42nd Day in Spain
Do you prefer to just go out, or do you require a destination? City life offers so many opportunities for adventure and entertainment. Fancying myself as an adventurer, I enjoy wandering, getting lost and letting the proverbial game come to me. Some prefer a little more structure to their evenings.
If you’ve followed my Stupendous Summer Saga in Spain, you know I love to walk, especially if the place is interesting. Nowhere is interesting-er than Mad-freaking-Rid.
Know Yourself Better
“I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.” -Gretchen Rubin
On her Happier podcast, Gretchen Rubin often poses “Know Yourself Better” questions. She shares some in Want to Know Yourself Better… Google Gretchen Rubin Know Yourself Better. Since I’m a nice guy, I Googled it for you.She has articles everywhere! Medium, LinkedIn, Huffington Post. I recommend spending a morning or two on that.
The Four Tendencies
Are you an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or Rebel? It depends on two questions.
How do you respond to outer expectations?
How do you respond to inner expectations?
SPOILER ALERT: I’m a rebel! Big-time. And I avoid the phrase Big-Time Big-Time! See that? I just rebelled against my own edict of never using Big-Time. That’s how much of a rebel I am.
- Are you a marathoner or a sprinter?
- Do you prefer simplicity or abundance?
- Are you an abstainer or a moderator?
Here’s my Know Yourself Better Question
Do you prefer to go somewhere specific or Just Go Out?
I Had Countless Conversations Like This
Wanna go for a walk?
Sure. Where do you wanna go?
For a walk.
Let’s go out.
Sure! Where do you wanna go?
I just want to go. Out. Not in. More of a somewhere else than an anywhere but here. If that makes me an idiot, then I’m idiot and proud! Although, I’m an idiot for many more reasons than that.
Let’s get something to eat.
Are you hungry again?
No. I just want to go somewhere. And eat.
Okay. Where do you wanna go?
Let’s find a place with a green awning.
Where is it?
I’ve seen them everywhere. I think we have good luck at bars with green awnings.
Okay. What are you hungry for?
Whatever they give me. (Aka, tapas.)
Know Yourself Better: What Do You Want for Dinner?
Do you want something specific or do you just want something?
I usually just want something. It’s just calories, preferably nutrients. Energy.
Madrid has tapas, though. So it’s not just calories and energy. For me, it’s an adventure!
Other Spanish towns and cities have tapas. I had decent croquetas at a beach bar in Alcossebre. (Even though that hasn’t happened yet. That doesn’t happen until Day 49. How do I know what will happen on Day 49? Time travel?)
Part of tapa’s magic is not knowing what you’re going to get.
The Five and Dime When I was a Kid
We’d go to this five and dime store called Motts when I was a kid. My favorite thing there was the Grab Bag. It was a brown paper bag with something in it. The Grab Bags were all the same price, and each had something different inside. At least I assumed at the time that each had something different inside. Now that I think about it, they all probably had the same few things.
I loved the surprise, though. The suspense. I wanted to get a Grab Bag, then open it later to see what I get. Yes, disappointment was always a possibility, but the suspense was worth it.
Driving My Mother-in-Law Crazy
When we go to a restaurant, my mother-in-law can look at a menu she’s never seen before in a restaurant she’s never dined and regardless of the menu’s height, width and depth know what she’s ordering within a few seconds. She expects us to do the same.
I prefer to take my time, though, because sometimes the tapas are delayed a few minutes. I’ve ordered from the menu several times only to have the bartender subsequently bring us tapas that I enjoyed more than what I ordered. Admittedly, that could be more a function of tapas’ novelty than their quality.
First, you order drinks. In Spain, beer and wine are typically cheaper than soda and bottled water, so you typically get tapas for either.
While my mother-in-law glowers at me, I scan the menu for croquetas. Then I look at the combination plates. I read through the Spanish descriptions first. If the menu has English descriptions, I return to the beginning of the menu to read the English descriptions. Surprises are only good when they’re tapas. And when they’re not pulpo. I can feel her glare imploring me to decide quicker. Then I ask my kid, “See anything you want?”
Whatever They Give Me
Mostly, what I want for lunch, dinner or snacks is Whatever They Give Me. I want the grab bag. The suspense. I’d prefer croquetas or patatas bravas, but also the surprise.
The Night We Stumbled Upon a Festival
I fell in love with the La Latina neighborhood this trip. In 2010 and 2014, I only remembered La Latina as the last bus/metro stop before the Plaza Mayor stop.
During my walks back to the piso from Plaza Mayor and Sol this summer, I walked through La Latina almost daily. Even though I was usually in a hurry to get back and begin my work day, I slowed down in La Latina, often stepping into to peruse an interesting tienda. The side streets off Calle de Toledo fascinate me. A few antique and art shops the touristy areas lacked.
We woke up early several Sunday mornings to browse El Rastro, the weekly flea market. What I remember from the first couple of trips to El Rastro was taking a bus to a neighborhood I didn’t recognize. We’d walk up Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores to Plaza de Cascorro, where there is a soldier statue.
Except for a few vendors, Plaza de Cascorro marks the “top,” or end of El Rastro. It is also where we meet if we get separated while shopping. Or in the case of my brother-in-law and me, pub-hopping. Not only do shoppers, browsers and street performers pack El Rastro, but fascinating stores, bars, and restaurants line the street outside the rows of vendors. Getting separated is easy.
And I do mean up. Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores is steep. It’s a struggle walking up the street.
The first morning we visited El Rastro, my wife wanted to start at the top and walk down.
What stop do we take?
Wait, El Rastro goes all the way to La Latina?
It’s in La Latina.
Incidentally, you know how in The Princess Bride, when Wesley says, “As you wish,” what he really means is “I love you.” When my wife says, “Idiot,” what she really means is, “I love you.”
Since I wanted to check out La Latina, my wife and I decided to go there instead of the touristy places we usually went for a date night. She was pleased I had a destination other than out. I noticed banners were now hanging from the side streets, and we could hear live music in the distance.
Let’s check that out!
We entered a plaza teaming with people, filled with tents of vendors selling drinks and grilling food. There was the stage with a band.
Just another Wednesday night in Madrid?
We stopped for a selfie with the stage behind us. An USie? WEzie? Looking at the picture, I noticed a statue and spun around for a look at the statue I didn’t notice next to the stage.
Is that Cascorro?
Is this where Rastro is?
It’s where everything is.
We spent the evening wandering around La Latina, my wife drinking Tinto de Verano, me drinking beers and Tinto de Verano. We ate some of the grilled chorizo and listened to live bands.
It turns out we lucked into the first night of the 15-night La Festival Virgen de la Paloma. I’d love to return to Madrid for the sole purpose of enjoying this festival some time. It has enough history and culture to fill an entire book.
We stumbled onto the festival and had a great time. Just going out.
I Just Want to Go Out
It’s just a preference. I don’t need a destination. I just want to go out. It drives others crazy that I don’t have any particular destination in mind. I suppose I need to know them better too.
I love walks in interesting places and nowhere is interesting-er than Mad-freaking-rid.
Madrid has centuries-old churches and apartments, fountains, statues, offensive signs on bars, and most of all, interesting people. There is no greater joy for me than sitting with loved ones on a bar’s terrace, drinking Tinto de Verano or/and beer and watching the people. Mostly eating the tapas.
So many accents, skin tones, ages, capris, shoes, and hats. Canes, crutches and bicycles. Shirts that proclaim Whatever in huge letters. Impossibly high heels, hair colors and so many hats. So many dogs.
I don’t want to see anything particular, just whatever we walk by. I don’t need to see any one in particular, just whoever walks by.
Whatever they give me.
The grab bag.
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