In the evening, crowds flock to the many outdoor cafes in Plaza Mayor.
This was our favorite place in all of Madrid. We loved the musicians serenading crowds in the outdoor cafes. The centuries old cobblestone under our feet (The Better Half and her three-inch heels might argue this point). The atmosphere of this place. With more than four hundred balconies and over one hundred residences within its walls, dormer windows, and slate roofs, I can only imagine how fortunate one must feel to be able to call this place home.
The Better Half and I enjoying the vibe at Plaza Mayor.
It was here in Plaza Mayor at dusk one evening that we spotted a somewhat rare creature, but one that’s not altogether endangered either in Europe or the Americas. The species I’m referring to, of course, is waiterus ignorus, more commonly known as the ignoring waiter. I’m confident few have observed an example so spectacular, or one possessing such skill, cunning, and audacity. Blasé and utterly confident in his own element, this one was.
We’d selected an outdoor café, found a table shaded from the sun and settled in to enjoy a cold beer, some music, and take in a bit of people watching before dinner. Only the keen eyes of The Better Half spotted him in his natural environs. She raised her suspicions and after a few minutes of observation we exchanged knowing glances. There’s no question now: it’s a confirmed sighting.
The instant he sensed a predator was trying to make eye contact to order another round of beers or perhaps a tapas plate of calamari, he would look the other way and dart in the opposite direction like a Thompson’s gazelle spooked by lions on the hunt in the Serengeti. Well aware of his surroundings at all times, he was quick to maneuver around the cluttered arrangement of tables to the protection of one of his prime hiding spots such as his bus station, or better, he’d disappear inside the restaurant. He was masterful at looking busy doing something else. Ah, that plate of olives I forgot to serve! Gone! We watched in befuddled amazement for some time at this social dynamic, his little game of predator and prey. Sadly (for him), he was eventually snared, as an impatient but well-dressed Brit in slacks and a sport coat got up from his table in full pursuit, credit card in hand. A tap on the shoulder. Nowhere to run, now; nowhere to hide. The gig is up.
"La cuenta, por favor?"
Results 1-9of 9 Reviews
Northern Va Suburbs of DC, Virginia
October 16, 2011
From journal Madrid my 2nd favorite city in Europe (after London)
April 17, 2011
From journal Artful Madrid
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
August 31, 2010
From journal Madrid and Its Surroundings
February 15, 2005
From journal Madrid
August 22, 2004
From journal Madrid From Kilometer Zero
Cinnaminson, New Jersey
May 10, 2003
This large and beautiful plaza was built by Gomez de la Mora and Juan Bautista Crescendi in 1619 in just two years. Every large city in this part of Spain has a Plaza Mayor; in most of them, this is the place of produce market in the morning hours. In Madrid, however, the market (Mercado de San Miguel) is two blocks away on Calle Mayor, and Plaza Mayor is a large rectangular square that holds cafés and shops, the information office, and a statue of Felipe III on a horse (he ordered the building of the square).
It was supposed to be a place of bullfights, executions, trials, and public events where crowds would cheer for the king and queen, and even though bullfights never took place here, the executions did. The arched entrances of buildings on the first floor and balconies on the second, and the most notable Casa de la Panaderia (it used to be a bakery in the 16th century) with frescoes on its walls make this plaza almost surreal in this now very modern city and remind us of the city history through the centuries of various Spanish rulers.
From journal Travels to Spain - Madrid, Part III
December 6, 2002
There are very nice bars around to have a typical "bocadillo de calamares" (squid).
Be aware of pickpockets!!
From journal Madrid de Tapas
January 13, 2002
From journal small & big wonders of Madrid
October 5, 2001
Once the sight of bullfights, public burnings of heretics, canonization of saints, executions of criminals, crowning of kings, royal marriages, masked balls, fireworks and all manner of events, celebrations, festivals, and ceremonies, Plaza Mayor has played a vital role in Spanish history. Today, it still hosts fairs, bazaars, and performances.
One can visit the many plaza shops and cafes of the square and enjoy the calm mornings, the busy afternoons, or perhaps dinner at some of the liveliest tapas bars in the city. On the ground level arcade of the plaza are shops, many selling souvenir hats of turn-of-the-century Spanish sailors or army officers.
Pedestrians pass under the arches of the huge square onto the narrow streets of the old town, where you can find some of the most intriguing restaurants and tascas, serving tasty tapas and drinks.
The area south of Plaza Mayor, known as barrios bajos, is full of narrow cobblestone streets lined with 16th and 17th century architecture. From the Plaza, take Arco de Cuchilleros, packed with markets, restaurants, flamenco clubs, and taverns, to explore this district.
A word of caution though: Be wary of thieves here, especially late at night
From journal Madrid, the city that never sleeps