Having finished my classes for the year, I decided to treat myself to a vacation. And what better place to vacation in than Spain? Good food, rich history, and stunning architecture.
First I went to the country’s capital, Madrid. Although a modern city, Madrid has taken active steps to preserve its history and culture. All around you’ll find examples of classic architecture, traditional Spanish food, and stunning sights.
After arriving at my hostel in the center of Madrid, I headed to Plaza Mayor. Plaza Mayor is a popular meeting spot with several restaurants and shops around the edges. It’s a great place to walk and take pictures.
But if you’re looking for a place to eat or drink, stop at Mercado de San Miguel. Behind the glass walls, the food market is filled to the brim with different vendors, who offer everything from cured ham to seafood to desserts to drinks. In general, the food comes in small portions. Mercado de San Miguel is meant for tapas, not giant dinners. The prices may be a little higher than other markets or restaurants, but nowhere else offers such variety in one convenient location.
Next I headed to the Royal Palace. The palace features a stunning, blue church, a gorgeous exterior, and ornate gardens. You’ll have to pay to get inside, but it’s worth it if you’re curious how the obscenely rich once lived. I was only allowed to take pictures of some of it, so just trust me when I say the interior is truly extravagant.
Although I came to Spain for a Spanish experience, I stopped next at the Temple of Debod, a reconstructed Egyptian temple from 2nd Century BCE. You can go inside if you wish or stay outside and admire the view, which I hear is especially nice at sundown. The arches are lit from the bottom so the stone looks golden. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is supposed to be water around that walkway. They probably refill it a little later in the year when there is no risk of it freezing. So stop by on a summer evening if you’re looking for the perfect picture.
To round out my day, I stopped at Taberna La Carmencita, a restaurant known for its classic Spanish dishes. The restaurant was also a favorite of the poet Pablo Neruda. The best word to describe the interior is quaint. It’s a cozy, though refined environment.
Whatever you order, they give you bread and beef pate to whet your appetite. It’s quite yummy, but prepare yourself for even yummier food to come. I started out with a generous portion of tripe (callos), which is made from the stomach linings of various animals. For some that may sound gross, but it was delicious. The tripe was served in a creamy tomato sauce along with some sausage. Honestly, the tripe was probably enough to fill up a normal person. Luckily, I am not a normal person.
Afterwards, I got stewed squid served in a sauce made from its own ink, onions, and green and red peppers. The squid was tender and decadent. The peppers weren’t spicy, but they did offer a rich, roasted flavor. Absolutely scrumptious!
But the final dish was perfect. It was a chocolate biscuit cake that supposedly all Spanish mothers make their children. If that’s true, I give all Spanish mothers permission to adopt me. Sure, chocolate cake sounds simple, but it was so delicious; not too sweet and not too rich. No matter how much I eat, I can always make room for that fudgy treat. Also, for some reason, the chef put a candle on my cake and the waiter awkwardly said, “Uhh…happy birthday?”