MADRID – Food, wine and football - that’s the theme in Spain this week.
It quite literally is about watching your waistline, keeping an eye out on your alcohol intake in indulging in the country’s top tier football, the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona being the biggest draw card.
I arrived in Madrid at 4pm local time on Tuesday and was whisked away to the hotel having spent ten hours on a flight from Johannesburg to Amsterdam, where I had to connect to get to Spain.
Regardless of how restless you are, it is near impossible to retreat to your room when in a foreign country that has such a rich culture of football.
And we immediately headed out to Menson Txistu for dinner – apparently a famous restaurant loved by footballers and several other world famous sports stars.
There is a shrine of pictures there to prove they have set foot there before and have come back for more – Ronaldo, Messi, Iniesta, Raul, Ronaldo (the Brazilian), Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, the list is endless.
The food, the banter, the debate about the “best league in the world” and the wine were unforgettable.
By the way, the table was so unbelievably diverse – South Africans, a guy from the Netherlands, who is married to an America wife and his family now lives in Madrid, several Spanish natives, and a journalist from Indonesia who endured a 20-hour flight to reach his final destination.
And there were more backgrounds that added to a fascinating conversation about football and which direction we should all take to growing it.
This week we will build up to El Clasico, an unusually early 1pm local time kick-off meant to attract the Asian and US audience.
While rumour has it that the Spanish community is a bit miffed by that – some don’t leave work until later in the afternoon – LaLiga wants to give the world a taste of what they are cooking, starting with the biggest game in their football calendar before inviting them to more.
Tonight I’m off to get a whiff of that by watching Getafe and Las Palmas.
Mazola Molefe is a guest of LaLiga in Spain ahead of Saturday’s #ElClasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona