Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My Last Fling In Spain

Well, sad to say, it wasn’t that big of a fling. I did go out during the day and hit a few bars but was planning on making an evening of it after dinner. I particularly wanted to hit a bunch of the Cave Bars I had been hearing so much about an The Mysterious Chinese Woman had said she wanted to visit them as well. By the time evening rolled around and we had finished eating at a place not far from our hotel it had started to drizzle and had turned a bit chilly. MCW had still not fully recovered from yesterday so, alas, we decided to call it an early evening and just headed home. I did hit a few places earlier in the day though.

875) Santa Gula



The streets seemed awfully quiet today and not much was opened. I headed back to where we had dinner the previous night, fairly close to Plaza Mayor, and only found this place open at a bit after noon. The place was fairly crowded though, maybe because it was the only place open. Last night this whole area was really hopping.

This place had a white marble topped bar with a wood and brick front and a brick foot rest. There are dark wooden bar chairs. A wide inverted U shaped beer station on the bar has four spigots. Copper colored lights shaped like wide bottomed pawns from a huge chess set hung over the bar and over the few small marble topped tables with chairs in here. A large copper bucket on the bar holds an assortment of wine bottles.

The back of bar is a brick wall with a large copper colored relief of the bars name. On one side of the name is a wine rack full of bottles and on the other is a small shelf with liquor on one level and a couple of small coffee grinders, a miniature bull, and statues of Don Quixote and Pancho on the other.

There are three large copper vats on wooden racks opposite the bar. They look like brewing tanks but from where they are positioned I suspect they are just for show. They look like the real McCoy though. My friend Bruce would love to have one of them, I am sure.

I had a glass of red wine.

876) Carlos ‘n Charlie’s



A Mexican bar and restaurant that proudly proclaims “Hemmingway Never Ate Here…” It is right next to the Belgian bar that I had visited previously. Kind of interesting that you have a Mexican place next to a Belgian bar in Spain. Kind of like something you would find in New York. This place comes complete with a large display of a skeletal mariachi band.



My friend, Gary, would like this place. He collects miniature versions of these. They also have a ceiling covered with sombreros in various colors and sizes with a few old military helmets thrown in for good measure.

The bar area is very small but the bar is a nice wooden bar with a shiny copper covered top. Standing only though with a brass rail. The lower portion of the walls are granite looking ceramic tiles and above they are painted a mustard yellow. All available space is taken up with photos of Old Mexico and there are a few of my old friend Zapata. Haven’t see much of him since my stay in Mexico. There is an old wooden cupboard behind the bar that holds liquor and glasses. They have one of the larger selections of tequila that I have seen so far in Spain, but that is only about eight bottles.

They have a couple of hams and sausages hanging by the window but, I am sad to say, they are fake and only for decoration. They do serve Mexican food, or at least what passes for it. I should have tried some just to see what it was like. There are a few tables with chairs under a large umbrella out front and it looks like that is the only place that you could sit and have a drink and a bite to eat here.

The people running the bar were very friendly. I got a small piece of candy instead of a tapa with my drink. I guess they just don’t have tapas in here. I also found out that the reason that almost everything was opening late today and it was so busy last night is that this is a big national holiday. It must have been big because when I was in Madrid last week they were already setting up grandstands for what must have been a big parade (I must have slept through it).

I had a glass of beer.

877) Cerveceria Internacional Bringas



Also known as International Brewing Bringas, this is an Irish tapas bar.



Well, not completely. They just have a small shelf of them, probably to satisfy some legal requirement. This was a pretty nice place with an old wooden bar and bar stools but, alas, no brass rail. Each of the four types of the beer that they had on draft had its own beer spigot provided by the distributor. The lower half of the walls were wood paneling and the upper half kind of a caramel colored plaster. A dark wood set of shelves was built into the wall behind the bar and it held a selection of liquor and ceramic mugs. Even the Irish bars have an espresso machine.

They have an old copper still on display and old photos of trolleys, cars, and some kind of a huge control room replete with levers, dials, and who knows what else on the walls. I have no idea what it was supposed to be, and neither did the bartender. Maybe it has something to do with a distillery though because, on the wall behind the bar is a painting, in black, of the inside of one. I don’t think so though.

This is the most authentic looking, if not the only, Irish bar that I have seen in Madrid. Paddy’s Lane in Barcelona had it beat by a long shot though, they even had real Irish bartenders.

I had a pint of Murphy’s Irish Red.

878) El Rinco de le Cava



This is one of the many, but the first that I have been to , Cave Bars that I keep hearing so much about. They do have the appearance of a cave, or at least of a dungeon. All brick and iron in here with heavy wooden tables and benches. Yes, most certainly a dungeon. Iron chains hang from the archways that separate the small rooms and the lighting fixtures look like torches.

The bar has a heavy wooden top with a brick and wood front. The foot rest is wood and old stone. The floor is flagstone. High arched brick ceilings are just a continuation of the old brick walls. I don’t know if all of these bars are the same, but this one seems to be an endless warren of stairways and rooms.

There is a large ironwork piece over the bar that looks like it could be the railing of a balcony. Hanging from it are numerous ceramic pitchers and mugs.



The bar back is just an arched entryway into the kitchen area. All kinds of medieval looking paintings on wood adorn the walls and there are similar paintings directly on the few areas of the walls where there is exposed plaster.

It is a bit like having a drink on an old monastery or in your sub-basement, if you owned a castle. More like in Dracula’s sub-basement. Very interesting though and it is a bit too bad that I didn’t get a chance to visit a few more tonight with the Mysterious Chinese Woman. There are a whole bunch of them along this stretch, part of which is named Cava de San Miguel.

I had a glass of Cava, it seemed somehow appropriate.

Well, not too bad for my last day, all things considered. Four bars today making 878 for the year and leaving 122 to go. Tomorrow will be the flight home and I plan on taking a few days off just to catch up on things and recover from jet lag.

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