Coffee, Chocolate, and Flamenco

To tell you that we had a substantial amount of coffee while in Spain would be an underwhelming statement. One morning, we decided to walk next door to the Café & Tapas restaurant to find sustenance.

We had some great entertainment during breakfast that morning; as a young gypsy girl came in and presumptuously walked up to a Spanish man enjoying his iced lattino and croissant and tried to hit him up for some money, followed by our waitress chasing her away, spouting off outrage toward the beggar for disturbing her patrons; which very quickly turned into a fistfight. It was comparable to watching a catfight, basically. I mainly had to write about this for the sake of remembrance. It's not as though I'm able to share a "caught-on-video" moment with you, so just muster up the most catty brawl your imagination can conjure up, and you're more than likely on-point. You may as well have been there.

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Back to coffee. This was my first installment of caffeine for the day.... the first of six. The bottom layer? That's chocolate. Froth, espresso, chocolate. Did I mention that I practically drank a bowl of chocolate the first day in the city? No different here. Chocolate, coffee. Coffee, chocolate. All day.

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Madrid is just so elegant. Every frame is filled with beautiful historic buildings and monuments. Most of the roundabouts have vast, impressive fountains or statues in the middle surrounded by well-manicured gardens and shrubs. I also must mention that Spain is the cleanest, most pristine place that I have ever seen in my life! Completely blown away by the beauty. I was very appreciative of the Spanish people for taking so much pride in where they live to keep it that immaculate.

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Absolutely loved these tiered planters! They where everywhere on the sidewalks and in the parks. Can we take a second and admire the fact that here's a good-looking man carrying a coffee cup with pink lip imprints on it "Hey love, can you hold my coffee so that I can take a photo of you?"

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Palacio de Cibeles! As we drove into Madrid the first day, this building, located within Plaza de Cibeles, was the first building that really stood out to me on our drive into Madrid for it's vast beauty and presence. This beautiful building houses City Hall of Madrid.

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After strolling around the city and touring Museo Naval, we walked through Parque del Retiro. It was lovely even in the wintertime! There were thousands of children in the park with their schoolmates, playing, socializing and having lunch. I loved walking through the crowds of children, school teachers corralling the young ones, entertainers painted from head to toe emulating statues, small bands of Spanish guitars, saxophones and accordions, and the chatter of men & women having espresso at the cafe within the park. I could have spent many hours there.

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I really adored the shrubs that were edged into scrollwork, lined with statues upon entering the park.

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Upon reaching the end of the main entrance, we discovered a small lake.....

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With rowboats! You better believe we hopped in!

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Within Parque del Retiro is the Palacio Cristal, or Crystal Palace. It is a glass and metal building that was built originally as a greenhouse. Today it is used to exhibit art. The art displayed at the time of our visit was quite swamped by art enthusiasts, therefore, photographing wasn't much of an option.

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This garden....I was living in my own version of The Secret Garden....

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I would love to know the first thing your eye lands on here....wait for it.....

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We ended the afternoon with the lovely Madrid skyline. Círculo de Bellas Artes is a museum with an observation deck and cafe on the roof. From here, you pretty much can get a panoramic view of many landmarks in Madrid. Another reason to love this observation deck, it wasn't swamped with tourists. We pretty much went straight through the line, to the top, and it was a very peaceful atmosphere, where only a few locals meet up with friends for afternoon tapas and drinks.

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After a very long day of walking an exploring, we made our way back "home" to have a short nap and wardrobe change for dinner.

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Our Friday night consisted of Spanish guitars, fiddles, castanets, boisterous singing, finger snapping, and quite a lot of foot stamping.

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¡Flamenco!

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I dare not kid you, they seated us so close to the stage, it was practically level with our table.

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I'm to even sure how I felt about the Flamenco show at first; I loved it.... However, it delivered a completely different experience than I had expected! Honestly, when you mention flamenco to me, the first thought that comes to my mind is a very flowy, ruffly red dress being swung back and forth as the dancer twirls about gracefully with a few foot stomps to the beat of the melody being played by a Spanish guitar. Basically, something you'd watch at Ballet Concerto in the park, while having a picnic.

Where have I been? Having picnics in the park, apparently. (which I love, by the way) When a Spanish woman we met directed us to La Quimera, she mentioned that it is an authentic experience. As we discovered, flamenco is a very mysterious, perplexing, and completely captivating art form. The vocal-style meant to accompany flamenco is called cante jondo; meaning "deep song". From the traditional Spanish dinner, to the riveting dance, the entire experience was an enthralling one, to say the least! If your definition of enthralling is equal to sensory overload to the point of not going to sleep until 5 am, then that is exactly what it was.

Either that, or the six coffees I consumed are to blame. Mmmmmm, coffee. By the way, this is an iced Lattino, for your viewing pleasure.

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Thanks for reading, friends! I'm thoroughly having a swell time recounting the moments I journaled during this trip.