By MARY FORAN
There was something that I noticed all over: the great increase in motorcycles and scooters, the people using them all decked out in the appropriate gear
Well, I finally did it. I returned for a visit to Spain after an absence of 25 years! And lo and behold, Spain and Madrid had seen a lot of changes over the years.
What I noticed this time was the proliferation of computers, iPads, iphones and other technological updates among the general populace. Spanish TV, which used to be almost non-existent when I lived in Spain, was modern and interesting and full of up-to-the-minute news programs, dubbed and original version movies and series, and funny new game shows that showed that Spaniards can and do laugh at themselves much in the vein of American shows that have lasted so long in the States.
As for transportation, Madrid’s Metro was still working beautifully, cabs had turned white from black, buses were efficient and full, and the latest cars were on the road en masse causing the usual traffic jams that big cities enjoy all over the world. The trains were comfortable when I took a side trip up to Oviedo in Asturias to visit a good friend, but there was something that I noticed all over: the great increase in motorcycles and scooters in 25 years away. Someone told me that it was because motorcycles and scooters were cheaper than cars, but looking at the people using them all decked out in the appropriate gear made me think that the image of lone rider speeding along and parking wherever they wanted was the real draw.
What hadn’t changed was the many tapa bars and beer establishments on every corner and the many people in the streets dando un paseo in the cities and outlying areas. It was hard to imagine that Spain was suffering an economic crises with the crowded stores and streets I saw.
Lunches were substantial and delicious, and I learned how to make tinto de verano with red wine and lemonade when I went bar-hopping with my sister, who has lived in Spain for 42 years and seen all the changes, and my 31 year-old niece. We had a great time catching up and bonding and we went out with her American friends married to Spaniards who have lived in Spain for years as well.
Spain was in full voting fever while I was there, with political parties vying for citizens’ attention, and Spaniards discussing the pros and cons of the candidates everywhere I went. Most wanted to rid the government of the corruption that had been going on for years, and wanted a new direction for the country.
Spanish TV did a good job of covering the elections, giving percentages up to the minute as the results came in.
All in all, I was impressed with how well Spain has entered the modern world. Perhaps the change over to the euro wasn’t so terrible after all, although I miss the peseta and the duro. Now Spain has a European outlook and stance that makes it a cosmopolitan country after all its years of inward-looking.
It certainly is a place to be in this modern world of huge department stores and markets, and the renovation of old Madrid mercados like the San Miguel off Plaza Mayor.
This time the jet lag didn’t affect me very much; I wore two watches with local time from both places and that seemed to help!
My friends at Guidepost.es gave me a lovely party and I will surely miss being in Madrid for all the fun!
Thanks for the wonderful visit to modern Spain!