Cultural Wednesdays- Week 5

Today’s Cultural Wednesday is unfortunately going to be a bit of a cheat, because I actually went to the site in question last Sunday, since it’s only open four days a week. I decided to “save it up” until today because I thought it was interesting, and I wanted to write about it. So I guess it’s a Cultural Sunday Disguised as a Cultural Wednesday, but that’s getting a bit too complicated, even for me…

Anyway.

Sometime this week (let’s not be too particular about the precise day 😉 ), I decided to go to the Metro Museum (or Andén 0) at Chamberí.

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I had walked past the entrance many times, as it is right near my house, but whilst the Metro Line 1 was being repaired, the Museum was also closed. So, when Line 1 reopened, I decided that now was the time to check it out.

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Line 1 was the first to be built in Madrid, and Chamberí was one of the original stations, so it’s historically very important. It was closed permanently because the platforms are curved, and the newer trains aren’t able to safely stop there.

The station had a similar feel to Museum in Sydney, and it was like entering a time warp. The ticket barriers and entrance are in their unique states, and I had to go through an old metal gate to get in.

Spanish rules and regulations are pretty relaxed, and visitors are allowed to go down to the platform, and watch from behind a glass barrier as the current Metro trains zip past a metre or so away. It was really exciting to hear the trains coming along the tracks, and then to see them whizz by, so close that you could see the expressions on the passengers’ faces.

They also had a lot of old advertisements on the walls, many in Art Deco style, which were pretty cool.

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And there were plenty of maps and information from the period. I particularly enjoyed reading about the price of tickets, which were extraordinarily cheap (or at least in today’s terms).

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OK, so the Museum is unlikely to make it onto a list of Must Visit Places in Madrid. But I thought it was worth a visit 🙂 And if anyone is looking to make a historical movie, and needs to include an authentic train station, I know just the place!

My first day of school

Today, I started back at school, something I never thought I would be doing at the ripe old age of 35…

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The day started poorly, when I realised I had left my passport at home, and had to return to my apartment. But it wasn’t all bad! When I went to change train lines, there was a busker playing “Beds are burning”! It was positively bizarre to hear a Spanish guy perfectly imitating Peter Garrett’s distinctive warble (albeit without dance moves, unfortunately).

My school is a public infants/primary school in a suburb called Valdebernardo, about 40 minutes from my place. It’s a bilingual school, so 40% of the lessons are in English, with the remainder in Spanish. Here’s the website.

This year, there are 5 English language assistants at the school. Three of them were there last year as well, which I guess is a positive thing. If the school was REALLY bad, they wouldn’t want to go back, would they? I am by far the oldest, by about 10 years, and I’ve got to admit, our priorities seem to be VERY different. The other assistants’ conversation seemed to focus almost entirely on money (in particular, the things they do in order to save 1€, such as hitching to Portugal instead of taking the bus); gossiping about who the worst teachers are (the ones whose classes I am in, needless to say); and complaining non-stop about their schedules (which, to be honest, weren’t that bad- we are all only working 3.5 days a week, with Monday or Friday free).

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I’m not going to deny it, I found these conversations depressing. Sure, it’s important to save money, I can accept that. And yes, I am probably in a very different financial position to some of the 22 year old conversation assistants. But, pathetic as it may sound, I actually WANT to teach at the school, rather than using it purely as a means to a Spanish visa, and to be made to feel that there was something “wrong” with me because of this was a bit disheartening 😦

Hopefully, things will improve when the teaching starts 🙂

24 hours of flying…

Me before the flight. You don’t want to see me after. Think hair akimbo, bags under eyes, and attire in complete disarray.

I have just arrived in Spain after a seeming eternity on the plane. An eternity punctuated by:

  1. One bad film (“Mia madre”), one so-so film (“Love and friendship”), one excellent film (“El clan”), and one unfinished film (“The dressmaker”- and it stopped just as the romance was starting!)
  2. The achievement of a very complex ninja move whereby, in my desperation to use the toilet and not wake the people beside me, I used the armrests to climb over their reposing forms
  3. Too much unappetising food. But that’s a given. I always find it amusing when people complain about airline food. Umm, hello! It’s not a Michelin star dining experience…
  4. Some pretty amazing views. I took these photos as we left Dubai:


I am now sitting in (I hate to admit it) Starbucks, making use of their powerpoint, after a rather eventful Metro trip, punctuated by some buskers who put on a show in the carriage:

This was the first, and I’m guessing not the last, time that I used my “Sorry, my Spanish is very bad” excuse to avoid “getting caught up in the action”, so to speak.