My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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the two of us – yo y Bruth

Madrid, full day #1: I wish I could say all this in espagnol, but I can’t. I have started to lisp, though, 0r to lithp, because most of the s’s, c’s and z’s are pronounced th. Bruce is now Bruth. The sublime Velasquez is pronounced Belathketh. FYI.

Happy happy happy. First, the travelling was relatively painless – though I am so jealous of people like the woman in the seat next to me on the flight to Paris – after the meal, served because of a late take off at 10.30 p.m., her head simply dropped to her chest and she was fast asleep until we landed. I – well, you can imagine, an insomniac on a trans-continental flight… I had two pillows, an eye shade, earplugs, lip gloss, water bottle, blanket, special stretchy clothes so I could curl up as much as possible, even a special comfortable stretchy bra – AND I took a sleeping pill – nada. Niente in the sleep department. Flailing, squashed like a squashed banana, while Madame next to me snoozed blissfully.
Oh well. I saw a beautiful dawn, we landed in a cold and foggy Paris, and finding the connecting flight was easy. It left on time, it landed on time, my bag was actually there, having actually been transferred at Charles de Gaulle airport – and there was my dear Bruce, waiting outside the door. We took a very long metro ride, changing 3 times, to get to the apartment, which is … basic, shall we say, plain, shall we say, without the charm it was cleverly arranged to show in the internet rental photograph. But the location is perfect, and we each have a bedroom and a bathroom, if not much else. The internet is slow, but it’s here.
We went right out – my goal to get my face in the sun to counter jet lag and so many hours in stuffy planes and airports. A beautiful, exciting city, immediately dazzling – we had a beer in the sun in the magnificent Plaza Major, wandered the winding streets – and even went to the Prado, which is free from 6 to 8 every evening. But by then I was a bit woozy and couldn’t take in much. We bought groceries and had dinner at a little nearby place with no English menu, so I ordered something – chinos con pollo with other stuff – it sounded like something with chicken. Chinos, it turns out, means Chinese. My first meal in Madrid was Chinese food. But delicious. And Bruth ordered empanadas, also delicious, which turned out, when we finally translated, to be made of blood sausage, apples, raisins and pine nuts. Who knew? I took another sleeping pill and slept till 8 a.m, and that’s it – I’m here on European time.
We’ve lucked into perfect weather, a fresh spring morning flowing into a bright sunny afternoon. Today, briefly – it’s midnight and my companion has gone to bed already – we made coffee and had cereal here, then set out, changing plans several times for various reasons. Saw an art exhibit called Heroines, paintings of women in various categories – Amazons, Martyrs, Readers, Furies etc. – odd, but interesting. Then we went to the amazing Thyssen museum, an extraordinary collection, absolutely wonderful, and there, who did we run into but Eleanor Wachtel! I knew she was here and we’d planned to meet, and, after a day full of art and walking and eating and more art, we did meet again, for tapas at a jam-packed place with no other tourists and a very impatient waiter. Delicious, interesting, fun. Bruth has an iPod touch on which he has downloaded Wikipedia, so any question we had – about the dates of Bosch and Brueghel, for example, could they have known each other? – he had the answer for. (No.) What a guy.
Walking home was the best part – we got to the restaurant just before 9 and easily had a table; fifteen minutes later, it was full, and by 10 it was overflowing. At 11, as we left, all the restaurants, all the narrow streets and the grand avenues were noisy, packed, full of life.
And though I too am full of life, logic tells me it’s time to sleep, because manana is una otra dia.
Biba Thpain!

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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