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Totally Tapas! with Spongebob Squarepants

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We love a country that gives free food with your drinks!

Foodie moment

Following the recommendations of a friend we met in San Sebastian we went to Malaspina for lunch. The free tapas we got with our drinks was a delicious potato salad. For our lunch we ordered Mark's new favorite snack, Jamon Croquettes and the local specialty, roast pig. Of course it was served with fries which we are starting to notice most dishes are! All of it was great, and the restaurant was really welcoming and friendly so we'll be back!

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Today we went for a 'Tapas Tour' through the same company as the walking tour. The food at the first venue just kept coming and coming! There was bread with cheese, Jamon, Tortilla, Meatballs, etc etc and even our old friend Tripe made an appearance again!! The second venue was interesting as we needed to order a drink to receive a free plate of tapas. These plates were piled up with paella, croquettes and calamari, all for free! It was packed with people paying for drinks and getting their dinner for free

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Cultural moment

The area we stayed in was called Sol, and it was a huge public square where several roads met (the roads all branch out from the square like beams of sunlight, hence one of the reasons for the name). A busy square where people meet to go out, travel across to go for food, shop but you realise very quickly that this is not a completely normal average place... it all begins when you first spot SpongeBob, then Mickey and Minnie, then another SpongeBob this one with his friend Patrick by his side! Sol is FULL of street performers, they range from dressed up cartoon characters (Tigger, Chuckie, Pooh and Dora the Explorer were some other familiar faces), to people dressed as statues (Dalai Lahma, Jesus, Aliens, Soldiers). We seriously wonder how much money they could possibly make in a day when they depend on tips from people when they take a photo! What was also strange is that people were having photos with them but not seeming to understand that they would then need to give them some money, they were quite surprised when an angry Mickey would chase them down, with his head off demanding payment for the photo! Not sure if they thought these guys were just doing it for fun? Or even that the Spanish government (with their financial worries) were paying the performers to be there just for the pleasure of the tourists??? Either way the photos I took were sneaky ones so we didn't have to give them any money, so at least we knew we were doing the wrong thing!===

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Wow moment

Today we headed to the Palace in the centre of Madrid. The current palace was built during the time of King Philip V and he wanted it to be even grander than Versailles in Paris. So he ordered to to have over 2,000 rooms! In typical Spanish fashion it took over 17 years to construct it so unfortunately for Philip V he died before it was completed and never got to live there!

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Whilst visiting the Palace we came across a huge stage set up for a free concert. There was a full orchestra and choir, and hundreds of people watching. The music was amazing and it was crazy to stumble across something which was probably a big event on the Madrid calendar!

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What we learnt today

We actually learnt this information about Tapas during our walking tour from Sabella but thought we would include it here as it is more relevant. In Spain (more relevant in the South now) you will often be given a tapas (small plate of food) for free with every drink order. There are two historical stories behind this. Firstly the word tapa means cover or lid, so the snacks were named Tapas because one of the kings didn't want to get insects in his drink so he put piece of bread over it to form a 'lid'. It then became tradition to serve bread with drinks to cover them and this evolved to become snacks called Tapas.

The historical story behind the tradition of giving free tapas with each drink spans back to the time of King Alfonso X (Alfonso the wise). At that time the people did not have much wealth so at lunchtime when given the choice between spending their money on food or alcohol they chose the alcohol and came back to work drunk. So Alfonso X, knowing banning the drinking would be impossible, made it law that all drinks must be served with food so the workers came back from lunch in a much better state! Hense the beginning of the free tapas... which is a great thing i think!

Posted by travellinglise 11:51 Archived in Spain

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I am learning more about the city I used to live in every day!

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