Monday, July 16, 2007

Then there's Madrid...


...which is another great Spanish city. I lived there for almost two years and thoroughly enjoyed it. I recall a New Yorker I met there when she was taking a TEFL certification course. After completing the course she went to Paris to join her boyfriend, but a few weeks and a break-up later, she returned to Madrid to teach English for a year. She liked the city so much she returned the following year to teach there again. I remember her telling me near the end of her second stint in the capital that, although she only went to Madrid after the break-up to be in a supportive environment with friends she'd made during her TEFL course, she was glad that it worked out that way because otherwise she might never have known how nice a place it was.
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This young woman had lived in London, Paris and Stockholm and here she was rating Madrid along with these other European cities. In fact, she described it as one of Europe's best kept secrets. Over the years I've heard others say similar things when singing the city's praises. Well, perhaps the the cat is finally out of the bag.
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According to a news report in EL Pais, a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that the Spanish capital is one of the best cities in Europe. In fact, the paper quoted the director of the study, Mario Pezzini, as having said, "We liked it so much that if we had to leave Paris, the members of the team would move to Madrid."
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The OECD report claims that among Madrid's strengths are its public transport system, low unemployment and successful integration of immigrants, who currently make up 16% of the city's population. On the negative side, the report highlights traffic congestion, low spending on Research and Development and the high rate of temporary employment.
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Overall, however,the OECD team members found Madrid a "prosperous space" with high demographic and economic growth, according to another news source, Diariocrtico.com. The report apparently cites proactive public policies as one of the reasons the city's attraction and quality is improving.
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All of this must be good news for Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, who reportedly wants to gain more power within the conservative Popular Party (PP) and enter national politics. He's seen by many as a moderate voice within the PP, not unlike Rudolph Giuliani in the U.S. Republican Party.
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Another goal of his is to see Madrid host the Summer Olympics. Although the city's bid for the 2012 didn't win, it did receive good marks. Therefore, the OECD report is probably equally welcomed by the Spanish Olympic Committee (Comité Olímpico Español), which is working on the application due to the IOC by September 13th.
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So, that's a little update on Madrid, the capital, the center of the country, the largest city in Spain and apparently not such a secret anymore.
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Chao amig@s,
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Carloz

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