Everyone else is going to rave about the shows and the weather and far-out places we went in Spain, but for me it was all the little details that kept reminding us that we weren’t in Kansas anymore – BT
• The gas station cafes and rest stop restaurants were a looooong way from stopping at Sbarro along the Jersey Turnpike. Most cafes featured delicious bocadillos (sandwiches) on fresh baguettes that would rival anything you get at Whole Foods (we were especially partial to the tuna). Some places advertised three course gourmet meals, i.e. you could take a date to dinner at a gas station.
• No crap coffee. Every place, from the lowly snack bar on up, is knocking out shots of espresso, NO DRIP COFFEE. Similar to what I saw in Australia, but no one was even drinking Nescafe. “Café con leche por favor”
• Instead of the 9-5 workweek, here’s the schedule we witnessed in Madrid:
Lunch/siesta 2-5pm (most businesses shut down)
Dinner at 10pm
Meet up with friends at 12:30am
Drink until 3, 4, 5, 6am
lather, rinse, repeat
Hanging out on a Monday night, we wanted to check out this jazz club called El Junco. The ad said it opened at 11pm. So we roll over there at 11:30 and it’s locked up tight. We hang out at a spot next door until El Junco opens after midnight, and there’s nothing going on. We end up bar-hopping for a few hours, until some new friends we meet say we need to go check out this cool place, and lead us right back to El Junco, which at 3am ON A MONDAY NIGHT is now hopping. What a country!
• Non-alcoholic beer was quite popular. If a bar had more than 1 beer on tap, the 2nd was, without fail, an alcohol-free variety. No one ever got a good explanation why NA beer was so popular, and people didn’t seem to get why we were asking.
• Speaking of looking weird to the locals… you can still smoke indoors in Spain, so we looked like weirdos for always stepping outside, out of habit.
• Whenever you drink, you eat. It might even be a law, but when you order a drink, they give you a complimentary little snack, sometimes potato chips, sometimes squid ceviche or little tomato & sardine sandwiches.