Me + Nicole = Wait, how did this happen?
Yay! Nicole arrived in Madrid early yesterday morning, just thirty-ish hours after having impulsively decided to peace out on Chicago for the weekend and buy a ticket to Madrid instead. Isn't she cool?
On top of that she checks her email after I go get her at the Metro station and she's got a JOB!! That girl quit her job and moved with Mike from New Jersey to Deep-Dish-Pizzaland at the end of August, almost immediately left for a week and a half with me and Grandma in Poland, back to Minnesota for State Fair Foolery, home to Chicago, and now she is already Chicago's freshest new adoption Social Worker out to the change the world, with a brief vacation in Madrid before beginning Tuesday morning. Applause.
Of course we celebrated. First with a nap for Nicole while I ran to the
bank, then with several hours wandering to various outdoor markets, Plazas, perfect little streets, and the Palacio Real. Nic tried Spanish tortilla - kind of like a quiche with egg and potato - and we had frozen yogurt at llaollao. I have to mention something about this: llaollao lets you pick between various toppings for your yogurt, and one of these is a typical Spanish candy called "Conguitos". These little guys are peanuts covered in chocolate, and the package features a little brown man with big lips and a strategically placed label over his nether-regions. Conguitos means "little Congos," as in people from the Congo. Make of this what you will.
Onward. After picking up a bottle of Tinto de Verano Nic and I headed off to Plaza de España for several hours of dog-watching, drinking, and conversation, followed by a visit to the bar Dublin, where everybody knows my name, to catch the Spain v Lithuania game. How awesome is Dublin? We ordered two drinks and a diet Coke for sleepy Nic. We got I think six drinks as they just kept refilling. Plus five plates of food - think wings, potatoes, meat-somethings, and then when Jorge asked why I wasn't eating and I told him I was vegetarian, an enormous plate of grilled mushrooms, another of potato chips, and another of the "Chino" mix - corn nuts, peanuts, salty and sweet somethings. Chino mix means Chinese mix. Explain that one to me as well. Total bill: 6.30 euro.
That is one thing you will find in Spain: women are taken care of. I was talking to my doorman Julio the other day about someone who lives in the apartment and neglected to pay for a month of rent. Julio told me he's had problems with her since the beginning, but can't address it very assertively because "In Spain the man must always" - and then he bent his knees to be a foot shorter than me. I don't know if this is really true for everyone, but it seems to be the case when I'm out to pubs or diners. Yesterday at the diner where Nicole ordered her tortilla, she was charged less than half price and the bartender brought us each waters even though we told him we didn't want anything to drink - ps. it's not like in the States where waters are sometimes automatic, plus waitstaff don't really make tips here. (Although if you come here and they're like this for you, come on, throw in a couple extra euros).
On the agenda for the rest of the weekend are the Prado and Reina Sofía, possibly a house party tonight at the home of a guy I met from Brazil, and certainly more looooovve for my big sis.
She is the bomb.