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Stop#8: San Bernardo: Linea 4

Our life in Madrid has started to rev its engines a bit. Dan’s first class is starting in a few weeks and I started Spanish school. With all of the walking required to get from A to B and back, Dan and I are exhausted at the end of the day. The last thing we want to do is walk more, so our Metro Challenge has taken a back burner. That being said, we know one of the things about a challenge like this is that it’s going to be a burden at times and stretch us to fight our laziness.

Last night, we pried ourselves off the couch and away from Netflix and pulled a metro stop from the jar. Our hopes were that what we found around the San Bernardo metro stop would be infinitely more interesting than another episode of a Gilmore Girls.

Verdict is still out. (We do LOVE the Gilmore Girls!)

When you emerge from the San Bernardo station, a giant fountain is there to greet you. And also lots and lots of traffic. Madrid loves her fountains. You can find majestic ones in parks and the “must see” sections of Madrid, but you can actually find one on most streets. There is a pretty one in the intersection by a gas station caddy corner to our house. Beautiful, but not necessarily note-worthy.

We took the route around the station that had a florist spilling out on the street. I just can’t seem to help myself. Dan jokes with me that visiting garden centers does not appear to be making spring arrive any faster. He is right. I just have to be patient. Spring will arrive soon enough and I now have the skinny on all the good places to get plants and flowers.

We walked for quite a while on a cobblestone street with street vendors, shopping and TWO movie theaters. It’s amazing how easily we are reminded that we are in Spain when we see cobblestone streets and buildings covered in tile. Check out this one… the city sanitation department, for goodness sakes.

Finally, we found a truly PERFECT spot for dinner. La Canadienese. In full disclosure, we had heard of this restaurant before, but sneaking up on it was a wonderful surprise.

We feasted on poutine, falafels and pork ribs. All in all, the restaurant was good, just not overly Canadian. Dan could not forgive that no Canadian beer was offered and the last I checked, tuna poke bowls didn’t originate from the Great North. But, when we left, our tummies were full and spirits were high.

But not so full, that we could make room for a raspberry gelato 🙂

As far as Metro stops go, this was a fun night out, no doubt. But the area felt too familiar and predictable.

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. -Roger Caras

I bet you are wondering how the pups are adjusting to Spain.

Just like their humans, Murray, Ruby and Jezza are getting used to their new home and city.   Their adaptation appears to be ongoing… somedays are better than others.  All three are very loud in Europe! And there are so many new things to bark at…

For example, Spanish dogs walk around without leashes.  This bothers Ruby.  How could their owners do this to them?  She is extremely concerned that these dogs are going to be hit by cars or stolen or get lost.  She is very vocal in lending her support to these obedient, albeit mistreated, canines.  😊  Jezza is the biggest dog on the block (and by block, I mean the entire continent).  He demonstrates his size often and these poor Spanish dogs just don’t know what to do when they hear his deep boom of a bark. 

Since we no longer have a backyard and grass seems to be reserved for parks here, Jezza has taken to doing #2 in the middle of the street…with oncoming traffic…  In fact, his favorite location is the cross street two blocks away from our apartment that has blind corners and traffic that travels at 50kph.  It’s a delight for us to have to drag him to safety in the middle of his business. 

Murray doesn’t seem to notice that anything is different.  As long as his meals continue to be on time and his blanket is available, he’s fine. 

They do seem closer as a pack.  We notice them cuddling a lot more than they used to.  Man, is it sweet.  Two months in and our verdict so far is that they emotionally and physically made it through the journey, but their personalities are still catching up with the change.  Just like their humans!

Were we crazy to move our three dogs to Europe?  Maybe a little, but it was worth it 😊

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Stop #7: Banco de Espana: Linea 2

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As I am sure you have seen on the news, Europe is having some temperamental weather.  A little storm they call Emma has decided to wreak havoc on the north.  And while Spain is south of all that destructive drivel, it is unfortunately not completely exempt.  Last week, we had five straight days of rain.  And Spanish rain is unpredictable.  Sometimes it’s a light mist, sometimes it’s a normal spring shower and without warning will turn into a downpour with exceptionally strong wind.  Our poor olive tree was uprooted, and the belongings of our upstairs neighbors littered our porch.   

Sunday, for the first time in a week, we got sunshine and Dan and I took advantage.  Our metro stop took us to Banco de Espana, a block south of the famous Prado museum.  Dan and I have toured the first floor of the Prado and still have another floor to go, but today wasn’t the day.  Who wants to spend a day of sunshine in a museum?  However, some of the best art can be purchased from local artists in booths outside the Prado.  This was the purpose of our trip. We have some bare walls in our apartment and I love Spanish art. It was a productive trip too.  I am happy to announce that Dan and I are now the proud owners of an oil painted rooster.  😊

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Not far from the Prado, we walked through the popular Retiro park.  Its hard to believe that we have been in Madrid for almost two months and never made it to Retiro.  I guess we can blame it on arriving in the winter.   Retiro is Madrid’s version of Central Park.  It is full of joggers, dogs, vendors, tourists, statues, topiaries and in the middle, a sweet pond where you can rent a boat by the hour.  It was the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon in Madrid.

 

Now…back to another forecasted week of rain 😊

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Oh, Lisbon…

As it turns out, Lisbon is not a city for dogs. But, dogs we have and travel we must, so we made the best of a less than ideal situation. Plus, how do we find out if a city is dog-friendly until we try?

First off, no person or book ever mentioned that Lisbon has cobblestone streets with hills steeper than San Francisco and when they get wet, they are slicker than ice. That information would have come in handy when Dan was renting a manual car 😊 But, he navigated the streets like a professional driver and we made it through without incident.

Our AirBNB was the sweetest 800 sq ft, but the door led onto a street the width of a tight alley with 12-inch sidewalks on either side and cars buzzing by at 30 mph. Taking the dogs out the door became an adventurous, albeit dangerous task that I was happy to come to an end. We had a stereotypical old Portuguese woman standing in the door next to us, always mumbling to us in Portuguese, in her housecoat and apron. She smiled occasionally, but she was ALWAYS there.

Lisbon is beautiful and old with her long history documented with gorgeous buildings and statues. The past greets you at the corner of most streets with architecture dating back hundreds of years. As a bonus, the Atlantic Ocean and the Tagus river make you feel like you are island-living. We even found a beach for an afternoon. Jezza loves himself a giant puddle.

The flip side is that because of the late 2000s financial crisis, Lisbon has found herself akin to a college graduate in her twenties. She is prepped with all the necessary tools for a giant breakthrough but hasn’t quite lived up to her potential and needs to be reminded to clean her room. Lisbon was hip, cool, grungy, smoky and needs a good wipe-down. Dan and I felt old walking the streets, and yearned to come back to our squeaky clean, mature Madrid.

All our photos are on the Photos tab. Make no mistake, Lisbon is full of the coolest street art to be found, amazing food, and scenery that takes your breath away.

Look for yourself…