Spring in Madrid
Alhamdulillah, we are blessed yet again to appreciate the pretty season and enjoy the beautiful weather during spring in Madrid.
This time around, a Korean friend; Woo Hye who is married to an American and currently are living in Warsaw, Poland came down to Madrid for a short 2-days visit. What a mouthful! Hehe…
Both of us, pretty much have some common ground hence making our friendship closer.
1-We both are married to foreigners
She to an American
Me to an Arab Moroccan
2-We both are living outside of our original countries
She a Korean and husband an American living in Poland
Me a Malaysian and husband an Arab Moroccan living in Spain
3-We both were married after thirties
4-She is from Korea and I love Korean culture and both of us first met in Seoul through our beloved friend, Chrystal (Miss you lots, dear dongseng!)
Masha Allah, none of these are achievable without The Almighty’s help. Lahaula wala quwwata illa billah.
So, what have we been doing on Thursday and Friday, last week (3rd and 4th of March 2016)? She has visited Madrid before but this is her husband’s first.
We met outside Sol Station, near the fountain (which I totally forgot that there are two fountains exist there! Hahaha…my bad!). I was waiting at the first fountain and they were at the other one.
The moment I saw my friend for the first time after two years (I suppose!), the first sentence jumping out of my mouth was, “My dear, why are you so slim?!”
Women! Hehe…the topic of body weight will never cease from our life which annoyed my husband endlessly.
From there (Sol Station), we walked towards a vegan restaurant called Rayén Vegano (Site). Both of them have decided to become vegan after watching a documentary about food production and they just recently started in January 2016.
According to Trip Advisor the restaurant receives many fine reviews which made my friend decide to have our lunch there.
It took us about 10-minute walk from Sol Station to Rayén Vegano restaurant.
Alhamdulillah, the weather was super fine, with good company and good food. Honestly, this was my second time having vegan food in a restaurant in my whole life. The first was in Seoul, South Korea at Living Hut.
In Spain, normally during lunch hour, majority of the restaurants offer menu-del-dia option whereby you have a course meal with first plate, second plate and dessert. In general, it is cheaper compared to if you go by ala-carte. Our meal for three was about 40 euros excluding the tip.
First we were offered selections of drinks and then the first plate. I opted for Kefir drink. Wait a minute, don’t jump to a conclusion at the word of ‘Kefir’ yet.
I forgot to snap the first plate, but here is the second plate. Tofu cake, some salad and lentils. Love the lentils…spicy, yummy!
For dessert, I had Americano coffee to go as my oh my..I was full (Alhamdulillah) and the queue outside was quite a number. I was quite pleased though by the Spanish acception towards the concept of Vegan and vegetarian. Well..Jamón is a major favorite here.
I really wish that they are stronger rule like in the UK where the food products for vegan or vegetarian are clearly labeled. We Muslims definitely will be blessed with such options nonetheless.
My opinion of Rayén Vegano:
Not bad, the taste was not weird at all as I presumed. I LOVE LOVE LOVE vegetables so I have no major issues on eating the same as my friends. Lovely taste with spices which we tried to guess during our meal and definitely intrigued our taste buds. Given a second chance, I would definitely go again.
My only concern is the Kefir drink. The moment I had the first sip, I looked at my friend and said,”Do you think there is alcohol in here?” She said the same as she knows the taste of alcohol but how did I know?
For Muslims, you may read here to know the ruling on drinking Kefir.
Well…It went back around year 2008 when I had my first drink, ACCIDENTALLY. I love having a meal at the Japanese restaurant in Malaysia and one day, I went with my colleagues and most of them were non-Muslims. They ordered sake. When we continued for our next item, cinema, my colleague transferred the content of the remaining unfinished sake into a mineral bottle.
After the movie came to an end, I told my friend that I was really thirsty and my friend gave me ‘the’ mineral bottle thinking that it was ‘normal’ mineral water. I gulped it..HORROR!
The moment the liquid entered my mouth, it BURNT my tongue because…I held the liquid for about 3 to 5 minutes, running to the nearest garbage bin and disposed the said liquid.
My tongue had that burnt sensation for the whole day. Astaghfirullah al azim. However, this precious experience made me aware more and my tongue is more sensitive now after that incident.
Due to this, I asked the waitress in Rayén Vegano whether they serve alcoholic Kefir drink. She said it is fermented drink. I wondered what Kefir is really. The drink remained untouched after that as I decided to gain more knowledge about it rather than being ignorant.
HOWEVER, as a Muslim…we have to avoid alcohol or intoxicants as it clearly brings more harm than benefit as stated by many verses in Al-Qur’an where Allah prohibits them. More discussion on Allah’s wisdom on prohibition of alcohol can be read here.
After our lunch, we walked towards Retiro Park to enjoy the sun and the lovely views of the lake near the statue. Initially we thought of having a cherry-blossom viewing as there are many more trees there but walking towards the other gate seems consuming little our energy resources..hehe hence we decided to just enjoy the moment.
I definitely need a siesta around 3 to 4 in the evening by the time we reached the park.
During our relaxing time in the park, my friend asked me of some Malaysian words for her upcoming book about traveling in Malaysia for Korean readers. I am really really proud of her effort to introduce my country to the world! She and her husband has lived in Malaysia before and they love the culture which make me more grateful knowing these kind spirits.
Incidentally, we found a lonely cherry blossom tree near our exit of the Retiro Park towards Alcala Gate and snapped some pictures for our memory.
Then we walked back towards Sol and for the day, we went our separate ways at Plaza Mayor.
only the two of us today as my friend’s husband had to meet his friends outside Madrid.
I decided to walk towards Toledo gate today because as far as my personal experience of touring in Madrid (on foot), I have not covered the gate yet.
Well…In my opinion and observation, center of Madrid is not big if compared to Seoul. One day or two days is the time needed to enjoy the city if there is no major Museum or Art Gallery hops in your itinerary.
We met again at Sol Station at 11am and then just enjoyed our ‘camino’. I found another campus of Carlos III University near Toledo gate.
Later, we tried to find our way towards Lavapies but I failed miserably..hehe. Instead of Lavapies…we saw Tirso de Molina station instead. Here, we stop for a while for our coffee break.
I had my cafe con leche (coffee with milk) plus a croissant for 1.60 euro (promotional price) and my friend, cafe con leche de soja (coffee with soy milk) for 1.20 euro. I am still trying to get used to the idea of my friend being a vegan so as not to offend her when I forgot that there are milk in the coffee and butter in the croissant. Strict vegan does not consume milk, butter and eggs.
Then we walk towards Atocha and saw a Turkish restaurant where my friend bought her lunch of Falafel kebab sin the yogurt sauce for 4.00 euro (3 falafels inside).
We stopped to eat our lunch outside Reina Sofia Museum and Subhanallah, the weather was really fine and I for once, thought that if spring in Madrid is always like this how marvelous can that be.
We parted our way at Atocha Renfe Station around half past three in the afternoon as my friend and her husband would ride AVE train to their next location, Barcelona. Anyeong, chinggu!