Notes from abroad, by The Movie Snob.
I just returned from a week’s vacation in Spain with my little sister Janet and her friends Lisa and Akito. We didn’t see any movies while we were there, but I thought the readers of The Movie Court might be interested in a few observations. (Actually, we could have watched The Forgotten on one long train ride, but it was dubbed into Spanish, which I don’t speak. Moreover, Janet had seen it and said it wasn’t very good. All the movies on the airplanes were either duds or ones I had seen before.) It was really a whirlwind tour—we spent a couple of days in Madrid, about a day in Granada, a couple of days in Seville, and then back to Madrid. Here are a few things that my traveling companions and I noticed.
Baseball caps. Akito and I were just about the only people I ever saw wearing them. I thought mine might help me blend in because it bore a Spanish logo, having been purchased for me in Costa Rica by Janet a couple of years ago. I don’t think it worked. Spaniards tended to be pretty nicely dressed all the time.
Everybody in Europe speaks English. Actually, this turned out to be a myth. Even in Madrid we rarely ran into folks with much grasp of English. Fortunately Akito had a working knowledge of Spanish, so we sent him to do most of the inquiring and negotiating that was involved in our trip. Please don’t send me any hate mail for being a linguistic imperialist—I’m not saying Spanish people should know English. I was just under the misimpression that more of them would know it.
Madrilenos are skinny. I didn’t really notice this on my own, but Janet called it to my attention. Even though there were shops selling pastries and ice cream everywhere we went, and even though they seemed to do a good business, we saw virtually no overweight people in Madrid. This was not so true in the south of Spain, in Granada and Seville. Janet remarked that the same pattern holds true in the USA. I resolved to devote some thought to the subject over a Big Mac and fries. Speaking of which . . .
McDonald’s. Not as ubiquitous as in the States, but I think I saw a couple in Madrid (along with a KFC and at least one Burger King), there was one in Seville, and there was one in the smaller town of Cordoba between Granada and Seville. I ate under the golden arches only twice, which was a pretty good display of restraint, by my standards.
Children and dogs. Having read several articles lately about Europe’s birth dearth and how Spain and Italy in particular have sunk well below the replacement level of reproduction, I was not expecting to see many little Spaniards. However, we actually saw quite few strollers being pushed around by youngish Spaniards, mostly women. Then I assumed that they were probably all only children, but then I noticed at least a few families with two children in tow. Even more surprising to me was the huge number of dogs in the cities, even Madrid. We saw tons, many being walked on leashes, but also plenty that stayed reasonably close to their owners without being on a leash.
Bad experiences. Virtually none. Late one night on the metro in Madrid, I was spotted for an American by a drunk young man who put his arm around my shoulder and chatted me up in profanity-laced English. I gathered that he was a professional skateboarder who had been to America once and had broken his arm. He was much amused when I told him that I was from Texas. I suppose I should have argued with him when he opined that Texans are all “ignorant hillbillies,” but because he was so intoxicated that he nearly toppled over every time the train stopped and started, it didn’t seem worth the argument.
All in all, we had a great time. I did get antsy not being able to see any movies, though….