Madrid, Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sat, May 28
This was a true exploration day. The weather was warm and sunny, so I walked all around the city and absorbed the culture. 

Plaza de la Puerta del Sol
I was particularly intrigued by the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, where hundreds of protestors had pitched their tents and tarps to speak out against the country’s financial crisis. Spain has a proud history of revolutions and revolutionaries, and this Plaza is often the site of protests. It was a city of tarps, tents, placards, speeches, and sweat. And it was fascinating to stroll around. 

My hotel – the Westin Palace

Congreso de Los Diputados
Plaza de la Puerto del Sol

Plaza Mayor 
Then I was off to the famous Plaza Mayor. Sadly, there was a temporary white store in the middle of it – something about stamps – so my picturesque dreams were unfortunately blocked. But the Plaza was still lively with characters. A few American fraternity boys had set up an inflatable pool and filled a garbage can with cold beer. They seemed to be doing all right picking up girls, which I’m sure was their primary purpose.

Have beer and pool, will travel

An odd parade appeared as well. I never did figure out who they were or what they stood for, but they marched through the plaza and then put on an interesting show. What prompts people to do such a thing? Especially if there’s no clear reason? It might have something to do with the Barcelona/Manchester United game. 

I tried to have lunch at the the Botin Restaurant – Madrid’s oldest bar – but it was closed.  Instead I had a late lunch at a random corner café and watched the peolple go by.

Calle de la Cava Baja

I had a little walk along the Calle de la Cava Baja, which was originally the line where the walls of the Christian City.  Today it’s a street of wonderful tapas restaurants (a fact I wish I’d read before I’d sat down at the above restaurant).

Iglesia de San Andres

The setting sun gave a lovely light at the Iglesia de San Andres.   The corner bar was buzzing with people watching the Barcelona v Manchester United game.  Then I went to the San Francisco el Grande Basilica, which contains paintings by Zurbaran and Goya, but the wedding in the church made it difficult to explore.

Plaza De San Andres
Iglesia de San Andres
Shadow of San Andres
Adorable old couple walking the plaza
Drunken Footballer Fans
Iglesia de San Andres
San Francisco el Grande Basilica
Plaza de Oriente
Folk Arts Band at Plaza de Oriente
Plaza de Oriente
Plaza de Oriente
Plaza de Oriente
Museo del Jamon

On my way back to the hotel I stopped at the Museo del Jamon – a chain of wonderful ham and cheese and beer – for a snack and managed to get by ordering in my rudimentary Spanish.  There were two nice gentlemen next to me who tried to strike up a conversation, but my rudimentary Spanish didn’t get us very far so we just cheered with our beers and carried on.





Jamon y Queso
Sunset Over Madrid

Night Out on The Town

I had a reservation at Cardamomo, a local Flamenco spot.  I got all dolled up, snagged a seat in the front row, and enjoyed a fantastic performance of flamenco.  It was really spectacular.  I didn’t use a flash, so the pics are purple and fuzzy.

Afterwards I had wine at the jazz club Cafe Central.

Jazz Musicians
Jazz Musicians
Chandelier in the Westin Palace
Domed rooftop of Westin Palace bar