Monday, September 18, 2006

El Viajero

My first real week here just passed. Getting to the lab is a piece of cake. My apartment is close to a train station called Recoletos from which there are three different lines going in the campus direction, lucky me. I am just waiting at the platform and basically whatever comes, I can board. The trains are packed at the rush hours but very clean and nice. BTW, those are the trains that were bombed an they go underground in tunnels through the city. Many people leave the trains at the Nuevos Ministerios station and then at the Chamartín station, so when we approach Cantoblanco-Universidad station, the trains are not so full anymore. Enrique told me that they had built the campus so far away from the city, because Franco was afraid of student protests and that place was surrounded by military camps. No matter what was the reason, it takes me about 40 minutes by train and additional 20 minutes by walk to get from my house to my new lab. Welcome in Europe! The institute is cool, Mien knows what I am talking about. The lab next door (No. 317) is full of great people, it's a truly international lab: Bruce is from Scotland, Sandra is from Portugal and Govi from Ecuador. In my lab, which is No. 316, we have an Italian PhD student called Marco. I went out with Marco and Govi and her friends (three Ecuadorian boys, one girl from Basque country and one girl from Madrid) on Friday. First, we went to a "poetry" place, where they served basically only sangria and the walls were decorated by verses from different poets. Kind of a cool place, too much smoke though, because the pub is in a deep basement. Surprisingly for me, that was the only place so far that was really smoky, the other places usually have a good ventilation so I don't stink like a smoked salmon after, even though people still smoke like crazy here. Then we went to a place called Alhambra, where they played rock en español. Then something to eat - unfortunately, we were a large group and we couldn't find a place that would accommodate us all, so we ended up in a kebab place. These cheap kebab restaurants are like everywhere here! Then one more bar, where we danced like crazy but after that it's kind of blurry, LOL, we got really drunk. Fortunately, it's easy for me to get back to my place safely, because I really live downtown!
On Saturday, I had to do some laundry and I had to take my stuff like 15 minutes walking from my place because the laundromat in my complex is open only during the weekdays and only from 10-19 when I am in the lab or on the way home, that sucks. But the public laundromat I discovered is pretty clean and straightforward and the machines and dryers are way better that in my place and it's on the border of Chueca so the customers are cute, I cannot complain. Just it takes some time to get there, LOL. Then Ruben, a friend of Antonio, called me and we went out with his roommate and that was nice, too. We had a long conversation (in English, of course) about Spain and democracy and all the changes that this country is going through right now and also about the mysterious royal family. Also, Ruben's roommate told me that all the places I went on Friday are stupid places for tourists, it was funny, well, I guess I am a tourist here then. Well, it was past 1 am when we left the dinner place and me and Ruben were going for a drink to another dark and filthy place.
I slept till the afternoon today, I guess that I am getting used to the late lunch, the ultra late dinner and the hyper late going-to-sleep time.
I am going to Germany for a conference with Enrique tomorrow, it's a workshop about protein trafficking in Zell am Mosel that is in a Riesling wine country. We have a wine tasting scheduled for one of the evenings.

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