The fourth day was going to be light. I had planned for just one museum to visit but is filled with little eats here and there. It is also the day of shopping … Suanne’s shopping, not mine.
For once we slept in a little and take our own sweet time to get ready to go out. It was a time to catch up on emails and matters of this blog (moderating and responding to comments). We had not signed in to the internet for several days already and I must say it was good!
We decided to go to a place called Cafe & Te. It is a chain restaurant because we see a number of them all over the city of Madrid.
There are smokers here just like all other restaurants here. It bothers us big time but I guess it is how it is in Spain. I am so thankful that in Vancouver we can treat smokers like pariah. In our city, we can afford to stare at people who light up a cigarette but here we are so meek.
Did you know that I once worked for the British American Tobacco Company before? Oh yeah, I was the Regional Corporate IT Manager for Asia Pacific. Even though I worked in the company and were given 2 cartons of cigarettes every week, I had never smoked at all. It was terrible working in a company where people smoke in meetings and you can’t speak out about it. I had to toe the party line. As a matter of fact, during the one week orientation in my first day at work, the first session was a discussion on “Is smoking bad?” (something like that). It was a dream job and a major career move … that’s why I worked there.
Today I still hate cigarette smoke.
We had the usual thing every morning. This time we also ordered the Jamaican Blue mountain just to see if there is a difference to the Cafe con Leche. We can’t tell the difference. It is not that the cafe con leche is as good as the Blue Mountain but it’s just that we are not sophisticated coffee drinkers.
We had something called the Panini Espaguolo. It is … Jamon Iberica with Mozarella. Too dry. The bread does taste like it had been sitting there for a good day already. 4 euros is what it costs.
The Castizo was much better and is very pleasing … to the eye. It is expensive though … 13 euros.
It has 2 fried eggs sitting on tiny potato chips with 3 slices of grilled green peppers. The ham was served with hollandaise sauce and complemented with some warm salsa made up of onions, tomatoes and green vegetables.
After breakfast, we strolled throughout Madrid. The morning was relatively colder.
Madrid is beautiful. You don’t see a lot of modern sleek high rise building here. It had managed to retain its historic charm despite that this is a modern city. As we walked around, I wished I know more about the monuments and buildings. I am sure there is a story to be told behind them.
The Naval Museum is located on Paseo del Prado where the three major art museums of Madrid are. Comparative to the 3 art museums, this is a minor museum. However, this Museo Naval de Madrid is one of the most important naval museums in the world. If you are into the history of Spain, this is definitely the museum to go to.
Entrance to the museum is free. It is very quiet and not many people were there.
The Spanish Navy, known better as the Spanish Armada, is one of the oldest and active naval forces in the world. They had shaped the world history from the discovery of the New World and from being the first to sail around the world. During the 16th and 17th century, the Spanish Armada ruled the waves around the world.
The decline of the Spanish Armada led to the decline of the Spanish empire as a whole. The major turning point was the Battle of Trafalgar where the Spanish Armada was almost annihilated by the British Royal Navy led by Admiral Nelson. The British Royal Navy did not lose a single ship while the Spanish Armada lost over 20 ships. Today if you go to London, you will find that the most important square is the Trafalgar Square and right in the middle is the Nelson’s column.
But before the world turned English, it was the Spanish empire that enveloped the world.
The exhibits are firstly lacking in information and if there are, it is in Spanish. I can see that a lot of the exhibits has rich historical significance.
This is the same problem when we were in Seville. We wanted to go to the Museum of Indian Archives which stores all the artifacts from the Spanish conquest of the New World. Too bad that too was in Spanish.
Anyway, we spent 1.5 hours here but it could have easily been more if only we know Spanish. There is a guided tour but there wasn’t any available on that day.
After the museum, we decided to go get more Jamon. We are close to the end of the vacation. So we thought we eat as much Jamon as possible because it will be a long time before we get to eat them as cheaply as we get it here.
So we took the Metro and headed back to Puerta del Sol. I remember that there was one on Calle Mayor which had an awesome looking frontage. Yes, we wanted to eat there.
This is a Jamon paradise and obviously very popular with the locals and tourists. The ground floor is the take away section and for those who wanted a quick stand-up snack. The upstairs, overlooking the ground floor is where the table service is.
There are hundreds of dry-cured ham hanging all over the stall of various grades. We were wondering if all of these are real and tried to see if there are some uniformity to them. It seems like they are all different.
We got seated upstairs which was very cramped. The people there does not seems to mind how close the tables were and that the waitresses were constantly asking people to make room for them to move about.
English is difficult here but we get by. We got the Jamon con Melon (4.50 euros, $6 Canadian) above because we saw the other tables getting this. We were thinking that people like it serves this way because it is a refreshing snack for a hot day.
It was marvelous! The sweetness of the melon was nicely balanced by the saltiness of the jamon. We felt like ordering one more. We didn’t. Instead we told ourselves we will come back again some other time to try their other varieties.
The Sopa Castellana (4.80 euros, $7 Canadian) was another winner. It is a soup of ham and eggs with pieces of bread dunked in. Very nice.
For the mains we ordered the Paella for Two. This is the version with everything and is 17 euros. It was too much food and we did not finish it, opting to leave room for more eating later on the day.
This paella contains chicken, pork, mussels, prawns … and …
… very small crab. We were not sure how to eat this because it is so small. We thought we just eat them whole and that was what we did.
We consider the paella similar in concept to risotto, biryani, pilaf rice and Jambalaya rice. You think?
To tell the truth, we tried paella a number of times in Spain and it did not quite wow us.
The paella was the most expensive item but otherwise it was quite a cheap meal.
After the meal, we walked to the Plaza de Espana. There was a very lively concert happening there and people brings the whole family out.
We were quite impressed that they have such a large concert on a week day. Even though we did not know what they were saying and singing, we just sat there by the cool fountain to soak in the festivities. Some toddlers came up to us to try to baby talk to us because I think we look different (orientals).
Guess what. We went back to Museo del Jamon. 🙂
This time we went to another place. We like the menu and the atmosphere in Museo del Jamon. The menu is very large and it contains all kinds of prices. They are as cheap as 1 euros to as expensive as you can imagine.
Since we were still quite full, we just got some small dishes. The Cocido Madrileno (7 euros) is basically chickpea stew.
It was served boiling hot. It was a lovely concoction of meat, sausage, carrot, green beans, potatoes and of course chick peas. This is like comfort food to me.
The flan was cold with a hint of bitterness. Very nice.
The Fruit Pudding was also cold and sweet. Suanne really likes both of the desserts.
Just a late night snack before we retire to bed.
That was the last time we visited the Museo del Jamon. We love this place so much. For all we care, this could have been considered by the locals as the McDonalds of Spain but to us this is a classy place. Yeah, we could never go wrong with this place.