26 May, 2017
Madrid is a grand capital city of Europe bathed in sunlight, warmth and friendliness. In a short, yet sole-bashing, liver-punishing, sleep-deprived 40 hours, I saw enough to know I wanted more.
Arriving from Cape Town via Doha can be a slightly out of body experience and you are not sure whether you need a glass of wine or a coffee and a scrambled. Turns out my body needed champagne. The concierge at the hotel had seen it all before…. two wide-eyed travellers whose rooms wouldn’t be ready for awhile but who had that call of the explore in their faces. Without a pause he handed over a map, advised a route, strictly instructed us to see the the Plaza Mayor but banned us from from eating or drinking in an over-priced square of tourists. No, we were to march on past a little way and stop and indulge at the Mercado de San Miguel. It was an outstanding piece of advice and we obeyed compliantly. Constructed in steel and glass, this covered market was originally built in 1916. Today, it is less of a market and more of a gourmet tapas and drinking destination. This is the spot to put your feet up for a long time after a long flight. We cleverly staked out some territory; bar stools at high marble-topped tables, and left one to defend and the other to do some intelligence and sourcing. And a defensive strategy was essential as the place filled up and seating became a rare commodity. We were not relinquishing any turf as we started with a platter of oysters and two glasses of the most restorative in rosé champagnes. Moving on to olives, mozzarella, grilled asparagus and more while some neighbours shared their bottle of Rioja. With 30 stalls of the finest Spanish fare ,this was a place to return to once or twice or three times more.
Arrive early and hungry and stay long and late. Comfortingly the Mercado only closes at 2 a.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Plaza de San Miguel, s/n 28005, Madrid (+34) 915 42 49 36
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