Rastro Flea Market


So one of the things that I love to do when traveling is to get a dose of REAL LIVING in a city and that usually entails going to a local market or to a flea market. I fiddled through my Rick Steves travel book and read something about the Rastro Flea Market. I know that in the past, I have seen lots of awesome antiques that you only hear about. Being that I was in Spain and knowing that the Spaniards dominated history along with the Portuguese during the Age of Exploration, I was bound to find some cool history stuff floating around, or so I thought.

I got up super early in the morning and walked all the way to Rastro Flea Market from La Latina neighborhood. It took me a good 20 minutes to get there because I got turned around a little. On the way there, I passed a local corner bar. I had to laugh hard to myself because I saw a couple guys heeled over at the bar looking like they passed out or were literally just waking up. One of the guys was dressed up in a flamenco costume with a slit that exposed his really hairy legs. His buddies were wearing fedora hats and keeping their bachelor friend afloat. Also, he had a beard that would put a pirate to shame. These guys must have been at a bachelor party and they “fiesta’d” ALL NIGHT LONG! I remember on my walk around the streets, I saw lots of empty beer cans. On top of that, I saw a drugged out couple that were getting hot and heavy at around 7:00 AM. They were completely out of it. You had to be there! Every morning in Madrid, it is not strange to see street cleaners cleaning up tons of bottles and cans. There is also a smell of urine and stale beer, the usual. I still don’t let that bother me. I LOVE MADRID!

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I finally came up to a long street where I saw tent stands. The locals were definitely out and I was one of the few tourists with camera in hand. As I strolled along, I got the realization that there was a lot of cheesy items. If anyone could capture the disappointment on my face, it would have been priceless. I would compare it to a small kid eating a delicious ice cream cone, only for it to completely plop off the sugar cone and onto the pavement. I really felt like I was going to waste my time, but I was still optimistic. I saw scarves, a few cheap looking antiques and felt like I had seen all of this kind of tchotchke stuff in other countries. I even recall picking something up and seeing that it was made in China. There were the touristy Spanish fans, T-shirts and leather goods. I’ve seen the same spread in Argentina at the San Telmo market. I was able to snap a few cool shots though.

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I felt like I was in a B rated film when I was watching all kinds of locals buying super cheap things. But then again, I had to also remind myself that Spain is going through a lot of economic hardship. I saw people buying spoons, plastic containers, cheap pots and pans and all kinds of little things for their apartments or flats.

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Honestly, I would skip the flea market, or literally do a walk through and then just go check out something more interesting like a church tour, a museum tour. Just don’t plan on buying anything. Maybe you can score cheap postcards or flags, but I wouldn’t count on anything super interesting. I don’t want to be cynical, but I felt like my time could have been spent somewhere else. Just remember not to make this a main event for your day.

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So, I don’t like to pick up “touristy” things, but I do regret that I did not get one of these posters, specifically a Flamenco one with my name. I would have loved to have put this in my classroom! Oh well….gives me another time to come visit Spain to buy one!

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This stand had  every little kitsch thing you could imagine that you would find at the airport or at a gift shop. If I was ambitious enough, I would have bartered and found out how much certain little things were to gauge other prices at gift shops just to get a real idea of how much price gouging takes place at the local gift shops. I didn’t bother.

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Beer Tasting in Paso Robles (Firestone Walker and BarrelHouse Brewing Company)


When it clocks in at 100 degrees in Paso Robles, you tend to stay in with the air conditioning blasting on, but not today. My cousin and I decided to change up the scene by skipping wineries and going to have a ice cold refreshing beer instead. We were on our way to Morro Bay, but we glanced over at Firestone Brewery and decided to check out the “Tap Room” In a casual conversation the other day, she mentioned that there have been a lot of cars parked around the “Tap Room” so there must be a big buzz about it.

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Ambience: We walked in and I was taken aback by the industrial feel of the place. The inside space was super modern and clean with a lot of cool metal work. To the left of the door entrance was a bar with several booths and plenty of bar top tables. If you look up towards the ceiling, there is a conveyer belt moving with several beer bottles in motion. Super cool if you ask me! I should have taken a picture or video, I regret that! Will do it next time I go sometime this week. Also inside the restaurant space, we noticed that the design included kegs that were sliced in half and were designed into the wall. The kegs also had taps still included on them. There were lots of  Firestone Walker signs and advertisement posters. There was also a few pieces of artwork showing the beautiful landscape of Paso’s Wine country. I also really like their logo with a bear and lion. The bear and lion reminded me of some of the beer halls that I visited in Germany.

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Lunch: There lunch menu is not overwhelming which made selection much easier. Some of the selections were: burger with fries,  margherita pizza, bbq brisket sandwich, fish and chips, fish tacos, cobb salad etc. Something enticing like a maple bacon grilled cheese sandwich caught our eye, but I’m sure the calorie count was not favorable. I saw some other tables nibbling on some gorgeous looking onion rings. They looked like they were fried with panko bread crumbs. I also saw someone eating a calzone, so there is a great selection for everyone with all kinds of different appetites. As we talked to our friendly server, she mentioned that there is a dinner menu and a dessert menu. She was kind enough to drop off the menu for us so that we could salivate over their dinner menu.

Beer: Of course, this is a brewery and what kind of visit would this be if you didn’t order a beer? We asked for recommendations from our lovely server. She recommended the Walker’s Reserve and also the Double DBA. There was also an unfiltered Double DBA. I loved how they served the beers in the proper glasses. The Walker’s Reserve was served in a tulip glass and my 16 oz “805” glass had a “FW” for Firestone Walker etched on the bottom. As I was finishing my crisp and refreshing “805” my eyes saw a sparkling etching at the bottom of my glass and it was a special eye treat for me which I appreciated. Of course there are many other beers to choose from, but that is for you to go and experience. They do sell out, so don’t hesitate. You can always walk across the street and go to Firestone’s Tasting Room. Lots of cool merchandise to buy with great logos and designs on their t-shirts. Click here for Firestone Walker Merchandise. 

Verdict: Great place to visit! Family friendly as well. Nice and spacious and very clean. Moderate prices, but nothing that will break the bank. Happy to see this place in Paso Robles. I will definitely be going back there to try out their organic fuji apple cobbler.

BarrelHouse Brewing Company

My cousin also mentioned for us to go check out this cute little brewery off of Limestone Way. She mentioned that they had some gardens. This brewery is located in a small industrial area right off of the freeway. As you approach it, you’ll see red cloth umbrellas and some grass patches. There were several picnic tables outside accompanied with multi-colored plastic chairs.

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They open at 2:00 PM on Wednesday and Thursdays and we arrived at 1:52 P.M. The owner happened to be walking by and let us in early. Immediately upon entering, you could smell the fresh hops and grains doing its magic for a fresh batch of stout. It was rather warm inside the brewery because they were just finishing up some beer making and there was no air conditioning. The kind lady at the beer counter welcomed us and told us where to sit for some fan action and some local breezes. We ordered a $10 beer flight and a $5 Kolsh beer (light crisp beer).

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We were the first guests so we had plenty of room. Since it is an industrial space, you can bring your own food. On Fridays and Saturdays, the trendy food trucks come for a visit.

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The lady serving us beer was super nice, friendly and made sure that she greeted every customer that came in. She was very observant about people’s beers and made sure that everyone was content. It was too hot to go outside, so we stayed inside and camped out barstool style. She talked about the BarrelHouse hosting concerts and many events. The place felt super casual, chill and relaxing.

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So if you want a little break from wine, go check out some local beer spots. Guaranteed you will have fun!