|Otoño colors a quiet corner in Parque del Buen Retiro|
Tapas TreatsRich and I devise our own Friday night tapa tours and walk three or four kilometers in neighborhoods fairly close to our own without need for bus or Metro. Last week, we donned our downtown gear (no tennis shoes, the necessary scarf) and rode the bus to city center for paseo on Calle de Jesús. In Madrid taverns, a drink order -- beer, Coca-Cola, coffee, agua mineral, wine -- comes with free tapas. Of course, you can order tapas (small bites) or raciónes (full plates) of your choice, but key is not to order until you enjoy the free offering. [Coca-Cola arrives in the classic little glass bottle beside a tall, green-tinted Coca-Cola glass holding ice and lemon slice. Red cans got no class.]
At Cervecería El Diario with its dark wood ambience, ceiling wallpapered in old newspapers, we eat patatas bravas, using toothpicks to single out each potato chunk coated with spicy tomato sauce. At La Anchoita, we snack on matrimonials: boquerones (uncured anchovy) topped with preserved anchovy on a bread slice. At El Olivar, we share slices of chorizo and piquitos (crunchy little breadsticks) and return later to order a half ración of pimientos de Padrón (tiny grilled green peppers).
At Cervecería Los Gatos, with weird memorabilia covering walls and ceiling, we join the toast of a group of ageless women celebrating. Along the way, we eat plates of olives, salmon topped with chopped egg on baguette slices, and slices of tortilla española (potato frittata served room temperature either on bread or alone on a plate).
We people watch and stroll the narrow, cobbled streets and wonder at the long line wrapped around two sides of a block with people waiting to enter the church, Basilica of Jesús de Medinaceli, for which the street is named. We return to our neighborhood via Metro because we can never find the right bus for the direct route home. And the next time on Calle de Jesús, I will have octopus at Cerveceria Cervantes and caldo Gallego (bean soup) at Taberna Maceira.
Click on any photo to enlarge.
|El Estanque in Retiro|
|Jazz in the park|
Walk in the ParkOn Sunday, we bus to Parque del Buen Retiro, 300 acres of green space in the heart of Madrid. Once limited to royalty, the park opened to the public by decree of Charles III in the late 18th century. We follow the crowd through the tall iron gates into Retiro and down the boulevard.
|Puppet show hazer|
We edge through strollers and tikes on rollerblades. Bicycles weave through clutches of pedestrians. Entertainment flourishes: musicians, magicians, sellers of jewelry and snacks, face painters, fortune tellers, a puppet show where a young participant holds a plastic mallet poised to twack the villain. People sounds blend with tympanic kettles, a harp, a jazz band and a flute-like Basque instrument weaving its haunting folk melody out past the crowd, down the narrow dirt lanes that meander beyond the crowds and the rowboats in the lake. We pass dog walkers and joggers and young lovers on benches. We watch a red squirrel with big pointed ears, ducks and magpies and discover a labyrinthine path winding up among the cypress and olives on a tiny hill.
|Magpie atop the cypress|
Once, you know, is almost never enough.