It only took about 10 minutes in Madrid to realize that I wanted to have much more time there. I had saved it for the end of my adventure, and now had only a few precious days to spend in this ancient city, lovely and magnificent in its juxtaposition of ancient (cobblestone streets, ceramic tile street signs) and progressive (iPads in every hand, Spanish divas in the latest style and fashion, the urban hustle-bustle everywhere).
The Exploration Begins
Wasting not a single moment, I checked-into my hotel - the lovely, clean, cozy and welcoming HRC Hotel in el barrio La Latina. HRC is perfectly located!
Easily walkable to Cava Alta and Cava Baja -- two very well-known streets in Madrid, famous for tapas bars -- and also very near Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. ¿Listo? ¡Vámonos! I immediately began walking and exploring the narrow streets of La Latina. I walked up Cava Alta and down Cava Baja, choosing where I would first sample food and drink. I chose a little spot on Cava Baja and enjoyed a traditional snack (jamón, acetunas, pan y cerveza - ham, olives, bread and beer!).
Afterwards, I continued strolling for just a few blocks until I arrived at Plaza Mayor - a giant plaza bordered by tapas bars and restaurants, the middle filled with an endless supply of activity. It was a virtual sea of people, everyone going somewhere, shopping, walking, eating, hombres playing hacky-sack, juggling, playing drums... I found some delicious gelato and enjoyed the "live show."