by Faye Davies
The scene – or variations thereof – will be familiar to many a non-native Madrileño. Late for a meeting yesterday, I realised I’d run out of deodorant. Horror struck. Not because I’m afflicted with particularly bad BO (to my knowledge), but because it was just past 2:30pm, the time when almost everything becomes unavailable, almost everywhere.
As you might expect, the exceptions tend to be the big players. If you feel like I do about El Corte Inglés, your options are largely limited to specialist chains. Supermarkets Carrefour and Mercadona are fairly ubiquitous. They ensure you won’t go hungry (or smelly), but not much beyond that. For clothes, gifts and electrical goods, the shops around Sol – such as Fnac (books/music/technology), Zara (fashion) and Vodafone (mobile phones) – have generally civilised opening times.
Last, but not least, Chinese-owned shops do a sterling job of providing most things around the clock. Although quality is variable, a discerning eye can land you a bargain in your lunch hour. I recently bought a good Spanish-made espresso maker at my local chino for the price of two coffees.
As for the deodorant, I eventually found it in the Quevedo branch of Gilgo.