Our time here in Madrid has been quite interesting. The Spaniards are very proud people - very proud of their country. It's entertaining to hear them talk about it because they want to tell you everything and anything about it. They tell about all the different parts of Spain and how the north and south our different and which part of Spain everyone is from, etc. Some of them knew that the bull fight thing really bothered me a lot, and they all said that the bulls the use in the fights are bred to be in the fights - they are very mean. And they're specifically bred to be used for the fights. If they didn't use them in the fights there wouldn't be a need for them anymore and they'd be extinct. I partly understand that, but I still don't get the entertainment value of torturing an animal.
Pretty much EVERYONE here smokes. They even smoke around kids if it is outside or in a bar - and yes, they take kids in bars. We've had pretty much every meal here in a bar, except for two. But they even eat breakfasts in bars sometimes because the bars serve coffee. They are called "tapas (or pinchos) bars", which means appetizers. Eating is a very big part of the culture here, so they're pretty much constantly eating. If you go into a bar for a drink, they serve you tapas at no cost. If I'd had an alcoholic drink at every bar we've been to since we've been here, I would have been drunk the entire time. I've had a few sips of some of the different alcohols, but I pretty much stick with Coke. (They don't really have Pepsi over here... Bummer.) Oh, and in Europe they generally don't put ice in drinks. In France the Coke was pretty much half warm, and served with 3 ice cubes, if you're lucky. So different from the US.
Yesterday we also went to what they call the free market. It's basically just a bunch of tents with cheap stuff for sale. But we bought a few things for cheap so we were excited about that. Then we came home and Mark checked about Gonzalo's home theater... They're very technically sauve. They have every little gadget you could ever hope to have really, but even with all of that, it seems like they have a much simpler way of life here. EVERYONE here lives in apartments or townhomes. I haven't seen one single free standing house since we've been here. We went to Mercedes sisters apartment yesterday in downtown Madrid and her and her husband have a 4yo and a 9mo. old. There entire apartment was probably 1/2 to 2/3's the size of our place in OK, and FOUR people lived there. Mercedes and Gonzalos house is 240sq meters - around 2500 sq ft - but it's spread out on 4 floors, so it doesn't really seem all that big. The rooms are small, but there are many of them. This house would not be conducive to having kids in at all because there are 3 flights of steep stairs.
Today we went shopping in downtown Madrid, but since the exchange rate is so bad, we didn't really buy anything except for a picture. (We're buying artwork every place we go so we can someday have a wall with a bunch of artwork from all over the world.) We went to the grocery store too - El Corte Ingles - kind of like the Spanish Wal-Mart, except it's more like a department store than anything else. Multiple levels, but they sell everything. Clothes, books, food, building supplies, vacations, etc. The grocery part was HUGE. They had a pretty vast seafood department with calamari and octopus and any other fish you could hope to find, and I guess jamon (ham) is very common here. They had TONS of entire pigs legs for sale. (They're aged and I guess the more aged they are the more expensive it is.) We saw one pig's leg was 145Euro per kilogram.... DANG! That part of the store kinda smelled like pigs too... And they had a very big cheese department too - probably 2 typical Wal-Mart aisles just of cheese! And they had jugs of milk sitting on regular shelves... not refridgerated.
We're flying out at 5am tomorrow so I need to start getting all our stuff ready to go. It's been fun here, but tiring. We've had a busy schedule and it's always harder to be on someone else's schedule vs your own. We really got a feel for the Spanish culture though, which was fantastic. I'll add pictures to these blogs when I get home... We've already taken almost 2 gigs worth of pictures and about 15 gigs worth of video. =)