In Madrid it’s almost as if smoking is mandatory. Everywhere you go, you see people smoking. With most restaurants offering sidewalk dining there’s no problem sitting down for a meal and lighting up. At one point Cynthia asked the waitress if smoking was allowed (she was concerned I was breaking the rules) and the she looked surprised. She said (in Spanish) that we’re outside, why would you NOT be able to smoke? She seemed dumbfounded.
If it weren’t for the army of sanitation workers patrolling the streets with there brooms, dust-bins and walk-behind mechanical street-sweepers this place might resemble one huge ashtray.
There’s even the local joke that the reason the Spanish Guardia Civil tricornio hat is flat in the back is so it will be easier for them to lean against a wall and smoke without damaging the hat.
Oddly enough, you can’t buy cigarettes in the local stores. You have to go to specialized tobacco shops to get them or purchase them from a vending machine in a bar. And all tobacco products are labeled with a huge sticker warning you of the hazards of smoking.
Since I am travelling abroad I am taking the opportunity to show my opposition to a certain US foreign policy
Mmmmm….cuban cigars! Viva La Resistencia!