Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I spent the last week in Spain catching a bit of sun and spending some time with Liisa. I'd been to Spain before about 6 years ago and enjoyed it then and still enjoyed it today.

A couple of things I noticed while in Spain:

1) Madrid's subway system is amazing, it's cheap and goes pretty much everywhere and is exactly what public transit should be. A single ride costs 2EUR but you can purchase 10 rides for about 6EUR. You can take the metro out to the airport eventhough it's 15+ kms from the centre and there's even a line with only 2 stops (I think it's mostly to get up a big hill). They continue to expand the system each year which is something unheard of in Toronto. Purchasing tickets is simple, quick and mostly automated although there is still usually 1 worker who you can ask questions of or buy tickets. The system appears to be used very widely and was always full. I wonder how they get the money to continue to expand the system? Do they get EU money for it? Toronto (and Tallinn) could seriously learn a lesson or two from Madrid's public transit.

2) Spanish lifestyle is fun but doesn't suit me. In Spain time seems shifted, shops don't open until 10 or 11am. They close for a long time in the afternoon and reopen again after 5pm. You can't get dinner until 8:30pm (kitchens are often closed) and no one goes home until 4am. While this might work well during the hot summer days and is fun once and awhile I couldn't live like this. I like to go to bed relatively early and get up early, I'm most productive in the morning, maybe the long Estonian winter nights have permanently shifted my patterns.

3) Tapas is great. I love being able to have a number of different little dishes rather than one big dish. It's also great to be in a country where they don't tack on a 500% markup on a bottle of wine in a restaurant.

All in all a great vacation, coming back to Toronto weather wasn't much fun but it's better than the weather Liisa has in Tartu. :)

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