Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Swimming in Madrid

The sugar sweet melon we enjoyed before the wasp came - top right next to knife

At last! I finally found an open air swimming pool in Madrid - or rather three in one! The city sports facilities are opened up to the public in summer and if you can work out where they are, the swimming pools are very welcome on a hot day. Last Sunday the temperature hit 40 degrees in some places! The pool I went to is near Canillas metro station and it was 4 euros 35 for a session that lasted all afternoon! We were there from 4 until 8pm and it was heaven.

I have a thing about swimming pools. I love swimming but I hate the palaver of lockers and money and what you can or can't do. Fortunately I was with a Spanish friend or I would have been totally bamboozled. At Spanish pools, you are given what looks like a coathanger with a peg bag attached and this is where you place your clothing ready to hand in to the cloakroom. However there are also lockers (hurrah!) and for one euro I was able to put everything away safely. And I got my euro back afterwards (take note: East Dulwich pool!).

There are three pools - a big one and two smaller ones for children and families. There is lots of grass for sunbathing and chilling out plus a busy cafeteria. I was intrigued by the groups of young people smoking from a hookah. Our own sustenance came from Spanish donuts from my locally Pasteleria and a perfectly ripe melon that we carved into.

The pool was perfect temperature - slightly chilly to relieve the heat. And though it was busy, it was certainly not overcrowded and I had lots of room to splash and practise my synchronised swimming moves. We met some interesting people, including a guy from The Gambia who was taking his first swim in a European pool. He told us he had come to Spain by sea and it had taken nine days and that he was looking for work. Yes, he spoke English! It made me appreciate how much I have in my life and that at least I can pitch up in Spain and find paid work relatively easy.

After a long day at the pool, we decided a picnic was required! So at 10 30pm I was in front of Neuvos Ministerios eating homemade tortilla, teneras, cod fillets, salad and fruit and drinking a celebratory glass of sidre. It was the perfect end to a day that I shall treasure. Summer in Madrid is starting to feel more do-able!

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