Wasn’t it great living in the USA, driving from pillar to post, parking less than 50 meters away from any given store, leaving all your multi-stop purchases in your trunk while going out for more? Ahh… THOSE were the days of comfort, convenience, …and laziness.
That’s not the case living in “The City“, of course. Here, you walk, putting one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, dodging meandering Spaniards and random dog-do-droppings along the way. You go to one store, buy your groceries and carry them to the next store. There, you buy more and carry them to the next store, and so on, until you eventually carry everything home – and then, potentially, UP 4 flights of stairs to your flat.
Doing the on-foot shopping all sounds good-and-healthy and works well when patronizing only markets or shops, but you can’t take outside shopping into supermarkets. Some people do their shopping with handy, albeit not-so-cool, wheeled carts, but even those can’t be taken inside the supermarket shopping area. These, you have to lock them up – or leave them at the door at your own risk – until after check-out. Most supermarkets have “taquillas” or lockers into which you feed a returnable 1 Euro coin to lock up your stuff.
Planning is crucial. It sounds silly, but it’s true. Sometimes you can’t possibly fit your non-supermarket purchases (at the bakery, the chicken shop, the butcher shop, the olive shop, the nuts-and-snacks shop, the seafood shop) into one of those cubicle lockers. That means you have to do your supermarket shopping first – AND THEN take all that to those aforementioned shops afterwards. (Oh, gawd, I’m sweating just thinking about it – now that I have to do the weekend shopping today)
God forbid you have to buy milk or clothes detergent or something REALLY heavy, putting more stress on those joints. And even if you’re strong (or a 70+-year old Spanish woman used to hard labor – notice I said “woman“), this can be challenging, not only carrying the 2-handed shopping bags several blocks, but also doing that painful twist-at-the-waist as you encounter oncomers on the narrow sidewalks, holding one bag in front of your body and the other bag behind as you pass.
So you’ve completed your shopping. Congratulations. You win a gold pin for achievement. You’re still out on the street and it’s lunchtime so you’d like to go someplace to eat. Great! – except you CAN’T because you can’t lug all those bags of groceries and other miscellaneous bags into a bar/restaurant with you! And they CERTAINLY don’t have lockers into which you can put your stuff.
Very few people living in the city have garages in their buildings in which to park cars – unless they’re somewhat well-to-do AND their buildings are less than a quarter-century old. But even if I owned a car I wouldn’t/couldn’t take it food shopping. Here, you just can’t drive shop-to-shop, 50-250 meters at a time, and dream of finding a parking space anywhere near where your objective. It’s just not sensible.
So for now, as long as I’m living in the city of Madrid (and not well-to-do), I’ll continue shopping on-foot. It’s an easy trade-off for living in the city of my daily daytime dreams.