Madrid 2020 – Day 1

FEBRUARY 7, 2020 : Arrived in Madrid early Friday morning with Michal and Tamar, my daughters. Took taxi to our Airbnb. At first Tamar got into taxi, and the driver did not realize we were together, and he got in to start going – only after screaming to stop, he got out to let me and Michal in. On the way into the city, I had a hunch that I did not remember seeing him put Michal’s suitcase into the back of the station wagon – Michal turned around and sure enough there was no purple suitcase- it had been left at the taxi stand at the airport. The taxi driver – Spanish speaking with very little English – understood we needed to go back to the airport for the suitcase. We got off the highway – stopped along the road to double check – yup suitcase missing – and headed back to the airport. Once there, he stopped the car in the bus lane, ran back with Michal to the taxi stand – and sure enough – the suitcase was exactly where we had left it – on the edge of the sidewalk at the end of the taxi stand. They grabbed the suitcase, returned to the car and once again we were off to the city.

We arrived in Place du Sol – the location of our apartment (1 Calle Mayer) – smack in the heart of Madrid. It was a beautiful cold, crisp and sunny day. After an apartment tour by our host, Rueben, we were off to explore the city, and find some morning coffee. We walked through Plaza Mayer and reached the San Miguel Market (Mercado de San Miguel). What a beautiful collection of food stands. A wide variety of stalls – fruits, cheeses, sea foods, baked goods – each vendor displaying his wares in an artistic display -mostly using gourmet tapas. After sampling all the goods with our eyes, we selected to have breakfast from the avocado stall – featuring a selection of tapas where the main ingredient of each is avocado. Delicious.

From there we went to Starbucks across the street for morning coffee and then it was on to the Royal Palace. Along the way we discovered Cento Sefarad Israel (Wandering Jew, I have not forgotten to look for you) and then past Place de Ville and the Cathedral to the huge huge palace. We do not go in, just enjoy the views from the outside. From there we went along the side of the cathedral to see a view over the city Madrid. There is a small excavation there of the original city wall – they call it the Islamic wall because Madrid was first founded during the Arab occupation of the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the 9th century.

From there, walking along the whole long length of the Palace, we made our way to the Grand Vie – the main shopping street of the center city. Seeing cute winter slippers in a storefront on sale for 2 euros, we went in to Ale-Hop- a store filled with a mish mash of various items – all cheap. After getting 3 pairs of slippers and some toys for the kids, we went on to a local food market. This was not the market we had been looking for – but rather a market where the local people shop – full mostly of meat and seafood stalls. While there we decided to explore the neighborhood of Malasana – know as Madrid’s hippest neighborhood – a place full of small streets lined with restaurants and interesting shops. We choose to eat at a restaurant called Vega – great vegan food. They have a small handwritten menu featuring three main dishes, and we took one of each. The price included wine, onion bread and dessert. By the time we finished eating, there was a line of people waiting to get in.

From there we stroll through the neighborhood towards Primark – famous for cheap cute clothes for the whole family. After an hour we exit with three shopping bags full of socks, underwear, T shirts, jeans, dresses – mostly for the grandchildren. Then onto the San Anton Market – a hi-end market full of small restaurants – each with its own specialty. On the way we stop at a bakery and get a small cake for Shabbat, and a bag of after eight popcorn (the idea of chocolate mint covered popcorn was actually better than the real thing). After a short stop at the market, we went to Bunny Deli – another vegan restaurant (the area is full of them) and order three dishes for take out for Shabbat dinner. With our hands full of bags, our feet tired from a day of walking (so far 17000 steps) we make our way back to the apartment, with a stop for baguettes from a bakery on the way.

One last outing before Shabbat- to the local grocery store for Shabbat supplies. This outing includes returning to the San Miguel market – now crowded full of people – for corn ice cream that Michal had read about.

Back at the apartment we have Shabbat dinner and off to bed. A very nice day.