On the way there we got distracted by a sign on the El Cortes Ingles department store that said "gourmet grocery" and spent a fun 30 minutes ogling everything from entire legs of jamon to isles stuffed with every canned seafood product imaginable. I even found a bottle of our favorite wine that Haggens claims is "the number one table wine in Spain". Sure enough, it was there, but couldn't tell how many people bought it.
The palace had a huge line in the sun (it was blissfully hot & sunny) so we decided to try the Reine Sofia art museum first. We wandered through a couple new neighborhoods and found some sort of "bollywood" street party with lots of fried Indian goodies.
The funny thing about Reine Sofia is that I can hardly remember anything in it other than Picasso's Guernica, which is what we came to see. The museum was free Saturday afternoon & Sunday so it was nice to be able to pop in and not feel obligated to wander for hours getting our money's worth. We did look around, but I've wanted to see Guernica for years so it was definitely a highlight of the trip. Best of all, it was just as magnificent as I'd hoped.
We read our guidebook descriptions, the museum descriptions and really enjoyed seeing it. We mused over the symbolism of the horse (did it represent old methods of war vs. modern?) and only later at the picasso museum did we read that picasso used the horse as seen through the lens of bullfighting - the passive bystander who gets gored by the bull even though its not his fight. He gets dragged into it by others. I couldn't believe we hadn't read that anywhere while we were looking at the painting, but oh well.
When I finish all the museum posts, you might think kyle and I are major art connoisseurs, but let me assure you we aren't. Both of us dropped out of art history courses in college, but I do enjoy art and Kyle really surprised me in how much he enjoyed some of the museums too.
By now it was too late to do the palace, we decided to have gelato instead. Then we wandered some more, I got us lost and finally we made it back to plaza del sol which looked like this:
On friday we'd seen them wiring speakers to the lights in the plaza and it seemed like every night something was going on, people yelling through the speakers...this night is was some sort of anti-Israel demonstration (or pro palestinian?). Amazingly our room was pretty quiet, even being above the restaurant on the 2nd floor. I woke up a few times to people outside yelling at 4am, but generally it wasn't too bad.
By 9pm, we were back down on Cava Baja looking for tapas. We stopped first at another basque style tapas place that was crowded already where you just point to bread topped with yummy stuff. We got a raw salmon one that sort of freaked me out later (its all sitting at room temperature), but most memorable was the scrambled egg & gulla - baby eels. It was actually quite delicious, the eels had almost no taste. We saw jars of them in all the stores, so they weren't fresh and who knows how they were actually cooked.
Next we headed to Tempranillo wine bar where we managed to score a table. (it was packed) I actually don't even remember what we ate because the next place was so much better....(or because my memory is getting horrible!)
Our last stop of the night was a place next door to Tximiri called "El Bu". We ordered Padron peppers for the first time. These things are amazing, one of our favorite foods that almost every bar has and we ordered it almost every day we were there. Little peppers, fried in oil, sprinkled with lots of course salt. Supposedly 1 in 10 is jalepeno hot, the rest are mild, but we only had one place that gave us spicy ones, the rest were mild & sweet. So good and so much better than french fries.
On the right of the padron plate is our very favorite thing in Spain. It was a piece of bread (everything comes on bread) with pork cutlets lightly pan fried and slices of foie gras on top of them. It was mind blowingly good, especially with the sweet padron peppers. We've had foie a couple times in the states, but its always so fancy...in Spain it was cheaper and usually on the bar menus at least a couple different ways. We tried to order it whenever we could.