Life Begins at Lunch

Monday, April 9, 2012

Janel has to work today so I am on my own. We had such a late night last night and I don’t have any pressing plans so I gloriously sleep in. I am at Hostal Lopez, a quiet, unassuming place in the Las Huertas neighborhood. It is simple, clean, friendly, well-located and cheap. I finally drag out around 10am and am hungry for breakfast.

I decide to go to a place that Janel, Janet and I have gone before: Le Pain Quotidien. It is a Belgian bakery/restaurant that has superb pastries/bread and has a couple of communal tables. I especially like that the coffee is served in little bowls.

A gorgeous Madrid day greets me as I walk to the restaurant. Once again, I marvel at the everyday sights of Madrid. Navigation is easy today and I find the restaurant with little problem.

Le Pain is a welcoming site with friendly servers and a great menu. I quickly decide upon a double cafe latte and a yogurt with granola and fruit. The server asks if I would care for a croissant. Well now that you mention it – may I have a chocolate croissant? I had the foresight to bring a magazine from home and enjoy a leisurely breakfast while reading and people watching.

After breakfast I return to Hostal Lopez (not what you think of as a HostEl) to try and catch up on the blog. The owner greets me (they speak next to no English) and informs me that my “madre” (mother) has called and left a message. I wisely interpret him to mean that my “daughter” has called and retire to my quarters to try and contact Janel.

Did I mention that I lost my new phone? When we arrived in Madrid I took it out, fired it up and noticed that the battery was almost dead. I thought I slipped it into my purse, but when I got to my room I discovered that it was missing!! I resort to calling Janel via Skype and learn that she went to work only to find out that school is closed today! Who knew?We are both quite happy to realize that we have a bonus day to spend together and plan to meet at 2:00 for lunch.

When Janel arrives at my place we discuss where to go and she expresses regret that we did not get to spend the morning together, but then makes the astute observation that (at least in Spain) “life begins at lunch.” The decision is made to walk to a restaurant where we have been before last time I was in Madrid – la Mucca. It is chosen because we can sit outside and it is a glorious day in Madrid. Oh, they also have great salads and pizza. Oh, and the waiters are cute and flirty (with Janel).

We feel the need to negate our pitiful Neopolitan pizza adventure and happily order a spicy chicken pizza with jalepenos and cilantro. A Physalis salad (look it up) completes our meal. We sit and sip our Tintos de Verrano and contemplate the good life.

During our lunch we also solve a serious problem. It seems I have an abundance of Euros. Janet and I settled up when she left and I agreed that she could pay me with her Euros since I still had several days in which I could spend them. I really have been trying, but just can’t seem to get rid of them all. . .Janel and I agree that a small shopping spree is in order.

A shopping spree in Madrid always involves a trip to Maz for shoes. I have already been there, but Janel needs a new pair. She settles in on the red ones (who wouldn’t?) I resist the urge to join her.

We are already worn out and must stop for coffee. There is a place that I have been wanting to go for coffee and a rooftop view of Madrid – Circulo de Bellas Artes. They have an awesome rooftop and you can get a beautiful panoramic of the city. We love it.

Now properly caffeinated, we carry on. Janel leads us down some tiny avenues where there are cute, independent shops. We duck into a few but don’t really find anything that calls to us. (She is looking for a new spring dress). Finally we stumble upon  Monkey Garden boutique. Hmmm, this could work.

Janel receives personal attention from the owner/buyer and once he sees her style and size he begins to pull out some wonderful dresses for her. She has a ball trying them all on and prancing in front of the mirror. She finds 2 that she dearly loves. One is “practical” and one is “impractical” but way too cute on her to pass up. We take both.

Practical or not?

With my Euro stash whittled down to just enough to afford a cab to the airport in the morning we end our spree and head home to change for dinner. On the way we remember that we had wanted to stop by the wine store to see if they got in any of the wine that we loved at Poncelet. Last week, they told us it would be here by today. We have both discovered a wine region in Spain that is new to us – Bierzo – and we have been enjoying wines from that region. Bingo! They have exactly the one that we want (Cepas Viejas) AND the owner also shows us another Bierzo that he claims will blow the first one out of the water. Janel buys one for me and I buy one for her. Done deal. Now I just have to find room in my suitcase…

Tonight we plan to go back (gasp!) to Juana la Loca because we loved it our first night and there were items on the menu that we wanted to try.Janel shows up at my door decked out in her new digs. She looks amazing. It is so nice outside and the stroll to Juana la Loca is quite pleasant. We are happy to find a free table and settle in.

We peruse the menu and order the Solomillo (small piece of beef tenderloin on bread) and the Soft-shelled crab. Cava is sipped while we wait.

A bit of hunger still remains. We could stay here an order something else, but we decided to change venues. Janel knows of a really typical Austurian place just down the street. Taberna Almendro 13 is perfect. Crowded, very Spanish and a typical menu. We zero in on the Pisto (a tomato-based stew with an egg on top) and a 1/2 raccion of jamon. (gotta end my stay with jamon).

This cannot be a late night. Janel has work early tomorrow and I have a cab coming at 8. We reluctantly walk back to my place with a feeling of melancholy. There are never enough hugs and far too many tears in our goodbye. (it is even hard to write this) We try to be brave and tell each other that I have to leave in order to come back. Goodnight dolly.


3 thoughts on “Life Begins at Lunch

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