|This morning started out with a delicious breakfast of eggs with carne seca, avocado, tortillas and salsa. It was very nice to have a homemade meal, and it was delicious—just what I needed after eating out for the past 11 days. We had a very relaxed morning, as it had to be since we were waiting on Félix to assist in fixing the water heater. It wasn't until around 2:00PM that he repaired the problem, which was when we decided to head out and meet up with Paul's friends Marianne and Brynn. Neither is native to Spain, so I knew it wasn't going to be a day in which I would speak a lot of Spanish, but what I did get to experience is how people live in Madrid, which involves a lot of eating.
For lunch we went to a local restaurant in Malasaña called Naif, which serves the best burgers, so I was told. I knew we'd be going to other restaurants throughout the day, which is the typical way of eating here in Madrid, so I didn't feel bad about getting something typically American. Much to my relief, I wasn't lied to when I was told the burgers at Naif were some of the best. And since I'm a huge fan of burgers, it would take a very special burger to win me over—and it did. It was a simple cheeseburger, but the meat was so fresh and there was a sauce that really made the burger what it was. I could have eaten two of them, but I had to pace myself since I knew I'd be doing a lot more eating throughout the day. Aside from the great food, it was neat to learn about how Marianne (from the U.S.) and Brynn (from Canada and affectionately called "The Canadian") ended up in Spain.
Once we finished lunch, the four of us decided to take a bike ride through Madrid so I could get a good view of the city. It's really economical and quite popular to pay for bike rental in Madrid. There are 'kiosks' set up all throughout the city, so as long as you have a bike card and your bike account has money in it, you can insert the card and rent a bike and be on your way. The cool weather today made it a great day for biking, and that became evident when the first two kiosks that we went to didn't have enough bikes for the four of us. The third time is definitely a charm, because there were plenty of bikes once we arrived. The bikes here in Madrid aren't your ordinary bikes. Yes, you can shift gears and ring a neat little bell, but these bikes also have a motor in them. You determine whether you want to go slow, medium, or high with your speed, and then once you start pedaling, the motor kicks in and your bike takes off. It's a quick push, but very effective so that you hardly have to pedal at all. And in order to keep your speed going, you have to pedal again to get another jolt from the motor. So if you pedal at a leisurely pace, then you can create a good, steady speed and get to your destination in no time. It was a little awkward at first, but after a minute or two of figuring it out, I ended up loving it.
We went on a route that is Paul and Marianne's normal Sunday bike ride. We went through side streets, busy streets, parks, over bridges, around ponds—everywhere. At one point we stopped at La Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida to see Francisco de Goya's remains. If you'd like to learn about Francisco Goya and a little bit about his art, click here. A fun fact about the tomb of Goya is that his head is missing, and no one knows where it is. It's a creepy, unsettling detail, but also neat to know. From there we made our way to a nearby park and enjoyed some tapas while sitting near a large pond. The weather was perfect, the crowd was minimal, and I was in good company. It was definitely another moment when I was feeling lucky to be in Spain. There was a very interesting moment when we were sitting at the table and looking out towards the lake when Marianne mentioned her bike number, just so we wouldn't get confused as to who rode which bike. Paul said his bike number was 0044, which we thought was fairly cool. I then happened to look at my bike number and saw that it was 1211. 12-11. December 11. My birthday. What are the chances that of all the bikes I could have chosen in the whole city of Madrid that I would pick the one whose bike number is my birthday? Perhaps there was a little bit of fate playing into today's bike ride? It was definitely a goosebumps moment for me.
We headed back to the city once we finished our tapas, and I have to say again how nice it is that the bikes are motorized, because it would have been a pain to pedal up the hills that we came down to get to the park. We deposited the bikes at a kiosk and agreed that it was necessary to eat more food. Since going from place to place and eating lots of food is the Spanish way to enjoy your time out in the city, we went to a place called El Museo de Jamón and enjoyed some lomo y jamón (meats) and a caña. Paul suggested we then head to another local place where the croquetas are amazing, and since those have quickly become one of my favorite foods here in Spain, there was no way I was going to say 'no' to that. Are you starting to see how a lot of what I do has become based around food!? It's a good thing! We passed by a pastelería, and I was craving something sweet. I've been indulging in napolitanas con chocolate recently, so I decided to do one with crema, and I was not disappointed. Every bite of the pastry was so good, I knew that I'd be making a trip back to have another one soon. Maybe tomorrow. Or tonight, if they're still open. Thankfully I'm doing a lot of walking otherwise I'd come back a few pounds heavier!
We finished the evening by going to get some of these famous croquetas that definitely lived up to all the fame that I had heard about. Though from my experience in Spain so far I have yet to experience a bad croqueta. In fact, I don't believe such a thing exists. The food here is so good, and there are still so many things that I have yet to try. Of course, I don't want this to always be about food, but let's face it, it's a huge component of traveling. I had my camera on me today, so I was able to get some good pictures of the bike ride and some sights from around the city. Also, make sure to check out the video below!
For your viewing pleasure, he's some footage of today's bike trip through Madrid.