Three Times, Always The Charm – Madrid

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I have a serious crush on Madrid. I’ve been there three times now in about a year and a half, obviously I can’t stay away! It was dead in August and I loved it. Though some places were closed for vacation, there was more than enough open to enjoy the life of this great city without all the usual crowds.

Please check out my previous two posts about Madrid in addition to these new great finds!

Art Heaven

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Gorge on art! The amazing Caravaggio and the Painters of the North exhibit is on through September 18th at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. I ADORE this museum. It’s not as huge as the Prado, but as a review of Western European painting, it succeeds beautifully. I had no expectations for this exhibit and it blew me away. I got goosebumps. I’d seen little pictures in my textbooks, but the canvases in front of me were huge and pulsed with life.

Museo del Prado

Imagine my surprise when I visited Madrid on a whim and an exhibit on Hieronymous Bosch was on at the Prado! The exhibition honors the 500th anniversary of his death. On through September 11th, the exhibit is the hot ticket in town and it was stuffed. People really respond to Hieronymous Bosch’s truly sinister and strange paintings. It’s the most exhaustive and comprehensive collection of his paintings ever put on, and also includes works by contemporaries and followers.

Buying tickets in advance is a must for this exhibit, either online or in person at the ticket kiosk. Make sure to click the option that you want to visit the special el Bosco exhibit if you buy online. Also, though I did not see this online, in person at the ticket counter there is an option to only visit the el Bosco exhibit for 8 Euros.

Every Day a Little Feast

Carmencita Bar
Calle San Vincente Farrer, 51

Starting at the crack of noon, get delicious Eggs Benedict with avocado at this crowded and cheerful café. There is also a good value brunch prix fixe including an entrée, coffee, mimosa and a dessert for 15 Euros. Reservations recommended or the wait can be very long.

Revoltosa, Taberna para Gatos
Plaza del Rey, 4

Surprising gem with a cat theme in a quiet plaza. We noticed that another table ordered exactly what we did – a wedge of tortilla and tempura zucchini. Perfect midnight dinner. Try the delicious dÓrio Madrid red wine. Madrid is not typically renowned as a wine region like Ribera or Rioja Tempranillo, but I had to get a second glass of this beauty that had a Bourbon scent.

Leka Leka
Calle San Bruno, 3

Excellent service and delicious tinto de verano – red wine cut with citrus soda. On a cute side street around the corner from pricier taverns in La Latina, this place has great salads if you’re tired of heavier fare.

Taberna Maceiras
Calle Huertas, 66

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We had a glorious late night fiesta at this Galician joint. It’s packed to the gills, and for good reason. We split a huge regional cheese platter, Padrón peppers, patatas bravas with an exceptional tomato sauce and perfect brown bread. We both had a glass of dry white and red – dark as night – Galician wine. It comes in saucers like tea cups without handles. Thirty Euros for the whole shebang? No wonder locals flock to this place.

Flamenco

Tablao Flamenco La Quimera
Calle de Sancho Dávila, 34

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When in Spain, you need to see a flamenco show. But finding one that is not a tourist trap can be a bit challenging, especially during August. Our normal go-to, Candela, was closed for the month. My friend did quite a bit of sleuthing to find a place that was more about the dancing and the music and less about the spectacle. Bordering the swanky Salamanca neighborhood, we took a chance at this theater and booked seats for the 8pm show for 18 Euros a piece (includes one standard drink). The venue abides by certain traditional rules, one being no artificial amplification. The effect is an intimate and highly affecting experience. Simple, powerful, wonderful – a great evening! Highly recommended.

After about a week in majestic Madrid, my friend and I went to rainy Dublin to hang out for a few days. Madrid, you gorgeous beast, I count the days until I can visit again!

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