Sunday, 28 August 2011

Top-tip lowdown!

I have been absent from the blogosphere for a little while now due to limited Internet access, and so much has happened in that time...So, in the interest of imparting as much travel wisdom as I can I am going to jot down the good tips and bargain spots I discovered during the rest of my time in Madrid, Cordoba, Sevilla and the Cadiz coast.


Oh-so-good but ohhh-so-bad!
Churros y chocolate is a typical Spanish breakfast. It is far from healthy (akin to doughnuts dipped in thick hot chocolate), but every trip to Spain should allow for one indulgent treat at your local Churreria. The ones I got for 2.50 euros from 'Milagros I' in Calle Benigno Soto were the best I have tasted to date.

When we got a bit peckish during a stroll in the Chueca area, my boyfriend suggested we try out a rather bizarre looking burger place called 'In Dreams'. Leopardprint fur covered patches of the walls in amongst the mismatched, delapidated furniture; Elvis pouted down at us from one direction, as he and his contempories sang slow 50s tunes from the sound system; everything was bathed in an odd, intense red light; three bearded men wearing leather made up the waiting staff, and we were the only customers. It was, in short, the strangest restaurant / cafe I had ever been in. But I'll tell you something else - the burgers were damn good!! Served up in a basket with chips and traditional Diner-style mustard and ketchup bottles, the Elvis burger (Beef with plenty of trimmings, 7 euros) and the Pat Boone burger (Vegetarian, 8 euros) went down a treat! And the unusual surroundings were certainly a conversation starter...

In Dreams Cafe

As a devout chocoholic I simply had to take the Lonely Planet's advice and visit the Cacao Sampaka shop in Calle Orellana. They offer an impressive range of flavours that range from the tradtional to the exotic, with a few dubious ones in between. After um-ing and ah-ing over the liquers and herb flavours I finally decided upon a bar of Gin and Tonic milk chocolate. In all honesty it did not taste like G&T at all - it was distinctly limey - but it was still very tasty! The large tablets cost about 4.50 euros, which is better than expected in this swanky, chic choco-paradise.

Graffiti opposite Cacao Sampaka

We inevitably ended up back at the Parque del Retiro a few more times during the week, and on one such visit took a trip out on the lake on a little rowing boat. For 4.55 euros (per boat, not per person) we rowed, floated and relaxed on the water for 45 minutes (the time limit, although they do not seem to check), observing the pilgrims as they swarmed around us.

Mercado San Miguel
The Spanish must be applauded for their markets, or at least the ones that I have seen over the last couple of weeks. In general they are clean, attractive spaces with mountains of fresh produce at extremely reasonable prices. A favourite, although admittedly one of the less attractive, in Madrid was the Mercado Barceló (Next to Tribunal metro station). We bought 1/4 kilo pimientos padrones (stubby, mild chilli peppers) for 75 cents, and about about 300 grams boquerones (fresh anchovies) for just over 2 euros to add to the feast that we cooked up that night on the terrace. Delicioso! Another market worth mentioning is the Mercado San Miguel near La Latina. Packed into a raised, covered market square this is a modern, high-end version of the traditional Spanish market; everything is clean, well-presented and more gourmet than bargain.

Well, there are a few Madrid tips to whet the appetite, and I will return with more tales and consejos from Spain! Right now I am off to tackle an extremely messy, grubby flat in Cologne...

TG xx

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