Morning in Madrid is pretty calm. I guess that happens when most folks end their day at midnight. We were in fact, quite pooped. We awoke, had like three cups of espresso a piece and slowly woke up. The Missus had our day pretty much planned by the time we left.
We of course started at the Missus's favorite location the previous day, Puerto del Sol.
Strangely, I don't have a day time photo of the building which faces the Tio Pepe sign and the statue of Charles III. It was the first Post Office in Madrid and is currently the Governor's Office. Right in front of the building's main doorway is this marker on the ground.
This is "Kilometer Zero", which represents the center of Spain. So I guess this is where we were supposed to start, right? A good part of these walks were distilled by the Missus from Rick Steves Guidebook to Spain. The Missus will often combine all the walks into a single long one. We headed left and up (down?) the street and through Calle de Postas, a street that's been around since medieval times. Some of the building here were quite striking.
Like the display on this Watch Shop named Antigua Relojeria, which has been around since 1880.
This little street leads right into Plaza Mayor.
Pop out of the plaza and you end up at the very popular Mercado de San Miguel. Though not open at this early hour.
We weaved through streets, past buildings until we came to this memorial. This statue marks the spot of an assassination attempt on newlyweds King Alfonso and Princess Victoria by Mateu Morral. The statue memorializes the 15 people killed in the assassination attempt. No the King and Queen were not killed.
Further down the street is Almudena Cathedral. Construction started in 1879 and the cathedral was consecrated in 1993.
That's a 114 years!
Right across from the Cathedral is the Royal Palace of Madrid.
We had thoughts of visiting, but the Missus was on a tight schedule here, so maybe next time. East of the Royal Palace is Plaza de Oriente. We saw Mounted Police getting ready for their shift when we arrived.
It's a very nice green space.....
The street we were walking on is named Calle Arenal.
By this time; we had almost circled back to Puerto del Sol and were in need of a break. Some espresso seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. There's a charcuterie and cheese shop named Ferpal (strangely, we didn't even read about it in the guidebook until later - though RS's recommendations are in our opinion somewhat suspect for our tastes) on the street.
What looks like a coffee counter takes up half the shop....and folks were lining up for their morning (late morning) fix. So we decided to join in. The staff at the counter are rather diner worthy. As in grumpy in a somewhat humorous way. You still get served and everything works fine....for some reason, it just reminds me of a diners here in the states.
While waiting to order our "caffe" I noticed a couple of items on signs. The first was a plate of Lomo Iberico Bellota for a mere 4 Euros, which of course we got.
The Missus actually enjoys the less salty, leaner, more meaty cured pork loin (lomo). This was a nice little brunch item for us. I also noticed something on the menu board behind the counter. Under the heading "Sandwichs". Yes, not "sandwiches", but "sandwichs", the "crema" category were the words "foie gras". For .9 Euros, basically a buck. I had to try this.....
It was a nice little half sandwich, with the crust sliced off, just like mom would make. This was basically a light foie gras mousse. It was quite tasty and filling which we enjoyed it with our "caffe".
Calle del Arenal 7
We took a short shopping bread at El Cortes Ingles, the huge multi-floor department store. There's a supermarket in the basement of all El Cortes Ingles as far as I can tell.
The next leg of the walk was up Madrid's version of Broadway; Gran Via.
An interesting study in early 20th century architecture, what makes the street even more interesting is that the buildings were built in groups starting in 1910 and ending in the 1950's. So buildings on blocks were built around the same time.
The area around Cines Callao looks quite impressive and was open for business in 1926.
At the end we took a break at Plaza de Espana and watched these dogs having a great time.
We noticed that the dogs in every city seem to have distinct personalities. In Madrid, they were a rambunctious bunch, having their own mind, pulling their masters along.
Coming full circle we ended up back at Puerta del Sol. We were hungry, it was lunch time. Along the arteries stretching out from the square are tons of eateries. We looked in several of them, a few of which I had on my list and settled on La Oreja de Jaime.
It was quite interesting. There were tons of tourists outside the place, but only Spaniards in this little joint. On occasion someone would walk in, order a Caña...a small beer...polish it off in one large gulp and head on back out. For lunch this was a one man operation; Jaime took orders, cooked, served the drinks, bussed the tables. You name it. There were a couple of older folks eating and having drinks. We simply requested a couple of cañas and ordered from the chalkboard. No crazy equipment here, just a deep fryer, a stove, and a wonderfully seasoned flat top which you can see from the streetside window.
We started with some Padrons.
Thrown in the deep fryer, we quickly found out that Jaime does not go easy on the salt....it was good sea salt. Nice and almost sweet if a bit high on the sodium scale.
You'll notice the name of the place "Oreja"......so what else would you get from here but orejas....ears.
The orejas were only 5€, so we were flabbergasted at the portion size. Get a media (1/2) racione if you go here. These were simply done on the griddle, which, by the flavor, smoky and almost sweet is highly seasoned by who knows how many orders of pig ears. These were crunchy, wonderfully gristle-y, and chewy, with a pretty hefty amount of olive oil, a touch of smoked paprika, and since we love pig ears, quite enjoyable, though the Missus couldn't bring Herself to eat the hairy portions.
The champignons with camarones was also pretty good.
The shrimp was quite tasty, full of that nice shrimp flavor that folks in the states seem afraid of. It was a bit on the oily side, but I'm not complaining.
Man, the prices were quite cheap and we left stuffed. Even more impressive was the couple who walked in after us. Apparently, they come here often as Jaime knew them. The woman, who appeared to be in her 60's polished off an entire order of patatas bravas, as did her husband, they polished off a plate on pardons, another plate of something else I couldn't make out, and then, the husband having fallen by the wayside; the woman devoured a plate of orejas, while enjoying three beers. Not small caña sized glasses, but three bottles of beer...and some olives to boot!
Jaime is quite friendly, always smiling, even though he's a one man show. The prices are quite reasonable and this was a pretty good and simple lunch. No messing about, just good grub.
La Oreja de Jaime
Calle de La Cruz 12
It was getting quite hot and I was starting understand the how's and why's of how things are done here. At least I understood the necessity of a siesta......