"The fundamental things apply as time goes by."
When I make discoveries about Madrid, they are usually for utilitarian purposes. Where and what do I like to eat, for example. Where are the nicest parks and the coolest sights. How do you get to the aforementioned places. Such discoveries streamline my existence.
Sharing those discoveries with other people, however, makes them so much sweeter and so much more enjoyable... especially with Patrick :)
Top 10 to Share:
10. Getting turned around. Chuckle because the other person is getting a little uncomfortable and/or frustrated with the situation - one that is now commonplace for you and actually lends itself to adventure. On that note, ask a stranger for directions and get yet another free ride out of it. (Mothers of the world - yes, yes, I know... I promise not to make a habit out of this...)
9. Point out various differences in Spanish culture... the policemen who stand on corners and laugh together, how well-dressed Spaniards are, the graffiti everywhere, the old people who are constantly out and about and active.
8. People watching in La Puerta del Sol. Try to spot the Americans based on clothing and behavior. Also, watch the street performers - Mariachi bands, string quartets, gypsy xylophonists, Chewbacca, etc.
7. Sit outside at a cafe and enjoy a plate of olives. Enjoy the fact that Spanish servers don't get tipped so they don't care how long you stay; in fact, they almost encourage it... sobremesa, it's called.
6. Walk through the enormous Retiro Park on your way anywhere, notice the number and assortment of people enjoying the atmosphere, and wonder how the royal family could have kept it solely for themselves for so many years.
5. Go tapa-ing at La Blanca Paloma... or anywhere else for that matter. Fight your way through the door, pounce on the table that just became available, buy a glass or two of Tinto de Verano and enjoy the free dishes that accompany it... and be amazed at how full you are afterwards, all for about 12E total.
4. Introduce (with some selectivity) the best Spanish dishes (croquettas, torrijas, neopolitanas, tortilla española, queso de tertilla, etc) and feel gratified when the other person orders them on their own a second time.
3. Eat at Botin's, the world's oldest restaurant. Ask to see the basement (the oldest part of the restaurant) and watch as the server's eyes light up as he offers to show you their world-famous oven as well.
2. Paddle around Retiro's lake in a row boat as you soak up the sun and enjoy the live jazz music drifting across the water.
1. Take a break to recharge on the 9th floor cafe of El Corte Inglés and enjoy the spectacular view of Madrid.