My first real step into Europe was to Norway, in winter. White snow blankets everything we past, and it was cold. Like, toe-numbing cold. Somewhere between now to September is the perfect time to see Europe without freezing your butts off.
Feeling ambitious, we headed out for lunch straight after checking into the hotel. But that’s only because we know that if we take a nap, it could evolve into a 7-hour sleep. That was such a waste of a beautiful, sunny day.
Just a 10-minute walk from our hotel was a restaurant called La Central Cervecera. According to some Madrid frequent-goers, they served a mean grilled fish and Sangria. Both, I needed to try. The nice lady who served us spoke little to no English, so after a whole lot of pointing at the menu and praying that she’d get our orders right, we had each a plate of grilled fish and chips and a jug of Sangria to share. Yes, a jug.
After a good two months in the desert, freshly caught seafood was most welcomed. I chose the Hake fish, a cod variety and hoped for the best. Unlike the grilled fish I’m used to in Singapore, where it’s accompanied with sambal or other herbs and spices, this restaurant does it simply. Salt, pepper and lemon juice. That’s it. A tiny part of me wished I could add a dollop of red hot chilli sambal on the fish, but its crispy skin and juicy flesh made up for it.
After lunch, we hopped on the train to the city, but not before chancing upon a piece of home on the wall of the train station. There were four other people with me, and their country flags too were represented on the wall. How cool is that!
As we wandered towards Puerta Del Sol, one of the best know and busiest public square in Madrid, I marvelled at the architecture of the various B&Bs, shops and restaurants lining the streets. Of course being Asian, and brought up in the -what do you call us- Far East, the architecture in Europe is way, way vibrant in my eyes.
Looking at the crowds milling about you wouldn’t even think it was a Monday. DON’T PEOPLE WORK HERE?! Plus it’s summer, so there’re tons of sales going on. I walked into Zara, Pull and Bear and other shops.. came out with more receipts in my purse than notes.
The temperature dipped significantly in the evening; the slight drizzle in the evening could have been a factor, but that didn’t stop us from wandering further. We walked by a five-storey Primark in Grand Via but didn’t head inside to curb temptations… which we will learn to regret the next day because it may have been one of the biggest Primarks in the world with extensive selection of items we could possibly want but do not need. Oh well.
All in all, we discovered that Madrid was a city that knew no weekdays or weekends. It’s crowded every day of the week, and so vibrant you could just sit at an alfresco cafe sipping coffee and/or Sangrias and watch all kinds of people go by you. I’d love another opportunity, a longer time to explore the beautiful Spanish capital.