Oh Madrid, oh Freeway.
I can't even begin to record the entirety of vegan nightmare I faced in Madrid - so I will keep it short and sweet. It was so much more than your average "please leave off the cheese from the salad". It was a little more like a "do you have anything on your menu that doesn't have ham in it?" experience.
The hotel was on a freeway, and from the outside resembled something equivalent to the atmospheric elegance of Bei Hai, China - essentially a big block of gray concrete, with maybe one fire escape and some really spacious smoking lounges. Opting more often for public transport, versus the Free Shuttle, we found this constructional abomination to be about a 30 minute drive from the city centre - which was, when given the chance of freedom, the place we found ourselves escaping to.
Beyond the breakfast that you found me raving about in my last post, the food at the hotel was wretched. There was literally nothing for me to select off the room service menu and the buffet lunch had a lentil soup that included an unusual addition - roasted sausage. Wednesday night saw me eating a roasted asparagus off the plate of a motherly darling Christine, how continued to fill my plate with bread and olive oil. Heading out on Thursday evening with Chris and Kevin I located a grocery store (literally, the one and only grocery store I saw the entire time I was trolling the many, many streets of downtown Madrid) and armed myself with a 6 pack of soymilk - which made my morning muesli a little more palatable.
Some of the more notable spots on my journey included Cerveceria Alemana, the bar where Ernest Hemingway used to drink and a really nice Tapas/Wine Bar across the same plaza. The one fantastic meal that was enjoyed in abundance was had at a little Indian spot behind Santa Ana called Indian Spice (located at c/Manuel Ferandez), with dishes well worth the price, I would have been happy to make this the nightly eating spot.
We did manage to check out two other specifically vegetarian places and a Japanese restaurant - none of which I was particularly pleased with.
Overall, I was pretty unimpressed with Spain's capital, and would only stop back in for a quick shopping tour - I did find some funky boots and a great skirt at Tierra (a designer owned clothing shop), where I picked out a great wrap skirt with the grooviest button design. I admit to drinking a load of really fantastic (and unusually cheap) red wine, and, hey, if you dig 'the pig' and are into seafood, smoke and Starbucks - then Madrid is the place for you.
As I was landing in the Brussels airport an air of comfort came over me (despite the Air Brussels discount leg allotment). Sanctuary. I don't have to get on another plane until the 21st of December and I couldn't be more thrilled. My next trip in the sky will include a destination where I am sure to be met with the love of La Luna (oh my god I miss your falafels and salad), Live, Juice for Life and other eco, vegan delights. Can't wait.
Until a future trip to Barcelona (which, living here, I am bound to take) I will keep my vegan-spanish dreams secluded to the realm of Decemberist songs and remembrances of teaching Hemingway to groups of enraptured (yah right!) second year Character and Culture students.......