An “Anti” Experience
Stay in? Or go out? We had to go out. We are in Madrid, for only five months, and cannot waste a single night stuck inside a tiny apartment. With early morning plans ahead of my roommates and I, Saturday night was an enigma. We wanted to explore the city, but also wanted to be energized for the next day. A quick search for late-night cafés brought up the Anticafé. Photos of tables set with popcorn and gummy snacks sold us on the option. We were ready to try something random, something new.
Upon entering the café, we knew immediately that we were not prepared. Every public place we had visited since arrival in Madrid was large and loud, enough to make us feel at home as Americans (it’s true). The Anticafé, however, was small and intimate, though music pulsed through the DJ’s speakers and groups of friends shouted over the base. I was sure that everyone could feel our discomfort as we peered around corners for an open table. Finding none, we stood for a while, taking in our new location. For the first time in two weeks, I felt like I was somewhere Spanish. Though there was nothing to distinguish its origins, the café felt like a club to which we did not belong. Not prepared for the scene, we left.
Further research of the Anticafé revealed a language and cultural exchange night, held every Monday. Practicing Spanish on a quiet week night sounds much more feasible than shouting already incomprehensible Spanish in prime time on a Saturday. There may be hope for our find yet.
Jewelry, clothes, handbags, scarves, hats, souvenirs, flowers, books, silver, denim, leather- El Rastro has it all.
My roommates and I didn’t know what to expect from the massive flea market we had heard so much about. We were interested, but did not have high hopes for second-hand shopping.
When we arrived at 9 a.m., only a few slivers of color could be seen in a narrow street not yet brightened by the morning sun. Some stalls were still being erected and vendors seemed groggy, unawakened by the slight chill in the air. Though it officially began an hour earlier, we should have known that the Spaniards would never have been ready at such an early and prompt time. Just a few paces down the street, however, and the market came alive.
Merchants shouted to each other, while products called customers into the makeshift shops. Various musical instruments could be heard above the market activities. Each time we thought the streets could not offer anymore, we discovered another avenue to explore. Though I may have come across the same scarf 10 different times in the two hours I spent at El Rastro, there were some unique pieces too. I am looking forward to the change in wares, undoubtedly corresponding with the change in season, coming soon.
Even though a 9 a.m. arrival was earlier than we would have liked for the market open until 3 p.m., I am glad we chose the morning to explore. By the time we left, around noon, crowds were pouring out of the metro station. Getting there early allowed us to move comfortably amongst the rows of stalls, as well as get the first pick of the goods.
- Wake up. Get up and do things early to avoid crowds and a mediocre experience. You’re traveling, and you may not ever get the opportunity to do what you have planned again, so do it right. Go to bed early or sacrifice a few hours of sleep to assure that you make the most of your time traveling!
- Calle Unión, 2, 28013 Madrid
- El Rastro
- Calle Ribera de Curtidores, S/N, 28005 Madrid
- La Latina metro stop
Paz, Amor, Madrid