This weekend was the first time I felt like I'm living in Europe again. We went into downtown Madrid for the first time purely for looking around and fun, not a task that had to be done. We didn't have to rush and I didn't feel like there was so much I wouldn't get to see. It felt like exploring a new town, with the knowledge I lived nearby and so there is no pressure to achieve total tourist success.
Last night we just walked around and tried to figure out where a few things were. We saw some scary stuff, like a street with sex shops and many, many prostitutes, very sad. We saw interesting stuff, such as rows of restaurants of all shapes and sizes, including a tiny bar with the heads of bulls who were killed in the ring, and the museum of ham restaurants, standing only at a bar for any shape and size of pork something or other you might want. We saw two major tourist areas where a lot goes on, plaza del sol, and plaza mayor. We saw PEOPLE. I'd heard Madrid never sleeps - wow there were a lot of people on the streets. It was getting on towards 10 when we headed to the subway, if anything it was getting more crowded, not less.
Today we went to El Rastro, the biggest flea market in Europe. (Don't tell but we missed church to do this.) The market was He-uge. Lots of t-shirts and repetitive stuff, then we got off the main drag and there were antiques and sort of garage sale stuff, plants, electronics, leather, fabric. And - of course- loads and loads of people. We're talking human traffic jam, human gridlock. Mucha, mucha gente.
We didn't go with an agenda, just went to see it. Definitely something to do once in a while not all the time. It wasn't that this weekend was so great, it's just that I'm finally not running on to the next thing. We've lived 3 places since July (not counting a week here or there having to bunk up at someone else's house). Each step has just been in anticipation of the next step. I'm thrilled to be in one place for what, barring unforseens circumstances (por favor Dios), will be 2+ years. I'm only sad that this can't be a permanent home, and we have to pack and unpack every few years. I'm glad to have a home city, though it is not Home with a capital H (that will always be KC).