Thursday, November 29, 2012


Two nights in Salamanca wasn't enough and I wish I could stayed longer. I totally love this town especially the main square. Every night after 8pm, the lights are turned on and everyone gasps. Each night we were there, we had dinner in the square and listened to the traditional student bands in costume singing songs from the region. There were 2 groups singing on opposite sides of the square;  I preferred the voices and personalities of the younger group and of course, I bought a CD to support them.

During the day, we did a walking tour of the town's main sights. The old town was amazing with a beautiful church and lots of small gorgeous shops around.

Of course, we kept coming back to the main square for coffee, drinks and meals and the illumination of the lights at night. The restaurant and bar located in the corner of the square is one of the best places to eat in town. It could be a bit expensive but it worth the money for the friendly service and great food. Their sangria also was superb!!!! If you don't want to have dinner, you also can go upstairs to their great bar, which is busy serving tapas and has nice table settings looking over the square.
We were lucky with our hotel choice, choosing one with comfortable rooms overlooking a park just off the corner of the main square. Typically, as we'd discovered in Madrid, Spanish people party until the morning and this was a university town so it was pretty noisy at night once the clubs closed down. By This stop on our tour of Spain, we realised that we either had to get used to it, get earplugs or get out there and join the party.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I was in Madrid for three nights right at the beginning of our recent trip to Spain and Portugal. It’s a city which doesn’t seem to sleep much at night. They must have unique body clocks though one thing they do have in common with Vietnam is the afternoon nap. The only difference is that the people in Madrid have their siestas later than in Vietnam. The shops and businesses open again late in the afternoon. 
But I love the idea of starting dinner at about 9pm and partying until 5am even though I’m getting a bit old for that kind of timetable. I suppose people in Madird just get used to it. I stayed at the Francisco Hotel located in Sol district, a vehicle free area with lots of public squares, shops, restaurants and night clubs. Every evening, the locals come out for a walk before heading to restaurants to eat and later to bars and nightclubs to party. The noise happens when they go home in the early hours of the morning. I could hear them very clearly. They take a long time to go home! This may have been the reason why I wasn’t able to adapt to the timezone that quickly this time. I kept waking up. One night, I fell asleep at the table and my friends woke me up. How embarrassing!!!!!

 My drink of choice in Spain was sangria which is great for a hot day, a bit sweet but not quite as strong as bubbles and prosecco. I drank sangria almost everyday – even at lunch – as well as a few glasses of cava every now and then. 
 I can't complain about the food in Madrid as most of the local places we ate at were great and not that expensive. Pickled octopus, prawns and mussels in vinegar and the jamon ham was the best. I love them all. One dish I especially remember was a brilliant baby mushroom stir fried with ham, yum!!!!! 
I used the hop-on, hop-off bus to get an overview of Madrid and then we walked for the rest of the time. The architecture in Madrid is fabulous with impressive old squares, early 20th century buildings along the Gran Via Street. There is a great feeling of space here which is very different to the big cities in Asia.
In the next episode, I visit Salamanca to the west of Madrid.