That’s how they call it Spain. Ireland’s national holiday, which has slowly become one of the world’s most popular days basically because it’s a great a great excuse to go partying, as if the Spanish needed one. I also think it’s the fact that nothing else really happens in the month of March that gives it a special attraction. All I could think of was the Ides of March when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death, but that isn’t the kind of historical fact that encourages people to order tons of stout beer. Plus, there’s the weather. After all those months of cold, snow and chilly rain, something has to be done to brighten the faces again, and Spain has embraced the day as if it were its own.
Still, it’s a fairly recent incorporation in the Spanish calendar and one that for the most part excels in the big cities where there are lots of foreigners who don’t want to miss out on the fun. Back in 1991 there were about three places I could think of where you could even find a pint of Guinness placed before you. One was the famed Taberna Elisa, off of Huertas, and the other was the legendary Ardosa on the Calle de Colón in the Tribunal section of Madrid. Back then I went with an Englishman and we were basically the only ones there. I can still recall what day of the week it was: it was a Sunday. The English guy had one slight defect, in addition to being English, which was that he didn’t talk and when he did he spoke so softly you had to tell everyone in the bar to shut up if you wanted to catch what he was saying…and even then. On top of that, he was just boring. But I did enjoy the Guinness.
Then all of the sudden “Traditional” Irish pubs with all sorts of “traditional” decor started cropping up all over the place and within a few years the whole freaking city was dancing to jigs and chugging pints. And my beloved Ardosa, well unfit for human living…at least on that night.
The same thing happened to me this evening as I was showing some friends from Kenya the center of Madrid. We has been at the Prado and looking at enough Titian works to work up a thirst. For some reason we had some crazy idea about going for a beer to celebrate the day and naturally every possible place in that area was collapsed. The lines were hellacious. I like being a part of the mob scene from time to time, but in this case there wasn’t even a chance to get in.
So forget it. We gave up. Saint Patrick would have been proud.