Buenas Noches en Madrid

Where do you even begin with a city like Madrid?  Daytime activities?  Nighttime festivities?  The city never sleeps…  Which may be in part to the fact that the sun doesn’t even think about setting until 10 pm–around the same time that Spanish people decide to finally eat dinner.  What a predicament for this hungry girl. 
Slightly bright for 9:45 pm, wouldn’t you say?
So, as I mourn the death of my exceptional journey, I shall document las noches in Madrid… to be eventually followed by los dias.  Try to contain your excitement, as I try to contain my tears. 
 One of my favorite nights was spent in Parque del Retiro, which is breathtaking in the light and dark.  May 15 was a Spanish holiday and one of Pablo’s friend’s birthday, so we packed some picnic foods and prepared to make some new Spanish friends.  Eventually I got the hang of the two-kiss introductions, only after an awkward song and dance of jabbing a few people in the stomach as I went in for the handshake and they went in for the smooches.
We all sat and snacked and sipped on wine, some of us a little lost in translation, while we watched the most sensational firework show over the lake in the center of the park.  Somewhere in the midst of the fireworks and the crowds, some traditional Spanish music danced around.
Another night, our wise tour guide led the four of us, all sporting classy shades of black, to a modest, little bar full of peculiar laughter and every flavor of mojitos you could ever imagine.  May I recommend the strawberry?
We got some pizza around 2, because of course restaurants are still open that… uh, early? And were later criticized for being exhausted and ready to go to bed at 3 am.  It wasn’t our fault we were still jetlagged… on the 7th day.  What, you don’t buy that excuse either?
Of course, you can’t leave Spain before indulging in a little sangria!  So on one of our final nights, we went on a hunt for the “cuevas” that the nice man in an athletic jump suit, sporting Louis Vuitton luggage at the airport insisted we find.  My guidebook also recommended the street caves… and after walking, and walking, and some more walking, we finally found them hidden in the corners of Plaza Mayor.
Quite charming, right?
 Each cave has a different specialty and unique personality, so we wandered until we found a cave that fit our sangria fancies. No matter which cave you choose, though, you are sure to find singing, dancing, guitar playing, clapping and merrymaking.  All of Pablo’s favorites.
We found ourselves at Meson de la Guitarra. As we walked down the stairs and into the old cave, we were greeted by dozens of men, called “tuna.”  They wore traditional sixteenth-century clothing and sang and played traditional Spanish songs on their traditional Spanish guitars.
It was a lively bar, but we made our way into a quite, red-bricked corner, snacked on some potatoes, sipped on some succulent sangria and soaked up the local flavor.
Texas just isn’t quite as cool… in so many ways.
**I didn’t dare take my camera out at night, so please forgive my poor-quality, iPhone, Instagramed pictures.

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