Wednesday, April 28, 2010

the kissing spot

The most romantic spot in Madrid must be the Plaza de Oriente (below) in front of the Palacio Real, judging from the number of kissing couples I saw as I crossed over from the palace to the opera house one late afternoon.

I couldn't help but take pics – after all, I didn't think these lip-locked lovers minded at all.

Except for a pair who hid behind one of the tall topiaries (below) when they saw me holding up my Lumix camera. Ooops!

The shy pair looked like they were in their 60s, but they were certainly kissing like it was their very first time – with equal parts of passion and clumsiness.

An important tip: Keep your eyes closed while kissing. You'll look much better that way – to your partner, or to paparazzi like me. :-)

(Top pic) The Series 4 Cute Bearbrick, launched in August 2002, was inspired by young love.

All pics by yours truly, Copyright April 2010.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

tapas town

There are 3 reasons why I gained weight after my first 3 days in Madrid, Spain.

1. The food is "muy delicioso".
2. There is a place to eat at every turn.
3. Shops are closed between 2 to 5pm (siesta time), so there is nothing for tourists like me to do but EAT, EAT, EAT!

Reason #3 led me to a place called Mercado de San Miguel (below), a 1900s public market that reopened in May 2009, after it started restoration in 2008 in the hands of private businessmen. Encased in glass and wrought iron, the place now houses delicatessens, tapas bars and stalls that offer meat, seafood, fruits, cheese, wine, beer, dessert, coffee – even books.

This is how it looks just before it gets full at lunch time.(Which is around 1:30 to 3pm!)

Above is the meat stall where everybody buys Jamon Iberico, a type of cured ham that is only available in Spain. You have to take a number when there's a crowd.

Customers normally order "cien gramos" or 100 grams. (Yes, that is an Iberian pig's hoof that you see. LOL)

My other favorite stall is the one with "aceitunas" or olives. (That's Jun, waving.)

I couldn't help but order 2 of each of these "tapas de olivas". Para mi, they're the best! The olives provide a refreshing aftertaste.

Anchovies with poached "huevos" (eggs) on toast, a must-try.

"Croquetas" (potato croquettes) of different flavors are sold here. The one with calamares negros (black squid ink) is my favorite.

This is the cheese stall where you can buy Manchego, the most popular cheese in all of Spain.

The best desserts in the entire market – Pastel de Nata (left) and Pastel de Queso (right). Both are eggs tarts but with different flavors; one has coconut while the other has cheese.

Because of the number of choices, you'll probably have dessert more than once. :-)

To drink, I always had the Spanish "sangria", a mixture of red wine, brandy, triple sec, fruit juice and sugar. It's so light and easy to drink; you'll get drunk before you know it!

Madrid isn't like New York, Hong Kong or Paris when it comes to shopping. If it's any indication, you won't find a Balenciaga boutique here (even though its original designer and founder, Cristobal Balenciaga, was born in Spain)!

In Madrid, what you save in shopping money, you gain in calories! :-P

(Top pic) The Spain "We Love Football" Bearbrick is one of a series of bears representing some of the countries who participated in the 2006 World Cup. Produced in cooperation with Kentucky Fried Chicken Hong Kong.

Photos by yours truly. Copyright 2010.