Got off to kind of a slow start today. Woke up late and then took a tour of a palace. After that we got on a double decker bus for a city tour. Didn't get to my first bar until almost 3:00 P.M. Love this town. The weather is gorgeous and the people have been really friendly so far. It is relatively easy to get around too with a great subway system. The tour buses that you can hop on and hop off are a good way to get the lay of the land as well. Once you have used them for a day or so you can then easily use the subway to get back to places you want to revisit. It is a fun city to walk around in although I have gotten somewhat lost at least once. Ah well, that is part of the fun of it.
833) Cafeteria Cristina
One of a bunch of bars intermingled with souvenier shops that surrounds a large square with some kind of a statue in the middle. Must be famous though because several tour groups traipsed through.
This is a small place with a small metal topped bar. Only a very narrow space to put your drink because most of the surface area is taken up by glass covered dishes of tapas. A lot of those delicious dried hams are hanging in the window.
They all have the hooves still attached. The place is well decorated with black and white photos of bullfighters. A couple of shelves above the microwave ovens and espresso machine behind the bar hold the liquor and wine selection. Just two stools at the bar. The walls are elaborately patterned tile and the floor is gray patterned marble. Two large mirrors adorn the wall opposite the bar. The room is divided by a brick arch. Just four small tables with red and white checked tablecloths.
I had a glass of Mahou, a fairly common and decent tasting beer. I am told it is pronounced “moo” but I am afraid if I say it that way I will get a glass of milk.
Hey, a real Irish bar in the heart of Madrid. I don’t know why I am surprised, you can find them everywhere it seems. This one is way cooler than most you see in New York though. It is a really old place, from the heavy battered dark wood bar to the dark rose and green plaster walls. The only concession to modern times is a stack of Red Bull cans in one corner of the dark wood shelves behind the bar. There is a large display of liquor on those shelves too, the Irish like the hard stuff. Below the liquor are glasses and relegated to the very bottom are bottles of mix.
Old milk glass lights hang from gold colored chains above the bar. Lots of drawers, which I were told are empty, were in a chest against the wall. All kinds of advertisements on the walls, mostly for beer. There are three levels to this place and a pool table on the second level down. This is the first pool table that I have seen.
There are old wood planked floors except for right around the bar where it is orange tiles with an edging of orange and gray diamond shaped tiles. A couple of televisions that were turned off, but there are signs saying they show European football. There are interesting things on the shelves and hanging from them; sprinkling cans, lanterns, old suitcases, jugs, and more. Old wood booth like tables and stools. This is a great place if you can find it. No tapas, just potato chips on green paper napkins on the bar. They were good potato chips though.
I had a well poured pint of Guinness pulled by Meria.
Meria, The "Irish" Bartender
835) Cerveceria Mantaditos
Another kind of coffee shop looking place that sells beer and wine. Every place sells beer and wine in Madrid. The butcher shops sell wine and beer, the bakeries sell wine and beer. I haven’t tried it yet but I would bet the post office sells wine and beer. They probably give you a small plate of stamps too.
The bar has a white marble top that sports a brass arm rest and a silver foot rail. A dark wood paneled front to the bar and small square dark wood bar stools. Four spigots on the bar, three serve beer and one a sparkly red wine. There is also an old looking soda fountain pump for Coca Cola.
Light rose colored walls are covered with black and white photos. Most of them are pictures of the city but there are some, what I take to be, family portraits as well. Two large blackboards list a whole bunch of tapas selling for just 1 Euro each. I don’t know what any of them are though, Number one was Jamon Iberieo con Aceite Oliva Virgen Extra and number one-hundred is Clasicode Chocolate. An interesting wooden pitchfork, like the ones the villagers brandished when they were storming Frankenstein’s castle, hangs on the wall along with garlands of garlic. No wonder I am thinking of monsters, werewolves, and vampires. Luckily the sun is still out.
I had a glass of the sparkly red wine fresh from the tap.
836) La Mallorquina
A pastry shop, a huge packed pastry shop, with everyone eating pastries and drinking coffee.
This place is all white and clanky with dishes being banged down on the counters. The walls are totally lined with cases of pastries. Yet, above the displays of pastries are shelves of liquor. Bar Man is having a sensory overload. Madrid is one huge bar. As I look up from the pastry display I see a whole shelf of Scotch. I am drifting off trying to decide between a drink and a pastry. A bug zapper hanging from the ceiling fringed with fluorescent lights snaps me back to reality when an insect electrocutes itself. I, of course, decide on a drink.
I have a glass of brandy and the person behind the counter just keeps pouring until I tell him to stop.
Hah Hah, just kidding.
About two steps out of the pastry shop and about five steps from the subway Bar Man realizes he has to take a whiz. Well, no problem. You can usually find a bar within five steps, at least in this neighborhood. I stopped in here and ordered a beer and got a plate of fried pork skins to go with it. Lots of wines in cooler in here along with the beer stations. I am once again beginning to wonder if there is anyplace in Madrid where you cannot buy a drink. Go into the Department of Motor Vehicles, “Here, take the eye test and have a beer.” Bar Man must go home and rest. It is 7:00 P.M. but it still looks like noon with the bright sunshine.
I had a glass of Mahou.
838) San Antonio
I went back to the hotel and took a little rest and then went out for dinner. After dinner I stopped at one more place on the way home. After awhile thee is a bit of sameness to many of these places. They have a narrow surfaced bar, often marble, with glass or plastic covered trays of tapas. There are usually a couple of beer spigots, often silver. They have handles like a sink fixture instead of a pull handle though. Mahou seems to be the Spanish Budweiser because it is everywhere. In my opinion, Mahou is much more flavorful and certainly more hoppy and malty. There is usually a large espresso machine behind the bar, red in this case, and a couple of slot machines. Nobody ever seems to play them though.
This place has round lights above the bar and a Chinese restaurant looking sign behind the bar. On the left side is a small set of wooden shelves with mirrors behind them. Their fancier liquors and wines along with glasses are displayed atop linen napkins. In front of one of these shelves is one of those carving contraptions with a leg of lame along with a large round of some kind of hard cheese.
The floor is gray marble and the few tables, all full, sit against the light wood paneled wall. Framed abstract signed paintings hanging on the walls round out the décor. The crowd is quite lively, eating and drinking. Spain, or at least Madrid, is one fun place.
I had a glass of Mahou.
Another fun day with another six bars hit bringing my total for the year to 838 for the year and leaving me with 162 more to go. If anyone is interested in breaking my record of 1000 bars in a year, Madrid might be a good city to do it in.