A DAY ALMOST LOST…
El Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
So our second day in Madrid sure started off with a surprise! I suppose it was the jet lag that got us, considering it was the first time we got some good sleep since leaving Charlotte the day before. Either way, I wake up, my father asks me what time it is and I say (without much thought), “uh..it’s 12:20…” My dad gets up quickly, “what? 12:20?” So, yeah, we ended up waking up pretty late and had to rush to get ready.
Once done, we headed downstairs and asked one of the hotel attendants for a recommendation on a place to eat for lunch. We made it clear that we wanted something “Español” versus something like McDonalds, hahaha. The attendant recommended Lena, a restaurant about two blocks away that was pretty good for lunch. We arrived and were told of the special of the day, a two course meal that began with a choice of: Gazpacho, Crema de hongos (Cream of Mushroom), Crema de espárrago (Cream of Asparagus), Ensalada (Salad) – and then ended with a set of four more choices for the second plate. Unfortunately, because we were so focused on a dish called Entrecote we didn’t even look at the other possible choices for the second entre. Starting things off, my father chose Crema de espárrago while I chose the Gazpacho. Gazpacho is a soup served cold and was the perfect way to start the day considering it was already quite warm. La Crema de hongos was not thin at all, here a Cream based soup is thicker, it almost sticks to the spoon itself and is very filling in its own right.
Then came the second course, Entrecote! Entrecote is grilled beef (often with a melted cheese sauce on top) and also served with fries. This restaurant didn’t add the cheese mixture on top but the dish was still good. And by the way, I apparently jumped the gun and began eating before I noticed I had not taken a picture of the Entrecote yet, whoops!
We enjoyed our meal so much that we ordered coffee and dessert. My father chose Flan, one of his favorite deserts, and I chose Arroz en leche (rice in milk…kind of like rice pudding).
After our great lunch, we headed towards the Plaza de Cibeles and even before we got to the plaza, we could see the beautiful building that anchors it.
The main component of Plaza de Cibeles is CentroCentro. It is an exhibition space in a renovated palace.
Continuing on, we went to La Puerta de Alcalá and took pictures of the famous arch that has “Rege Carlos III año MDCCLXXVIII” inscribed on it.
There is a wonderful park called Jardines del Buen Retiro located in la Puerta de la Independencia. Oh, by the way, if you have a chance to visit this park, you definitely should, there is a wonderful man-made lake where you can rent a paddle boat. But one warning, at the opening of the park, there is a group of kids that run up to all visitors and attempt to have them sign a sheet of paper; this paper ends up being a promise to pay them money. I suppose this money goes to some families in order to take care of them. But they are resilient, my dad gave 5€ to one of the kids so the one that was talking to me said, “so 5€ from each right?” he’ll grow up to be a good salesmen.
Next, and best of all, we headed towards La Plaza de Lima in order to take a tour of El Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, better known as the Home of Real Madrid C.F. For €15, you take an 8-point tour that takes you from the top of the stadium all the way down to field level. When I say field level, you don’t get on the field, but you do get to sit in the sideline seats and even get to visit the visiting team’s locker room. The stadium is beautiful; a wonderful breeze seems to always be blowing. Inside, we visited the trophy rooms and the press room. The tour is a great deal because you are not guided at all, but instead can take as long as you like to visit all the points of interest along the way. What was cool was that a group of 5 young children, sat down in a few seats and began yelling, “GOL!” We were laughing because we could clearly hear them and we thought that it would be so cool to go to a game and hear the roar of a stadium full of 85,000 fans.
Oh, one thing to note, we couldn’t believe that there was a player who had once played for Real Madrid C.F. that hailed from Guatemala. His name was Revuelto; my dad thought it would be funny to write “huevo” (or egg) in front of his last name so that it would read “Huevo Revuelto” or (scrambled egg).
After finishing the tour, and buying a Real Madrid C.F. bufanda (scarf), we went to a supermarket and bought some fresh baked bread, queso Evan, and Lomo Embuchado (A cured slice beef coming from the rump). Lomo is very good when fresh; it is a fatty cut of meat but it has a wonderful distinct flavor. Even pre-packaged like what we bought, the flavor is still wonderful; I only wish we had the selection of meats and cheeses in the U.S. that one can find in España and throughout Europe. When we returned to the hotel, we each built ourselves a sandwich using what we had bought. A very simple meal but honestly, because we didn’t have access to a refrigerator, we had to use all of the bread, cheese, and lomo. So in the end, the sandwich was tightly packed and very filling. What a wonderful day!!