Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Jet Lagged...

Going to Europe I always experience jet lag. It is seven hours later here than in central Mexico. So I get on a plane in Mexico City at 1 pm and arrive in Madrid at 7 am the next day after a ten hour flight. But for me, it is midnight. And here I am, wide-awake, after about three short sleeps of a few hours each and it is 3:30 in the morning and still four hours until breakfast in the hotel. This is not a very big hotel, but very modern. It is in Calle Lope de Vega named after the great 16th and 17th writer who was the prolific author of 3000 poems, 500 plays and numerous other works. After Cervantes, he is the most highly-regarded Spanish writer. Every room is named after one of his works. Breakfast is pretty good, a nice buffet of cold cuts, fruit, yoghurt, pastries, breads and so on. There is a coffee machine that automatically dispenses cappuchino, cafe con leche, espresso, cortado, and so on. While not as good as when made manually by a good barista with good, freshly-ground beans, it is quite acceptable.

Just one block away is a good restaurant called Terramundi specialising in Galician cuisine where I had lunch. This is that part of Spain in the extreme northwest, just north of Portugal. Seafood is quite important. Terramundi is an excellent, very European type of restaurant. The maître d'hotel was a characteristic European restauranteur with helpful suggestions. The place was packed with enthusiastic diners. This was around 3:30 pm. One thing about Spain that I recall from before is that restaurants have very precise dining hours. Lunch is between 1 and 4 or so and that is when you go. I had a seafood brochet to start that consisted of two large prawns, a kind of small lobster, two crayfish (I think!) and a squid, all grilled in their shells (not the squid). Really excellent!! This was followed by what I would call pig's knuckle accompanied by a boiled potato and some chorizo. Also excellent. I forget what it was called, but also a Galician specialty. I ended with a cafe con leche. It was in Spain that I learned what coffee is all about. It took me many years, but I finally realised that if I bought a good espresso machine I could have great coffee, at home, every day. I was prepared for Spain to be expensive but this restaurant was actually quite cheap. The meal, two courses, plus a glass of Rioja and coffee, came to 14 euros. I often spend more than that for a high quality lunch in Mexico.

It is hard to put your finger on the exact details, but Europe always has a different feel from North America. They seem to have different car models, for example. I saw a Mercedes sedan yesterday that had subtly different lines and more ornate brake lights from what you usually see. Spain is much more prosperous than Mexico: cleaner streets, better designed buildings, better dressed and educated people and so on. Mind you, over time this may change as the economic growth of Mexico recently has been much greater than in Spain. But Mexico still has a long way to go. Madrid seems to be soccer mad. They are building a huge new training centre for Atlético, one of the two soccer (futbol) teams that rule here, the other being Real Madrid. The papers are full of futbol news and both my driver and the diners at an adjacent table talked incessantly about their teams. Mind you, I think there is a big match coming up.

Since I have all this time when I am up but no-one else is, I reviewed the instructions for my camera, a Fuji Finepix S4800 that I bought last year. It is the first good camera I have ever owned and I will be taking it out today and posting some photos later on. I had to review the settings for turning off the flash as when I go to the museums, they have rules about not using flash inside.

So that's all for now. Let's have some theme music. There is a very famous guitar piece titled "Asturias" by Isaac Albéniz that would do. Asturias is a region of Spain in the northwest immediately adjacent to Galicia. I have previously posted my performance here. Or you can listen to the very fine performance by John Williams:


Anonymous said...

A big match coming up? The understatement of the century! Atletico-Real in the finals of the Champions League is HUGE !!!

Bryan Townsend said...

So I am beginning to understand!