Tag Archives: Spanish

Day 6: Probing, The Finer Set, and Revisits

Today I had to go get a Covid test and I got to see another ritzy area of the city.

I woke up and cleaned my apartment and repacked which was quite sad.

After cleaning, repacking, showering, and getting ready, I set out to get a Covid test. I got a covid test on 31 January 2020 after finding out I’d been exposed on my birthday and tested positive but I’ve since gotten both vaccines and the booster so I haven’t been tested again.

I booked this trip so impulsively that I didn’t look up all the requirements but I saw on my way out that I had to get a test in order to come back. I panicked a bit but Google Maps (and reviewers) told me to go to Clinicas Vieco. It’s a cosmetic clinic right around the corner from the Supreme Court. It’s open from 10:00 to 8:00 and I showed up around 2 but they were out for lunch. I went and sat on some steps outside the court house next to a super cool legal bookstore (if I hadn’t tried History, I would have loved to have been a lawyer specializing in maritime law).

After about 35 minutes, I called the office and they answered so I walked back. I got an antigen test for 30 and had the results in 10 minutes. The lady at the desk was super kind and comforting and she wasn’t rough when she administered the test. If you are in Madrid and need to get a test this is the place to go (don’t forget to take your passport-I assumed I would need it since it was a medical procedure and I wasn’t wrong)!

After the test, I walked back down Paseo del Prado (this is an area where all the rich business people and civil servants work so all the restaurants and cafes are super swanky) to barrio de Las Letras. I went back to Casa de Diego and ordered something different this time: Jarrete de Cordero. It was so good and this is BY FAR my favorite restaurant I’ve visited or walked past in Madrid. It’s in a nice area but the prices are great and the food is phenomenal! I had a full meal with bread and 4 glasses of wine (with accompaniments) for 22.90.

Casa de Diego

I walked back down Calle de Atocha and went to “my” coffee counter one last time for an espresso and dessert and then stopped back by the Church of the Holy Cross to say some prayers of petition and intercession.

After all of that, I came back to my place and finished packing up my carry-ons and gathering the trash. I have to take it out after 8 PM because they don’t have fixed dumpsters here–from what I gather, the department of sanitation brings the dumpsters after 8 and collections them at some point throughout the night.

When I took down the trash, I went back to La Carboneria (formerly Harry & Sally) and had a couple of Vermut de grifo, They were 60 cents cheaper tonight even though it was way busier. I went back to the mini-mart (what you would call a bodega in NYC is a wine store here and a mini-mart or NYC bodega is an “alimentacion” and I don’t know why or how) for a snack and a couple of beers to spend my remaining euros. I did the best I’ve ever done this time and only have 90 cents left!

All in all, I spent 372 this week. With airfare and the AirBnB, that comes to $1,645. My tax return was $1,200 so I spent $445 for a very full and entertaining week in Spain. Absolutelyyy worth it! I had two nice meals and I drink–I also wasted a lot of those groceries I bought. If you skipped all that and stayed in a cheaper area (my AirBnB was smack dab in the most popular area) you could easily do this (or any) trip for way, way cheaper.

Tomorrow is airport day. I’m not too nervous since I’ve figured out the metro system this week but it will be interesting to see how check-in goes with the Covid test results.

I am going to try to write more when I’m back in NYC so please consider subscribing and of course, follow me everywhere else (click the button for links).

Side note: If you know ANYONE who can get me an EU work visa for ANY job (cleaning, elder care, marketing, academia, literally anything) please contact me. I want to live here (and no, it’s not a passing urge–I’ve wanted to move over here since about 2010).

Day 5: Death, The Enlightenment, and Beer!

This will be a short post but yesterday might have been my favorite day, unexpectedly.

I went to school to become a historian (that didn’t pan out, obviously) so I probably enjoy museums and cemeteries more than the next person but those were the two highlights of the day: the Municipal Cemetary of Our Lady of Almudena and the Madrid History Museum.

First, I took the Red Line to La Almudena, out in a working-class neighborhood east of the city called Ventas. Originally I decided to go to the cemetery because I am interested in Filipino and Cuban history and there is a mausoleum dedicated to Spanish soldiers who fought there. I’m obviously interested in contemporary memory and the history of colonialism so I wanted to see what was going on. It was a nice monument–I obviously cannot deliver commentary on its existence since I’m neither Spanish nor Filipino/Cuban but I am glad I saw it.

I read an article about the cemetery and to quote: “Alien to ideology, its streets are inhabited by tributes to war heroes, Nazi pilots, hustlers, and innocent martyrs of Francoism.”

That’s the interesting thing about cemeteries. We spend our lives separating ourselves and others based on a host of labels and categories but you wander through a cemetery and you don’t know one grave from another as they relate to those categories (except maybe class since the rich have their own tombs…there’s a lesson to be had there too).

The cemetery was deserted and HUGE. I saw a few famous graves marked on Google Maps and obviously went to see the mausoleum. I made a mistake and didn’t check my camera battery so I was only able to take pictures with my phone which was a bummer. So many of the graves were in serious disrepair which was ironic because many of the inscriptions said things like, “Your wife and kids will never forget you.” etc. I have been to a lot of cemeteries in the US and I’ve never seen one in such horrible disrepair (I’m sure they exist) so it was a little strange for me.

After an hour or so of wandering around the cemetery, I realized I hadn’t eaten and found a neighborhood spot close to my train stop. Bar El Rincón de Juanca was a great choice. Unfortunately, the kitchen was closed for siesta (I was really looking forward to the bacon and cheese bocadillo) but I had a couple of beers. It was a Filipina-run bar and the ladies were singing karaoke in Tagalog which made me nostalgic for Hawaii and high school. They were super friendly and the place also has a terrace so it would be perfect in the late spring and summer. I will definitely go back when I’m here again.

After a couple of beers (2.50), I got back on the train and decided at the spur of the moment to go to the Madrid History Museum. I’m not a huge fan of art museums but I usually enjoy other museums. This one DID NOT disappoint and I would recommend it to everyone. I took a couple of classes about Enlightenment-era Europe in graduate school so these exhibits were right up my alley! It was also free because it was Sunday night, so win-win.

The museum follows the history of the city chronologically from 1561 to the 20th century with special emphasis placed on the Enlightenment and societal changes as they related to gender and urban planning (two of my favorite subgenres of history). Also, if you like fans, curiosities, and material history, you should definitely stop in. It’s an expansive exhibition with paintings, maps, objects, photos, and a really well-done and extensive narrative that guides you through each hall and helps to put everything into context. My favorite parts were about coffee houses, paying calls, promenading, women at work, and other aspects of social life during and after the Enlightenment.

The last exhibit was a temporary one dedicated to Arturo Soria and the urban planning of his Ciudad Lineal. This was also interesting because he created the Madrid Company of Urbanization in 1824 and helped conceptualize this planned city. They had pictures and different things that were part of the plan (most of the buildings are gone now) but he was a really smart guy. This was probably one of my favorite things I’ve learned about on the trip. I love being taken down rabbit holes of previously unknown topics and subject areas and this one combined a LOT of different ones.

Looks like Jiu-Jitsu! Click to learn about her!

After the museum, I realized I was in a part of the city I hadn’t gotten to explore yet (between Malasañ and Justicia) so I decided to walk from the museum, in Justicia, back down to my AirBnB. On my walk, I happened to stumble upon what appeared to be a hipster area full of little bars with different themes and an upper-middle-class area with eateries, stationery shops, and lots of young people. I ended up back in my neighborhood and decided I finally needed to eat.

I have discovered that even devoid of a man asking me what I want to eat, it is SO hard for me to choose restaurants and commit to eating somewhere. Last night, I chose a Mexican spot called Patron Taqueria, and yet again, it was completely worth it. First and foremost, they had margaritas with a chamoy rim–and those are one of my favorite things ever. Second, they served Mexican-style tacos for 1.50 each. But the star of the show was something they called a gringa which was like a combination of a quesadilla and taco. It was one of the best things I’ve eaten here, by far! So, I got 3 food items and two drinks and it was only 15.50. The more Mexican food I eat, the sadder it makes me that NYC’s Mexican food is so different (and not to my liking). A group of guys came to the counter to check out when I was ready to leave so I got up to go and I was already outside when one of them yelled after me to stop. The waitress wasn’t paying attention when I paid her colleague and she had these guys stop me because she thought I was dining and dashing, LOL!

After the restaurant, I decided to stop at a little mini-mart and get some beers and ice cream (since I won’t be able to stay out late tonight as I need to leave for the airport tomorrow morning). Then I went back to my place.

This was another absolutely perfect day: slept in, saw some historical graves, found a woman+immigrant-run neighborhood bar, got to learn some things, had some amazing food and drinks, saw a slice of life in the suburbs, and only spent  30!

Today is my last day and I need to go get a Covid test to reenter the US so fingers cross. Come back tomorrow for one last rundown!