DonQui is in Madrid for a day. Well two half-days to be precise but precision never was one of his strong points. He has not been to Madrid before and the fact that there is so much to see poses a bit of a quandary. There are basically two options for a first time visitor to a great city with only 24 hours to explore.
The first is to read up in advance; make lists, notes and careful plans; print off maps; dog-ear travel guides; and pre-book as much as you can. This will help to maximise every precious minute and make it possible to cram in all sorts of incredibly interesting things.
The second option is to find a pleasant outdoor café, then settle in for a bit. After a few hours of soaking up the atmosphere one should contemplate seeking out a suitable establishment for a leisurely lunch. A brief nap in the afternoon will help to restore after the morning’s exertions and to prepare for an evening walk followed by a few drinks and then supper. Readers will probably not be surprised to learn that DonQui is most assuredly following the second option.
He is rather pleased with his hotel Petit Palace Santa Barbara which is located on the eponymous plaza in the city centre. It is built around an inner courtyard which also serves as a bar. The rooms are very modern even providing laptop computers (firmly secured to the desk!).
The Plaza Santa Bárbara is strewn with chairs and tables so DonQui thinks it should be quite easy to find a spot to settle in. Not so! Every table is already full by 7pm. Watching the natives he surmises that the trick is to circle around like a vulture over a dying animal and then swoop as soon as someone gets up. His first attempt at this fails. He is too polite and waits for the previous patrons to completely move away. This gives an opening for a more aggressive vulture to swoop in first. His second attempt is much more successful. Table secured, DonQui remains glued to it sipping his beer, reading a book and watching the world go by.
By 9pm the restaurants are opening so DonQui goes off exploring for a likely place. Just around the corner by Alonso Martinez Metro station is the Sagasta28 Bistro & Gourmet.
‘This will do very nicely,’ DonQui thinks so he trots down the steps and settles himself. The atmosphere is laid back and friendly — the food is quite excellent.
A lovely meal of rosemary lamp chops and fried potatoes washed down by a glass of red wine and accompanied by rustic bread and a sample of various olive oils really hits the spot.
So does DonQui actually do any touristy stuff in Madrid? Apart from strolling around a bit he does spend an hour or so at the excellent Archeological Museum. He particularly likes old stuff, especially Roman old stuff.
The museum has a very good collection, including exhibits from the Visigoths which are of particular interest to DonQui as his alter ego, Simon MacDowall, is writing a book about them.