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Friday, July 15, 2011

Hola from Espana!

July 12, 2011

I woke up at 5:30am this morning for my flight to Madrid, Spain. I had to say a sad goodbye to the BF as I would not see him again until Labor Day weekend at the earliest. My flight was on time and I reached Madrid Barajas airport without a problem. I was unable to find the metro (as advised by Wikitravel and my hostel) so I took the EMT Bus since I figured it would get me closer to downtown Madrid then the airport. The driver was super friendly and the ticket cost on 2 Euro versus 30 Euro if I'd taken a taxi. The EMT bus only has a few stops and I got off at Banco de Espana because it was the closest to Puerta de Sol and my hostel. Puerta del Sol is the main place that people meet up in Madrid. It was the original center of the city and still plays that part today.

I then spent the next 45 minutes getting slightly lost because I thought my hostel was on Calle Mayor (stupid Google Maps tricked me!) but instead it was on Carrera de San Jeronimo. I wasn't in any hurry though so I didn't really mind. I also greatly underestimated the five flights of stairs when I did find the hostel, Hostal Astoria, and arrived at the front desk sweaty. The girl working was super cute and very helpful. My room was sparse but clean and well-stocked with fresh towels. It even has air conditioning and a working safe which I was praying for.

I would say I spent the next few hours "resting" but really I was feeling lonely and a little terrified of being in a new city where no one speaks English. I felt a paralyzing fear that I tried to abate by reading for a little while. Finally I forced myself to set out to Vodafone in Puerta del Sol to get a phone.

Note to travelers, upon arrival at the Vodafone store make sure to grab a ticket at the kiosk near the door. Otherwise you won't be in the queue. The line was ridiculously long but I did make a friend, Elisha, who is doing a summer internship in Madrid. She's from Philly. She offered to meet up tomorrow night to go out since I'm not too keen on going clubbing by myself. It just doesn't seem fun ya know? Finally, I reached the front of the line only to find out that in order to purchase a phone I need my I.D. So back to the hostel I went, grabbed the I.D. and went back. At least I have a phone now though!

I returned to the hostel to charge it and then tried to send a test text message but received an error. When I asked the new lady at the front desk for help she was an absolute bitch! I was kind of shocked. She pretty much said, "No I will not help you" and I stared. To clarify she is the older, shorter woman with the dark brown hair if you ever stay here. After her brisk refusal I decided to sit down in the little lobby to peruse the internet to see what fun things I should do in Madrid (the internet connection in my room is awful). Naturally I started with pub crawls.

As I was researching a flustered girl around my age came by with a massive suitcase and asked me if I knew where the other stairway to the 4th floor was. I pointed and then told her she should come by and hang out after. I mean fuck it the only way I'm going to find someone to party with is by being extremely forward. I'm okay with that. And turns out she came back! Her name is Caroline and she is from Montreal, Canada. Apparently, her passport had expired and she hadn't noticed so they wouldn't let her out of the country and she was stuck in Madrid until Friday or so. "Bitchy" at the front desk was going to throw her out because she didn't have a passport to check in with. Finally she convinced Bitchy to let her stay because she would have a temp passport by tomorrow. We chatted for a few minutes and she offered to meet up in a couple hours once she'd settled in.

I decided to go scrounge around for food because it was close to 4pm at the point and I hadn't eaten anything all day. I ended up down the street at Caroline where I had a Kebab con pollo which was SO good. It was more like a toasted burrito filled with grilled chicken from the spit, tomato, lettuce and some delicious sauce. Feeling much better having had food I picked one of the streets that ends at Puerta de Sol and went in search of "going out shoes."

I happened to end up on "Cheap Shoe Row" where you could buy poorly-made, ugly shoes or scantily-clad prostitutes (Calle de la Montera). Man, a hard choice of which is more worth the money. At the end of the street I came upon Gran Via which is one of the most famous streets in Madrid and the location of a convenient H&M. Apparently it was my lucky shopping day because H&M had a sale so big I thought they were going out of business. I bought heels, a dress and a skirt for 19 Euro. That's just silly but I was smiling like a Chestershire cat on my way back to the hostel.

Caroline stopped by about 30 minutes later and took me to a little tapas restaurant called Casa Alberto. The old, wizen man behind the counter was adorable and the "chef" was very friendly even though his pock-marked face was a little scary. I've clearly been reading too much Game of Thrones because I immediately thought of Tyrion. I'm just trying to be descriptive okay!? Caroline suggested we order the ham or "jamon" famous in the region called iberico. It was expensive (15 Euros for a plate) but sooo good. It's like proscuitto only softer and more red.

Apparently what makes it different than the "regular" ham is that the pig ate acorns right before it was butchered which adds a special flavor to the ham. I can't tell the difference. The old man literally sliced it from a pig's leg that still had the hoof attached. Madrid is not vegetarian friendly I guess!

After our little dinner, we wandered around Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor as the setting sun shot crazy colors of light into the sky. The sky here looks as fake as the ceiling of the Venetian in Las Vegas. I swear I was looking at a backdrop.

We stopped at a small shop to eat chocolate con churros. These aren't like the churros at Disneyland; they are thinner and you dip them in a cup of thick chocolate sauce. It was okay but not really my thing. Then again neither are Disneyland churros.

Caroline had to have an early night so that she could go back to the embassy early in the morning so rather than going out drinking we decided to hang out at a restaurant called, Villa Rosa, that had flamenco dancers. The show started at 11pm and as long as you sit at the "bar" you don't have to pay 6 Euro per person like the people sitting at the tables in the "restaurant." It's all the same view and I got an hour flamenco show for the 3.50 Euro price of one drink. This drink was tinto de verano which is apparently Sangria and soda mixed together. It really did taste like summer ("verano" means summer in Spanish).

We headed back to the hotel where I promptly fell asleep so that I could wake up to a full day of sightseeing tomorrow.

July 13, 2011

So I like this hostel minus Bitchy and the fact that the cleaning lady starts at like 7am so I have an automatic wake-up call! I guess it's good though because it got me up and moving. Turns out my phone isn't activated so I stopped at Vodafone to get that set up so know I finally have a working one! I then set off from Puerta del Sol up Calle de la Montera and then left onto Gran Via.

I wandered along Gran Via all the way to Plaza de Espana which appears on the left-hand side of the street. The Plaza is just a little park with a massive statue and water pool.

It was very relaxing to walk through the Plaza up the hill to the Templo de Debod. The Temple of Debod was originally built near Aswan, Egypt, in the 2nd century but was later gifted to Madrid by UNESCO in the 1960s because of threats to the historical monuments in Egypt at the time. It was pretty cool. I feel like I'd seen something really similar at the Met in New York but I don't know if they are related. The views from the hill were amazing too.

Next I attempted to walk down the street to Campo del Moro which on the map looks like a giant garden alongside the Palacio Real (where the King of Spain lives). It was a garden alright, a giant WALLED garden that I ended up walking all the way around to end up just a ways down from where I started. Note that the entrance to the palace and gardens is just south of Plaza de Espana right across from Plaza de Oriente. Hopefully this will save you an hour of unnecessary walking!

Because I went the wrong way I did end up passing the Cripta de Catedral Madrid. It was 2 Euro to enter and was actually the coolest building I went to in Madrid. All along the floor are stone tombs that most people were walking over but that freaked me out so I kept skirting around the edges. The vaulted ceilings were majestic and scary at the same time. It was really peaceful inside and I just sat for awhile in the pew soaking in the silence.

The Catedral de la Almudena is just south of the palace and is free to enter if you don't care about the museum. The Palace opens at 10am and is 10 Euro for adults and 5 Euro for students with a card. I hadn't brought mine along and there is was a long line so I decided that the palace would be my project first thing tomorrow morning. Instead I wandered down Calle Arrieta to Calle del Arenal past the Teatro Real. Calle del Arenal is a fun little street and I stopped at Pizza Shop for a 2 Euro slice of pizza for my 2pm breakfast.

From there it was a short jaunt through Calle Mayor to Puerta del Sol. In Plaza Mayor, a couple of foreign guys asked to take a picture with me. I swear to God I'd start charging for this but then I'd have to go join the ladies of Calle de la Montera!

It was around 1:30pm and I'd already seen so much that I decided to spend the remainder of the afternoon at the Museo del Prado. It took three hours but I saw everything! Prado must mean "Baby Jesus" in Spanish because the entire Level 1 was dedicated to Mary and him! I was bored of it almost immediately so I spent the majority of my time on Level 0. Here's a list of all the stuff I really liked:

1) "Dawn" by Jose de Madrazo
2) The Black Paintings and "Saturn" by Goya (my favorite)
3) "Saint George battles the Dragon" by Rubens
4) "Castle of Alcala de Guadaira" by David Roberts
5) "Nero and Seneca" by Gonzalez
6) The collection of paintings of dwarves and buffoons by Velazquez
7) "Retrato de desconocido" - this painting was of a woman that looked JUST like the evil old lady from Goonies. It must have inspired her character :-)
8) The sculptures of the "Muses of Cristina of Sweden"
9) "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Bosch (obviously)
10) "The Rape of the Sabines" (I forgot to write down the artist)
11) "The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti" by Botticelli (another favorite)
12) "The Seven Liberal Arts" by Giovanni del Ponte

I was exhausted after the Prado so I returned to the hostel and took a 30 minute siesta before meeting up with Caroline for dinner. Elisha (the girl from Vodafone) had invited me out with her friends to go clubbing later so Caroline and I wandered the shopping streets looking for a purse so that I wouldn't have to take a massive bag. Caroline also informed me that people don't really dress up for clubs from her experience so far which was a bummer since I'd finally found those cheap heels! Oh well. I was supposed to meet Elisha in front of Vodafone at 10pm so Caroline and I decided to go to the Museo del Jamon for dinner.

If you were to ask me my favorite part of Madrid (so far) my answer would be Museo del Jamon. It's like I died and went to heaven and it was made of ham. There's ham hanging from the walls, ham beneath the glass counters, people eating ham, people buying ham, ham, ham, ham. It's magical. I ordered a bocadillos de jamon which is a slice of ham in a baguette. It was yummy! And it only cost 1 Euro!! The beer only costs 1 Euro too! I also tried some "claras" which is beer mixed with lemonade. It's pretty good but I like tinto de verano better. As side note that the food isn't the best ever, it's more the place that is awesome. And the food isn't bad at all for only being 1 Euro. Finally I literally had to run back to the hostel to change and drop off my stuff to meet Elisha on time.

Elisha had brought about 12 people out with her most of whom are from the U. of Pittsburgh. The ones I mainly talked to were V, Jenna, Jordan, Sammy, and Jeremy. Everyone was very fun. We went to Cervecería 100 Montaditos to start because they had 1 Euro drinks and montaditos (tiny sandwiches). It took forever to get a table though. I found out that all of them were planning on going to the midnight showing of Harry Potter tomorrow night but I convinced Jordan that we should go to Black Eyed Peas instead.

From there we went to an assortment of clubs and bars (I think four total). In each one I'd have just ordered a drink when everyone would leave so I had to chug it down and run after them. Needless to say at that pace by Bar #4 I was accidentally plastered. We never did end up at a club as planned because most everyone left around 3am to go home because they all work. Oh well...Maybe this weekend. I said goodbye to Elisha and thanked her for taking me out and Jordan promised to get in touch tomorrow about the concert. Crossing my fingers that happens!

July 14, 2011

Ouch my head hurts... but I pulled through, downed a bottle of water and took off for the Palacio Real. I can't believe there is still a King of Spain... it's like Game of Thrones in real life! Luckily I brought my hugely expired student card with me and got in for five Euro instead of ten. The ticket gives you access to the main rooms, the armoury, and the pharmacia. I think Spain could take some notes from Turkish Sultans because their palace just wasn't as impressive. It was nice but felt almost like a hodgepodge of interior decorating thanks to countless frescoes, wallpapering, and styles of decoration. It was cool to see authentic paintings done by the great Spanish artists like Goya and Velazquez.

The King of Spain doesn't actually live there; it is primarily used now for tourism and special occasions of state. The location of the place once housed a fortress in the 9th century. The original castle was built in the 16th century but it burned down so King Philip V ordered a new palace to be built in the same spot. The last king who actually lived there was Alfonso XIII.

Next I ventured down the street to the Catedral de la Almudena. I'm definitely becoming immune to monuments because this cathedral is just like the last. It's free to go in but you have to pay four Euro to enter the museum and the dome. The museum is super lame but going up to the top of the dome does afford you with a pretty awesome view of the palace and Madrid. I love a good view so it was worth it for me although the exchange rate continues to make me cringe.

From there I walked south past the Basilica de San Francisco el Grande.

I refused to pay to go inside so I continued on to Plaza del Toledo which wasn't worth the walk.

If I could go back I would axe these two from the list although the walk itself was nice. I was getting exhausted (still hungover) so I tried out the metro for the first time. It's a Euro for a one-way anywhere in the city which is awesome! And it is super clean, on time, and sort of fun to ride.

I arrived in Puerto del Sol and stopped at the ever convenient Museo del Jamon for lunch. This time I tried the Pan Tomaca Museo which is a slice of toast with tomato paste and ham on it. If the toast had been a little less soggy and warmer it would've been perfect. As it was I still enjoyed it.

I was almost finished eating when Caroline randomly walks in, sees me, and starts laughing. She told me that she was at the hostel idly wondering where I was and thought she'd just pass by the Museo to see if I was there. And low and behold I was in the exact same spot from the night before. Shit I'm predictable!

We yet again chatted for too long making me late to meet up with Jordan and Jeremy near their work. We spent their lunch break touring around the Parque del Retiro which was the last major thing on my list of things to see. Jordan also confirmed that a group of us would be going to the Black Eyed Peas after party instead of the main concert... for FREE! AWESOME! The park is gigantic, peaceful and sunny. It's made up of secluded little lawns surrounded by bushes as opposed to open like a soccer field. Unfortunately, I left my picnic basket at home because that would've been the finishing touch. Instead I settled for a lemon Fanta and sat watching tourist paddle boats in the lake around the Monumento a Alfonso XII.

The boys had to head back to work so I continued on through the park. But not before Jordan told me about El Tigre, an awesome tapas bar in the gay district that is the best place to hit before a night out on the town. After cataloging this in my brain, I made my way to Palacio de Cristal, a palace made of, you guessed it, crystal. Instead of a strange, yet cool art installation that was fun to check out. It was actually like installation and Jordan's recommendation that sent me on through the rest of the park to the Centro de Arts Reina Sofia even though my legs felt like daggers.

At the Reina Sofia ticket office I was caught red-handed with my expired student card. The lady totally called me out and made me pay six Euro. Damnit! I literally limped my way through the Reina Sofia, which is much more my kind of museum then the Prado. It's a mixture of modern and older art and permanent and temporary exhibits. My favorite floors (there are four) was the 4th and 2nd floors. The 4th floor had a temporary exhibit by Lygia Pape called "Magnetized Space" that was really cool. This artist has a twisted mind but I like it. There was also a bunch of random stuff from Picasso and a bunch of other artists. Below are my favs:

The 2nd floor I have no photos from because it houses the great Guernica painting by Pablo Picasso which was truly magnificent. There were also a bunch of Salvador Dali paintings on this level most of which haven't been made into college dorm posters so they were refreshingly new for me to see.

The 3rd floor was kind of a bomb in my opinion. All I can remember of it was a bunch of Nazi stuff which is not in the least bit interesting to me. The 1st floor, however, was my favorite. The entire back section was dedicated to an exhibit by Yayoi Kusama who is a huge name in Japan. The exhibit has everything from amazing paintings to wacky floor installations to multiple full room installations that were inventive and interesting. It was my favorite part of the museum.

One other random story... when I first got to the museum I walked onto the 4th level and there was an art installation in the middle of the floor featuring bowls of colored paint arranged in a circle. One of the bowls of red paint was splattered and there was a bucket and mop leaning against the wall. It was kind of cool looking. Then when I left the 4th level I walked by it again and the mop was gone and the paint cleaned up. Haha totally thought that was part of the piece but really someone just accidentally knocked the bowl and spilled the paint. That's modern art for ya!

I hobbled my way back via metro to the hostel and snuck in an hour nap before Caroline came by to go to dinner. We went to El Tigre eager to see this place that Jordan had raved about. We got a little lost but finally found the street, Calle de las Infantas, and then the bar. It was PACKED. You barely have any room to stand but the energy is great. It's full of younger people laughing, drinking and sweating. We finally found a little corner and our waiter brought us giant glasses of tinto de verano and beer along with a massive plate of fried potato slices and cheese balls. The cheese balls were incredible - crispy on the outside and soft and hot on the inside. We devoured the plate and begged the waiter for another one which he kindly gave us for free.

This plate had ham on bread, seasoned chicken wings and cheese. The best part? It cost us 8.50 Euro total. Basically you pay for the booze and then get the tapas for free, which is how it become so popular. For being packed for of people I was also impressed with how quickly the waiter attended us and brought us food. I definitely recommend this place to anyone coming to Madrid.

Yet again I was running late to meet up with the crew at Elisha and Jordan's place to pre-game before going to the BEP afterparty. Caroline is the shit because not only did she walk with me to the ATM to get money but then took the metro and walked all the way to their place with me because I was uncomfortable (my outfit looked like it belonged on Hooker Row). Jordan, Andrew and Maxi were the three other people going in our group so we hurriedly drank and jumped in a cab. Jordan introduced me to which is a pretty sick music application that I will need to try out.

The club we went to was called Buddha and it was really classy for a club. So classy that one drink was 14 Euro. I had one. Maxi managed to drop hers (full) on the ground almost immediately. Sucks.

We spent the rest of the night dancing our asses off. The first DJ was some kid named Danny Avila who looked exactly like Justin Bieber and then Apl.De.Ap got up and DJed. The kid was really good; Apl.De.Ap was not. In fact he was terrible. Next thing we know Taboo and Fergie appear on stage with him (by stage I mean a raised platform five feet in front of me) and just start rapping their stuff. I can't believe they are doing this after playing an entire concert earlier that night. Pretty sure they were lip-syncing though.

Buddha also had a slightly separate area with hookah and some of us were totally down but the service was terrible and we couldn't get anyone to take our order. Three of the guys were about to pass out on the couch so we decided it was time to leave. The fact that it was 6am didn't even matter haha.

The cab back with 15 Euro but luckily we got a cabbie who was able to understand enough of my broken Spanish to get me to my hostel's front door which was amazing.

July 15, 2011

Today marks my one month travel anniversary! I have officially been traveling through Europe for one month and I am not remotely ready to go home. Although I do have to give a shoutout to my U.S. friends and family because I really miss all of you. I'd just prefer if you could all come here instead of me coming back :-)

Sometimes I worry that I'm going to turn out like the fucked up kids on the Real World. They spend six months living it up in an awesome city in an awesome house with cameras following them around and then they have to go back to the "real world" and be losers again. So many of them have had meltdowns. I hope that I don't come back from Europe feeling the same way. Although I doubt this blog is going to turn me into a celebrity :-)

For my one month anniversary I slept until 2pm. It was sooo nice not to set an alarm. Once I finally dragged myself out of bed I decided that I HAD to go to Toledo today. My friend gets here tomorrow so if I'm gonna do I gotta go today. I took the metro to the Atocha Renfe stop which is merged with the train station. It gets a little tricky because you have to go into this special area to book an out-of-city train, you can't use the red kiosks or the regular ticket counters. Once instead this area you pull a ticket from the machine to hold your place in line (they love their ticket machines in Spain) and then sit for 45 minutes waiting for your turn. This sounds like a long time but keep in mind this was midday Friday which is a huge travel day.

Finally it was my turn and the guy was super helpful. Twenty Euro later I had a round-trip ticket to Toledo leaving in 50 minutes (Depart Madrid at 3:50pm and then return trip at 9:30pm). I spent those 50 minutes spending eight Euro on a sandwich and a water which made my wallet angry. If you plan on going somewhere by train bring a lunch!

The train ride was smooth and peaceful. Not a lot to look at out the window but it's only 30 minutes so you don't have time to get bored. Once in Toledo you walk outside of the train station and turn right until you hit the bus stop. For one Euro you can take the 5, 22, 61 or 62 bus to Plaza de Zocodover in the center of the town.

On the bus my first impression of Toledo was a giant medieval fortress that is the best preserved fortress I'd ever seen! On a side note there is a little shop in the train station that sells tourist maps for two Euros. It's a way better map then the free ones they give out at the station. I was happy to have an intricate map because Toledo is a fortress of maze-like streets that twist and wind and double-back. I spent the next two hours getting lost and found over and over and over again. I didn't actually pay to go into any of the monuments because it was more fun to just wander.

I did pay about eight Euro to take the tourist bus though. Unlike most places this tourist bus doesn't take you around the city, it takes you outside the city in a giant circle so that you can see the city as a whole. It's kind of expensive but well worth it in my opinion but I'm a sucker for a panoramic view.

Finally I'd worked up a healthy appetite after taking in the Cathedral, Alcazar, and the rest of the city so I wandered until I found a menu that wasn't atrociously expensive.

I ended up at La Abadia in Plaza de San Nicholas. Note that they do have an English menu if you ask inside. The place isn't anything special to look at but it had the best food I've had in Spain so far for extremely low prices. I was stuffed for only eight Euros and it was far more interesting food that El Tigre as much as I love that place.

I had a glass of La Specia (Castilla La Mancha) which was a syrah, tempranillo, cab blend and two tapas - Aubergine lasagne with peppers and goat cheese and Cod Croquette with ratatouille. The lasagne comes piping hot in a pan and eat bite melts in your mouth. The cod was more of a puree inside a fried crust. Combined with the ratatouille it was an explosion of different tastes in one. I haven't eaten that much on this trip so my little lunch left me very full. Spain has been pretty expensive thus far yet this was my best meal and the lasagne was 2.69, the cod was 2.87 and the FULL glass of wine was a whopping 1.39 Euro. I should just drink wine the rest of this trip!

There was about two hours left before my train even though two hours had been plenty for me. I wish I could've left earlier. I wandered around some more and stopped at Confiteria Santo Tome to buy some mazapan. Not to be confused with marzipan, mazapan is a little almond cake that is glazed and often covered in nuts. Santo Tome is debatably the most famous creator of mazapan in Spain so I had to give them a try. It was certainly good but not the most amazing thing I've ever had.

Finally, it was time to take the bus to the train station. I arrived an hour before my train so I went to the little bar instead the station for a drink. As I was walking in a guy told me I had awesome shoes (I was wearing my hot orange sneakers) and that his daughter has a hot pink pair just like them.

He calls them her "sharpies" (like the marker although I feel like "highlighter" would make more sense?). This snowballed into an hour long conversation with him and his wife over beers. He is originally from Cuba and his wife is from Philly and boy did they have crazy stories to tell me about Miami and the old days in Cuba when you could get your throat sliced in your sleep. It was a fascinating conversation and before we parted he recommended Botin as the best and oldest restaurant in Madrid that I had to try out. Maybe I will hit that up tomorrow for dinner!

I barely made it home around 11pm before passing out. My friend gets here tomorrow and he is going to want to party so I need to get sleep while I can! Ciao!

July 16, 2011

I woke up super late again today (gotta prepare myself for Ben's arrival and the imminent drinking that will occur after). He arrived around 3pm and we immediately set up to play his favorite travel game. It's simple. You have to walk to an area you haven't been yet and then stop at a bar for a small plate of food or a drink. Rinse and repeat until you are drunk and full. Seeing as how I've already been pretty much everywhere we headed north of Gran Via to Chueca, Madrid's gay district.

The first place we stopped at had an Irish feel to it and 2.50 Euro beers. It was standard. The next place we stopped we ordered the huevos which turned out to be a little tower of scrambled eggs, eggplant, red pepper, walnuts, etc, that was SO good. Judging from the salt and pepper shakers we were definitely in the gay district :-) It also turned out that this place was a vegetarian restaurant (Meg where were you on that one!?)

Next we ended up walking past this place called Blood Brothers so we clearly had to go in. Inside was a grunge rock bar with a bunch of older Spanish men wearing Iron Maiden T-shirts. It might be one of the weirdest things I've ever seen. Yes, of course I snagged a pic for you guys.

The final place on our trek was just down the street from El Tigre (I'd tried to take Ben there but it was closed!) This bar we got down to the business of really eating. We ordered Jamon Iberico, Solomillo con Brie and Chorizo a la Sidra. Basically ham, sirloin with brie and sausages in cider.
They were all decent but not amazing.

It was getting close to 6pm so we went back to the hostel, slept for an hour and then headed out to Botin near Plaza Mayor. Botin restaurant was founded in 1725 and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world. They are known for their roasted suckling pig and lamb that is cooked in a giant wood oven in the old Castilian method. The oven is as old as the restaurant. We obviously ordered the lamb and the pig and an appetizer of red pepper with cod. The cod was a little weird...and raw. The pig was okay and the lamb was pretty damn good. It's definitely more about the experience than the food in my opinion and it is quite expensive. Our meal was 80 Euro.

Before I forget! The reason we ended up there was because the couple from Toledo recommended it. The guy said that if we asked for the owner and showed his card that we might get a gift. I was pretty impressive when the owner himself arrived at our table and chatted with us for about ten minutes. He offered to let us tour the kitchen and at the very end of the night made a gift to me of a sangria jar. It was beautiful and hand-painted. Gonna have some trouble packing that bad boy.

The meal also took almost three hours so we had to run back to the hostel, drop our shit, throw back three beers at Museo de Jamon and take the subway to Atocha station to go to Kapital. If you don't get there before 1:30am the price of entry goes up. As it was it was already 15 Euro cover but in Puerta del Sol as we were headed to the metro a promoter gave me six drink tickets - sweet. Too bad we never made it there. The line was gigantic and we made friends with five Spanish kids who we later found out were eighteen. Damn I feel old. Instead we ended up at a club called FAME (Gaga would be so proud!) which was tons of fun.

We got home after 6am so it was officially my latest night out in Europe so far. Can't wait to beat my record when I get to Portugal tomorrow!