Home, But Not To Roost


You know when you are back in the UK when;

Every road seems to have been dug up for some sort of repair or another – causing traffic mayhem and general annoyance.

The temperatures become colder towards Spring than warmer – snow has again been promised.

Jeremy Kyle (a morning talk show similar to Steve Wilkos), is classed as entertainment.

People insist on wearing nothing but ‘sports’ wear even though they never actually partake in ANY sports activity.

Adverts constantly tell you how to win millions on gambling and then advise on fast track loans – logic please!

Young men think it is OK to assault young girls in front of onlookers in a busy supermarket. Great to pay witness to that whilst buying your Brussels Sprouts. Yes, I did intervene too.

Insurance companies think it is OK to refund you peanuts after a burglary – though you have paid for years on a policy for such an eventuality.

The Chancellor Of The Exchequer lowers the prices of alcohol instead of increasing people’s salaries, or anything else remotely useful.

You can wait forever to have a Doctor’s appointment, as the Receptionists feel they are the medical experts, and know YOU are not an emergency!

People say thank you even when they are being practically smacked in the face!

These are things that make Britain ‘Great’ – yipppppeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank YOU!!!!!


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I just wanted to write a quick post THANKING all the readers of my blog.

Whether you leave me comments, re-blog, pin-back, like my posts or merely just read the words I put out there – THANK YOU!!!!!!!

A blog isn’t a blog without PEOPLE being engaged with the writing!!!!!!!!

THANK YOU for YOUR support, interest in my posts and the time your spend reading and responding!

I appreciate all YOUR input and opinions too. I also value the ‘discussions’ and debates generated in response to my posts.

I have enjoyed ‘speaking’ to and making some interesting and kind internet ‘buddies’ 🙂

My blog has come along way since September, and I THANK ALL OF YOU OUT THERE for that!!!!!!

Ever appreciative,

Bex 🙂 

The Media and Double Standards – The Joke Is On Women.


I was watching an interview with Writer Seth MacFarlane a few weeks ago, whilst answering one of the questions asked him, half way through he uttered an expletive. The interviewers were aghast and immediately lurched forth with profuse apologies for MacFarlane’s mistake; insisting he hadn’t meant it and that he hadn’t realised what he had said was wrong. MacFarlane was shocked by their response, you could visibly see it; I suppose he hadn’t realised UK audiences are ‘anal’ about swear words being spoken on television. His retort to all of this panic was something I have always agreed with, but it has never been said as a response on television; ‘oh so I can’t say a rude word, but it is OK for breasts to be shown in UK newspapers and magazines’. Needless to say the interviewers didn’t reply to this.

Yet, it is a question that needs answering as it is a contradiction we all accept. It is pathetic and unjustified; no swearing and yet there are far worse things getting aired via the media, oh, and going on daily throughout the world! For Heaven’s sake people, get a grip, it is ONLY a word (swear)!

Double standards? I think so, but yet the UK seemingly thrive on that! Actions speak louder than words, and I’d prefer to hear a swear word being used than see the constant objectification of women on every advert, and in every magazine shoot! Hell, you only have to switch to MTV for a little bit of sex education; between gyrating and semi clad women to the explicit lyrics, sex is everywhere! However, I don’t see that being apologised for; but as usual any swear words mixed into the lyrics which glorify having sex, sex and more sex, are ‘bleeped’ out! Swear words are just a step too far, too obscene for viewers! The videos are OK though; women stripping, lap-dancing, being a sex object, being a sex toy, being cast as a dumb fool; but if they swear, well that won’t be tolerated!

Hey, no problem it is great demonstrating to everybody, mainly the young and impressionable that these ‘MTV’ roles represent all women are, and want to be. This is a must for every 5 year old’s education I am sure. MTV has no ‘watershed’, anyone can watch at any-time and be inundated with images of what women are good for, sex. Great self-esteem boost for all women out there; thanks MTV for pimping women as a ride!

I suppose people think I have a prudish outlook, you know what, I don’t care. The measure of me is not just my body parts, my female gender; I am a human and want to be treated with respect, and as a person with a brain! I personally don’t live my life to be in servitude to a man’s penis, although I do like sex, I am not an object!
I feel it is what we are subjected to daily that makes us believe what we see is acceptable, and is then adopted as the norm. We have been drip fed naked flesh and provocative images for so long we can’t remember life without them all. I just want to know why it is deemed necessary to sell; shower gel, coffee, trainers, washing powder, chocolate and God knows what else, with naked flesh and sexual invitation? Why does all this nakedness appear mostly on adverts aimed at women? Why are these images of rampaging, semi clad and sexually desperate women supposed to sell things? Who is identifying with them? What has any of it got to do with washing powder?

If you look at adverts from 10 years ago, there is a marked difference in today’s variety; the barriers of what is normal and accepted by the public are being pushed all the time. So subtle are the changes and developments that we don’t see it, we just accept it as the norm, see it as what society is like and we don’t question why. How further can it go? Will women just end up like meat on a stick; not human, but just worth their flesh?

I suppose we can’t now escape naked forms, and our enjoyment in seeing them all the time, well then, let’s have some fair sharing and distribution. More men on display and the ‘HOT’ variety please! Naked women are on show everywhere for everything; dancing to the tune of male advertisers and marketing execs, DJs, Rappers and so on and so on; if their lack of clothing has no link to subjugation, sexual pressure, objectification or dominance of fully clothed males over naked females, then why are there so few naked men?

If naked bodies and sex are cool, and the world is OK with them, why aren’t there more naked, gyrating men selling women products? Men in adverts, on television, in photo shoots; pandering to women’s sexual fantasies, being women’s sex toys, being objectified by women, losing dignity and self-respect for women’s needs. I wonder if those ridiculous double standards have anything to do with it; or maybe, it is because more men hold positions of power to decide what gets published, televised and so on? For example, the penis, adverts about condoms, the contraceptive pill and sexually transmitted diseases aren’t aired on the television or in magazines. Why are such things relegated to specific times and places; late nights, certain channels and magazines? I mean sex is everywhere, so surely we should see the other half of the species who have sex too, and not just the women of world being stripped bare? Surely we should all know about the male penis and condoms? We see sanitary products on the television all the time, but no condoms, no penis.

I wonder why half the population, who are women, are happy with this flaw. Liking sex, liking men, enjoying being seen as attractive or sexy, looking after your-self; all of this has nothing to do with despising objectification and subjugation. Being seen as a woman should be on your terms, not what a faceless industry tells you, no dictates that you are or should be. To me it seems they are destroying femininity, unpicking it with smut for money. It’s a cheap and nasty joke, which women are the brunt of. You’d think these industry men would have another punch line by now, but then, ‘small minds’ and all that!

Sexual, prude, foolish or subjugated; women’s limited roles in the media.

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 15 Minutes Of Fame – Blessing Or A Curse?


It was Andy Warhol who said that, ‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’. He had a point, and didn’t realise then, just how ‘on the money’ that statement would prove to be.

What got me thinking about this today was JK Rowling’s new book, ‘A Casual Vacancy’. It has been released to cool reviews, not received perhaps as well as everyone hoped it would be. I’m not so surprised by this, I mean Harry Potter’s shoes are very large to fill, but it is how everyone seems so saddened by the news that makes me wonder. Poor JK, I mean her ‘15 minutes’ of fame were probably as big, and far reaching as anyone’s ever could be; if this book disappeared into obscurity tomorrow she won’t be hard done by exactly!

Yet, this ’15 minutes’ gang are all over the world, in one form or another. They pop out of the wood work on a near constant basis. It seems the whole of the entertainment industry is littered with one hit wonders, actors and the like, who have been discarded, ousted from their thrown of omnipotence. They lament for a moment in time they have lost, and feel angered that re-gaining their crown is being denied them, by new talent. Yet, aren’t they the lucky ones? Why do they see their one moment of world glory as not being enough? There are others who have never been given the chance to stamp their mark on the world. Isn’t it just greedy, clinging onto fame, to keep perusing fame and fortune when they have already had their taste? They have already been given the gift of their ’15 minutes’, what more is there to have?

Surely anyone with half a brain knows when it is their time to move out of that spot light and say, ‘OK, I had a damn good run, I’m thankful’, no, they keep on and on trying to claw back what they once were? Why?
Is fame like any other bad habit or addiction? Is it that once you have tasted it, you become a new person, and that person is someone who cannot stop wanting more and more, regardless of the cost to your self-esteem and reputation? Why then doesn’t this fame and fortune come with heavy health warnings, making those that dare to venture further guard against their mental health?

Look at Lyndsey Lohan and Britney Spears; it’s over and yet they refuse to see, and people merely encourage false hope to mock them! It is sad.

I believe the ’15 minutes’ stretches to us mere mortals too. Aren’t we all at some point famous for 15 minutes, not world-wide granted, but in our own way we make headlines with those around us. Isn’t there something we did so well no-one could then replicate our successes, or could they, as we are all replaceable and pervious to the change of opinions and attitude. One minute we are flavour of the month and next, everyone is avoiding us.

None of us can be ahead of the game all our lives though, there comes a time to graciously step aside and let another shine. Yet, some of us seem more able than others to admit it’s over, concede, leave when the leaving is good and maintain our dignity. Aren’t those who are remembered the best and for the longest those that depart quickly; Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Bruce Lee. No, I don’t imply we should have to die young to be iconic, just accept that we have given our best and that was good enough. No one wants to be remembered as a ‘has been’ after all.

This says it all……

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The ‘Real’ Madrid Experience – Foodie Heaven


OK, Madrid has so many places to eat and drink, you could, in theory, eat out in a different restaurant or bar every night of the week! Whilst discussing food, I could therefore list hundreds of places to eat, but then you’d be bored, so whenever I talk about food I only want to include those good restaurants which have something different to offer the customer. At the end of this post, I will include a few more good places.

In this post I really wanted to present food from a different angle, looking at some varied types of places to visit, which will offer a different vibe and experience, which, I personally like visiting.

A note to add: I do try to keep any recommendations for places as informal as I can. I know that ‘top class’ food joints aren’t everyone’s cup of tea! They are, every now and again though, nice to at least try once! There are a few places I mention that might be seen as for ‘posh’ clientele only, but there are no V.I.P sections! The key in Madrid is to try anything at least once and form your own opinions.

Hints and tips, and my thoughts are added into the sections. Hope you enjoy reading, and it makes you feel as hungry as I felt typing out the information!

MARKETS:

Two words needed here; Mercado Torrijos!!! This market is situated on Calle del General Díaz Porlier, tucked in behind the large El Corte Ingles in Goya.

I found this market by chance wandering off the main roads of Goya. I love the vibe and culture surrounding the food markets here in Madrid. I enjoy visiting San Anton and San Miguel markets, (to be discussed later on in this post), but they are often crowded and bustling places, linked closely to the tourist trail, especially the latter. San Miguel can become so crowded that often it is a case of walking in and then out again! I wanted to find something more authentic, and nearer to my home!

I was naturally concerned, as even at home in the UK I use markets infrequently for shopping, such is the convenience of the wonderful world of supermarkets, but Madrid supermarkets are to me very frustrating! People assume supermarkets are the same all over the world, but they are not. The queues here are often a nightmare, especially in Carrefour. Even self-service at the larger Carrefour supermarkets are more inefficient than their counterparts in the UK. Therefore, knowing where there are reliable and friendly markets is a must.

I say friendly, because Mercado Torrijos is just that, and it is a relatively new to market in Madrid too; so quieter. I went there on my own, with what I’d class as a pretty basic command of spoken Spanish, but I got buy. I actually was surprised how eager the vendors there were to speak to me at length! I have to say I was impressed with the butcher stalls available, I bought some beautiful pork and the price was fantastic. Every-time I return the vendors remember who I am and chat away as though I have lived here all my life; a real treat for me as often I feel constraint because of my lack of Spanish communication skills!

The market has plenty of options; fish, fruit and veg, dried fruit (the largest dates I have ever seen in Madrid!) all types of meat, eggs, bread and also a health food shop too. There is also places to eat and sit and chat on the 2nd level, they sell food and drink so customers can have some time out from their shopping!

I cannot recommend this place enough!

Wesite: http://www.mercadodetorrijos.es/

San Anton Market, Chueca; situated really close to Chueca Metro Station.

This sprawling market covers 3 floors. First floor comprises of the traditional market where they sell meats, cheeses, fish, fruit and veg from all over the world. In fact this is one of the first places I actually bought Blueberries from, as in Madrid they are scare! Albeit, the Blueberries here tend to be very expensive; tiny pack for roughly 6 euros! I was desperate for my fix though!

The 2nd floor is where you can sample food from the mini restaurant stalls; Japanese, Italian and Greek specialties, seafood, chocolate, cakes and juices are all available to buy and then sit down and eat. The Sushi is lovely here; the staff are helpful too, as my Spanish isn’t word perfect. Oh, also the cakes and pastries here are to die for; just like in every place that sells such goodies though, utterly irresistible!

On the 3rd floor there is a terraced restaurant, La Cocina de San Antón. You can actually choose the product you want from the market stalls (meat or fish), and this restaurant will cook it for you! The staff of St. Anthony’s Kitchen will even advise you on the best way to prepare your purchase, what spices to use and even what sauces they recommend.

They also offer an extensive menu for lunch or dinner, either inside the restaurant or on its magnificent terrace, located looking out over the rooftops of Chueca. It is like entering some hidden inner sanctum, and although popular in the daytime it is pretty quiet. Nice to sit and relax sipping on one of their lovely Mojitos!

San Miguel Market, Plaza San Miguel (leading directly off the Plaza Mayor).

You cannot really miss this exquisite, and imposing structure built in glass and iron. Open Sunday to Wednesday 10am to 12pm, Thursday/ Friday and Saturday 10am to 2am.

The building alone is a must see, completed in 1916 it has gone through various refurbishment to accommodate the modern day requirements of the people of Madrid.

This market offers a range of high quality foods; fruit, veg, bocadillos, tortillas, cakes, juices, wines, sangria, fish, seafood, cheeses, meats, and sushi! It has over 33 vendors to choose from. What makes this experience a must is the crazy atmosphere, it is busy as it is popular with tourists and natives of Madrid alike.

It is a look, choose and taste environment unlike anything on offer in the UK! From the vendors you can order a little bit of whatever you want, and taste it there and then. There is a central eating area in the markets; seating and tables available for customers. You can order drinks too, and stay all night filling up your hungry stomach by just trying bits and bobs.

There are separate and smaller vendors dotted throughout the market too, who also sell small delicacies. There is one that sells amazing salted baked potatoes with a ‘special and secret’ spicy sauce which is to die for! There are so many interesting little canapés on offer from; salmon and caviar, an amazing selection of olives, cakes including macaroons and little biscuits.

There is so much variety of ‘tapas’ to choose from, and then eat as you walk onto the next vendor. Usually 1 euro will buy you a little item to eat, but it is worth it, as I have already mentioned the atmosphere is a must as it is what makes Madrid, Madrid! You have to experience this, just like you should experience tapas, Museo del Jamon and the Plaza del Sol!

The seating areas however, do become extremely busy as the time ticks by. Sometimes you are merely stuck in a crowd, and cannot really move about freely or get near the stalls to see and be served. That is the price you pay for popularity!

Below pic: Some of food options at San Miguel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUPERMARKETS:

This may seem a mundane topic of discussion, but these are things rarely, if ever covered by travel information. I feel it is good to know where you can purchase snacks, water, alcohol and even toiletries.

As I have mentioned previously the supermarkets in Madrid are not like those in the UK. If you want something similar then you would have to visit one of the hyper markets outside the city limits! Carrefour, Dia, Simply and Open Cor (owned by El Corte Ingles) and Lidl are good options to purchase things cheaply, whilst in Madrid. They often have great quality wines, olive oils, conserves and chocolate for a reasonable price; think of gifts to return home with!

Dia and Simply are probably the best for price. If you are looking to buy whatever you may need then these are handy to know of. No need to worry about not speaking Spanish to order things either.

Carrefour have a good selection of products too, usually all supermarkets have some ‘deli-esque’ counters where you can choose your fresh meat and fish from. In Carrefour you have to weigh and price up your own fruit and veg though, so make sure you do it or they won’t sell it to you at the check-out!

Carrefour is usually busy, and the service in most supermarkets is slow, but at Carrefour there are self- service check-outs available, which have English speaking options. Notably the large Carrefour in Goya.

All supermarkets are usually open until 10pm, but Opencor closes at 2am. This again is a good option, but the goods here are mostly higher end food stuffs, and are more expensive than anywhere else. The thing to note is that buying alcohol after 10pm is not permitted in Madrid, so just in-case you feel like a late evening drink, buy it in earlier! Or, visit one of the many bars.

El Corte Ingles food court (Goya) is popular to have a drink at. I have never tried the food available in their restaurants so I cannot comment on service and so on. They also sell food stuffs too, though they are expensive! They do however sell British goods, and my beloved Macaroons! Though cheaper than some cake shops, the quality is not as good as the fresh versions. For fabulous cakes and pastries visit one of the many pastelerías or reposterías in Madrid.

While mentioning Macaroons, as ridiculous as it sounds, McDonalds near Atocha Station has a cake and coffee stand. Theirs are the cheapest Macaroons I have found in Madrid, instead of the usual 1 euro each or 26 euros (plus) a pack, they are 80 cents each! They taste great too. I love Macaroons!

Below pic: MACAROONS!!!!!!!!

CAFÉ SOCIETY:

VAIT, just on the junction of Calle Alcalá and Calle Alfonso XI.

It is a café, restaurant and cake shop. They sell the most fabulous Irish coffee; only one and you begin to feel tipsy! They also sell lovely sandwiches, a welcomed refreshment after a wander around Parque del Retiro! I really like this little place. It feels up-market, but the prices are good, the portions are plenty, the service is prompt and the staff are polite.

As I mentioned they are a cake shop too, and yes they sell Macaroons!

Faborit, various locations around Madrid.

These cafes are a similar set up to Star Bucks, but cheaper and they sell more food and drink options. You have a vast menu to choose from! There are a variety of hot or iced coffee and tea, juices, Frappe (Frappuccino), hot chocolates, yoghurts, vitamin juices, salads, sandwiches, bocadillos, wraps, cakes and biscuits.

NIGHT TIME:

Irish bars in Madrid, for those who cannot leave the taste of the UK behind!

Molly Malones, near the Metro Station Bilbao, around 12 minutes’ walk from Gran Via in central Madrid.

The bar has a wide selection of international beers (draft and bottle), whiskies and spirits. They also televise live sporting events and hold language exchange events every Thursday night. This is where people from all over the world come to speak English, and in-turn you can pick up Spanish, German, French, Italian and so on!

O’Neils, in the centre of Madrid, very close to Puerta del Sol.

Again similar to Molly Malones on the alcohol and sporting front! They also offer language exchanges too, helping anyone who wants to improve their Spanish. This a good place to meet new people from Madrid and from all over the world! The events run on Tuesdays after 9.00pm, just ask for David who organises the ‘intercambios’ or language exchanges.

You are also able to contact them prior to attending by sending an email to: intercambio@oneills.es.

O’Donnels, near the Metro Station Tribunal, around 12 minutes’ walk from Gran Via in central Madrid.

They run different promotions on food and drinks daily. All live sporting events are shown. Pacha nightclub is a few meters away; Metro Tribunal is just across the road.

What I will say is that the beer and spirits at these bars are expensive, as they are imports! For example a Guinness will be anything from 5 to 8 euros a pint.  Stick to any deals on offer, Cañas or local beers like San Miguel to save some money!

J & J Books and Coffee, Calle Espiritu Santo, 47 a short walk from Noviciado Metro Station.

This is a café come bar which opens 11am and on Fridays closes at 1.30am. They speak English, and this is a place where anyone who wants to improve their English can visit. However, Wednesday and Thursday nights are their ‘intercambio’ evenings, so anyone wanting to improve English or Spanish can visit and practice to their hearts content over a beer, cocktail or coffee.

They also have thousands, and I mean thousands of books printed in English, which can be borrowed. They have quiz nights, special offers and you can even trade in your own spare books!

Check out their website for further information:  http://www.jandjbooksandcoffee.com

Mala Fe Rock Bar, Calle del Escorial, 4

Open Thursday 9pm – 2am, Friday and Saturdays 10pm – 3:30am. The music is as it states; Rock, Metal and Indie. It is perhaps something different for the weekend! A good atmosphere, people are friendly. Only draw-back are the toilets; they are inadequate! There is only one ladies and one gent’s loo! This bar gets very busy too, so expect to queue to use the loo!

Check out their website for listings of what is coming up: http://www.malaferockbar.com/

Café 40, Gran Via

This place is something a Little different. A mix between a club and a restaurant. They have different events, gigs and DJs here. The food is good, but expensive; however they do have a weekend menu that offers a starter, main, desert and drink for 16.50 euros. They also offer a variety of food; Japanese and Chinese as well as salads and novelty beef burgers (with neon coloured buns). Not all the food portions are as large as they seem to be on the menu, so choose wisely as the prices may not be worth the meal! I usually choose from the ‘Salteados’ section of the menu – the Japanese dish listed there, which I have with egg noddles. This is a large portion, and very tasty!

Check out their website for events listings and menus: 40cafe.es/

Café Central, Plaza del Angel –

This is a great place to hear Jazz music in Madrid. The atmosphere is intimate and engaging. The stage is in close quarters to the audience; with tables and chairs all packed in tight together. You can also sit or stand at the bar. They sell food, which I have not tried. The drinks are quite reasonable, and waiters do come to your table to serve you, which is a benefit when the music begins to play!

I enjoyed it here, very relaxed and vibrant atmosphere. You will need to pay a ‘cover charge’ or entrance fee to watch the acts perform, usually 15 euros (give or take) I suggest getting there before 9pm to get a good seat.

Restaurant Kasanova, Alcalde Sainz de Baranda 25, near Ibiza Metro Station.

This is an Italian restaurant, but it is the drinks that attract me more than the food! Great selection of alcohol on offer, they house over 550 spirits here! Good news to all!

Cerveceria 100 Montaditos, various locations around Madrid.

A cheap place to grab a little bite to eat and a beer. They do ‘Jarras de Cerveza’ or large ‘pitchers’ of beer for a euro! They offer fries, crisps/chips and nachos, also bocadillos in vast varieties (though small portions, just enough as accompaniment to the beer). You order by usually filling out little paper dockets, marking what you, and then passing them to the bar. They will check your order with you. When your food is ready your name will be called out over the tannoy, you pick up your order from a little serving hatch! You can order however much you want, so although one little bocadillo is as cheap a 1.50 euros; it will obviously bump the price up the more you order.

CAKE, BAKERY AND CHOCOLATE SHOPS:

You cannot really walk for five minutes without spotting a cake, bakery or chocolate shop in Madrid! Bad news for those people who are watching their waist-lines; it can be the seventh circle of Hell for temptation! Shops display their tasty treats with utter perfection, luring you to an unexpected stop! The delicate and sumptuous appearances of the cakes, and chocolates in Madrid, will at some point force you to submit to that naughty inner voice and indulge!

La Mallorquina, Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, 8

Pricey, but temptingly, deliciously tasty. I am not a connoisseur of cakes, I haven’t a clue of any of the names of the particular delightful specialities or pastries on offer here, but anything sold here is divine! I just let my eyes do the choosing, and my stomach does the tasting! I am fascinated by the combinations and presentation of the goods though. Just be warned, the cakes and pastries look too good to leave behind, they have a way of calling out to you ‘please buy me’!

Moulin Chocolat (near Parque del Retiro) –

Simply divine gourmet cakes, sweets and macaroons! A little pricey, but so tempting.

Le Pain Quotidien, Calle de Fuencarral, 95

This place appears to be a stylish restaurant, which houses a good bakery and a ‘rustic’ dining area. The menu is something off the beaten track, offering different salads, lighter options, and tasty breads with conserves. The eggs Benedict is delightful! There are no bad food experiences to report here, however, disappointment comes in the form of the service. This place is popular, and they are aware how good their food is, which will make you want to return time and time again; but you can feel undervalued as a customer. It is almost as though you have to perform some type of magic to attract attention from the servers; this is a let-down!

VAIT, junction between Calle Alfonso XI and Calle Alcalá

I have already mentioned this one previously. The cakes, biscuits and pastries are amazing. I certainly cannot go in without stopping to stare at the selection, especially the macaroons. I would recommend a visit, and see how long you can resist purchasing something!

FINALLY; EVEN MORE FOOD:

After the last post I dedicated to food and drink I feel there are few more little gems to add to the list of restaurants.

Taberna Maceiras, Huertas, 66

Galician food; authentic, busy and lively. Not the place for a romantic meal! The food is excellent though, especially the seafood dishes. People are generally queuing to get in, although there are other restaurants nearby, which is a good sign! Locals enjoy it here, so you can get the feel of true Madrid. However, you can only pay in cash.

Carlos Tartiere Sidreria, Calle Menorca, 35,

Food from the Asturias. Need some understanding of spoken Spanish for this one, the menu appears to be printed in Spanish only. The food is excellent however, and generous portions. The staff are friendly too. Try the cider which they pour by holding the bottle above their head, and the glass below their waist. They pour the drink without looking at the glass, so be prepared to get a little cider splashed on you; all part and parcel of the unique dining experience!

The specialities include rice dishes, oven baked fish and meat, fabada (a rich and thick consistency Spanish bean stew with meats in it, and also one with clams in).

Kitchen open 12pm to 12am.

Website: There is an English version so you see in advance what they are serving to save the language barrier:  http://www.restaurantecarlostartiere.com/en_index.php

El colmado, Calle de Juan de Urbieta, 4

Delicious food, served in what seems like it will be a humble setting. Great service, friendly staff. The food is quite daring, very tasty, great flavours. This is ‘fusion’ cuisine incorporating the best Caribbean recipes. Example of one of the dishes on offer; goat (kid) marinated in rum and oregano.

Tanta, Plaza del Peru, 1

Peruvian restaurant. The restaurant seems dark, but it spacious. Authentic food tastes; the grilled butter fish is great (pez mantequilla), try the Pisco sour to drink and also the potato bread. You will need to be able to speak and understand Spanish though, otherwise just wing it with ‘sign language’! It is worth the confusion of the language barrier! This is a busy place, but they don’t accept reservations, although there is plenty of room to accommodate diners. If you are visiting at Lunch time order from menu del dia (which will be cheaper), at night you have to choose from the regular menu, which is 35 euros per person roughly.  The price of your meal can increase significantly if you don’t watch what you are ordering.

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The ‘Real’ Madrid Experience – The Jewel in The Vintage Crown


I am aware that at the end of my last ‘Real’ Madrid Experience post, I promised I would write my next article about Madrid food markets, and I will don’t worry! Allow me to explain why there has been a delay in this proposed post; it is taking a little more time to collate all the information I require, because I want a fully formed and interesting article, not a rushed version. So, while I consider my follow up post about the markets, today allow me to lead you down a completely different shopping trail instead.

This topic is close to my heart, well, the area of shopping I’m focusing on anyway. I am not concentrating here on the run of the mill high street stores, no way, we’re going VINTAGE.

Beginnings:

I am aware that often the very idea of vintage shopping brings some people out in hives. The very notion of leaving the high street behind, the safe and reliable H&M, Zara, Pull & Bear, Berska and El Corte Ingles (as every street in Madrid has one of these, practically!), Topshop, River Island and Primark might make a person confused and fearful, but don’t worry, there is hope! Vintage shopping isn’t as bad as some people think it is, there is in fact plenty of wonderful and unique clothing pieces on offer, that will suit everyone’s taste, purse and not to mention size. So, rethink your aversion to vintage before we progress any further!

For a truly unique shopping experience then vintage is the real deal. The vintage shops of Malasaña (a barrio in Madrid) offer up that one of a kind item, which no one else will be wearing. That outfit that allows your individual identity to shine. The difference between vintage and high street doesn’t merely end in unique items, but also price too. The high street fashion stores, such as those mentioned above, are more expensive than the vintage stores here. Admittedly not all vintage is cheap, but for an extra price you can get not only a unique item, but a quality item too (again, this is rare to find in the high street stores).

Here in Madrid many people do tend to grab onto specific trends, and won’t deviate from them, they then end up wearing clothes similar to everyone else (all bought from the high street). Yet, in Malasaña and Chueca you will see fashion flair on every street corner, thanks to the vintage shops!

My Thoughts:

I believe Madrid does vintage better than anywhere else I know, even London! The reason being is that the shops here don’t mark up their prices just because something is classed as ‘vintage’, not like in the UK. The quality of goods available is beyond belief too, they don’t just sell any old rubbish and class it as vintage.

What makes Madrid the jewel in vintage crown for me is affordability! Good prices make the vintage shopping experience far more exciting, as any great find will be kinder on your wallet! The individuality of the style available within the vintage shops here, is sold to the customer for extremely good prices. These great prices ensure that the unusual remains accessible to all, and not just the ‘elite’ who have more money than sense! Vintage shops are not just the shopping ground of the rich in Madrid, and this is what I like the most.

There are a really good selection of vintage shops dotted about areas such as Chueca and Malasaña, which stock retro/second hand from the 1920’s up until the 1990’s (if you class 1990’s as retro). In fact anything second hand gets sold in these shops. I have on the rare occasion seen hand bags from ‘Primark’ being re-sold (unfortunately), so nothing is out of bounds in theory! However you can find exquisite pieces of vintage; leather hand bags, 1970’s hats and sunglasses from the 1950’s for better prices than any high street store can offer.

Every shop is slightly different on price though; some have better bargains to be found too. Again it depends on the items; leather coats and fur will have a price tag of more than 20 euros, but they will be far cheaper than if bought new from high street shops.

The Vintage Trail:

I am going to focus my vintage trail on the Malasaña barrio, more specifically, Calle Velarde. This street is near Tribunal and Bilbao Metro Stations, also not far from Calle Fuencarral . Below are some of my favourite vintage shops on this street.

Below pic: Calle Velarde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magpie Vintage –

If I had to give ONLY ONE vintage shop recommendation, then this would be it!

Just as the name suggests, this shop is perfect for those with Magpie tendencies; and can’t resist being attracted to something different. This is my favourite vintage/second hand shop in Madrid! They sell everything you could possibly want from day dresses, evening gowns, coats, hats, scarf’s, cardigans, jumpers, shoes, skirts, shirts and even jewellery; the selection is as vast as the eras represented in the clothing!

At the moment they have some lovely suede coats trimmed with fur, denim jackets, bolero jackets with embellishments sewed on, army jackets and of course a selection of second hand Dr Martens!

They also have a glass cabinet which houses the loveliest vintage accessories; the sunglasses are my favourite items. Sunglasses in Madrid are always an investment as the sun shines even in winter! They also have a host of leather handbags; their satchels are a great price for a one off vintage item which will last through the seasons.

There is a ‘bargain trunk’ too, which is worth rummaging through. There is often really great and cheap items to be found within! My friend found a lovely little purple leather handbag in the ‘bargain chest’ for 3 euros!

This shop is a MUST visit!

Check out their Facebook page and website/blog:     http://www.facebook.com/magpievintagemadrid?ref=ts&fref=ts

http://magpie.es/blog/

 

La Mona Checa –

This shop is just across the street from Magpie. Again a great little shop for a one off find! From jumpers and army surplus to fur coats and dresses. I spotted a great soft suede jacket with tassels whilst I was there over the weekend. They also have that essential ‘bargain trunk’ full of little surprises which are cheaper than the items on the racks! I am fond of the stray silk scarf’s I often find here, they are perfect as hair accessories.

Honey –

Another little vintage gem, packed with the unusual and stylish.

In between Honey and Biba, is a shop called ‘The The’ –

‘The The’ is quite specialised as they stock mainly leather, denim and army surplus. What they do here, which is different, is re-work the fabrics on site. They have sewing machines in situ! They re-create waist- coats/vests, shorts and shirts all from old denim. I really like this shop, but it can be a little pricier, because of the extra work put in to the goods!

Below pic: The shop that re-works denim, ‘The The’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below pic: Just see inside ‘The The’ – the re-worked denim on the racks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biba –

I also love this shop. In the summer they had a rack of the cutest 1950’s tea dresses with the quirkiest prints! They too stock handbags, accessories, shoes and chunky knit or embellished jumpers. You can find anything here, and the prices are good too. I actually bought a leather pencil skirt from here for 18 Euros; you cannot beat that price!

Pulgas –

This shop is aptly named; pulgas meaning fleas! I see this shop as treasure trove. I love going through the narrow, long shop just taking my time to rummage (which you have to do here). You have to be prepared to search, but when you do you’ll be surprised at what you find.

Clothes, bags, coats and God knows what else is all piled up high for your searching pleasure! They do have rails of clothes too, especially dresses; so don’t fret if rummaging for bargains isn’t your style! They also stock vintage house-hold items too, such as; ornaments, books and cameras!

What makes this shop truly individual to me is the vintage fur they sell. Now I am not a lover of fur, but if you have to purchase it, and fur is popular here in Madrid in the winter; then I would prefer anyone to buy the fur of animal who has been dead for decades, and not a newly killed animal!

I have seen long length fur coats in this shop that date back to the 1930’s, from American boutiques! The fur here is often re-worked into different items too. Any fur from this shop will be at a fraction of the price than its counter-part from the high street. An example of this; in this shop a long length fur coat is 300 euros, in the high street it will be anything from 2000 to 3000 Euros. There is a significant difference in price, and obviously you will be buying a piece of history, and not killing any more animals just for your fashion fancies.

Williamsburg Vintage –

Another little shop that sells everything from shirts to coats, at a good price.

Two More Great Finds:

Templo de Suso –  Calle del Espíritu Santo, 1

Has an American boho feel to me. It is like a 1960’s / 1970’s Rock-esque feel; think Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors and Woodstock! They sell dresses, coats, shirts, tee-shirts, leather and so on.

Lotta Vintage –  Calle Hernán Cortes, 9

Everything on their clothes racks are arranged according to colour! The closet to a high street shop out of all the vintage shops mentioned; very neat, organised and tidy, it is easy to find everything. Lotta has the longest and most prestigious vintage reputation in Madrid. It has everything you could need, and the eras they cover are 1950’s to the 1980’s.

They have a wonderful set of vintage glasses, a bit more pricey perhaps at 39 Euros, but the condition of them is perfect. One pair of fabulous sunglasses will set the tone to any outfit, and here in Madrid as I have mentioned already the sun shines even in winter; I am never without my vintage sunglasses!

Check out their website:    http://www.lottavintage.com/

Mercado de Fuencarral

Just a stone throw from Tribunal Metro Station is Calle de Fuencarral, where the above market is situated. This market has many different shops that sell something a little bit different, but in here they also house an army surplus shop; G.I.Joe Surplus. With army jackets being highly fashionable at the moment, this shop is worth considering along with the other vintage shops.

 

Hints and tips to buying vintage:

In most vintage shops you can try the outfit before you commit and buy; there are dressing rooms! I suggest you do try before you buy; check out what it looks like in the mirror. Remember vintage sizes can vary from the standard sizes we are used to now, although in the vintage shops I have seen more realistic and less vanity sizing going on. Also an interesting thing to note is that a UK size 18 isn’t difficult to source in the vintage shops, not as it might be in some high street alternatives.

If you do wish to impulse buy, and then want to return an item, check their returns policy first! Vintage shops often do offer a credit note or a swap for something of the same price (Magpie offer this), but they don’t usually offer money back refunds. You’ve been warned!

I also suggest to go into these shops with an idea of what you are looking for, for example a denim jacket. There is so much to see that you could be easily swayed and overwhelmed! You could end up thinking; ‘I’ll have that and that’ and then you get home and think, ‘um, what will this go with?’ Be savvy!

Vintage shops are excellent for material, fur, leather, shoes, denim and army surplus too.

Also, I have mentioned the ‘bargain trunks’ the vintage shops usually have. In them are sale items, or items reduced to clear, and you can secure a great little something for next to nothing! If you are looking for fabrics, or even something plain to add you own style to, then these are worth rummaging through.

Another thing to remember is that some shops in these ‘vintage’ districts are NOT vintage at all, but style themselves to appear vintage. You can always tell a vintage shop; the clothes and internal layout is a dead give away, but if you are not sure check the labels! Oh, and if it says polyester on the label, remember it won’t be a pre-1970’s item. I have seen some supposed 1940’s tea dress in polyester fabric, of course they would have been made in rayon in the 1940’s not polyester! Prices too are the final check to gauge if the place is vintage or not – pretend vintage is more expensive in Madrid than the real vintage.

Oh, and one final shop to mention, which isn’t a clothes shop, but a coffee shop where you can make your own ceramics, but I think it is wonderful; Pintas en Copas on Calle Velarde. Once your item is made you can let it bake on site, and pick it up a few days later. You can make anything including; plates, cups, teapots and even snails!

Check out their website for further details:   http://www.pintaencopas.com

Below pic: Pintas en Copas

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why Are ‘Los Madrileños’ ALSO ‘Los Gatos’ (The Cats)?


I was having a conversation with a female friend who was born and bred here in Madrid, we were taking about the history of the city, and then she mentioned something very curious. Apparently people from Madrid are known as los gatos, or the cats! I was aware of the nickname ‘Madrileños’, but los gatos, it seemed a bizarre, but interesting analogy. So, being as inquisitive as I am I asked her to explain the origins of both nicknames.

The people of Madrid are known as ‘Los Madrileños’. The reason behind this is ‘Los Madriles’ or many Madrids, used to describe the various barrios in the city; hence the origins of ‘Los Madrileños’ as we know it.  Los Madrileños is the masculine form of the word; it would be used to describe the men of Madrid, but also a group of men and women. A group of women from Madrid would be called ‘Las Madrileñas’, the feminine form.

The nickname ‘Los Gatos’ however has two possible origins. One belief sees the nickname as a result of the wars of many centuries ago. It seems probable that the name could date back even as long ago as the Middle Ages. During battles the troops displayed amazing agility whilst scaling the walls of enemies strong holds, hence the name given to them, ‘Los Gatos’.

Another possible explanation for ‘Los Gatos’ originates from the fact that the people of Madrid indulge themselves in the thriving nightlife of the city. It is in a cat’s nature to be out and about on the streets from late at night until early morning; so too is it the nature of ‘Los Madrileños’.

Phew, mystery solved!

Below: Out on the town, Tom the cat all Zoot suited up and ready to party!

Above pic sourced from: http://soundcheck.wnyc.org/2011/aug/18/extremely-stylish-zoot-suit/

 

Information gathered from, and checked with the websites below. Oh, and not to forget my good friend Laura, who doesn’t mind me using her intel!

http://ml.hss.cmu.edu/ml/studyabroad-spain.html

http://www.city-data.com/world-cities/Madrid-Introduction.html

The Final Pound Of Flesh For Lady Gaga


The norm set by most industrious record companies is to have their ‘products’ spick and span, and usually as meat free as possible; especially for the female of their clientele. Yet, I was perplexed, even more so than usual considering the stunts Lady Gaga is constantly fabricating; that at this moment the self-confessed ‘born this way’ girl is allowing herself to be subjected to the old, ‘lose weight or lose your contract’ game.

Apparently Lady Gaga has been ordered to reduce her waist line, after enjoying her food far too liberally; naughty, naughty, naughty. She has also had to issue a statement admitting that she is ‘fat’, and not pregnant, as apparently suggested by Kelly Osbourne.

The question then; is this merely a stunt to achieve more press coverage and maybe raise funds to sponsor another outlandish concert, or, could it be that she has finally crossed the line, and discovered the boundary she cannot break with everyone’s blessing?

I mean, isn’t this the woman who cried blood, donned a penis, wore alarmingly too much cattle on her body and has sung about worldwide acceptance of every living soul. There was seemingly nothing she wouldn’t or couldn’t do; until she committed the mortal sin of gaining weight all was OK in the world. Now, OUTRAGE!!!!

Is it time for an apology? After all, Lady Gaga’s disgusting and shameful weight gain has disgruntled and upset so many of us, (sarcasm).

Should she be forced to fight the ‘flab’ and count the calories with every conditioned soul in the Western world?

Or, to be honest; why should we care if she isn’t as thin as she was? What difference is that to her being her and the music and entertainment she makes?

Will this once outlandish and outspoken woman be tamed for good? Is this where Lady Gaga drops off her yellow brick road?

What do you think? Feel free to leave your comments.

Above: Miss Gaga at her best?

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Biggest Loser or Modern Day Freak Show?


From ITV The Biggest Loser (UK)

I am perplexed and somewhat appalled to see such programmes as ‘The Biggest Loser’ being aired on TV. The cavalier attitude to which these programmes, and there are many, address issues of health is somewhat annoying.

The shows ‘experts’ seem to revel in exonerating bullying the participants, and reducing their self-esteem to minus something. Do they ever consider or fully address the greater issues attached to weight gain, self-esteem, confidence and so on? They are dealing with highly emotive and complex issues in a light and disregarding fashion, for mere entertainment purposes. ‘You’re fat because you are greedy, get a grip’, it is not always so simple a solution.

Furthermore such dramatic weight loss as is expected every week, which occurs from drastically restricted diets (crash diets), and extreme exercise routines; certainly is a dangerous mix? If you happen to weigh 33 stones or 462 pounds, isn’t that all too much and too soon; wouldn’t the stresses alone do some severe damage?

I would like to see how the participant’s in these programmes fair psychologically, as well as health wise after leaving such programmes. I wonder what issues they have come up against months later, and who is there to help? To be honest they are making entertainment yet again out of other people’s misery, mocking people like they are part of some modern-day freak show, its gross.

http://www.itv.com/biggestloser/

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.