Hello, Madrid.

First memorable cafe solo in Granada; El Tren
First memorable cafe solo in Spain; El Tren in Granada

Granada was fun. More about it later.

Quite possibly the best way to travel, if you have the time, is by train. It takes longer than a plane, but is significantly less stressful and I like the idea of “taking lunch in the dining car.” Oh, and the sights:

I’ve said this over and over again, but I had no idea what the terrain was like in this country. When I flew into Barcelona, I was genuinely surprised to see mountains. And in Granada, you can peek some snow at the tops of the ones you see in the distance. I trained it from Sevilla to Granada, then Granada to Madrid and like I said, the view were stunning. Groves and groves of olive trees everywhere, the soil so dry it’s like they’re sprouting from rock. And the ground ranges from pale yellow-gray to vibrant orange-red. The ride from Granada to Madrid was from 6-11, so I got to see the Spanish countryside bathed in glowing, setting-sunlight.

I arrived in Madrid two nights ago, and despite wandering through the streets at night with fifty pounds of belongings squished into a European-sized carry-on, I got a good vibe. I’m staying in the Lavapies neighborhood, a kinda hip, international part of town. It’s about a ten minute walk to the Reina Sofia Museum, which marks the southeast corner of the center of the city.

Last night, my gracious host and I ventured up to the Chueca neighborhood for some tapas and booze at El Tigre.

The bar was loud and dirty and awesome. Like in Granada, this place will give you free tapas with every round of drinks you order. And I finally got to try tinto de verano. It’s too sweet but very refreshing; I like the concept. Maybe a version mixed with diet Squirt or light lemonade in a Chicago version.

Every bit as disgusting and delicious as it looks.

The tapas are on trays that are hurried in and out of the kitchen as they’re frantically emptied at the bar. On our plate were two types of ham: one on top of little pieces of bread, one dried kind. There were also patas brava and these little fried balls of something like cheese and meat. Over all of it was this ambrosial salsa brava, the kind of strange, garlicky concoction that makes everything you put it on better.

It’s my second day here, and I think Madrid will be the city that I do the Museum Thing in, as I haven’t done that in Spain yet and Madrid seems the spot to do it in. There’s even a little strip of museums, the Paseo del Prado, lined with lush greenery and stately buildings holding national treasures. A lot of them have <25 student discounts, and I’m taking full advantage with my University ID my last few months of being 25. Speaking of museums, I spotted this on the CaixaForum wall on the walk home last night:

I tried to get the skateboarder doing some cool tricks. Alas, he was disappointing.

More Madrid to come.

2 thoughts on “Hello, Madrid.

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