Blood on the streets

El Rastro is to flea markets what Taylor Swift is to singers.

El Rastro translates as ‘the trail’. The trail in question was the trail of blood from skins being dragged between ancient slaughter-houses and tanneries. Now it is a hundred thousand tourists and locals flocking in on a Sunday morning to be fleeced, with less blood but probably equally brutal efficiency.

The El Rastro markets are a Madrid institution and the sort of bewildering place where you can either find anything you want, or a thousand copies of things you don’t want. It all depends on what you know, or luck. Our approach doubled up on the luck as our plan was to simply walk from the bottom to the top and buy an undefined souvenir.

El Rastro delivers as advertised. There’s everything from antique cannons, to watch parts, to clothing, to, well, everything. And there are lots and lots of people. It was great fun browsing through the stalls and I think if we lived here our house might well have ended up with a few additions.

As it was we bought two things and they were of the more practical bent. Twenty Euro for a pair of sunglasses for Jennifer, and one Euro for a used screwdriver for me.

I am not a collector of used screwdrivers, in case you were wondering. I need a tool to try to fix Jennifer’s walking pole.

So El Rastro was a success on three fronts: We had a nice outing; we got some useful stuff; and we avoided another El Rastro tradition – we didn’t get pick-pocketed.

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