Posted by: travelrat | July 7, 2008

Last Night in Madrid

Madrid. 25th April 2008

 

The coach journey from Monfragüe back to Madrid was fairly uneventful. At least, I think it was; I slept most of the way. I stayed at the Best Western Arosa Hotel again, and wasn’t really looking forward to it after my experiences on the way out. But … it was either this time, my room was higher up, or round the back of the hotel, or just that the traffic along Gran Via was quieter, but I didn’t have any problems at all this time.

For dinner, I had a very nice ham and chicken salad at a restaurant called the Zahara, a few doors from the hotel. It was busy, and rather crowded, but what do you expect in a capital city, in a name that translates as ‘Grand Road’?

Running almost parallel to Gran Via is the Calle Espiritu Santu … I wonder if any British city has a ‘Holy Spirit Street’? … and, at No 47 is an establishment I’d been urged to check out by Liz Lewis, a fellow blogger (www.writetotravel.blogspot.com)

This is the home of ‘J&J’s’, a combined coffee bar and bookshop. This, I thought, was a really good combination … bookshops seem to be one of the few places left where ‘Just looking, thanks!’ is regarded as an acceptable response to ‘Can I help you?’ And, one that serves coffee … well, it doesn’t get much better.

‘J&J’ are Javi Sanz and his American wife, Jamie. She’s a lady who likes to read, and, finding English language books hard to come by in Spain, bought thousands (literally) of second-hand books in Los Angeles, and shipped them out to Spain, where they established their bookshop in a site formerly occupied by a Chinese restaurant.

But, Liz neglected to say (or, maybe she did, but I missed it) that they also sell beer!

So, if you’re in Madrid and want something to read, and enjoy a drink in good company, this is the place to go. And, if you brought a book with you, and don’t want to carry it back with you, you can sell or exchange it here, too.

This, too, is the place if you just want to talk English … the lady on duty at the time of my visit was American … and there was a young man in the bar who knew about Vaughantown. In his job, he was required to know English, but his Boss was too tight to shell out for a Vaughantown course.

‘But, I keep my hand in by listening to Vaughan Radio’ he said ‘and, of course, I come in here often. This is where I hear English from all over the world’

Check them out, if you want, at www.jandjbooksandcoffee.com


Responses

  1. J & J’s sounds right up my street. I love to think of someone shipping out all those secondhand books. How wonderful!

  2. I’m such a great fan of the bookshop, and I think if there was such a place in Salisbury or Amesbury, that sold coffee as well, I’d never be out of it.

    I don’t think Amazon.com or e-books will ever take over completely while such places exist. (although Beach’s … long a favourite … ceased trading a year or two back, and became a very good Italian restaurant)


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