30.10.04

Paris by desklamp



Of all the European capitals I have visited (which, truthfully speaking, isn't all that many), I can honestly say that I can't decide whether I like Madrid or Paris more. Both cities have much going for them, and neither have many drawbacks that I can think of. Both are very clearly cities that have been built on an imperial scale, and while Paris has its river and landmarks, Madrid has its parks and people. Paris is expensive - that is a drawback - while Madrid is impossibly cheap. A place to stay in the very centre of Madrid will cost about 35 euros - about the price of a couple of beers and a hot-dog in the centre of Paris. The madrileños are friendlier than the Parisians, although that probably has more to do with my being able to speak Spanish and my inability to speak French. Certainly Madrid enjoys much warmer weather (well, it does in the summer). There is so little to choose between the two that perhaps it is unfair of me to attempt to name a preference. I like them both for different reasons. I wouldn't want to attempt to appear more cosmopolitan than I actually am (I am a died in the wool provincial - a veritable hick from the sticks), so I won't pretend that I am a regular visitor to either of these cities. I was in Madrid once this year, not at all in 2003, and three times in 2002, then 1997 I was in Madrid twice, and for the first time in 1994, when I attended a conference there. I have been to Paris only once, in 2002, when I was there for a conference that I organised (Paris was my choice of venue, because I really wanted to visit the place). Compare these to my Lisbon visits - three times this year (the fewest trips for a long time), eight times in 2003. I think, though, if I was told I had to go to one, and one only... well, I think I would choose Madrid. Or maybe Paris. Oh, I don't know, so I guess I'll just go to Lisbon again.

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