Our last day in Madrid. We dropped off our luggage in lockers at Atocha Renfe, since we weren’t flying out til that evening and had a few more sights to see in between. The lockers are in the section of the station that has a beautiful greenhouse.
Trivia: I first learned about the convenience of European train station lockers in The Bourne Identity. I’m glad I finally got to use one!
Speaking of which, though we didn’t have any run-ins with assassins, we did run into some aggressive pickpockets. I’ve lived and traveled in a lot of major cities, but I’ve never had an experience quite like this—where a three-person group strategically maneuvered a caper to try to lift my wallet/other items. I’ll write this up in more detail in a subsequent entry, but thankfully J had a sharp eye and thwarted their attempt.
We went out to East Madrid to see the Plaza de los Toros de las Ventas, a 25,000-seater bullfighting ring with a really long name. We peeked inside, and you can just barely see the seats through the doorway. While we walked around the stadium, J tried to estimate how many matadors die in a year. We never reached a figure, but I’m curious. It’s probably a small number, though I imagine there are a lot of injuries.
Next stop: the Puerto de Alcalá, Madrid’s city gate. It was a gorgeous day, so we ambled through the Parque del Buen Retiro, which the gate overlooks.
P and A had been running a 10K in downtown Madrid that morning, and we met them afterward at the Mercado de San Miguel for tapas. I love the visual effect of this photo—the facade of the market is made of glass, but the reflection from the building across the street transforms it to brick.
After lunch: El Rastro, a Sunday flea market that was nothing much to write home about. I expected more, but after Portobello Market it’s probably hard to be impressed. El Rastro is in La Latina, an area that M told me is the place to be on Sundays. We took her recommendation and went over to Taberna los Huevos de Lucio to try huevos rotos—fried potatoes covered with fried eggs.
Again, I was skeptical. Red wine and coke? Fried potatoes and eggs? What kinds of crazy combinations do Spaniards come up with?
Ahhh…. this defied my expectations. Spain never stopped pleasantly surprising me, as you can probably tell by now.
In fact, we abandoned our plans of going to the Prado in the afternoon (it’s free on Sunday afternoons from 4-6) and went instead to La Negra Tomasa, where I’d had my first taste of heavenly flan two nights prior. Who needs the Prado when you can have more flan?
In sum, I loved Spain. It helps that I speak the language and can get by on what little I remember. It also helps that it was sunny and the food is delicious. And it’s just plain beautiful and full of life. I’ll definitely have to come back and see more of Spain sometime!
*Thanks M for the recommendations! When I plan my next trip, we’ll have to meet up. Maybe in Sevilla? :)