|Al-Majrīt = "source of water" in Arabic and therefore the city is named Madrid.
When I first landed in Barajas, I was a bit disappointed by the desert that revealed before my eyes. My "local guide" - Idit, explained that I should not despair just yet and wait till we arrive to the city itself. My god she was right. The magnificent architecture and the great climate were definitely a sweet change from the grayish London.
We arrived to the center of town and positioned ourselves in one of the dodgiest guest house in the Capital - Hostal Lopez. I'll get back to that later on. After settling down we went out to Plaza de Santa Ana. The greatest tapas ever. After dinner, we went to the “Espanol teatre” to the Flamenco shows. This trip was actually one long Flamenco show with short breaks of Madrid on the side… Idit, aka “Spanish Soul”/”Nudnikit”, who is also known for her severe Flamenco addiction, was ecstatic. Every night we saw at least one Flamenco Guitar performance, one Flamenco Singer and one Flamenco dance. I have to admit that it was quite impressive. For someone who enjoys harmonic music, so I was told, I found the modus music a bit difficult to understand yet very interesting. The performers, all Spanish gypsies, showed sheer talent and were extremely energetic:
1. Javier Conde – 18 years old guitar prodigy.
2. Maria Toledo – Singer.
3. Manuel Linan – Dancer.
Fact: my local guide, who is sort of a gypsy wannabe, explained that the gypsies have their own customs and rituals and some broken laws will result in a penalty of death! Hmmm! You will never catch me standing close to a gypsy woman again!!! Promise!
Where was I? Right… Gypsies… To be frankly honest I was pretty fascinated by their way of living. Sleep during the day, performing at night – that is exactly the way I live my life. They are amazing performers. Apparently it’s in their blood. Every family specialise in at least one area of Flamenco art (Singing, dancing or instrument playing) and they seem to live a simple yet fulfilling life and they look happy all the time.
On the second day we got kicked out of the hostel (more like a cockroach motel) so we were wandering around the city centre hopping from one hotel to another in order to find a descent place to stay. We found the Que hotel – fancy but a bit expensive. Anyway, due to Idits recent CD release, we went to meet one of the top Flamenco producer in Spain.
Later on we continued to Plaza de Santa Ana to try some different Tapas. The Chorizo was my favourite dish. At night we explored the “Casa Patas” for the first time. “Casa Patas” is considered to be one of the most prestigious institutes in Spain for Flamenco performances. We met Manuel and Roberto the singers, who received a copy of Idit’s CD and even invited us to join them for the rest of the evening.
By the way, if you think that English is the international language you are terribly mistaken. Well…At least in Spain. No one seems to speak the language. You can try speaking English, French, Turkish, Georgian or whatever but unless it sounds like Spanish, you do not exist. It is like France but in a more aggressive Mediterranean way.
On Saturday I experienced my first Pulp Fiction incident. It came in the form of a young dirt poor boy who managed to snatch my cell phone just under my eyes. Ahh! I really could have used a pair of pliers and a blow torch to get evil on his ass!!! F*%@k !!!
Idit tried to get my attention away from this matter by rowing the boat in the central park of Madrid and buying me some popsicles but I was still wishing to drag the bastard to some Spanish Inquisition museum and try all the torture instruments on him… I am getting pissed off again so lets move on to Saturday night. On Saturday night we went to “Espanol teatre” to see the following performances:
1. Jeronimo – considers to be one of the best Flamenco guitarist, although Idit insists that he lacks some of the abilities of a great artist such as Paco de Lucia. (What do I care, I just want to kill the little …..)
2. Ezeqiel – Flamenco singer from Jerez de la frontera. (The origin of Flamenco)
3. Maria Juncal – Great flamenco dancer who is also Roberto’s (from last night…) girlfriend. Or better yet, wife. (Gypsies don’t date – they meet and after 9 months their offspring bursts out and they get married. Give or take.)
The highlight of this trip. (well, at least for me)
Idit and I went to check out the Corrida – BullFight on Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas.
My god. That was one exciting event. 6 bulls were about to face their death.
The bullfight is divided into three "tercios". Before the first one begins, the bullfighters have to parade around the arena in a very emotive walk called the "paseillo".
The first "tercio" is called the "tercio de varas", in which the bullfighter faces the bull for the first time with the cape in order to study its movements for the successive charges at the bull. In this "tercio" the "picador" weakens the bull with a lance in order to make a more equivalent fight. Meanwhile, the "matador" makes beautiful and different passes with the cape such as: veronica, chicuelina, faroles, gaonera...etc.
The second "tercio" is the "tercio de banderillas". In this part the "banderilleros" sting the bull with a small lance called "banderilla" on the top of its back. This is a very spectacular moment, in which the "banderilleros" meet the bull head-on in a very brave pass. (On the second bull fight the banderillero’s top got caught by the horns and the bull managed to throw the banderillero up in the air and then ram him on the ground. Ouch. At that moment, all the toreros got into the ring and tried to get the bull’s attention. Once the bull is running towards another torero, all the rest of them carry the injured out of the ring to the emergency room. According to the law, in that case the Matador will enter the ring by himself without the help of anyone and fight the bull. It was the most exciting moment especially due to the fact that the injured torero was the Matador’s brother!!!)
The last and most important "tercio" is the "tercio del momento supremo". In this special moment the bullfighter has to make the "faena" with the "muleta", using a variety of brave and beautiful lances to prepare the bull for the most exciting and dangerous moment of the show: the bull’s death.
On Monday we went out for some shopping. When in Spain… so we conquered ZARA.
At night we went to see Luis-Miguel play in the “Casa Patas”. Luis-Miguel is the Flamenco guitarist on Idit’s CD so we paid our respects accordingly. The singer that evening was Jhony Cortes who is also known as Joaquin Cortes’ cousin or as the ultimate Chatlah. (Sorry…Only Georgians and Polish opera singers will be able to figure this one out…)
On Tuesday, we went to visit Luis-Miguel and his family and I was exposed to an amazing jamming session of Flamenco and Classic opera. Only moments later I was on a plane to London.
My 5 easy steps for this trip:
1. Learn Spanish. Speak Fluently or else..
2. When you see young beggers - Shoot to kill...
3. When attending a bullfight wear a deodorant - your girlfriend will hide under your armpit alot.
4. Avoid any eye contact with gypsy women - fail to do this and you are a dead beat.
5. When going to a restaurant remember not to disturb the waiters - Don't order, call them or signal them in any way. they are not there to serve you and they are a bit tired. That's all...
Great place. Go visit.