In the the last few hours of my Friday classes last week I unusually preoccupied because I knew there were friends in town and Chelsea was taking them around Madrid without me. Robert, a childhood friend, had just sent me a picture of he and Cash playing with a caption saying, “waiting for daddy to get home”. I had also watched Chelsea prepare the iberian ham, olives, cheese and bread board earlier that I was sure they were getting into. There was also a few nice bottles of Spanish wine waiting on them I was positive they were savoring. All of this was true but I still had to finish my work before I could play!
Fast forward to 10:15PM as I opened the door to our apartment when I found the crew laughing and having a good time playing with Cash just as I was suspecting. Robert and I embraced in a big bro-hug and the weekend with the Georgens finally began for me. I took a moment to catch up with everyone and then off we went to our long anticipated dinner reservations at Casa Mono. As we were walking it was great to catchup on what the day had brought our fellow Ex-pats, who are from Charleston spending time in Spain as well. They went to Temple Debod, took a ride on the Teleferico, walked Cash in Parque de Oeste, and got back to the apartment to talk and wait on me.
We walked into the restaurant and knew instantly we picked the right spot. The bustling Friday night Madrid crowd is out and as we look at the posh decorations and vibrant atmosphere we are whisked to our table to begin yet another fine dining experience with our friends. Casa Mono, Robert says, means “monkey house.” I hadn’t thought about it but he was right. No problem getting our drink order in because how could we go wrong with the house Rioja? We exchanged Spanish and English menus back and forth and decided how we wanted to break the meal up. We then proceed to order and then continued to catch up on the present and have Robert enlighten Chelsea on stories about our childhood and BC (Before Chelsea). Our dinner and two bottles of wine were fantastic and we decided that it was too early for us to go to bed and so we opted to Uber to the local music joint El Junco for some late night entertainment. We arrived and I was pleasantly surprised that there was not too many people in the relatively small dive. The band was rocking! It was a blues band that could have been from the United States. They reminded me of Johnny Mack and the Booty Ranch from back in Charleston, SC. They played some great blues standards, Jimi Hendrix, Mad Dog, and by the time we left had the entire bar dancing all around. Some of the best live music we have seen yet in Madrid! We could have stayed up all night with the rest of the Madrios but we had a big day planned the next day… A chance to fulfill a boyhood dream of Robert and myself’s and go see a Real Madrid futbol match!
When we woke up everyone was a little slow. Its funny how you have so much energy when you first get together catching up running on pure adrenaline. I was the first up to get my day going and was soon told I was making too much noise. Robert knew exactly how to handle the situation and tells me he wants some American coffee and we should go find some. It is the first time to Starbucks in Europe and it is different and yet nostalgic of home all in the same time. We get our American coffees to go and sat outside watching Madrid wakeup. We caught up and had great guy time acknowledging it is pretty cool two guys from Charleston, SC to be sitting in Europe on a fine winter’s day. Life is good!
When we got back to the house the girls were up and at em. Breakfast was ready and we made some pregame bloody mary’s (All the way from Indiana courtesy of Katie and Charlie) to go with the quiche Chelsea made. Lo and behold, he had yet another feast. Our timing was good and we were ready to head to the stadium, so with tickets in hand off we went. I was as excited as getting ready for another Gamecock football game in Columbia, SC.
We got to the stadium through metro with ease and started to find our way to our side of the stadium. We snapped some photos and browsed the souvenir stands and the official Real Madrid store. Still I am not sure how our tickets are going to be and am pleasantly surprised to see that they are amazing. We were behind the goal about forty rows up and the stadium is massive and starting to fill up. We took it all in and that took us some time. The beating of the drums, the warming up of the players, the fans getting to their seats, the buzz in the air were all quite a spectacle for the soccer fans from across the pond. We finally get situated in our seats and off we go. We watched the warm ups and we find the big name players as they get ready. When the starting lineup was announced the crowd went wild. It really is great to see the game live. The match moved so much faster and there was so much more interesting things to watch besides just the game. Real scored a goal on our side and everyone got so excited. The fans were also unforgiving to the referee if he didn't make a call in their favor and made as much noise complaining as celebrating on quite a few occasions. Then in the second half Garreth Bale was substitued in to return to the field for the first time since October 2016. He quickly makes his presence known and scored the second goal in the second half on the other side of the field in only seven minutes after getting in the game. Wow! Once the exciting game drew to a close it was concluded that a good time was had by all. Robert and I got to watch our big game together and the girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves as well.
As we roll out of the stadium we tell Robert and Suzanna their surprise for the weekend. We had Raquel, Chelsea’s employer, make reservations at a restaurant that overlooks the stadium. We had some time before they opened so we took a moment to get a coffee and a pastry at a local shop and then relax in the stadium shopping mall for a few minutes. We were in typical American fashion in Spain and are the first in the restaurant. We got a drink at the bar and then were taken to our seat overlooking the stadium. From our seats we were given another moment to marvel at the amazing field and stadium while we enjoyed a very Spanish meal. Suzanne and I split a seafood rice, Chelsea had the meatballs, and Robert the ox tail. No late night music or late night at all for that matter this time as everyone was exhausted. We were ready to party in the bed tonight and by party I mean sleep.
The last full day for the Georgens in Madrid was a sightseeing day. Chelsea and I enjoy taking people out because it gives us a chance to see more of our city we have grown quite familiar and fond of and also gives us a chance to see more. We started at a nice brunch place called Roll and had a typical American brunch and good craft beers. We then moved onto the highlight of the day the modern art museum the Sofia Reina. It is the coolest museum in Madrid in my opinion as we seem to prefer modern art. We only got to see the second floor but did see all of the really popular works. If you go on Sundays you get in free and it would have been worth the admission but free is even better!
We then hopped in a cab to see the Madrid Palace, a place Chelsea and I have walked by often but not been into. When we got there the palace was closed for a special event that was not shown online but still with it being such a gorgeous day it didn’t matter and we enjoyed the outdoors and sat between the palace and cathedral and took in the sunshine, listed to a man play his violin, and took a few pics before deciding to walk back home. It was such great weather and we continued to walk until we decided to keep going down Gran Via instead of going home. We ended up in Sol and walked around the busy streets being tourists for a day. For a mid-afternoon treat we took Robert and Suzanna to get Churros at a famous churro cafe in Sol. We ate those scruptious churros after dipping them in the fine chocolate until we had our fill and then headed to Plaza Mayor. When we got to Plaza Mayor we had a pleasant surprise. Chelsea grabbed me by the arm and said she thinks she found our first art piece of this trip. We have been looking everywhere and nothing has caught our eye yet that we can afford. That was until we met Max. Max had an original color canvas painting of Gran Via in Callo by the Swchepes building on the Capital side looking out over the street. This is only about 1 km away from our apartment and we had been down the street numerous times. The picture was just right and we made the decision to go for it and we now have our first European piece hanging in our apartment.
We got home and put up the picture and took a rest for a minute and then went to find some good Indian food. We had a great meal with great company and then went home to again call it a night after another full day.Up and ready to take the Georgens to the train station. I navigated them through the metros and sent them off with big hugs and nothing but smiles.
We had a great trip with you Robert and Suzanna and you are welcome back anytime. It is so good to spend time with a great friend and catchup in an amazing country after not seeing each other for over ten years. Salude!