During her younger days, Chit Juan would think "siestas and sangrias" when she would visit Madrid. Years later, see what makes her miss her siesta in the Madrid sights and sounds that she rediscovers.
As you walk the tourist side of Madrid you will still find a few bars that only locals go to. One is Revuelta, around the corner from El Botin on Calle de Latoneros. It is a tiny bar that serves only Tajada de Bacalao (breaded cod fillets). We were lucky to find a table (one of only 3 inside), and ordered our two plates of Tajada and two cañas (200 cl servings of beer) which are perfect for the tapas portion of the fish specialty. After chugging the beer, you’re off to your next food stop.
Walk over around Cuchilleros and head to the left towards Mercado San Miguel. This former market has been refurbished and is now a tourist destination. I just had to check it thinking it may be like Barcelona’s Boqueria. Well, it did not disappoint. A tourist can have a taste of almost everything Madrid offers in this small market place. Paella, sangria, and boquirones are available as most of the operators inside are also the restaurateurs you would find on major streets like Calle Mayor (Senor Martin for seafood), Lhardy’s, and La Casa de Bacalao.
If you have had one too many for the day, come back for more tomorrow. I was about to enter Riojana, one of the oldest pastry shops, but found out they closed for siesta from 230-530pm. So it’s something I have to go back for.
But there always is a touristy side and an adventure side to Madrid. We happened to be there on a Sunday when they have the flea market at Rastros. If one is on the lookout for estate finds and antique furniture, check the side streets. The main drag is now full of imports from PRC and India, but there are nice local finds on the smaller streets around it. It still is an experience to see so much goods on the street, including Spanish handtooled leather and souvenirs.
As you move up towards Calle Toledo, you end up near the center of Plaza Mayor, the largest square in Madrid. From here you decide where to eat or sit and have a glass of rioja or a pitcher of Sangria as the world passes by.
A week is not enough to taste all of Madrid’s favorite food. Even a month may not be enough for Spain’s cuisine. But going back to Madrid and soaking in the culture is fine for a few days. There are day trips to Toledo, Avila and Segovia, too. So much to do so little time.
I did not even find time for my siesta.