Today is the fiesta de San Isidro, patron saint of Madrid, and, of course, a holiday in the City. Like most madrileños, Nacho and I took to the street in traditional celebratory style. Well, perhaps not exactly in the traditional style, but in the typical one. Plenty of other people were out and about in the traditional style - young and old dressed up the regional outfits - long ruffly dresses for the ladies and vests and caps for the men.
Anyway, we went for tapas with some friends to the neighborhood of La Latina and la cava baja. The area was packed with people and all of the terrazas were full. In search of a bar with room for 4 (standing room only, of course, but today even that was hard to find) we wandered down la calle del almendro. In honor of the fiesta, there were banners and streamers draped across the narrow distance between the buildings and stands were set up with beaded jewelry, scarves, and hats for sale. Groups of people moved in and out of the small bars along the street. Others lounged on the cobbled stones drinking and smoking and chatting. It seemed to us as though we'd left Madrid behind and, in a few short steps, had moved to a small pueblo elsewhere in Spain. Strangely, although the setting was certainly not quiet, it was definitely tranquil.
We did find space for 4 in one of the bars and after a while even managed to grab a table. Later as we walked back towards the metro, remarking how special the environment was, we were interrupted by a car horn from behind. A taxi was making it's way up the narrow street, bringing us back to the reality of modern Madrid. As we typically end up in the neighborhood for dinner and copas, we aren't sure if what we experienced was a result of the fiesta or was a regular occurrence. Regardless, it was unique for us, and a reminder to me that Madrid is a big city that unites small barrios.
P.S. Today is also my sister's birthday. I told her that all of the City is celebrating with her!
Love you, Kel!!