Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The mass summer exodus from Madrid to the coast has finally begun. As a result the city pace of life has slowed down considerably and amazingly traffic has ceased to exist. Temperatures, with the exception of today (41 degrees) have dropped to the more comfortable mid thirties and the Madrilenos, now in full holiday mode, are struggling to identify good reasons for ever having taken a job.

This has unexpectantly turned out to be a very pleasant time of year to be living in Madrid. Nobody ever seems to be in a rush and chance meetings on the streets with friends can last hours. That said, the nightlife is as vibrant as ever and the population still remaining have taken to going out every night of the week. The cafe terraces are crowded until 3am and the only drink visible on the tables is "Summer Wine" .

Due to the relative quietness of the streets, it is now a common sight to see people taking their siestas, in groups of ten, under the shade of the trees. This is particularly popular in the surroundings of the Royal Palace. The large tourist numbers seem to have disappeared from Madrid for July and August and so the locals have free reign over their most picturesque and historic sites, which many would normally try to avoid.

However the one reservation that I have about the present situation is that as we near August, the city is becoming more and more male dominated. This is especially the situation at weekends. The reason is apparently due to the fact that the entire female population go on pilgrimage to the beach at every possible opportunity (the nearest beach is 5 hours away). Thankfully my immediate group of friends has not fallen victim to this unwanted social trend !!

So once more, Madrid has taken on yet another personality, preventing you from ever tiring of it. Just when you think that you have got to know the place intimately, it changes its guise and you are thrown back onto the steep learning curve that comes with "Living in Madrid".