Welcome to Madrid

December 12 – Welcome to Madrid

We got up around 9am this morning and had breakfast at the hotel. When I asked the lady at the front desk where to get breakfast, she said, “Here, we have breakfast included.” I took that to mean it was included in the price of the room and complimentary…that wasn’t the case. Oh well. They had a good spread of meats, croissants, some yogurt, and cereal. I had a little of everything and then Jeff and I started planning our day. We broke out a few different maps and put together a route to follow to walk around town.

Plaza de la Villa by Justin KornWe headed out the door around 10:30am and checked out Plaza de Oriente first. Plaza de Oriente is surrounded by statues that are apparently ancient monarchs and nobles. There is a local legend that these statues get off their pedestals during the night hours to stretch their legs. From there, we strolled down a few side streets to Plaza de la Villa. The buildings surrounding Plaza de la Villa are apparently the home to Madrid’s city government. Next, we made our way to Plaza Mayor. Within Plaza Mayor, there was a market setup where vendors were selling everything you could possible want or need for Christmas decorations. After people watching for a few minutes, we moved on through the hustling and bustling Plaza de la Puerta del Sol. We then walked over to Plaza Santa Ana which is known to be surrounded by tapas bars. We walked around trying to decide which tapas bar to give a try and finally decided on a place named Miau. We walked in and there was only one other group of 4 in the corner of the place. None-the-less, we sat at the bar and I ordered myself a beer and Jeff had a glass of red wine. While we tried to decide what to order, the waiter brought us two appetizers of which were unidentifiable. I ate one of them and tried the other, but I’m still unsure what it was. We were not very hungry, so we wanted something relatively small…we asked the waiter if the “assortment of cold cuts” was a small dish. His response was, “It’s a plate of meats. It’s not very big.” With that, we went with it. The waiter went to work carving a a few slices of various meats onto a plate. Meanwhile, Jeff and I noticed there was a pig’s leg sitting next to where the waiter was carving the meat and sure enough, the last bit of meat was directly from the pig’s leg. I couldn’t believe it. The waiter brought the plate of meat over to us which was filled to the edge of 5 or so different cuts of meat (all pork) and a basket of bread. With another beer in hand, I tried each of the different cuts and enjoyed about half of them (including the one that was carved directly from the pig’s leg). When we left, I swear it looked as if we didn’t even touch the plate, but there was no way I could eat anymore at that point. From there, we headed pass Plaza Canovas del Castillo and over to Museo del Prado where Rembrandt was on display in the special gallery. First we checked out the “Among Gods and Men” exhibit which contained “the finest works from the classical sculpture collection of the Albertinum in Dresden.” “Among Gods and Men” was a rare treat since it is only on display for 6 months while the Albertinum is temporarily closed. When we first entered, I attempted to take a picture of the sign leading into the exhibit, but was quickly told photography was not allowed. Around the corner, I attempted to take another picture from my hip and was quickly yelled at and was given my last warning before they threw me out of the museum. I complied after that and put my camera away. Jeff and I managed to walk through the entire museum in a few hours. We spent most of our time inside the Rembrandt exhibit and on the second floor viewing the Spanish paintings dating from 1100 – 1850. As you would expect, the museum knocked the wind out of us, so we headed back to the hotel for some downtime.

At around 8:00pm we decided it was time to head back out. We made our way to the area of Madrid called Marasaña. After walking around aimlessly for a bit we attempted to visit an Irish pub, but the place was packed and the smoke was thick. We then decided to go across the street to Casa Maravillas. The scene was vibrant, people drinking and eating, talking to one another, smoking and just enoying the Friday evening. After a little trouble communicating with the waiter, we finally ordered a drink. With our drinks, the waiter brought us a plate of olives and we eventually asked for some Potatas con pollo which was a tapas plate. We finished our drinks and moved on to Chueca, another part of town known for it’s bars and resturantes. Jeff had recieved a tip from a friend back home to try a resturant called Bazaar for dinner. This place was off the hook. We arrived a little after 10:00pm and the hostess put us on the list and told us to come back by 10:50pm to be seated. So, we grabbed another drink at Cafe Liber’s Pub, a bar down the street. So far (and this isn’t saying much) this bar was my favorite. They had regular peanuts, roasted peanuts, mini Ritz crackers, candy, and something that looked like cheese puffs…you couldn’t go wrong. At about 10:45 we headed back to Bazaar which still had a huge crowd at the entrance of people waiting to be seated. The hostess saw us come back in and asked for our name. I told her and she seemed to make a mark on her pad. At about 11:15, we decide she probably forgot about us and ask her what’s up. Apparently we got crossed off the list. We were finally seated at 11:30pm for dinner. As usual, the entire menu was in Spanish and I had no idea what to order. Luckily the waiter spoke English, so I asked a few questions and settled with the Lasagna (or so I thought). Literally, no more then 5 minutes after we ordered, our food was in front of us and what I thought was going to be Lasagna was anything but. To be honest, I can’t even tell you what it was, but I know this, it was loaded with mushrooms (if you don’t know me well, I HATE mushrooms). Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy, but forced myself through it anyway. The desert menu came around and the first thing on the menu was “Chocolatisma.” Just like it sounds, it was awesome – a small lava cake type of desert on a plate filled with chocolate sauce. Like I said, it was awesome. After licking my plate clean, we decided to head back to the hotel. People were all over the place chilling on the street, talking to each other, drinking and smoking (a common theme). What had to be a club around the corner from the hotel, had a line half a block long. The music was pumping and at 1am the night was still young. Unfortunately, Jeff and I were exhausted and decided to call it a night. We promised we’d make it out tomorrow night when we arrived in Seville…we’ll see what happens.

Till next time…

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Categorized: Travel Diaries