10 May, 2008

More about El Retiro and our friends

As many of you have read, we have really loved living so close to El Parque del Buen Retiro, or El Retiro. It's a huge blessing to have such easy access to a beautiful and well-used park practically next door.

Here two quick pictures that illustrate our links. In the past few months, Laura Macie has learned to ride a bike in the park. We don't have room to store a bike so we have rented one for the times she was learning. Amazing to watch her learn and now enjoy wheeling around El Retiro with Taylor or Becca.

A few weeks ago, we had an ideal day in the park. We rode bikes for a bit in the morning. For lunch, our friends the Boldens came down and they brought bikes for their girls. So all four of the bigger girls were out and around, allowing the grownups and the Bolden's two-year old to just hang out and talk. Delightful. Here's a picture of all the girls.

Lunch stretched out for quite a while and pretty soon, it was about 8:30pm and time to think about dinner. So we loaded up and went out for an impromptu dinner. The Boldens had just returned from a few weeks in Australia so the jet lag hit them and they decided to go home. But we had dinner out and rolled back home around 11pm. Just lovely.

08 May, 2008

A perfect day

Two weeks ago today, I had a nearly perfect day. I was on the 6am train to Cercedilla for a run. The weather looked terrific so I was very excited. I worked on the 90 min train ride, mostly in the dark, but the sun was up when I got off the train at the station. A few minutes of repacking and changing clothes and I was off.

After about five minutes of warm up, this was the view! What a total surprise. I hadn't noticed the snow on the peaks on the way up but as soon as I lifted my head...wow.

Spring is a bit slower to arrive in the mountains so it's that perfect mix of things just blooming and a few trees already in that fantastic fuzzy green. The part that I can't really hope to convey is the audio track to the day. It would have been a crime to listen to music as there must have been a dozen different types of birdsong. Sweet, innocent chirps from little ones hopping around in the brush, fantastically melodic tunes from birds I never saw and the raucous bark of the gigantic blackbirds here. And as much of the snow was melting, constantly changing sounds of water running and falling down the mountain. Positively amazing.

After about 30 min of moving pretty steadily, I reached the Calzada Romana http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_road (this is a crazy long article about the entire concept over the Roman empire but there's a better picture of the road that I ran on). This 2000+ year old road was in use until the mid 1800s and some of it is still in usable shape. But it's a steady 9.3% incline for about 5k so there wasn't much running for the next 45 minutes!

Then I reached La Puerta de la Fuenfria and this was the view. Just spectacular. I ran down the road for a few km, turned around after catching a glimpse of an old estate home built in the 17th century for Queen Ysabel to rest when she was pregnant, and then headed back to the train station as fast as my legs would carry me.

Back at the train station with 20 minutes to spare, worked on the laptop for an hour or so on the way home. After a quick bite to eat and a shower, I was ready to work a full day. Not too shabby at all.

30 April, 2008

?Sweet home tecnocasa?

Tecnocasa is a real estate/rental company here. I was listening to the radio recently and heard some very familiar notes coming through my headphones. Which was unusual given it was lynrd sknryd. not exactly typical Madrid fare. Turns out it was an advert, sweet home tecnocasa. Muy estrano! I hope that some good ol boys in muscle shoals are getting paid and having a little laugh.

23 April, 2008

La primavera en Madrid

Jet lag has been tough this time. Going to bed late and this AM was up at 545. So when the PM arrived, all I wanted was a nap. Instead, I went for a walk in El Retiro. What a sheer pleasure. These two photos are part of it but I could have taken a dozen more of peacocks, flowers, lovers, runners, slackers and just people on their lunch break grabbing a few winks and some fresh air.

I love this city.

05 April, 2008

No end of strange things in airports

I travel a fair bit and have seen many interesting things over the years. Boom boxes the size of refrigerators, refrigerators, car parts, unrecognizable parcels shrouded in paper and then shrink-wrapped are all on the list.

But at the Dubai airport this week, I had to take a picture. Any international airport can feel like the bar in the first Star Wars movie. But this guy with four car tires, naked in their travels, struck me as a particularly curious mix of the practical (hey! What a great deal on tires) and the ridiculous (I know, I'll get them back to India when I check my luggage).

30 March, 2008

Another typical Madrid experence, unfortunately.

Madrid is, without doubt, one of the safest cities we've been in. The one exception is pick pocketing. Hands down the most common criminal act here. We've been here 10 months and it finally happened to us. Curt and Helen had just arrived and we were at lunch in the la Latina area and her purse was swiped. At a restaurant where we've eaten many times. Scene of the crime is in the photo. No cash, but credit cards, mobile and ipod. Not the end of the world but a hassle. We canceled it very quickly, which was good as they tried, unsuccessfully, to use one of the cards twice in the first hour!

First family visit

My brother, Curt, and his family are the first family members to visit is in Madrid. They arrived Thursday morning and we've spent a few days seeing the city.

Today Curt and I took all four kids to the park while Helen and Becca did a little shopping. Here's a picture of all the kids at the playground.

18 March, 2008

Pictures from Sevilla

We had a quick trip to Sevilla where we had the chance to see the first Easter processions. It's a tradition going back to the 1700s.

05 February, 2008

Marcy in Madrid

We recently had the good fortune to have one of Becca's friends, Marcy Floyd, visit us here. Rather than describe it, I'll use her words and just add a few pictures.

Madrid is amazing. I am not quite sure how to describe it. This is a very big city of approximately 4 million people and yet there is such an appreciation for the culture and city. It is like nothing I have ever seen before. The city is clean (except for the current strike by the metro cleaning crew) and the buildings are amazingly ornate....all of them. I keep asking "What is that amazing building?" and I keep getting answers like "Oh, that is the Bank" or "People live there" or "That is the post office". I keep expecting answers like "The king from the 17th century built it and it is now a museum"!

My first few days here were spent exploring the city. Becca, Taylor, Macie, and I walked to all of the plazas, had churros and chocolate, and went to the Cathedral. Becca took me to the spanish grocery store, the fabulous Sorolla museum, some shopping markets, and to eat some great food. I think that I spent much of the time staring up at the buildings with my jaw dropped.

The big event of the trip happened on Friday. As my Christmas present, the Teasters treated me to a Segway tour of Madrid. Now, most of you know that I am not the most graceful person and was therefore quite apprehensive of the Segway, but after a few short lessons and more or less getting over it, it was great and by the end we all desparately wanted to keep our segways! Becca, Buddy, Taylor, and I zipped all over the city with Antony and Marta (our guides) for 4 hours, saw many amazing views and sites and took fabulous pictures. Antony took many pictures for us as well (Here are a few).

The past few days have been spent celebrating Three Kings Day. This is a big holiday in Spain...very similar and in addition to Christmas (this is my kind of place!). The Teasters had an aftrnoon party on Saturday (Three Kings Eve) and I was able to meet many of their friends. We all went together to the Three Kings Day Parade (similar to the Macy's Parade) and later that night the Three Kings came to visit. Tradition dictates that you leave grass and water for their camels and cookies and milk for the kings. The girls also left their shoes out to be filled by the kings. We had a lazy Three Kings Day and spent several hours in Retiro Park, which is basically across the street from Becca's apartment. It is beautiful. I have only seen part of the park (we are going back today to see the rest) but it is filled with statues and fountains and gardens and playgrounds and people. We fed the fish in the lake, danced to the music of a drum circle, and watched as thousands of ballons were let go for the three kings.

Tonight Becca and I are going to watch Flamenco Dancing! I am so excited and may just join the ranks of dancers and stay in Madrid. I could certainly get used to Spanish life....of course it is easy when you have such great hosts. The girls start back to school tomorrow so Becca and I will be touring the Palace and going to the Prado Museum among other things in my last few days. I love it here!

05 January, 2008

Best regards

Buddy Teaster

Spain Mobile: +34 695 235 517

US Mobile: +1 214 707 3085

Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile so please forgive any misspellings or grammatical errors.

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