Belgian beer and Saint Patrick’s Day in Madrid

I think the amount of holidays in Spain is overwhelming…in a great way. There are more Saint Days on the Spanish calendar than there are working days. I’m normally off on Mondays and some Fridays, so when a holiday falls on the days I’m already off, I’m just like oh mannnn! 🙂

I have done nothing (nothing! (sleeping is overrated, apparently) but travel, eat, drink, and travel since Thursday. Today I got back to school (normally I start my week on Tuesday) and everybody who didn’t know I had switched days kept asking if I was feeling better. Confused, I respond “yeah…” And then I say, “I was in Valencia.” Then I see the expression of sorriness on their faces slightly changing to bitterness and then they hate me for being able to have so many days off and travel to places that not even their native selves have ever been to. Ok, they don’t hate me. They think I’m very lucky…as do I.

Anyway, lots of activities this past weekend. I started last Thursday by having a “pre-celebration” of Día de la enseñanza (Teaching Day) with colleagues. We hit a few bars after school. The thing is that every Friday they get together and go out for what they call a “caña” which means going for a beer, wine, or whatever (I guess it translates to US Happy hour?). Since I almost never work on Fridays, I don’t get to hang out with them after school. They also do their happy hour in Bolaños, not in Ciudad Real. I don’t drive a car here and that’s two towns apart. But last Thursday they decided to go out in Ciudad Real and I was able to hang out. Chris was able to come, as well.

Well, we had a blast. I guess Ciudad Real is a lot more fun when you go out in groups. We started out with some tapas and drinks at a bar called Dallas. Later a table was set for us and we had a few “raciones,” small bites, and more wine. After we ate, we walked to another bar for tea and coffee, and then cocktails—well, Gin-tonic is the closest they get to a good cocktail here, which is still better than their Bloody Mary’s.

We hung out at that bar for a while. We even played some games. The Spanish teachers taught us some fun card games I had never heard of; a bit confusing but fun. Chris then showed them how to play other drinking games, including the overly played out college game “A-hole”—what a great introduction to American games! They couldn’t be more confused, but had fun. The younger three of us who didn’t want to go home then visited another bar around my piso. The bar has pool tables and a darts games (obviously not my choice). But I played and ended up beating the two guys, which is very odd because I’m very bad at these games. All in all, it was a great time.

On Saturday we left for Madrid. There weren’t available hotels in Valencia for the beginning of the weekend, and when we can’t find something in the city we want to go to, Madrid is our safe haven. But it’s always fun no matter what. It was Saint Patrick’s Day and the Irish were everywhere. Typical Irish bars in Madrid were packed, it was fun. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay at our usual Puerta del Sol little spot—this time we were rather far from the center, off the Metro Canillejas, and let’s just say that I will remember NOT to do it again. I like the energy of the city, as crazy as it gets. Besides, the metro closes at 2am and we don’t like curfews.

On Sunday we continued roaming the city and my brother suggested Cuatro Caminos. So, there we went for the first time. It is Dominican town up there; we stopped at a restaurant for some Sancocho and Tostones. There was music and dancing everywhere. Monday was also a holiday, so a lot of people were out on Sunday night. But before we wandered around in Cuatro Caminos, we had stopped at a bar called La Casa de La Cerveza in Chamberí. I am NOT a beer person, but a year or so ago my boyfriend introduced me to Belgian beer. I’ve been hooked since.

Earlier Sunday we went back to the Irish bar Dubliners in Madrid—we spotted chicken wings on the menu and went back for it. They were yummy. Somehow the conversation with the server ended in Belgian beer. Dubliners didn’t have that kind of beer, but our server suggested La casa de la cerveza.

He didn’t even know the actual name of the bar, but he told us the name of the metro (subway) we needed to take or walk to and search from there. So, Chris and I walked aimlessly for approximately 25 minutes. HA! We made it to Metro Bilbao and asked for “an Irish bar” in the area. Long story short, La casa de la cerveza was RIGHT by Metro Bilbao on Calle de Luchana. The beer menu is huge and irresistible even to a non-beer lover like me. I recommend it.

On Monday, we headed for Valencia.