Madrid has many dangers.
For example, it’s a terrible place to be a pig. One of the main chain restaurants in town is called “Museo de Jamon” (museum of ham), Where cuts of pork hang from the ceiling and are served in all kinds of different configurations.
You might think this looks like a supermarket, but it’s actually a restaurant; the people on the right are dining on a large island at the center of the store. This chain is about as prevalent here as Starbucks is in Seattle; seems to be on every corner. Even at other restaurants, most things you order have bacon or ham thrown in regardless of whether you want it or not. I haven’t even asked for water at a restaurant yet because I’m relatively certain it will show up with a pigs foot in it. For, you know… stirring your water? I don’t know.
What I’m trying to say is: if you are a pig, you might want to look at traveling somewhere else. Maybe India. Also, why are you reading a blog?
However, even if you are a human, still the dangers abound! You may have heard that Madrid is a stylish city. Well, if you happen to fancy a bit of shopping, the area “Puerta Del Sol” is your mecca. Even for me, living out of a backpack without space to add a wafer thin mint, I found myself sucked into trying on some AWESOME shoes. Luckily they don’t make shoes in “super-size American” here. If I had found some that fit I’d have had some tough decisions to make: throw out my clothes in favor of shoes? I fear I would not have made wise decisions and would have found myself a month down the road with only 1 shirt, one pair of shorts, and an array of fabulous footwear.
While you are walking around, enjoying the amazing sights, the fantastic shopping, and the perfect May weather, you will likely get the urge to eat something from time to time.
Madrid makes this far too easy. In the words of Louis C.K. – “the eating doesn’t stop when I’m full, it doesn’t end until I HATE myself”
Take, for example, this store window:
This is just the store front. Inside the store, it is stocked from floor to ceiling with stacks and stacks of pastries. People buy in bulk here, hauling away boxes of this stuff.
You may have heard of tapas? Yeah, you could go to a restaurant and get some tapas. Or you could go to Mercado de Miquel and get ALL THE TAPAS.
Basically there are about 20 or so different stores in the Mercado, each one specializing in their own kind of tapas (or deserts, or beer and wine, etc). Most items cost 1-2 euros, and you can graze through picking and choosing as you go. Perfect. Very easy to quickly spend 15-20 euros thinking each bite-size morsel is just an appetizer. Like I said: dangerous.
So, eventually, night will set in and you might find yourself in the mood for a drink. Madrid also has you covered there with (rumor has it) more bars per capita than anywhere else in Europe. I haven’t been anywhere else in Europe, so I can neither confirm nor deny this yet, but I can confirm that there are a LOT of bars here. On a weekend the place just lights up with them, and everyone is out on the patios eating and drinking until the wee hours.
A note about that: People here usually have a big meal around 2 – 4pm, then go out for dinner around 10pm. They won’t actually start hitting real night-life until midnight at the earliest. Clubs open either at midnight or 12:30. The scene doesn’t really get going until after 1:30. Plan accordingly. However, if you are into the club scene, there’s a club here (Kapital) that is 7 stories, with different music playing as you ascent the floors. Very cool, very expensive: (12 euro cocktails, about 17 bucks per drink). Yow. But worth doing once.
At the end of the night (or, more accurately: morning), you may find your stomach is admonishing you for only giving it liquids for the past many hours. You can easily correct this by partaking in the legendary Donor Kebab, choice of drunk people throughout Europe. For those who don’t know, this is meat shaved off a standing rotisserie, crammed into grilled flatbread, stuffed with onions, lettuce and tomato, then topped off with a ladle of white sauce and a ladle of red sauce.
Your mouth will thank you. Your stomach will agree. At least it will until 2 hours later.
And that, you can see, proves that Madrid is rife with dangers. Proceed at your own risk, you have been warned.