Make no mistake, life here in Madrid has sped up a bit. We have slowly started to get into a groove and that equals appointments and commitments. And while my life more resembles that of a European retreat most days, our time and attention are getting pulled in different directions like they used to back in the US.
So, after a Spanish lesson this week, we saw an opening for a little exploring and seized the day. Metro stop: Tribunal.
I have gotten into the habit of looking at my Google maps as soon as we emerge from the metro to orientate myself within the city. Sometimes, still, I have it completely wrong. Where I think we are north, we are actually south and vice versa. As it turns out, we have never been in the Tribunal metro area before. Funny, honest confession: We had made plans to go to Mercado San Anton (near Tribunal) for bagels one Saturday morning in early February. But I chickened out. It was one of those weekends where I wanted to hide my head in the sand and only hear English. It was a weekend where I wanted to order familiar food, be in a kind environment and for things to not be so complicated. We had more than one of these weekends.
So, how surprised were we that we had actually stumbled upon Mercado San Anton on a random weekday in May. We marveled at the many different types of rice being sold, ordered two filets (in Spanish) from a butcher, ate a simple, yet unbelievably good, tapa with artichoke hearts, serrano ham, three eggs and cheese with the best crusty baguette you can imagine. We then topped it off with gelato. And this time, there was no intimidation. It was just a lovely evening with good food. My, how far we have come in such a short period of time. 🙂
And as always, we marveled at street art, amazing architecture and look at what else we found? Two more checked off my list…
One of the most difficult things about being an expat is that sometimes we aren’t privy on the happenings around town. We don’t tune into the news and our social circle is still very limited (although growing). So, we rely on the internet to tell us what is going on and most of the time, we are late to the party.
Today is a national holiday in Spain, The Feast of the Saint Isidore. And while I don’t know that much about the holiday itself, I do know quite a bit about the festival, Gigantes y Cabezudos, or the Festival of Giants and Big Heads. I read about our local festival the day after it occurred and it bummed me out. How could we miss a parade of gigantic paper mache heads bobbing through the streets? I swore to never miss it again. I already have the festival in my 2019 planner.
The good news is that because of missing this, I scoured the internet for more upcoming events and have found a website that I can use as a tour guide. Which leads me to Sunday…
One of the most popular paintings in the Prado Museum is by Velasquez and its called “Las Meninas” or “Ladies in Waiting”. When we went to the Prado, it was one the paintings that had a large crowd around it. The little girl in the painting has a crinoline under her dress that makes her look very grown up, i.e. a little lady in waiting…(My very elementary critique). So, just like Toronto had a painted moose exhibit or when Chicago displayed cows everywhere, Madrid has created 80 statues of “The Lady in Waiting”. Dan and I went and found some…
The statues are scattered around Madrid until the middle of July. Just in case you want to see them all before I post them on here… Las Meninas. I vow to find them all before they leave. A majority of these were found near the Plaza de Colon. We also found the Archaeological Museum, the National Library, an enormous Spanish flag and an outdoor patio to have lunch. It was a perfect day.
(Also please find pictures of our dogs patiently waiting for the pool to be summer-ready and our olive tree that has about 5000 baby olive buds on it) 🙂
Today, on our 4 month Madrid anniversary, we have decided to profess our love for Madrid and celebrate with a planned Metro Challenge to the Anton Martin stop. How in the world has it been four months already? Apparently, we blinked.
As you have probably noticed, a lot of the metro stops here in Madrid are named after historical European figures. Anton Martin was the immediate successor of Saint John of God. He lived from 1500-1553. In all of the metro stops we have visited (so far), there is a wall that pays homage to its namesake.
Spain has such a rich and unique culture, we can’t seem to soak it up fast enough. And what is more Spanish than tapas? So, I signed us up for a four hour long tapas cooking class. On the menu: Sangria, Catalan cream (think crème brule), garlic shrimp, chorizo in cider, Spanish tortilla, and potato bravas. The class size was small. There were a group of four Parisian girls here for the weekend and a couple from California and our teacher. We had hands on instruction and when we left, our bellies were full.
The tapas tradition started when King Alfonso XIII (who also has a metro station named after him), insisted that bars serve food along with alcohol because workers were coming back from “lunch” drunk. And boy, did it catch on… Now, whenever you go into a bar, you are served a small dish of food (for free) before you order your drink or meal or both. Although now, they are consumed mostly between the long lunch (2-4pm) and dinner (10pm and on).
We love tapas. Most nights, we only eat tapas for dinner because they are quick, easy and healthy-ish. Our favorite are chorizo stuffed mushrooms and pan tomate. Somehow, the Spanish have taken something so simple and made it into a lifestyle. It’s certainly a lifestyle change that is permanent in our house.