I hurry home to meet with Nick and change out of my suit and into my tour guide uniform. We take scenic routes of the streets just to show him a bit around. We end up at Retiro park with some Casera wine and music, relaxing and reflecting. Nick commented that he hops country to country and experiences the parks more than anything. There is something to be said for running like a chicken with your head chopped off, plunging your head into museums and maps. But what about the way the country relaxes, what about taking some bread, ham and cheese into the park and kicking a soccer ball around with the locals? There is something there as well. The afternoon passed and provided us a tour of the Lavapie neighborhood, full of immigrants and patrolled by cameras. Then off to meet up with Olivia.
Olivia arrived, with her bouncy step and her curly hair, fresh off an English luxury tour and into the hands of the madrileño working class. We set her stuff down and head off to my favorite, hole-in-the-wall restaurant I have found so far. It is affordable, very cheap wine, a great atmosphere. The white noise of surrounding conversation is of a deeper octave, properly reflecting the predominately male (and a she-male, seriously) audience. After some steak, tortilla española and chicken wings, we head back to get ready for the night. Tonight we go to Pacha.
Pacha is a circuit of clubs around the world, providing its party-goers with phenomenal class and neurotic beats. The couches were black and lush, and Nick, Olivia and I, pushed aside some "Reserved" signs as the main stage filled up. There was a line out front to get in, but I told the doorman that my friends had flew in from Los Angeles and were here to evaluate the Madrid nightlife. He immediately opened the red, velvet ropes, an offering of respect from ambassadors to a major world city. Hilarious and will be used again. It was used later that night, abused actually, when I slipped the DJ my California license to see how far our reputation could carry us. It didn't go that far, just a smile and nod, I don't know why I did it in the first place. The night went by quickly, with great music and table-top dancing.
The next day was a tour for Olivia, taking a vaguely guided tour of the city's streets and plazas. We ended up lunching at Plaza Santa Ana at a terraza restaurant where we had the best cheese and leaks sandwiches. Then, I heard from my local friend Jaime that a lot of madrileños go to hotel rooftops to have a beverage during the hot summer days. I had done some research and lead our clan to the Hotel Oscar rooftop. After "losing our card key", we were let up to a rooftop with the most breathtaking views of the city. The panorama spanned red and religious, with tiles and churches lining the bottom of the horizon. We laid on some cushions and decompressed. I must relax during my weekends here, and it helps that the city is a bit more manageable. But it is just another aspect of full immersion, I do not need to run around or flee the city when I can find other means to enjoy time abroad.
Then, as three rag-tag friends must in Madrid, we went to a bullfight. My second in two weeks and perhaps a start of a tradition for me here in town. For 15 Euros, a bag of sunflower seeds and a sunny day, why shouldn't I frequent the corridas as a hobby. I love spitting out a seed's shell while squinting past the setting sun, watching as Spanish flags waive and general cheer erupts at artistic intervals of a sporting event. They enjoyed themselves as well, very local, very Spanish. After the sun set and we lethargically peeled ourselves from the cement benches, so set our endurance and our drive to continue charging on. We all showered and laid in bed for the remainder of the night. No need to push the time and spend the money, when the quality lies within the four walls of Martin de los Heros, 30.
We spent the lazy Sunday at the park, throwing the frisbee and laying on the grass. Olivia just departed and so too will Nick tomorrow. But I will see Nick next weekend as the Deputy takes on Ibiza. Oy vey and pray, because this Jew and Pole combination shall be a scary duo to be unleashed into the secret aura of the Iberian Sea.