Megamoon: Madrid day two

First full day in Madrid started with a free visit to the history museum.
It was very useful to get a quick overview of Madrid’s past, starting with the Hapsburgs then the Bourbons, the French invasion and so on. We found out about why the second of May is so significant here: it is the date of the 1808 uprising against the occupation of Madrid by the French, specifically under the role of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother. This triggered the Peninsular War, a big ol scrap between the French and the Brits, Spanish and Portuguese for control of the Iberian peninsula. We also learned about the dangers of incest, via some charming portraits of the Habsburgs…
After our history lesson we strolled down to Botin, which claims to be the oldest restaurant in the world. It opened its doors in 1725.
We had the speciality – sucking pig with crispy skin – plus some green beans and chicken, washed down with a glass of Albariño each. Delicious.
Then we headed to Reina Sofia, one of the famous art galleries here, to see some Picasso and Dali paintings (Guernica specifically was high on the list). It is suffocatingly hot in Madrid at the moment so we had to hydrate ourselves quickly in the cafe. I know cafes aren’t the main event for museums and galleries, but this one was incredible. It looks like the inside of a space ship.

They played the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Elton John and Led Zeppelin while we were in there. It was hard to drag ourselves off to look around the gallery! But we managed somehow…

There were a lot of beautiful paintings, I don’t know art well enough to say what they all were but this one was my favourite:


We looked at a lot of Dalis which I liked, Picasso less so. I find his paintings technically impressive but sadistic and dehumanising. Also quite misogynistic. Perhaps I’m a total pleb, but that’s my view. That said, Guernica is a masterpiece. It depicts the bombing of a Basque town by fascist forces, for anyone unaware of it. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Picasso was the perfect painter to depict such a scene of utter terror, misery and pain. Angela described Guernica as ‘like opening your skin slowly’ which I think is an accurate albeit gruesome way to describe it.

We left the gallery in the evening, before heading to our hotel we treated ourselves to another hydration stop: a bar called Arzabal. We had tinto de verano (red wine and lemonade, yummy and very refreshing).


We also watched a couple of really good musicians play. They’re called Sonadores. There was a great atmosphere with everyone clapping and dancing along.


After a brief break at the hotel, we headed out again at 9pm for a quick bite to eat nearby at Rosi la Loca: croquetas, aubergine, pork and potatoes. We shared our dining area with three, potentially four, hen dos. As I commented on Facebook, it was the loudest room I’ve ever been in, and I’ve got tinnitus from more than one heavy metal gig.

We then went to a gypsy flamenco dive bar called Candela (the candle, I think).


It. Was. Incredible. Authentic, informal music and dancing for just €15, which also got you a drink at the bar.


The guitarist played beautifully, the drumming was amazing (literally someone tapping a box) and the singing was just spine tingling. But the really amazing aspect of the night was the man dancing: Pol Vaquero. I thought he was going to set the stage on fire. It was intense, emotional, intimate…an experience I think I’ll remember forever. There is a basement downstairs where a lucky few get invited to hang out, dance and play music sometimes but there wasn’t much sign of action there tonight.

I had a chat in a mix of basic Spanish and English with the singer, Pedro, who was originally convinced Dan was Spanish or Italian. We also spoke to some friendly locals out on a stag do, who were keen to recommend us places to visit and chat about London. Pedro was charming but sadly, if I understood correctly, suggested Candela may close in the too distant future. It would be a huge loss if so. Apparently the gypsys who run it have to pay the police to stay open after hours. Perhaps there was an issue there.


P.S. One thing I forgot to mention before. I’ve noticed people eating baby eel pinchos. Looks gross. It might be delicious but I’m too scared to try it.


On a more positive note – I LOVE the street signs here.


2 thoughts on “Megamoon: Madrid day two

  1. Candela is that soft and cheeky light coming from candles that allow people to behave on their worst(best). Refers to the mild intensity of the lights. Also referres to a woman too hot to handle or as a way to rush people.
    Such a beautiful trip!!! Do you understand now our very intense Character?
    Ps . The baby eel pinchos are not anchovies? There are 2 types. Smoked and salty (brown) &a raw marinated (white and blue) type with herbs, vinegar and garlic called boquerón . Both delicious!

  2. They are not real! -eels. They are made up with fish to pretend to be like the real ones that cost between 200e-600e/100gr. I thought you meat boquerones-anchovies but I can now see the picture.

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