Thursday, December 30, 2010

Madrid: Railroad Museum & Patatas Bravas

Yesterday, we took Ricky to the Railroad Museum here in Madrid. It is located in an old train station, which has been out of use for decades. You buy your tickets and step onto the platform of the enormous old train station, with very high ceilings and iron work, and light streaming in from the huge glass windows at the end. There are four tracks with trains sitting there: an old steam engine, with a side removed so you can see all the pipes, a 1950s Talgo that was very fast for the times, an early 20th century wooden train, with illuminated windows where you can see a sleeping compartment, a bathroom with all fixtures, even a bidet. There’s also an antique cafeteria car, where you can sit down, pretend you’re traveling and have a cup of coffee.

On one side of the station, there are rooms with interesting artifacts: old train clocks, tools for fixing the tracks, old typewriters, an old telephone switching station from the 1930s, an oversized scale to weigh your luggage.

And Ricky’s favorite: several adjoining rooms with model trains. At least 50 years old, these models include elaborate landscape and tracks, where all kind of trains roam. On the walls of the rooms, there are antique toy trains in glass cases, from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Ricky wanted to buy them and take them home.

During the holidays, the Railroad Museum offers rides in the Christmas Train, which takes kids to all the main stations in Madrid: Principe Pio, Atocha, Chamartin and then back to the museum (the museum has tracks connecting it to stations that are still in use). In the spring, the museum offers tickets on the Tren de la Fresa (Strawberry Train), which takes travelers to Aranjuez, a small town near Madrid where strawberries are cultivated. We tried to get tickets for the Christmas train yesterday, but it was sold out.

After the museum, we walked a couple of blocks to Hermanos Guio / Museo de la Patata to have our aperitivo, a snack and a drink before lunch time. We arrived a little before 1:00 PM and were able to get a table (during the summer, this place has many outdoor tables lining the sidewalk, but in winter, either you take one of the five tables or you stand at the bar). This little bar is famous for patatas bravas. You can get either regular patatas bravas, fried cubes potatoes with a lightly spicy red sauce, or one of their many varieties of patatas with one of the following additions: fried peppers, garlic, picadillo (little cubes of stewed pork), oreja (pork’s ear), morcilla, bacon, chorizo, chistorra, among a handful of others.

At Hermanos Guio, they cook more than 200 kilos of potatoes every day. And they use no ordinary potato: the owners bring a special kind of potato from Segovia, which is a little yellow and very flavorful.

Bryan ordered a caña and I had a sidra on tap (a Spanish hard cider, which is quite sweet); Ricky drank a peach juice. Our drinks came with a tapa of potatoes with garlic. We also ordered a racion of patatas con picadillo. The service is wonderful, and you feel like you’re in a small Spanish town instead of in the middle of Madrid.

Museo del Ferrocarril (Railroad Museum)
Pº Delicias 61. 28045 Madrid
Metro: Delicias (line 3)

Bar Hermanos Guio / Museo de la Patata
c/ Ferrocarril, 21
28045 Madrid, Spain
915 271 930

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