A night out & Sunday in MadridFebruary 11, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C
After a refreshing siesta, Will whipped up a broccoli and chorizo paella (broccoli for Vicky, chorizo for him). Making ourselves look presentable (aka removing as many Poppy hairs as possible), we wandered down the hill towards central Madrid to sample the nightlife!
After disappointing experiences of researching bars and trying to find them, we opted to just go with the flow and follow the groups of people who looked as if they were out for a drink, chosing any establishment that caught our eyes along the way. Despite temperatures in single figures, the outdoor chairs and tables were still being used by people huddled up in padded coats, large scarves and woolly hats; there were no skimpy dresses and goose pimples on show, as there might have been in Newcaastle's Bigg Market on a Saturday night!
Astorga was a small bar up a side street. A few couples and a group of friends sat on the high stools chatting quietly and picking over their bowls of complementary crisps. It had a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, with light rock playing quietly over the speakers. As we left, we felt like visiting somewhere with a bit more Oomph and '100 Montaditos' certainly delivered! There was a mixed crowd, most in their 20s but some older and a few younger. Everyone was drinking beer out of handle glasses instead of the tulip shaped stem glasses we've been used to in Spain. There was standing room only but we found ourselves a ledge to lean against and moved to a more comfortable spot at the light grey marble topped bar when others moved on. It was load and raucus and just what we'd hoped for. With a smile on our faces we enjoyed watching as groups chatted animatedly and friends shared earphones to dance to.
On the move again, a sign for craft beer on draught caught our attention and lured us into the dimly lit La Zurbanita. It was only once we were in that we realised it focussed on British style beer, but the barperson was friendly and other customers seemed to be having fun so we ordered Spanish IPAs and had them brought to us in traditional UK pint glasses. The beer was really good but very strong. We took our time and were brought a complimentary slate of crisps and two small bites of bread topped with creamy goat cheese and apple chutney!
On our way back to the van we popped into another Cerveceria 100 Montaditos. We love how the Spainish language will so often take the product being sold and add 'eria' to the end to describe the shop! Cerveceria= beer shop, Paneria = bread shop, Churroreria= somewhere that sells churros! Now that 100 Montaditos was on our radar, we've begun seeing a lot of them, a bit like a Spanish Wetherspoons. Unlike shops in the daytime, most of the bars we visited were brightly lit. They had a lot more standing room and a higher proportion of bar stools than UK pubs. We'd really enjoyed our night out in Madrid, but it was definitely time to go home. On the way, the capital city had one last treat in store; an impromptu street dance! A large group were gathered around a quartet of trumpeters and in the middle around 40 revellers had joined arms to do a kind of Hokey Cokey Can Can. What could we do but join in?!
You can see a short clip of the dance on the VnW Travels You Tube channel: https://youtu.be/dsRUdvvKunc
Morning brought the bin lorries once again. Luckily we didn't have banging headaches so the noise was bearable. Big cities such as Madrid obviously hold different attractions for different people. Will's brother Pete had recommended the world famous Prada art gallery but we only had time for one more thing and can never resist a good market; a decision that was viewed disdainfully by Pete - sorry Pete! El Rastro is a Sunday institution in Madrid. Located in La Latina district, the market has three very distinct sections; the tourist area sells hippy clothes, wall hangings, leather bags, t shirts, shawls, scarves and wooden toys to name but a few. This borders the clothes market that has everything from good old fashioned jumble sale piles, to antique fur coat stalls, to plastic wrapped shirts and boxes of shoes. Beyond this is the original flea market, its stalls far less fancy than in the previous two sectors, many of them a simple display of goods arranged on the pavement, or spilling out of an antiques shop. In contrast to the bright colours of the tourist goods and the loud shouts of clothes market sellers, the merchandise here sold itself. People would go looking for items and make an offer that the owner could consider whether or not to accept. Polished silver gleamed and old photographs told of times gone by. There were paintings in guilded frames, decorated tin boxes and suitcases, old iron keys that might have once granted the holder entry to a castle and even a wooden spinning wheel were among the plethora of historical items available.
We'd planned to get churros with chocolate as a mid morning snack but after searching in vain, we came accross Animal & Té. A café come dog accessory shop, vet and doggy salon, it was unique in our experience and so of course we had to go in! Although there weren't any dogs in there at the start, a couple came in and recieved their obligatory biscuits as we sipped our coffee and camomile and savoured our pastel de zanahoria (carrot cake). It was a really great idea that worked well in practice and we'd definitely recommend a visit if you are ever in the area (and like dogs).
Will bought a couple of shirts from the hippy market but the lanes were beginning to get rammed with tourists so we made a quick retreat to the terraza (street tables) of Restaurant Cantalejo in sight of La Latina metro station. A tapas plate of mixed meat paella was delivered with our beers and we sampled the bocadillos de calamares; squid ring sandwiches. We found the concept odd but they tasted fine and we enjoyed soaking up the warmth of the sun and watching people go by.
If anything, the streets were even busier than on Saturday and we felt it was a good time to get back to Poppy, pack up and drive to a much needed van service area. Leaving the high rises behind we felt a little relieved. We had very much enjoyed our time in Madrid, the grand buildings, the food, bars and street cafés. Park de Oeste were we'd stayed was a gem of a space and quiet in the early mornings. However, Spain's capital is a city that is nearly always on the go, with so many things going on and vying for our attention, we found it tiring and were grateful for the limited time we had enjoyed its company.Read more