Madrid's late schedule has definitely put me back in my "normal" time schedule of staying up late and sleeping late, especially when traveling. After dealing with a lot of things at home online yesterday, I finally made it out to do some wandering, taking off through the city in the direction of the Royal Palace. Not knowing anything about it, I was a surprised how vast and beautiful it and its gardens were, much like I would expect to see in France (though I would guess that Spaniards wouldn't appreciate that comparison). From there it was on to a palace of another sort: Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. It was the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup between Real Madrid and Barcelona. The game started at 10:30pm, which seemed unusual to me (too good to be true?!) I kept having to check different websites to be sure I hadn't read it wrong. I ended up getting a ticket at a much higher seat level than I would have liked, but that came from not knowing the levels and language well enough. It was also a lot cheaper than I had planned, so at least that was a bonus. The ticket situation frustrated me a little only because the website had good tickets available right until game time, but it doesn't accept American credit cards, and trips to the box office and various satellite ticket machines around town had also not worked. But so it goes. The stadium was massive. It holds 85,000. It has a lot of history, but kind of like (the previous) Yankee Stadium, it has been rebuilt so many times that it just feels like a large modern stadium without personality. I probably let things I had read about their supporters group being neo-nazi/pro-fascist bother me more than it should, because it made me feel strange about cheering the team on. Aside from some of the obvious words I know, I really couldn't tell what their chants were saying anyway, so they may have been perfectly harmless, as their (slightly malfunctioning) tifo was. All in all, it was still a great experience just to be there.
[apologies for blog posts before 11/2008 that are not yet updated to format]