Saturday, February 1, 2014

El Rastro

Those few frequent readers will know I have mentioned el rastro in some previous posts, but I'm not sure if I've done a good job explaining what, exactly, el rastro is. Well, basically every Sunday my entire barrio, the area where I live in Madrid, is turned into one huge open flea market. Shopkeepers, artists, gardeners and musicians line the streets with tables, tents and displays selling anything and everything. There are loads of antiques and art, and you can find anything from sunglasses and stockings, to kitchen supplies and fabric.

Thanks google images for the above pictures
It makes perfect sense to me that the word 'el rastro' translates in English to 'the trail.' As you wind your way through the narrow and insanely sloped streets you embark down a never-ending trail of 'wow,' 'what the hell is that,' 'cool!' and 'oooo interesting.' You never know what you're going to find, and I love that I have this right outside my door every Sunday!

You also will find your fair share of food at the rastro. Because the area is also filled with many restaurants, it is quite typical to end your browsing with caƱas (small, cheap glasses of beer) and tapas or a tosta. It's a great way to refuel and relax after a busy morning. There are also usually many street performers, creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere for you to eat and admire your purchases.
Left: Tosta de gula (toast with synthetic eel made from fish paste)
Tostas de tortilla y jamon
Seemingly the most famous tostas of the rastro
Secretly embracing the introvert that I am, my favorite thing to do is spend my Sunday mornings winding through the streets of the rastro alone, to get inspired and buy what I like without allowing others opinions to affect what I am drawn to. But it's just as fun to go as a group and spend a relaxing Sunday drinking and eating in the small restaurants of my neighborhood. Even when I do not go to the rastro, I feel happy knowing that it is going on outside my house. People are gathering, they are sharing art and laughs and food. Here are a couple pictures from last Sunday:

Every time I go I try to make a more strange or 'out there' purchase.. Who knows what I'll find next time!

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