Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Madrid – Stranger in a Strange Land

Viva la Spain! Our layover in Newark allowed us to coordinate times so that we caught the same plane as Bubba’s mom and step-dad. It was a family affair – all of us were on our way to see my sister-in-law sing opera in Sevilla, so we decided to spend a few days in Madrid before we took the train to meet her. It had been a bit of a debacle getting to our apartment. But who cared? Because even I was about to puke from the taxi looping in lost circles and heaved to breathe beneath an army of luggage, I was here.

Jetlag drugged every last one of us, but after a nap and shower, we finally got that shot of adrenaline that only visiting a foreign land can give. Immediately taken out of our bubble, not only with the language barrier, but also our loss of cell phones, made me giddy with the notion of becoming invisible while remaining alive and well.

Day 1 – Madrid: Tapas, Jamon and Mojitos, oh my!

Our first place was first rate to get our mouth’s mindset ready for a city of small portions. Miranda’s patrons smoked and chatted quietly, wedged between wooden tables stacked close together, making it hard to find a seat for four. Our waitress was patient with us, as we communicated by pointing and grateful smiles, leaving the first taste of Spain in our mouths with language rather than food.

A platter of neatly wrapped tapas reminding me more of Asian appetizers were followed by smoked salmon on rounded bread similar to a toasted bagel without the hole – decent, if not a bit boring. But then they brought the jamon for our first of many meetings with the country’s most beloved mascot.

Jamon: No, this isn’t what Michael Jackson shouts while grabbing his crotch, but instead a delightful cured meat close to proscuitto. If you’re a leg man, Spain is the place to be, if you’re a vegetarian, not so much. Jamon gams hang in every window like edible curtains and it seemed everyone owned their own pork leg…I could see myself living here.

Our “firsts” didn’t end with the jamon as we lifted our first Mojitos to toast our first sip on our first night in Madrid…and then we went on to have seconds.

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