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I’ve always wanted to visit Spain, mainly for culinary reasons, as it is known as a gastronomic delight, but it is also one of those countries you learn about in history class. I think I’ve figure out why its so hard to teach history in the US, and especially in CA, we are such a young country, there just isn’t as much history you can go out and touch. In Spain and Portugal, the field trips can be to the Roman wall which was built 2000 years ago, or to the square where Christopher Columbus met the king and queen before he set off in 1492 to sail the ocean blue…

Plaza Mayor

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Plaza Mayor, used to be the most important plaza, still has governmental buildings but Plaza del Sol is the real happening spot. But lots of tourists and lots of “performance art” happening here, think Venice/ Hollywood Blvd but more annoying! Your requisite statue men, guitarists, singers, but some new ones for me, a guy dressed as a baby in a crib that makes a very ear piercing cry and these guys that make a high pitched “clicking in tongues type noise” to sell a whistle. Ok, please make it stop, this buzzing, clicking, bird being tortured sound these guys make in Plaza Mayor doesn’t make me want to buy their stupid whistle,on the contrary, they make me want to run away!

It’s sweet, they still do weddings there, and the new couple is presented to the square and everyone claps for them.

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Madrid is home to many, many museums. The Prado museum has a wonderful collection of paintings and sculptures, this painting from the 1504 by Hieronymus Bosch “El Jardín de las Delicias (The Garden of Earthly Delights” regarding the creation of man, the pleasures of the world and hell, it’s so surreal during a period where the paintings were so classical.

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A different kind of museum (It kind of goes with my Lisbon Beer museum) 😉

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I found this place called the Museo de Jamon, or Ham Museum. It is not really a museum but it is a temple to ham, or more correctly, Spanish cured pork, because it is far beyond “just ham”. The curing process preserves it so well that it does not need refrigeration. It has an amazing flavor and is usually quite simply prepared, usually just the meat and maybe some bread or breadstick to wrap it around or if you want to get fancy, wound around some melon- all very tasty! And making me contemplate how much of a pain it would be to carry a package around for another couple of weeks and would US customs allow it in…,

But getting back to the Museo de Jamon, it’s really a bar with an awesome deal. At the stand up counter, you walk up, the waiters/servers exclaim “digame” (literally tell me) and my response is “copa de cerveza.” Then a whirl of motion happens and a cup of cerveza and some bits of salami type pork is set in front of you. And if you choose to leave, it’s €0.70 and you’ve had a beer and food for about a $1, but you ask for another and you get another cup of beer and a different type of tapa, this time it’s a little ham sandwich. ut the place is just packed all day long

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Or you can order a full size sandwich or a plate of the cured pork yumminess if you so desire. B

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I love the many plaza’s and squares just made for gathering

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And Churros and chocolate…

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And their version of the Arc de Triumph

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Fountains in the main gardens

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Statue of satan, one of the only statues of such in Europe

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Gorgeous garden view

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Typical street

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Beautiful main train station

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File this under you just never know what you’ll hear and see any day when you are looking. At the train station and I witnessed a more interesting arrival, about 30 African men in traditional dress came up singing for an arriving older gentlemen, who had to be a church elder, the most beautiful harmony, kind of Lion King sounding, was quite cool

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