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Google fit time: 3:14 hours
The flight from Sacramento to Houston, then on to Toronto and then to Madrid was very, very long. Two overnight flights is very tiring. We persevered and made it out of the airport with our luggage. It was very odd that in Spain there was no real Customs Officials for flights landing, as there is in all other countries. We made our way to the train station at the airport. We had the normal difficulties first learning the metro/subway/train differences and routes. We purchased tourist metro cards that work everywhere for 5 days and were off. We caught the train, to the Atocha train station, which is very large. We stashed our luggage. Then paused to catch our breath and drink really tasty coffee and tea. There are many delightful coffee shops in Madrid.
Now caffeinated and without luggage, we were much happier and lighter. We found the information booth, where they suggested we visit the Puerta del Sol area. Since we only had 1.5 hours before checking into the apartment, we took the metro and started walking about. We discovered fun tapas bars and restaurants in the Plaza Mayor. Plaza Mayor is a very large square with restaurants all around, with outdoor seating in the plaza. The vast center space was consumed by stands and blockades for a tricycle race that recently ended.
The tapas bar we chose for lunch was very fun. It was very old, and the walls are covered in bullfighting pictures. There were lots of bustling waiters hamming it up with the customers. It is a standing tapas bar, no seats. Instead there is a glass case (like a sushi bar), showing today's tapas choices. The tapa-tender chose our food for us. We started with a delicious gazpacho, yellow paella, and drinks. Sarah had water and Roberto had sangria. The fried baby squid were excellent. The fried boquerones were tasty but too bony for Sarah.
After lunch, we took the metro to the apartment, stole a much needed nap and shower. In the evening, we took the train and walked around Plaza Mayor and were lucky to get a seat at Casa Boutin. The Guinness Book of World Records calls Casa Boutin the world's oldest restaurant (est. 1725). We shared a lamb and pork dish, with potatoes and a house red wine. The food was excellent. The meat broth was lip-smacking delicious. After dinner we were able to walk around the restaurant, and saw the kitchen with all the little piggies.
After dinner, we walked and discovered a food market (Mercado de San Miguel). We were full from dinner, but could not turn away the sea urchin. It was baked with bechamel sauce, muy delicioso!
FoodLunch at La Torre del Oro: Great Andaluz Tapas
Dinner at Restaurant Sobrino de Botin: The oldest working restaurant in the world, founded in 1725. Excellent Suckling pig and lamb