Readjusting your Asian body clock to a western timezone is one thing. Setting it to Spanish timing is another thing entirely: breakfast on a typical Sunday morning in Madrid finishes by 7am. Lunch is definitely not until 3pm. Dinner before 9pm is for wimps and partying on a Saturday night lasts until at least 6am. Pretty impressive.
Breakfast at the usual time (say between the hours of 8am-10am) is not a big feature in Spain. You either seem to have to stand in a Jamon shop – at the bar – and wolf down a few slithers of iberico ham and cheese (Atkins would be proud of me) or otherwise hunt out a chocolate cafe, which keep the oddest hours and are open throughout the night but closed by 7am.
Weird and wonderful, San Ginés is one such institution – serving exquisite hot chocolate (that rich dark kind, with almost no milk) and sinfully delicious churros (slightly salted, extruded batter fried in oil – the Spanish equivalent to hum chin peng).
We got here for 630am on a Sunday morning and it was packed, with a winding queue stretching out of the door. Everyone was on their way home after a long night of partying and I felt decidedly under dressed behind the leopard print lovely in front of me. Traditionally and luxuriously decorated, it was standing room only by the time we arrived but seats, if you could find any, were decked out in a dark green velvet and floors were marble.
There is no menu. The only thing you can order is hot chocolate with either porros (smaller, cigar shaped fried batter) or churros which are much bigger and oilier; either way, both most definitely need to be accessorised with an athletic lifestyle – and if you really want to fit it, leopard print coat.