Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Madrid Day 1 – prostitutes, stew and cider

Ghosts of Spain
Ghosts of Spain by Giles Tremleit is about contemporary Spain and it opens with a description of Madrid as the noisiest city in Spain, if not the world. I can confirm that this is true. For four days and nights we were assailed by noise. In the streets people partied until dawn with sirens blazing, prostitutes fighting (more of that later), pop fans singing and general noise in bars and restaurants that would be considered a health hazard elsewhere.

Sqeasyjet and Sanator
Gatwick to Madrid via Squeazyjet but disappointed with the much praised Madrid Airport. It seemed quite old fashioned. What I do like is the revamped underground – fast, clean, efficient and cheap. London’s tube fares are a monumental rip-off at £4 per single. All five of us travelled from the airport to the front door of our hotel, about a dozen stops for 6.40 euros return.

The Senator is one of those expensive 350 euros a night places that one can get for £80 a night on the internet. We had a corner room with balcony overlooking Madrid’s primary prostitute territory. Day and night they worked but what was obvious was the casual acceptance of the trade. Tremleit explained all in his book – prostitution is legal and the Spaniards have a Less than 5% of the prostitutes are Spanish and they come from all parts of the globe, especially South America and North Africa.

La Bola
La Bola is a restaurant near the Opera house that specialises in a Madrilleno stew that they only sell at lunchtime. The place was packed with people ordering only this signature dish. It’s cooked in a terracotta pot with the juice drained off into your plate as a soup with noodles. Once you’ve nearly finished the soup the rest is tumbled onto your plate. Lamb, chicken and beef with potatoes, vegetables and chickpeas. The house red is the perfect accompaniment. I saw no one order anything else. We tried to order entrees but the waiter advised us to stick to the stew. Boy was he right. This was a gut buster of a dish. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the old town near the Palacio Real. And eventually headed back to the hotel for a siesta.

Sideria
Early evening (9pm) we headed out to a bar where free paella and snacks were served with the beer. After this rather filling aperitif we found a Sideria and scoffed some tapas downed with very dry cider. I love this combination and had been to a wonderful Sideria in Victoria, the capital of the Basque country where you helped yourself to cider which flowed from huge barrels of cider and shot out several feet when you opened the tap. The waiter made a hash of the gravity pour, missing the glasses and hitting his shoes but we soon perfected the pour ourselves.

5 Comments:

At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Rina said...

I will one day see a live prostitute, seems interesting stuff. The cloistered existence is boring. Wow posts Thanks!

 
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