travel back in time

Saturday 4th December, Madrid, Spain
*scroll down for the latest journal entry. It's at the bottom, mate*

It seems like everyone in the world has now heard about yesterday's bombings in Madrid. Thanks for your emails, and your concerns. We're both fine, and as far as I know there were no deaths, and just a couple of injuries. Life in this energetic city goes on, and I'm not going to justify the cowardly actions of a few fanatics by giving it any further attention, other than to have a couple of tshirts printed with the above slogan. If you're interested to win a "TERRORISTS CAN GO KISS MY ASS" tshirt, stay tuned. I'll be putting one up as the prize for a competition.

Speaking of competitions, I'm still waiting to hear who were the lucky winners of the last two The Savage Files competitions run by Pac-Safeand Couchsurfing. I will post those results as soon as I know.

On Wednesday night, Maria and I hosted our very first Couchsurfer. Ariane from Germany was in Madrid after having spent some time WWOOF'ing in southern Spain. She arrived in Madrid by night bus, and phoned me from the Metro station at 8:00 am (I was expecting her call). We met her in a local cafe, and I brought Ariane back to our place for a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs. I wasn't sure if she wanted to be tour giuded around town- since it's not what I usually want- but she said she wanted to have a look around, so we headed off for a long walk on what has become my standard 'show the tourist around Madrid' route, which starts at the Egyptian Temple (a real 2000 year old Egyptian Temple which was gifted to Spain in 1968 for their help in saving Egypt's national treasures which would have been destroyed by the building of the Aswan Dam).

Inside the Egyptian Temple.

From there it's a short stroll to the Royal Palace and adjoining cathedral Almudena, returning via Puerta del Sol and Gran Via. Unfortunately, the perfect weather we've been enjoying in Madrid chose that day to break. We both had raincoats, but by the time we reached the Royal Palace, both of us were soaked from the boots to our knees. Refuge was found in a little tapas bar, and then we hurried home. For dinner, I cooked my signature dish- fried chicken fillets, crumbed in a mixture of cornflake crumbs, flour and herbs, served with baked sweet potato, boiled baby potatoes, and two tasty salads- one of fresh spinach and baby cos lettuce, with garlic, cumin, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and the other with red peppers, sweet Italian peppers, mushrooms, leeks, and granada (pomegranate), with parsley and basil. *Basil! Basil!* We washed the whole lot down with a generous supply of cheap but delicious red wine, and a good time was had by all. It was a pleasure to take a turn at being a host, and return a small amount of the kindness that has been shown to me as a Couchsurfer over the past seventeen months, and I look forward to many more guests in the future.

Inside the Cathedral Almudena.

IF YOU'VE JOINED COUCHSURFING RECENTLY, DON'T JUST SIT THERE LIKE A LONER WITH NO FRIENDS. AFTER YOU'VE LOGGED IN, GO TO MY PROFILE, AND ADD ME TO YOUR FRIENDS LIST. I WILL THEN RECEIVE AN EMAIL NOTIFYING ME THAT I SHOULD ADD YOU TO MINE. DO THIS FOR EVERYONE YOU KNOW ON COUCHSURFING. GO AHEAD AND WRITE REFERENCES. I KNOW IT TAKES A FEW MINUTES, BUT THIS IS WHAT MAKES COUCHSURFING WORK SO WELL. IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO YET, UPLOAD A PHOTO OF YOURSELF. IT'S EASY, AND GOD KNOWS WE ALL NEED A GOOD LAUGH!!

Scrolling through one of my favourite travel sites, I came upon this article, titled 'How to (safely) pick up a hitchhiker'. Well worth a read...

Maria and I have finally completed stage one of the Music Lovers challenge. I found a copy of the video for a reasonable price on eBay and it arrived yesterday. As part of the challenge, I have to post a brief outline of the movie...

Maria expressing our feelings about 'The Music Lovers'

Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as 'Dazzling (and) daring in the best sense of the word', this movie was two hours and three minutes of torture. It is the story of the famous composer Peter Tchaikovsky, portrayed in this movie as a mentally disturbed homosexual who is torn by his feelings for a creepy, ever-present blond ex-lover (male) and his reputation as a respectable married man. He is haunted (as is the viewer by frequent graphic flashbacks) by the childhood memory of his mother's ghastly death. His wife is as nuts as he is, and most of the movie seems to consist of their respective deluded fantasies. His work goes largely unappreciated by his peers, but his saviour comes in the form of a wealthy woman who is obsessed with his music. After a rather embarrasing moment when Tchaikovsky tries to molest a woman in her bathroom (his excuse is that he thought it was his dying mother) the rich lady- also quite nuts, it seems- invites him to live on her property, and sponsors him generously so he can continue with his composing. When she sells her property and he is evicted without notice, our hero throws a wobbly and runs through a burning field with appropriate melodrama. I empathized with him, because by that stage of the movie, I also felt like running through a burning field. The only thing that could have made this movie even less bearable would have been a cameo appearance by Keanu Reeves. I give it five stars, because watching it earnt me thirty-five dollars... provided I'm able to re-sell it on eBay!!

If you haven't had a look at my Challenge Steve page recently, you'll notice that almost all of the photographs on that page are now linked back to the particular journal update that they relate to. Makes for some interesting reading. well, at least I think it does!

I don't want to sign off until I've drawn your attention to a great website, where Maria and I are going to purchase all of our thermal underwear needs in prepartion for our trip to Russia. Check out The Underwear Guys- they even make thermal G'strings, the ideal way to keep your valuables warm this winter!!

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