In Madrid we wake up late, 10:30 AM, and are out by 11:30 with a quick stop at, yes, Starbucks. Mom has to, but the Travel Tyrant vows not to let us do so every day. As it turns out, it would be our only Starbucks purchase, though we would certainly see them all over.

At the Prado, we contemplate going into the botanical gardens, but since there is a long line, we decide to leave it for Sunday. Instead, we enter the Prado by it's side entrance across from the Botanical Gardens which was very easy, and also free on Sundays. What followed was a quick walk through room after room of exhibits in a mad, circular dash of trying to find a bathroom. They certainly make it difficult; the first one we find is in the cafeteria, but has a huge line and the next is so hidden and out of the way, it is virtually empty. I know we hit the highlights of the museum and saw some fantastic, famous works of art - Goya's Majas and Saturn Devouring One of His Sons, and Ruben's Three Graces - but honestly, the rest was quite a blur.

For dinner, we go out on our own little marcha on Calle de la Cava Baja and Calle de la Cava Alta. These two streets, southwest of the Plaza Mayor are loaded with restaurants and tapas bars. First stop is Taberna Algorta, with Basque style tapas. We have 2 glasses wine and a tapa de pulpo - a piece of toasted bread brushed with oilve oil with a slice of cooked octopus and a dusting chili powder for 6.8 euro. Next is Tempranillo which is very busy by the time we arrive. They have tons of wine by the glass, all listed on a chalkboard. I order an Izadi Roija and my mother, strangely, orders a Syrah.

She takes one sip and says loudly, "how do you say this is $#!&?" Nice, eh? A Spaniard, standing at the bar next to us, tells her exactly how to say it in Spanish, but I really don't want her trying that out on the bartender. She insists the wine is bad, as in, it had been in an open bottle too long. The Travel Tyrant says, "why would you order an a Syrah in Spain anyway?" But I learned long ago to keep the peace, so I tell the bartender she said it was bad and he just shrugs his shoulders. I order her another glass, a rioja this time, which is fine. We also order two tostas; one of soft goat cheese and the other of a rustic paté on toasted bread.

I cringe while my mother flirts with the thirty-something yuppies to my left. When I ask for the bill the bad wine is on it. I tell the bartender again that it was bad, not that she just didn't like it. He glares at me with this look of immense irritation and then turns to the other bartender and tells him what I'd said. The other bartender uncorks the wine, pours some into a glass, sips it and proclaims it just fine. At this point I figure it's not worth arguing over 2 euro so I pay the 11.20 Euro check and we leave, to end the day with ice cream near the hotel.

(more confessions from the Travel Tyrant, here:
Spain 2005 - Madrid and Andalucia)


words: Kristina Johnson, California (wired2theworld)
photo: Steve Wing, Florida (sand shadow)

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