I joined a tapas tour the previous night that had a dozen other hungry and energetic tourists ready to sample the best of Spain. We visited four different locations on our tour and sampled amazing foods like Iberico ham, blood sausage, and grilled shrimp in garlic sauce. At our final stop, we settled on a particular restaurant specializing in seafood. Our tour guide ordered several courses that included salted fish, shellfish in wine sauce, paella mixta, and grilled octopus. And so I ate, sampled anything that looked remotely appetizing, including the grilled octopus, which I never had before.
Madrid, Day Three
I woke up the next morning feeling fine. I reckon the glasses of wine from the previous night help me sleep soundly. Anyway, it looked like a normal morning. That was until I tried to open my eyes. As it turned out, I couldn’t so I started to feel my face with my hands. They were swollen. I then touched my eyes and they were ashy from dried up tears. “What the heck,” I thought. The moment I realized that I was experiencing an allergic reaction I racked my brain to figure out which food item was the culprit. It took a few minutes before I realized that it was the octopus so after tediously trying to open my eyes to find my glasses, I stood up, dug inside my purse to see if I brought any allergy medication. All I had was Claritin so I took one and fixed myself to look slightly presentable when I approach Paolo, the lovely man at the front desk to help me find a chemist. It was only 9 a.m. and if you’ve been to Spain you’ll know that is early. I was out of luck. Thankfully, the Claritin helped deflate my swollen face a bit. I made sure to pack the rest of it and set a reminder to take another after a few hours and I also learned the Spanish word for octopus; pulpo.
I wasn’t about to let that tiny incident ruin my whole day so I started to get ready. My first stop was the Reina Sofia. Madrid’s modern art museum is just as popular as The Prado, perhaps even more so because it houses a large number of Pablo Picasso’s work including his famed “Guernica.” I preferred it as well since I was able to relate more to 20th century art than those from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Next, I stopped by the famed Chocolateria San Gines to eat their famous chocolate con churros. Personally, I wasn’t sure what the hype was all about. The hot chocolate was good and certainly different than what I’m used to in the U.S. but the churros were just fine. Definitely better dunked into the cocoa but I’m probably not going to go out of my way again just for it. I’m glad I did it once, but there are plenty of other great things to eat in Madrid. Finally, I took towards the teleforico and decided to see the city from above. My original plan was to head towards the Sorolla Museum, a house turned museum that Andalusian artist Joaquín Sorolla once resided, but it was undergoing renovation. The views were nice but it was limited towards the outskirts. I’m a great fan of aerial views but this was just average in my opinion. It would be a great attraction for families with young children though.
Soon enough, it was nighttime again. I grabbed a quick snack and went back to the hostel. My face was still slightly swollen come nightfall but I certainly felt more relieved. I was able to open my eyes fully again. That night, I joined a bar hop tour hosted by the hostel. I snuck off after the first two since I had an early start the next day.