Monday, September 28, 2009

El Rastro, Madrid, Spain

It is said Madrid's El Rastro Flea Market is the largest in all of Europe. It certainly appears to be the busiest with tiny merchant lined streets packed from 7am to sometime close to 3pm when locals and tourists alike move from the streets to the bars, and if they're in it for the long haul stay out until some time nearing on the next morning. Note to anyone looking for two thumbs up: it doesn't take much more than flea markets, good food and inexpensive delicious wine.

Not that it's possible but even if you don't want to buy a thing, I didn't come home with much more than several bottles of wine and one little flea market goody, a visit to Madrid's El Rastro Flea Market is worth the effort. Hold your purse at your front preferably with a cross shoulder strap and push your way up the hill through the crowded streets.

There are a couple of main avenues, a small plaza, and several smaller streets to weave through. If you're looking to buy it would be best to A.) speak the language, B.) have a friend who speaks the language, or C.) you could probably buy my friend for a day! I'm kind of joking... kind of.

In addition to the mass of street vendors you'll find store fronts flowing out onto the streets and interestingly the Policia patrolling the streets for unregistered merchants. After all, it is something of a free-for-all when you take away the gates that control our flea markets here in the states. Without these it's the honor system, merchants could sneak in and the public wouldn't have to pay to shop - it's barbaric!

In all it's glory there is one major problem I have with the El Rastro Flea Market. The finds here are wonderful, had everything gone my way I would've taken home one of those ancient purses above, a fine Parisian alarm clock, an electric fan from the early 19th century that had been a prop in a Brazilian playhouse, and all the skeleton keys I saw. But the euro makes the dollar look like a peso and due to the low number, zero, of second hand stores in Spain vintage goods are more expensive than their modern day counter parts.

And so when we were told we could have anything in this tin for two euros I didn't get too greedy, I picked through it and found ten skeleton keys that I really loved, no joke, I have dreams about them, and I almost cried when the mean old man told me he meant two euros for each item in the tin! It didn't seem smart so I said no and caught a picture of him removing my shiny keys from Ivett's hand.

Still, it's my take that Sunday is Madrid's finest day.


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