Category Archives: Travel

Please sir can I have some more?

A Menu Del Dia

When I was first in Madrid in April/May 2009 I was blown away. One of the first things we did after checking into our place in Chueca was to go in search of some food. Not speaking the lingo at all we looked at various menus outside restaurants all mentioning a “Menu del Dia” (Menu of the Day) We picked a place not the most chic and what I’d probably classify as a working mans restaurant. I had Spag bol as the First Plate (what would be a main in Ireland) followed by I think it was a plate of Eggs / Gammon steak and chips … this came with a bottle of wine … a desert and a coffee. Pricey pricey … and it came to under 9 euro. I felt like there had been some kinda mistake surely that can’t be right is it not 9 euro per plate given the size and the portions? Over a year later and we’re going to be moving on but one thing remains the same. I am still blown away by the prices of lunch. Madrid is one of those cities I think where no matter your budget you can find something. An indian sit down meal with a beer can be had for 6 – 7 euro depending (vegetarian option usually … a starter … main … and naan / rice …) and will come with a beer as well. You can venture to more upmarket places and spend whatever you want.

Today we went for what may be our final walk in the Rastro for some time and went looking for lunch shortly after. Doh!!! it was only 12:10 or thereabouts … starving marvin and hadn’t realised it was so early. A lot of places won’t start the menu till around 1:30 / 2 … eating times in Madrid seem to be between 2 – 3. We were passing by a place with a menu outside already … hang on … took a look and saw it was a brunch menu. Now it may just be the places I go to but I don’t generally see brunch menus.

Outside La  Camarilla

Looks good to me so what the hell in we go.

First thing is first it was quite pricey .. 19€ for Brunch but Buy one get one free. No .. I have no idea how that works … here’s hoping.

Took our places … (it was quite busy) and the waitress comes asking if we want Orange or Cava … now I’m allergic to Orange Juice and the thought of having “Champagne” with my brunch pleased me greatly so guess what I picked.

Orange Juice and Champagne / Cava

Potentially I should have had a second orange Juice for Valérie-Anne but … :D

Picking our options I was pleased by the selection. I went with the revuelto de morcilla (Scrambled eggs with black pudding .. but not exactly Irish style black pudding and VERY tasty) Val had the Eggs Benedict which she said was lovely. This also came with a plate of mini croissants / brownies / crackers (which you can see in the background)

Revuelto de Morcilla

Onwards to the second plate and I went with the Tacos de Bacalao con verduras ( Cod fried bites on a plate of veg – courgette and pepper) again .. W … O … W is all I can say very tasty stuff.

tacos de bacalao

After all this … the waitress asked if we wanted a coffee and I thought yeah sure nice way to finish off the meal (second coffee of the meal) I assumed we’d be paying extra for another coffee (it’s not pot coffee but espressos / cafe solo )

Cafe Solo

We demanded the bill and the shock .. the horror !!!

The Brunch Bill

Please sir can I have some more? But seriously 19€ … 4 espressos .. an orange juice (freshly squeezed) .. a glass of Cava (Very tasty) .. Croissants .. brownies … 4 what I’d consider main meals given the sizes and it all comes to 19€.

*le sigh* Dear Madrid I am going to miss you when we move to Nantes this week

Texts, lie-ins and video cameras – Barcelona March 2010 – Part II

Sagrada familia

And we start on day two of the Barcelona adventure and it finds us heading for breakfast at a friends who lives up near the Sagrada Familia.

Barcelona is mostly designed in “blocks” so its quite easy to find your way around. Of course some parts of it are going to be meandering but from what I saw its made of blocks for the most part.

The Sagrada Familia is probably the must see attraction of Barcelona its a church that has been under construction for nearly 150 years. It was started in 1882 (so you’re doing the maths now and realising I over embellished with my 150 years figure). It is I reckon one of the most unique churches I’ve ever seen. It was partly designed by the renowned Catalan architect Gaudi (who truth be told I hadn’t really heard of until I visited the city and saw a number of his buildings) There are 2 facades that are visible the East being the Nativity is mostly the work of Gaudi or mostly designed under his influence.

Eastern Facade of the Sagrada Familia

Gaudi work / influence

The Western facade The Passion is very different and the work of Josep Maria Subirachs with very angular / squarish design work.

Western Facade of the Sagrada Familia

Subirachs work

Subirachs work

2 minutes down the road and we were sitting down to breakfast at a friends. Toast with a tomatoe rubbed over it and olive oil poured on top seems to be quite popular with the locals and I think its going to be quite popular with me from now on as well. Very refreshing way to start the morning. With a nice coffee to boot.

After that it was back to wandering by ourselves… and we ended up back on Carrer del Bisbe

Carrer Del Bisbe Statues

Long range shot

Carrer Del Bisbe Gargoyles

We only had an hour or two to kill and walking took up most of the time. Our lonely planet guide to spain told us on the first friday of the month we could visit the Parliment so we agreed to meet our friend there and head on in.

Parliment de Catalunya

Of course the guide book was wrong and the security were wondering what the hell we were up to … ah well .. it wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last time the book was wrong :o It was a nice day to sit outside and enjoy the blue skies.

Back into town we went to get ready for Friday night … we got a quick beer in .. in a quirky little place you wouldn’t find without having a local to guide you.

Beer - The cause of and solution to ...

Back to our Hostal (when I say Hostal it was more of a hotel made from apartments) and more beers on the terrace before heading out and leaving my camera at home. Its probably best though ze missus brought her new baby with her (compact camera).

We hit the town for beers in probably the most popular area to head out with tourists and locals alike Gràcia
End Part II … :)

Texts, lie-ins and video cameras – Barcelona March 2010 – Part I

Barcelona March 2010 Header

(this is going to be rather heavy image wise so I’ve decided to break it into a few posts)

The following is the start of my photo diary of sorts for Barcelona …

So a while back on a whim we decided to book tickets to Barcelona they were going cheap and we’ve got a couple of friends up there so we said what the hell. Working freelance means I generally don’t take that much time off (not to mention switching off is a bitch) but I do try to get away from time to time. €60 return flights to Girona (from Madrid) wasn’t that bad in my mind. Of course its Girona (1.5 hours bus trip to Barcelona) and its Ryanair so it means its in the middle of nowhere so you’ve to factor in another odd €40 to get from Girona into the city center (21€ return per person via Barcelona Girona Bus)

I must admit I was surprised to see all the signs for Manuel on the way in (though they seem to have spelt it wrong) Having long been a fan of Fawlty Towers I found it refreshing that he seems to be as popular in Barcelona (where he’s from as in other english speaking parts of the world)

Manual welcome signs

I know I know Valérie-Anne groaned as well when I said it.

Day 1: We checked in and were pleasantly surprised by our accommodation (no pics unfortunately apart from some engrish which Valérie-Anne took on her new shiny toy)

Arc de Triumph Barcelona

Arc De Triumph 2

We met up with a friend for coffee in front of the Arc De Triumph and afterwards went for food (bad move going for an all you can eat Chinese buffet :o) .. therein followed a siesta and then onto rambling on the Rambla a very touristy street ( though lots of little pet stalls .. street performers and a very nice local market as well). Down onto the prom and generally just chilling out.

Chilling Out

Wandering back we took the smaller less tourist streets (though finding less touristy streets is a challenge in itself)

Carrer Del Bisbe Overhead

We ended up going to a great little restaurant up around our Hostal called Casa Alfonso had my usual Patatas Bravas and Valérie-Anne had a Cod Paella (bit too fishy for my liking) and our usual white and red house wines respectively.

Din Dins

My complements to the chef *burp*

Receipt for Tapas N Wine

After that we called it a night … probably cus it was night :D

End Part I

Part II