In Madrid, Pre-Roma – UPDATED

Our trip to Rome began with a layover in Madrid (frequent flier miles, remember!) that was so long we extended it to about 23 hours, and saw a little of that beautiful city. We’re not sure what this building is, but we liked it:

At Plaza Mayor, my husband took his favorite sorts of pictures: doorways, windows, patterns…

I admit, I like this stuff, too:

Then we walked through the narrow medieval streets until we reached a restaurant called Botin, which is in the record books as the oldest continually-running restaurant in the world.

I expected a disastrous tourist trap, and for all I know, it is considered just that in Spain, but we thought it a charming little restaurant where they roast giant meat in ancient ovens, and feed it to you with gazpacho, which is very reviving after strolling in the heat of the afternoon.

From our table, we could see a waiter carving meat from what looked to be a deer’s leg.

We inquired to discover that this was, in fact, “Iberian Ham,” which the waiter extolled as one of the prides of Spain. As it is cured, rather than cooked, it seems this stuff has only recently been transported beyond Iberia’s boarders, so it is not so well known as is prosciutto.

We asked for a tiny taste. They brought us a plateful:

It was spectacular.

Entering or leaving Madrid involves hoofing it though an airport that seemed excessively huge; has there been a recent Madrid Olympics, or something? There was an abundance of escalators and people-movers leading to turns with more escalators. While I mumbled about Dante and rings of hell, my husband marveled at the ceiling:

Perhaps it is a good thing, after all, that Madrid’s airport is so huge; the city is the site for next year’s World Youth Day 2011, which will attract over a million young Catholics from all over the world; not only will the pope be meeting with the energetic future of the church, I hear he’s arranging to be able to text them all!

***UPDATED to include pictures I had planned but omitted in my jet lag.

Related: Rome; Santa Sabina

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Victor

    Welcome back and thanks again for your prayers.

  • F (Former Romana)

    Anchoress E! How I missed you. Homeschooling moms are saints but its your edgy journalistic style that is my mental caffeine! Can’t thank you enough for praying for all of us and for sharing photos.

    Welcome welcome home!


    Its SO good to have you back!

  • Meli

    OH Madrid! That’s my favorite city in the world. I had the great fortune of living there for several years. That side of the Plaza Mayor that is painted suffered from a fire and is painted for that reason. It always looks like flames to me. Botin is not a tourist trap – it’s well-respected, if a little expensive. I hope you got to see the wine cellar! We actually used to keep a leg of ham in our kitchen (some spanish friends taught us how to care for it and carve it) – I miss the food! So nice to see those pictures and I’m glad you liked what little you saw in that beautiful place.

  • Teresa

    Welcome back. I love photography and enjoyed your husband’s photos. I also like photographing doors, windows and patterns including sunrise and sunset cloud formations created by God. Thanks for the tour.

  • c matt

    has there been a recent Madrid Olympics, or something?

    Back in May they hosted the UEFA Champions League final.

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  • Jeff

    Botin definitely not a tourist trap. I had the roast suckling pig there once and it was amazing.

  • Gayle Miller

    The sight of that spectacularly lovely building in Madrid reminded me of Donald Trump. Regis Philbin asked him how it was that Trump’s buildings did so well when others were having issues and Trump opined that floor to ceiling windows – and lots of them – were the key! People want LIGHT and plenty of it. Guess it goes back to our visceral knowledge that we’ll be in the dark a long time eventually!