We started out on our first full day in Madrid having the traditional Catalonian bread with tomatoes. I had to look up how to make it since it is so delicious. It seems that it is quick and easy, basically tomatoes and olive oil. I found this recipe. Which leads me to extol the wonders of the almost lime-green olive oil that so many things were swimming in. No, that is not a bad thing at all. It adds such richness and luxuriousness. It was heaven. I thought I should bring some home for Jim and so looked up Spanish olive oil on the net and found that the top prize-winning olive oil in the world for the past few years is a Spanish olive oil, Venta del Baron. When I was looking for it, I saw that it is available on Amazon, so I saved myself the weight and worry of carrying it home and bought a bottle when I got back. It is delicious.
The place where we had breakfast is called The Vertical Cafe because it is on the CaixaForum Plaza, where there is a vertical garden on the side of a building. I could lean back on my window-seat bench and look out at the vertical garden as I ate. You can see the little pockets built onto the wall to hold the plants in the photos below.
The weather was reported to be cooler later in the week (even though it wasn’t – it stayed in the 70s the whole time we were there), so we thought we should take advantage of the sun and warmth and go to the Retiro, a large park just a block away from our hotel. We had a lovely ramble around it, visiting a pond with lots of turtles climbing all over each other for a place on the bank, and the Crystal Palace (which had an audio art installation), and the renowned statue of Satan.
We were very hungry after our visit to the park, but didn’t have our bearings yet, so we ended up heading down Atocha, which turned out to be the one street in Madrid without good restaurants. We had an OK meal in a restaurant with lots of photos of bullfighters on the walls. Isabel had some fairly exotic mushrooms with shrimp in a pool of olive oil, which was quite good. I had mushrooms with ham, which was really ordinary, but at least I wasn’t starving any more.
We passed a monument with a bunch of wreaths, which I looked up later and found that it commemorates the killings of five and wounding of four lawyers by fascists looking for a communist leader and, not finding him, just killed the lawyers they came across. It is shocking to think that this happened just 30 years ago.
Isabel’s eagle eye managed to find us some gluten-free churros, which were not bad.
We wandered up to the Plaza del Sol where we did a bit of shopping and then walked back to the hotel. The bear with the “strawberry tree” is the symbol of Madrid.