La Venencia: Sherry, Hemingway, 1930s Spain

As I’m a tremendous fan of fun facts, a fun fact about Madrid is that it’s got the most bars per capita when weighed against any other European country. Another fun fact is that the Korean peninsula drinks more alcohol per capita than any other country in the world. It’s a shame I’m not even close to being an alcoholic.

A third fun fact is that I love historical places and artifacts. I’ve always felt that way, from the time I leaned over the velvet rope in 8th grade to sneakily touch the Liberty Bell during a school trip to Washington DC and Philadelphia. The idea of touching something that really historic people touched, or for the sake of Madrid, sitting where Ernest Hemingway once imbibed while getting the scoop on the war makes the history lover in me really excited.

That being said, I’m guilty of feeling quite sedentary and saying I want to explore Spain more than I actually get around to exploring it. It’s one of those things I can’t stand about my Spanish self, but so it is. However, this attitude has a tendency to shift whenever a visitor comes knocking on my door from afar. Luckily it happens sorta kinda often. I can go on and on about how Spain and I just never hit it off, but I do love to show it off to my visitors. Plus, there’s still so much I need to see, of which I have a growing list that I need to get around to checking off during these last few months.

One of those places on my list of must-visits was La Venencia, an unassuming bar established over 70 years ago, circa the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. The fun facts keep coming – it also happened to be a local hangout of Don Ernesto, as Hemingway was referred by the Spanish. La Venencia is like a little time capsule, and with one foot in the door, you are immediately transported to a time of bygones, of Republican soldiers sipping the one drink the pub sells – sherry, while divulging information to Mr. Hemingway.

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During Veny’s visit I dragged her to the bar at the top of my list, and I got a bit day lit while drinking both glasses of sherry that I ordered for the two of us. Knowing nothing about sherry (or jerez), I ordered one of each – a manzanilla and a palo cortado, served with a tapa of deliciously herbed green olives, and a side of dialogue with the others in the bar after asking the bartender “cual es la mas mejor?” Yes, I asked which is the more best, yes my Spanish sucks, and yes I got people talking with me – intrigued why two clueless girls stumbled into a sherry bar.

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Our tab was written on the wooden bar with chalk just before sneaking this picture, disobeying the ‘no photos’ rule which has been long standing since wartime when Republican soldiers didn’t want their photos taken, for fear of being outed by fascist spies. After having a good laugh at my poor Español, the guy standing next to us asked how I found out about this place, wanted to know which sherry I preferred (the manzanilla was fruitier, while the palo cortado grew a little hair on the chest – I enjoyed both as time went on), and told me he has been a long time regular and believes La Venencia to be the most authentic bar in the city.

As if the ambience of the wooden bar, wooden tables, barrels of fermenting sherry, antique cash register, and decades old posters weren’t enough, a couple guys sitting behind us had a bottle of the manzanilla and a plate of machego that they offered us a taste of – unaware that I had ordered a glass already. I loved feeling like a visitor being urged to experience the bar’s offerings to the fullest. On the opposite end of the bar, as we veered our sights to the right, just to the left of the entrance, sat three older gentlemen looking as if they’d been posted there since the ’30s and hadn’t moved since. I sometimes have a bit of a staring problem, and think one may have noticed our gawking which I don’t think he enjoyed, but I was enthralled.

If you’re in Madrid and fancy a bit of history, are looking to try something a little bit different, something a lotta bit Spanish, and stumble into one of Hemingway’s many stumbling-grounds, I urge you to pop into La Venencia.

La Venencia – Calle de Echegaray 7, Madrid, Spain

Have you ever visited La Venencia? Have you ever visited an age-old watering hole that granted you a different side of the city you were in? Let me know in the comments!

 

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The Tapperilla Has Arrived

This post originally started out as a farewell to Korea, but then I thought, what the F, you just got to Spain and people want to know about THAT right now. They’re also probably noticing the blog name change, so you should probably address that.

So, if you didn’t notice, then you should get your eyes checked, and if you did, congratulations! Not really, but if you did notice then you can conclude that yes, I have arrived in Spain, and yes, tapperilla isn’t actually a real word.  Deal with it, because the ‘little tapper’ is now who I am, and I get to keep both of my 2nd and 3rd home identities in check.  Thank you to my fellow kookster for being supafab with words and the Spanish language.

Which now brings me to Spain and how you’re probably so curious about how I’m settling in, right? Well, I’m settled but I’m not settled exactly. I’ve been here for a week exactly as of 2pm this afternoon, and I’m still shackin’ up with myself, my salmon pants clad teddy, and my suitcase of air packed clothes in the tiny room at Hostal Veguin that I have oddly come to enjoy, mostly because I have no other choice.

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Painful, right? The good news is that this teency hallway is located on the poppin Calle Fuencarral in Malasana, which is my neighborhood of choice, and where I’ve been striking out errrday in the apartment hunt. While patience is something I don’t have much of, I’m working on it and hopefully that means I’ll find myself a cozy lil home for all you fine folks to come visit soon enough. I’ve been piso hunting for a good 5 days now, which is far longer than any of my new friends took to find their’s. But, they also did get here significantly earlier than I did, and now everyone is here and pounding the pavement like I am. All I gotta say is thank you sweet Javier at the Spanish Embassy in Seoul for enforcing that I book accommodation for a full month rather than the mere week I was anticipating. Phew!

So yes, you read correctly, I’ve made a few friends! Hallelujah! The first night I was so sad and depressed and jet lagged over 4 timezones that I pretty much teary eyed myself to sleep because I A) had way too many things on my plate and no clue where to begin, and B) was lonely and friendless. But now I’ve gotten a fair amount of ducks in a row and met some lovely young ladies to go through the tedious process of setting our lives up together.

We had an orientation, which was pretty much anything but helpful since it was 90% in Spanish, though the part that was done in English was regarding the life set up stuff, so at least there was that. Since then, I’ve gotten Spanish digits, set up a bank account with EVO and can now pull money out at any ATM for free (once I get paid the big bucks, of course), locked down and loaded up my Abono to ride the metro, trains, and buses, and now start the waiting process of getting assigned to retrieve my TIE alien card. So things are coming together and seem a tad less scary than they did a week ago. YAYAYUYUH.

I don’t think it’s actually really hit me yet that I am legit living legally in Spain. Though everyday when I’m walking around I can’t stop gawking at the buildings and the juxtaposition of the insane graffiti, all while saying to myself and the air “everything is SO beautiful!” I don’t think that sentence will ever go out of style.

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From the small area that I’ve wandered around, Madrid is so breathtaking. The architecture, the people, the fashion, and the passion I see just walking down the street. Literally, I have never seen so many couples, young and old, bodies smashed up against a building wall or railing in the most intense make out session midday. It’s unreal. I’m not a big enjoyer of PDA, and I hate to compare but I’m going to because I can, but Spanish make out seshs are so much better than Korean tummy tickle bwing bwing fests. So yea, the city so far is everything I have dreamt of and more, and this is just my unsettled self talking. Wait til I get a place and my clothes hung in my own closet.

I’m starting school tomorrow, and there is one other Auxiliar, maybe a third, I’m not sure, at my school. I got reassigned last minute to a bilingual elementary school, so I’ll be teaching more subjects than just English which makes me SO happy. I’ve been in touch with the bilingual coordinator, Carmen, and she speaks legit English all the way down to starting emails with “Hey guys”, and I hung out with the other Auxiliar, Stacey who is a guy, last night over tapas. Things are coming together!

For now, know that I am ok, albeit annoyed and craving my own home, but I can deal. Start looking into flights because I’m only moving into an apartment that’s cool with the whole world coming to see me and drink sangria.

Ya hurrrrd?

Ya hurrrrd?