A Spanish Birthday Celebration - Eating with a Slight Bit of Sightseeing (Day 3)
September 1st, 2015
The alarm sure wakes you up early, doesn't it?? I look at it every morning in disgust. Even on this trip, the alarm rings and I dread the moment I have to get out of bed. It's not that the bed is very comfortable. It just is cozy and inviting. It also didn't help that I had a fantastic night of sleep. Extreme exhaustion due to jet lag and a late food tour will do that to a person.
And Adele...she was in worse shape than me. I finally dragged myself out of bed, took a shower, made plenty of noise in a "Whoops!!" sort of way. But nothing. She was practically dead. Small occasional snores proved she was still amongst the living, but in a deep slumber. And we didn't have firm plans today.
Ultimately, we left the room around 11a. The day before, we had walked by this little restaurant on the corner of a block, which looks like the inside of a Fixer Upper episode. They had pastries in the window, but rustic furniture inside. The walls were painted white and the whole place looked inviting. I told Adele then that we would go there for breakfast. And we did.
La Rollerie looks to be a chain in Madrid. Or, if it's not a chain, it is a restaurant with three locations. We were not disappointed. A breakfast including tea was less than €4 each. I had a croissant, Adele had bread, tomato spread and jamon. Her breakfast ruled all.
Bellies satisfied, we wandered for Nun Cookies. That story...well, I've told that story already. And once I get home, I'll link to that story here. But I'll digress slightly. I mentioned above about our bellies being satisfied. That has really been a thing here. We are never full. We are always satisfied. There is a difference. And my guess is that is the difference between the cultures. At home, I eat until I am full. Not satisfied.
Now, I bring up that we were satisfied, because immediately after breakfast, we ended up at the Mercado de San Miguel. This place...this place...I want to live my entire life in this place. It is what the Chicago French Market wants to be. What I want it to be. A giant building, filled with food stalls where you eat to your heart's content.
We did one loop. Then a second loop, this time with the better cameras. And even though we had just eaten breakfast less than an hour before, we grabbed a nosh. This nosh consisted of some grape roll things. But the nosh wasn't about the actual nosh, more like the drink. Adele wanted Vermut.
Vermut is a fortified wine, with a bitter aftertaste. And wow, this was not the flavor for me. Adele got it for herself, so I only tried a taste. Instead, I drank a cider, which was totally the flavor for me.
Walking out of the market, we had one stop that was non-negotiable. And we didn't have a ton of time. We had to find the Temple of Debod. This temple was brought over from Egypt as a gift to Spain for their help in saving other temples in the country. Adele would not have let us come here without stopping for a moment. And she was in her element. Unfortunately, the temple closed at 2p. We got there around 145p. So we didn't have a ton of time to explore (then again, there wasn't a ton to really explore). But she was happy to see a part of Egypt in Spain.
The side effect of visiting the temple was that it was located in a lovely park, overlooking most of the city of Madrid. This was a nice place to sit for a few, view the temple, reflect on the rest of our day, and take a load off from our very stressful day so far.
Did I mention we weren't going to do a ton of sightseeing here??
After a while, we decided to move a bit. We had passed the Royal Palace on our race to the temple. So we wanted to see what that was all about. As we walked, we decided to wander through the gardens before reaching the palace. It was a warm, sunny day and the gardens were beautiful.
It was at this point that Adele and l looked at each other and realized we needed some lunch. We were going to try to do Tapas right. I mean, look...if we didn't have lunch now, we would have had lunch after the palace. And that would have been after 4p. The timing would have been off. So we went back to a familiar place.
We stopped at La Lonja Del Mar. This was one of the stops on last night's food tour. Doing as the locals do, we bellied up to the bar and ordered a glass of wine, a lovely white we enjoyed last night. Our bartender, Martin, poured our drinks and gave us a plate full of paella. It wasn't overly large, a small plate with two spoons. But this is the Tapas Way. You don't really pay for food. You pay for a drink.
As we moaned with joy over the paella, Martin came by and started talking with us. Well, with Adele. I could make out the concept of the conversation, but as always, could not join in.
One drink easily became two. And as we drank more, and as we talked to Martin more, we were given more and more food. This is the life!!
To our amazement, we heard a familiar voice behind us, "We figured if we saw anyone again, it would be the Chicago Girls!!" The couple from Toronto we met on our food tour last night found us at the restaurant. They bellied up to the bar next to us and we had a lovely conversation. Two drinks became three quickly and more food was served. We did order one plate of croquettes, but otherwise...free. I love this system.
Once we decided to vacate from the stools that had served us well over the last two hours, much to the chagrin of Martin, our bartender (he loved us), we stopped for cookies and made our way back to the hotel. We have been getting into the whole siesta thing. Plus, Adele had a tickle in her throat, so we needed to regroup.
We had done enough research on Madrid that we know a few of the museums had free entry at certain times of the day/week. The Prado Museum was one of those. Open from, 6-8P, this saved us €14 and provided a hard stop for viewing masterpieces. Sometimes having a hard stop in an art museum isn't the worst idea.
Obviously, this gallery showcased Spanish art, featuring Goya and Velazquez, El Greico...artists I don't see often at home or abroad. It was nice to see some of these pieces.
It was during the wandering at the Prado Museum where we discovered the horrible truth. Adele had caught a cold. Again. You may remember "The Great Cold of 2012" in Rome and Paris. Or the newest edition of the continuing story, "Rotovirus at an Amusement Park 2015." I didn't write up this story. It was too painful to go through. Unfortunately though, Adele had been punched in the face with an illness. But as I told her earlier in the year, she was gonna have to suck it up. Cause there was no room in our trip for errors.
The original plan was to go on a Tapas run. But Adele was feeling sick and I was getting knocked around by Jet lag, so we made a game day decision. We ended up eating at an outdoor cafe of a restaurant called La Vinoteca. I mean, we ran into this restaurant a few times during our time in Madrid, and it only seemed right to visit. The tapas was fine. We had four pieces that we split. The sangria...that was fantastic. When I mentioned it to our server, his chest puffed out a bit, "I made it." We congratulated him on a job well done and made our way back to the room. We were slightly defeated by the early arrival back to our hotel, but the reality was we were still in the early days. We had plenty of time to stay out late and eat our way through the city.