, and without much more judgement, lets say I´m probably not going to go again anytime soon. Its not really a sport so much, since the bull seems to lose every time. There is clearly a lot of skill involved in not getting your ass run over by a half-ton pissed off animal, and I see how it´s impressive.

I think on the return trip I´ll do less sleeping and more museuming. I´m off to hit my 11 hour flight to Johannesburg.