When looking for housing this summer, I was advised to live as close to Puerta del Sol as possible. I am incredibly glad I followed this advice, because it’s the kind of place where anything can crop up, as evidenced by my brief walkthrough yesterday afternoon:
La Plaza del Sol, aka Km 0, the center and start point of Spain’s radial roads.
The beautiful fountain in the center of the Plaza
These policemen ended up being the precursor to a whole security team…
…that showed up later that night to guard a huge political protest
A flower-angel with her face painted pink
A very good string quartet closer to Callao that I hovered around – they ended up being from Spain! (I am so nostalgic for CYSO right now…)
A mariachi band outside the movie theater of Callao, where there seemed to be a major premiere with Spanish actors I had never seen before
This, however, was nothing compared to my experience when I returned later that night to meet up with Sebastian and Mary for dinner. The restaurant that specializes in grilled pig’s ears and lamb sweetbread ended up being closed, but as soon as we realized this a woman approached us.
“Would you like a free drink? We are having a promotion at our club, it is very good, you should come!”
Free sangria, a free shot, and coupons to return later to the club. Score! The venue was actually pretty nice for a place soliciting youngsters on the street, too.
We hadn’t walked ten feet away from Bia when a solicitor from another club approached and offered us the same thing. Another round of free drinks! This time at Commo all of us indulged in a free shot of sweet vodka that was surprisingly edible, then gleefully wandered back out onto the street in search of “real” sustenance.
Note: it is said here that the Spanish “have a problem” – they can’t say no. If you ask someone on the street for help, chances are that they will not only advise you, but physically lead you to your destination, and this has definitely been our experience. “If this is how they act when life is tough, just imagine how happy they are when things are going well,” -Sebastian. We asked someone where we could find good paella, and ended up choosing La Taberna de Moderno.
We’d have to wait 25 minutes for our paella, they warned, but it was worth it.
Our jarra de sangria helped to make the wait more bearable, as evidenced by Mary’s look of joy.
We also waited out the Paella by ordering an appetizer: bastones de queso brie y salsa de mango!
They were DELICIOUS, and we are now forever spoiled for American mozzarella sticks.
The paella was meant for two people to share, and was surprisingly large! The flavor in the rice was fantastic, and the dish abounded with shellfish, shrimp, chicken, mussels, and baby octopus.
After eating our fill and musing on the beauty of the Spanish lifestyle (we ate dinner around 9 or 10 pm, as is typical in Spain), the paella was topped off with gelato and we were approached yet again by a solicitor. We were young, foreign, and had the perfect gender ratio – probably their ideal clientele.
Another round of free drinks, this time at an Irish pub, and then it was off home again to be responsible and wake up on time for work tomorrow!
Such idyllic living. I love this city.