Today was the day that I became enamored with this city. I hadn't really gotten a chance to do much exploring of the city outside of my own neighborhood up to this point, so I decided to explore some of the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor today. These are two of the most important places in the city as they are pretty much smack dab in the middle and are surrounded by shops and restaurants.
Upon arriving by metro in the Puerta del Sol, I decided I was hungry and needed some lunch with which to start my adventure. After ambling down the street a ways, I ended up in the Plaza Mayor where I found a little restaurant called Museo del Jamón - literally, the Ham Museum. I ended up getting a combo platter with fried eggs (they eat a lot of eggs here and their usually fried/over easy. My favorite), some of the best ham I've ever had (it was a dried, cured ham I believe), french fries (great for sopping up the egg yolk), a little salad and these AMAZING croquettes - probably my favorite thing I've eaten here so far. I sat at the bar (always cheaper), so I got all of this for 5.40 euro.
After filling my tummy I went for a stroll around the Plaza Mayor. Never in my life have I seen so many restaurants. It's incredible. There were a ton of people out, and many of them were taking pictures, so I didn't feel so stupidly touristy taking pictures myself. There was quite a variety of street-performers and those people who stand there on a platform dressed up as something creepy all day long. I took pictures of them but refused to come within 20 feet of them because, of course, they scared the crap out of me. There was one dude who was covered in plastic fruit. I wanted to take his picture, but just as I was getting ready to he waved at me, which freaked me out so I ran away.
I spent quite a while just wandering up and down several of the streets. There are so many stores that it is somewhat overwhelming, but I figure I have several months to explore more thoroughly, not to mention several days with Momma and Daddy in April. I had to resist the temptation of stopping at one of the several ice cream places along the way, since ice cream seemed rather silly when it is still cool enough to be wearing a winter coat (though it has warmed up considerably and is far warmer than it is in the states). I feel that will be a necessary stop next time, though.
I bought my first Spanish newspaper today, so I should be finished reading it by the time I get home in May. Just kidding - it will probably only take me a week =). We have to have newspaper clippings for one of my classes and another teacher strongly suggests reading the paper, so I'm trying to be a good student. I'm hoping they'll have something interesting in the culture section that I can check out.
I believe it may just be time for a siesta! Imagine that...