Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Madrid Eco Travel notes

Madrid is Spain’s largest city, and quite majestic with its broad boulevards and grand buildings. There are street musicians at almost every turn and in the metro. Thursday evening is the night people can put out all manner of unwanted items like furniture to be collected by the city trash trucks. As my Spanish friends and I were heading home from our dinner (11:30pm!!) we saw some wooden bookshelves. The handyman in the group picked them up – they were taller than he – and we were walking along with the four of us and the bookshelves, but then we came upon a much larger pile with a chair, and a number of pieces of wood – doors and shelves – a whole commode size cabinet. Before you knew it, we were all hauling 2-3 pieces of the cabinet down the streets of Madrid, laughing as we went, with the handyman gleeful at his find. The bookshelves had been left behind as the dismantled commode was considered a better haul. We saw others walking down the street with their own finds – recycling at its finest.
The Spanish people have a relaxed and happy quality to them, reflected in their schedule and pace of life. Most people must be at work by 9am – but have long lunches – some have lunch and siesta as part of their day, others don’t have a long lunch and siesta but do not work on Fridays or Friday afternoons. Dinner is served between 9-11:30 at night and then strolling, dancing and hanging out in the plazas is common. Stores are often closed all afternoon, so plan your shopping for the morning or late in the day – starting from 3-5pm depending on the store.
Delicious, inexpensive wine is plentiful, as are divine olives and olive oil, cheeses, seafood (see picture of bizarre delicacy – Percebes) and all manner of fruits and vegetables. This is true all over Spain, not just in Madrid. If you are looking for traditional espadrille shoes made with hemp and canvas, these are plentiful in Madrid. One store filled with a bounty is on Calle Toledo just off Plaza Major.
While Madrid is not really biker friendly for riding through the main streets, there is a 64 km bike path around Madrid and paths through the large park Casa de Campo (about 4000 acres), as well as the smaller Parque del Retiro (322 acres).
Travel between Madrid and Barcelona is some of the busiest in the world, so if you are hoping for a train ticket, book ahead, otherwise you may get caught with no available seats or having to travel first class to make a connection. It is best to buy your tickets through the internet and pick them up at one of the many handy machines in the station. The Atocha train station in Madrid is huge and beautiful with a plant filled atrium, cafes and multiple security bag checks.
Health Food Stores in Madrid:
Natura Si – Supermercado Ecologico/El Supermerdaco Natural; www.naturasite.com; tienda.online@naturasite.com, c/Guzman El Bueno 28, (corner of c/Melendez Valdes) Madrid; Tel: 915 445 663; Metro: Arguelles-Monchoa. Open Mon-Sat 10-8:30 pm without interruption - http://www.naturasi.es/venta.html#1 -direct link for their three stores in Madrid
Yoga in Madrid:
Yoga and Pilates en Galileo, c/ Galileo 23, Bajo A, Madrid; Metro: Arguelles-San Bernardo. Classes during the whole day, Monday to Thursday, and yoga for children.
Yoga center in Madrid, Centro de Yoga Sivananda Vedanta, c/Eraso 4; Tel: 913615150; Madrid@sivananda.es; www.sivananda.es

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