While making the normal Sunday rounds of food and cervezas in La Latina, we came upon this strange bulbous machine made of plastic, light bulbs, and cups. It was labeled “Hucha de Deseos,” which means Piggy bank of Desires, and the instructions said to drop in some coins and whisper your innermost desires into the microphone, which would record your soundbite and save it into the machine. I think the idea behind it was to mobilize people into thinking about how to create a better city and community.
After some excellent pizza, we went to El Malandrin, a bar on Calle Almendro which serves good mojitos…and lollipops in a big jar. We spent awhile trying to think of the correct translation of “sour” in Spanish. Our faces reveal the intense effort made.
Next: Porcupine Tree Concert. I’d never heard of this band before, but Susie swore to their greatness, so we went to La Riviera, near Puerta del Angel, to see their show. We were impressed by the space, with bar and surrounding palm trees in the middle, nice lighting, and lots of standing area close to the stage. I was actually surprised by the huge crowd that turned up, and the band’s visuals were amazing. Show was awesome, I’m a new fan. Check them out.
Welcome to La Latina, the most lively neighborhood in Madrid on Sundays. We used to come here at night to grab some beers (some nights turning into mornings), but since it was such a nice day this Sunday, the streets of La Latina were completely filled with people having lunch, drinking, meeting up with friends…
There were so many people that we couldn’t find any place outside to sit down. I’ve never seen a neighborhood so alive in the last six months of my stay here. It was as if there were a festival of some kind that day, but no…just a normal Sunday in Madrid. This always surprises me, that on whichever day of the week you can also find something fun to do somewhere. We went to a Mexican restaurant, and then we went to have some beers in a bar called Six, where a friend of his was working as a DJ that night.
One of my favorite spots is a bar called Lamiak, which is pretty popular and also overflowing with people. Me and Judy have some fond memories of this place, and I especially love it on Sunday afternoons – the atmosphere and the people are much more calm, you can converse and relax.
We’ve also spent a lot of time in Chueca these days to dine in different restaurants, including Asian ones, which I’ve missed a lot, of course. Every time we plan to have a quiet night, we end up staying at bars and clubs drinking whisky until we get drunk and encounter strange people. I think we’re quite a funny couple. Another long, eventful weekend.
So I’ve learned a couple of fun new things over the weekend. First, that picture up there is taken from Friday night when me and Monica met up for tapas in La Latina. It’s of a cartoon Michelin Man (like from the tire company) I guess spinning flat pizza dough in his hand. Monica then told me that the flubby rolls on a fat person’s belly are called “michelines” in Spanish, a reference to the the white rolls on the Michelin Man. I made use of the word on a very good occasion later on that weekend.
I also learned a new drinking game called “La reina se casa con…” which means “The queen is marrying…” Basically it’s like a name tag game with two phrases that gets you trashed quickly.
I also saw my first impromptu flamenco performance on Friday night at this tiny Sevillan bar in La Latina. Monica and I happened to be walking by a small street when this deep-throated singing drew us into the bar. There was a small dark man singing next to a guitarist whose fingers were just running break-neck speed over the instrument. It was amazing. People were clapping their hands and stomping their feet and getting really into it. That was the highlight of the night, besides catching up with Monica over some cañas and tapas.
Also, I want to add: Whoever labeled New York City as the city that never sleeps obviously has never been to Madrid. I mean this. I have never seen anyone, ANYONE, love to have a good time as much as the people in Madrid do. On Friday, it seemed like a parade was going on in La Latina with the amount of people sauntering through the zig-zag streets. And it’s not just that they go out; obviously there are parts of NYC where you see people hanging out in the streets at odd hours during the weekend. It’s this kind of ritualized, ingrained custom of having a damn good time that you sense when you see an entire plaza filled with Spañiards sitting back, smoking, drinking, talking. They seem to live for that kind of thing. It’s not taking a break or a having a night out. It’s what they do all the time. They take eating and socializing very seriously. And you would never see anyone alone. There are always the endless groups of friends that arrive and share the rest of the night. Who needs a 24 hour metro when you have the world’s most perfect 24 hour bus lines? And who needs to worry about the metro closing at 2 AM when it never occurred to you to go home before the metro opens again?
More to come on the rest of the weekend…