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Royal buildings, royal food

Cafe con leche. Zumo de naranja. Cereal.

I extracted the badly mangled, waterlogged, photocopied map from my back pocket and looked for something in the area to walk or metro to. The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) was not too far away, and seemed a good place to spend my morning. The metro was an exchange away, or I could walk to the another station La Latina for a direct line, which really was completely unnecessary as it was only one stop from there, but since I'd paid for the 5-day tourist metro pass, I felt I should give it a go at least once or twice!

The Opera station lets out in front of the Royal concert hall, which oddly enough completely obscures the palace. It isn't until you walk around the other side of this building that the magnificent structure emerges.

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As I wandered past the empty cafes facing the grand structure, I approached the fountain that sits front and center to the palace. At least three tourist groups surrounded it, but what caught my eye (or rather, ear) was the guitarist playing Spanish flamenco music sitting in the small courtyard surrounding the fountain. I found a shady spot, within ear of the guitarist, and sat to write.

Palacio Real de Madrid

Mmm, Roman soldier (?) for lunch!

Laying about for 250 years

Right, don't piss off Fernando 1!

Yep, me

Once the grumbles in my belly overpowered the strums of Spanish guitar, I made my way from the Palace to find something to eat. As I wandered away from this regal venue, playing Frogger with Spanish traffic, I spotted a little tapas bar with promise, called La Mi Venta. As I ducked my head in, my heart lept… this was finally the type of place I'd been looking for! Large drying legs of Jamón Ibérico hanging from the ceiling, a small asador in the corner, and a few grumpy old Spanish men running the place. Perfect!

Hanging Jamón Ibérico

Gorgeous food counters

The food here did not disappoint. The food counter illuminated a trip down memory lane, with tortilla, boquerones, caracoles, and even… yes there they were… pimientos de padrón! [link - because they are so good yet so few people outside of Spain know them]

Boquerones en vinagre

Jamón Ibérico

Pimientos de Padrón

This place was so good, I vowed to return.

La Mi Venta

Plaza de la Marina Española, 7

28013 Madrid

+34 91 559-50-91

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rating: 5 feet

verdict: superbly authentic and delicious. Maybe a little pricey, but what the hell… you're on vacation!

After this belly filling lunch, I wandered many of the smaller streets rising above the palace until I stumbled back into Puerta del Sol. The streets of Madrid are a veritable maze, but I was finding that I knew my way around quite quickly. Perhaps the Spanish street names were proving easier to remember as they tickled a part of my brain barely used for nearly 25 years, or maybe I was simply so enthralled with Madrid that committing it to memory was to be expected, but I found that I could very quickly find anywhere I'd been on the map, or find my way back to the hostel from any random street I found myself on. Simply put, the meanderings of the day always comfortably led me back to Calle de la Cabeza.



Map Treasure

Last weekend I stumbled on an ad on craigslist from someone giving away a bag full of maps from Europe and the U.S.! I love maps, so thought it worth the drive to pick up this big bag full of unknown treasure. The guy these came from was either a serious traveler or a map collector. There are some great ones in here. Now don't get me wrong, most are just from the 90's (1990's, not 1890's), so it's not like they're worth anything. But, it's still a fun peek into recent history.

This is great, it's a map of the U.S. with a route traced on it. Someone drove from Ithaca, NY to Bozeman, MT.

This entire map is hand-drawn. It's a social-sharing thing, asking you to write in with your travel adventures. Before blogging, I suppose ;-) This one is from 1992. These are still available on

Mykonos, Greece


I love this one from Switzerland… Check out the great illustrations!

Fun stuff. Maps are an amazing catalog of history and I think often overlooked as a fun way to study our past. (And really, I'm not making fun of my previous post subject. Honest).


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OK so this isn't technically about travel, but it is about maps. And that's good enough for me. Miss South Carolina from the Miss Teen USA on the subject of maps (and education).

Wow. Just… WOW. Wait, what?

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