Arrived in Madrid relatively late on Friday ().That is not late for Madrid ;-).First was immigration, only 2 of 24 lines open.All labeled EU only.Where is an American to go?So I stood in the EU line, at the same time I am on the phone with Montse asking her if I should change my hotel from out of the center of town to the center.She says Ally get in any line “this is Spain”, a saying I was reminded off time and time again over 2 days listening to Montse’s stories of moving back there (seriously OMG).
Pretty building on a main square
She also says no stay in your current hotel, apparently there had been some demonstrations in Madrid a day or two earlier and a man had been killed (I guess there are a lot of pro Franco people left).There were talks of more demonstrations planned for the weekend and not so good talks about the killing.Another line opened just about the time my phone informed me I had no minutes left.I jumped in the new line as it had a more generic label for immigration.Up I went and I don’t even think he looked at my passport, more of courteous nod and he took it, but I don’t think he opened it.I called the phone co and charged more minutes so I could call Montse back.
Navigating the metro was easy, just 3 trains to my hotel.
Got there and no problems finding it from the metro, I am getting really good at this (reading maps that is).Checked in and then Montse met me at the hotel.There was a good restaurant she liked around the corner she wanted to take me to (Asador Donostiarra).We get to the Basque style restaurant at about 10 and it is a 30 minute wait, she tells the guy we will go for a walk.She turns to me and says we are going for tapas first ;-) (I think the host knew that too).Off to tapas and yummy beer and prosciutto.When we get back to the restaurant our table was gone and we were at the bottom of the list, not next available, bottom.I think we got seated around 11:30ish.The food was good and I even tried some of Montse’s “ink” from her squid.“Interesting” I called it (the polite thing I was told an American says when they are unsure).
Flirt and Palacio Real
Oh, yes they had this great drink they served at the end of the meal “Sorbette de Limon Al Cava”, basically a champagne and lemon smoothie, yum yum!
So if I forget how lucky I am that London banded smoking in public places before my arrival there, I am quickly reminded again, dam are we lucky in California and the UK.Smoke is everywhere, your clothes and hair reek…..showers are a must before popping under sheets.
Did not wake up to early and while my single hotel room was nice, it had a load running water noise in the morning when folks were getting up, LOAD (discovered later that the sound was drastically reduced if I just got up and shut the bathroom door, duh).
Just another very pretty building
I had a quick breakfast at the hotel and wandered out to old town Madrid.Quickly (ok, right away, first steps out of the metro) I got distracted by shopping.I love the kind of travel when you can do whatever and not have anywhere you have to be or have to do, have a couple things I wanted to see but nothing too pressing.So while the prices weren’t fantastic, they were better than the £pound£ and the things were a bit different than in London fashion wise.I did not go crazy, but did a bunch of window shopping and got some small things ;-).
Around Montse called and had a car and was ready to meet up.She had Sofia with her asleep in the car, so first was to drive around and orientate me to where things were in Madrid (baby a sleep, take advantage of it).We drove down the major streets, see where the Prado was, etc.The weather was brilliantly sunny (sun burn kind) all weekend, but wickedly cold.We sat down in old town and had tapas and beer outside in a plaza.We had a boy from the table next to ours keep coming over and taking our papas bravas (just put his hand in our food and took it) and his mother did nothing about it even after she told the boy to ask his mother first, and then the mother helped him to pee in the plant adjacent to our table (not the plant next to her table, but our table).Next after a tapas lunch was the sweets shop.Yum and then a stroll for a café stop for coffee.After all the food pit stops we went to their big department store so I could buy some pork products (that you cant bring into the states, we shall see).Another café stop and Montse departed and I continued to shop and wander around the Salamanca district.
I finally head back to my hotel around to change for dinner.I had read about a sidra tapas bar (pure fresh cider and some good tapas) and wanted to try it out (El Escarpin).It was back in city center and as I walked in the place was packed, wall to wall, no way to sit at the bar or any table and eat tapas so I decided to sit in the dining room, silly me thinking in there I could still get tapas, wrong.The menu was not the tapas menu so I ordered 3 things that I had wanted to try on the tapas menu and asked for them to be smaller.Well the waiter only ½ indulged me on the cheese order.Good thing too as I can get buy reading a Spanish menu, but when I order the manchego, I got aged manchego which meant blue manchego, ich…. I did try a scrape off the corner and decided no, that went untouched.The cider braised chorizo, yummy, but I did not finish it all and then came the beans and ham/chorizo stew (fabada), yum, but only ate about 4-5 spoonfuls of the beans, café hoping all day and I was not hungry.
Getting into the hang of late starts, I had breakfast and headed out of the hotel around 11:30ish.Off to the Rastro I went.It is the only real open shopping (flea market) to do on a Sunday.Yes the museums are open (and free) but crowded with tourists as nothing else except restaurants are open on Sunday’s in Madrid.The Rastro was packed, you could barely move.It did not take but 2-3 rows and I was quickly out of the herd.I headed back towards the cathedral and palace to take a couple pictures as I had not had a chance to the day before.Montse called around and picked me up and off to the teleferico we went this time with her 2 sons.This was like the sky ride at Disneyland, it went to the big park Casa de Campo and had great views of Madrid.Really the only thing in the guide book I had wanted to do, yes the kid in me, ride to the park ;-).We were sold that there was a café at the turn around point, well that was true, but it was a café that you get at an amusement park, yuck.Her boys were hungry so got them some chips and wandered the park for a little bit before taking the tram back.
Once back to the car it was tapas time ;-)I can get into the Spanish life style.You go to one tapas bar have a couple beers and tapas and then you head to the next one.I have to say her boys were total troopers, all they wanted was fanta, hamburger and fries (and Jamie drew an excellent picture of that on the tram, better than I could ever draw) but they were in Madrid and could get burger king later, tapas was lunch.Prosciutto and some more cheese and bread, all yummy.After two tapas places, ok now café time for coffee.I am just laughing at this point, it was really relaxing, no real hurry, one place to the next ;-).We went to a posh café, someone important was in there somewhere by the bodyguards casing the place outside, but we did not see them.By this point poor Marcos and Jaime are getting pretty tired of sitting and eating, me I think I could do that for several more days, although I am really not hungry, it is a social thing.Montse dropped me back off at my hotel and I grabbed my luggage and took the metro back to the airport. Now the airport was another experience and with delays getting back from Gatwick home was not so fun, slow express train, tubes closed, and 30 minute taxi queue in the rain ;-(.
Very few pics taken, none of me, but one of Flirt in front of the palace. I really love visiting a city and seeing it the way locals see it, thanks Montse for showing me around! Also, I loved the colors int he buildings, they were so pretty.
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