Monthly Archives: October 2012

Madrid. Again!

The sun rising over Franfurt, Germany.

Its the same feeling but with a bit more spice when I clicked the itinerary’s book & confirm button of the flight that’s supposed to take me away for two weeks; The countdown was long but worth every single day. It gave me that hope whenever boredom crawled. That secret internal smile of “heh who cares, m disconnecting soon” even though the “soon” meant a couple of months. a Multi destination journey starting once again in Spain, then Rome, and ending in Zurich.

Slicing things down, in Spain the plan was Madrid & its hype, by bus to tranquil Granada, by train to forgotten Cordoba, then by bus again to addictive Seville.

It’s gonna be a story-like sequel starting from Madrid. Moving on city by city in separate posts just to avoid never ending journals & spare the time. Thus, hereby, I start from the captivating Spanish heart, Madrid.

As always, the flight to Madrid is properly selected; a proper airline to have an appropriate start. Lufthansa, thank you for your unmatched services both on & off board.

If I was to define Madrid, it would be a city that forces you to fall in love with it. Loving Madrid is not by choice at all. Once you step there, it marks your soul and commands your sub-conscience to voluntarily come back again. It’s always awake, alive, full of energy, mouthwatering cuisine, tasty wine, excellent gin, art of all kinds, music, fun, and you name the rest. Its a traditional yet modern city that got something for everybody. For me, it hosts everything I look for. When visiting the city, make sure to brush away all pretentious (maybe Arabic) attitude and just be humble to enjoy the charm; if not, you’re still have a chance to enjoy the fancy, classy, flashy part which doesn’t add to the experience you get at the flashy classy districts present in every other city.

A panoramic view of Gran Via street;

Gran Via, the artery of the city was the center, from there and out of experience everything became handy and close; This busy street kept us on the move; Never bored, always strolling around the same places just for the joy of being there. A stop or two for coffee refill or sugar refuel, a taste of the various ice cream flavors, and mostly important was the daily routine at National Geographic cafe where the happy hour chit-chats & espressos were a must.

 

 

The daily ritual. Double espresso, long chit chats, and planning. This place is an addiction.

Night shot of Madrid; Taken from the hotel room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At sunset, the city changed the color and the mood. Tickled to start the night early, we strolled to La Latina, a Spanish district by far, where authentic Spanish food is served at an array of resto/pubs. Lured by the tinkling heard everywhere, we stopped at Artebar to attend a very local flamenco performance. Honestly, I was never a flamenco fan due to the simple fact that art to me resembles peace and tranquility while flamenco acts are loud and aggressively expressed. My perception changed last year; I came this year eager to catch up with what I had missed.

From left to right: two bailoras, chanter clapping, solo bailora at the Artebar performance, La Latine, Madrid

That night, the same performers more or less were there. What changed was the chanter & one of the bailaoras. The place was dim and old, equipped with few single metal chairs and a primitive  wooden podium; we were few; a trio of late 60s ladies , and a group looking like a family. Each carrying his/her wine glass waiting for the show to commence.

It lasted for almost an hour and a half with a break in between where they rested and changed outfits. I took this photo during the first half of the show. This photo and its color treatment manifests my exact feelings at that moment. A mixture of admiration, sadness, and joy. Many questions were hovering in my head during the act. Is dancing their main profession. Is it how they make their living? where do they live? Do they have families? Are they happy? do they make enough money to properly survive a not that cheap city? Do they really enjoy what they do especially that its a tough sweaty performance? I left the answers behind that wooden door. Maybe i can find answers during my next visit.

After the  show, we strolled around La Latina to immerse more in the district’s vibes. Our main drink of choice was mainly house white wine that kicks smoothly into the system. For dinner, tapas are always the option. Gazpacho with chorizos, patatas bravas, and albondigas with tomato sauce. Keeping it light to leave room for other cuisine attractions.

A glass of Mahou beer at Mercado de San Antonio’s roof top

Mostly the main activity in Madrid is nightly. When the streets get crowded and people go out for drinks. Tremendous pubs scattered everywhere in the city, each offering special discounts and free drinks just to create footfall. A fierce competition to please;

What is best to try there, aside from wine, are gin & tonic and local beer. A nice venue we tried was Mercado de San Antonio. A mall-like complex of three floors. It looks like a tapas food court with very rich assortment of choices. The roof top terrace was packed; lovely mini bars and young crowds. Going out of there, we didnt miss to try the various flavors of croquetas. A lovely stand bar at the left corner of the first floor serves the best of those with a wide selection of  jamon, spinach, chicken, and cheese fillings. When you are there, just aim for it and please dont thank me 🙂

Mornings are calm and slow, only thinking of breakfast; Since we couldnt do churros late at night, we didnt forget to give it a try in the morning, and where else to have churros and hot chocolate except at the infamous Chocolateria San Gines. Located just next to Sol among narrow cozy streets and at a calm addictive neighborhood. We spent two easy hours without even noticing.  only interrupted by beggars who didn’t even have the time to beg before being driven out of the area by waiters.

Chocolateria San Gines street in the morning

Getting lazy during the last day. Final check and ready to leave

Time flies in Madrid; Many things done, various places visited, and a lot of memories attained. I didnt forget Santa Anna‘s first lunch, nor Sol‘s shoppings, nor La Latina‘s Sunday morning breakfast. But promising to keep this post short, I will fold my memories and keep them to myself.  Till that day, the best thing that happened in 2012 was Madrid. It still hides tremendous places to discover, tastes to try, and new faces to meet. That is what preserves its charm and addiction and leaves me attached to its known as well as its unknown; to that and many other reasons, Madrid, I am definitely coming back.