We visited one of the most
fantastic countries in the world and I am having a hard time writing about it.
Everything I could write has already been written before and written better than any
of my meager attempt could possibly produce. And yet, here I am attempting to collect my
thoughts, recalling memories – maybe putting something on paper that would later
remind me the good times, the good food and other wonders we experienced.
Madrid for me is a little bit of a jet leg induced blur, but behind the fog I seem to recall a wonderful city full of wonderful people, bars, tapas, gardens, museums, narrow, crowded streets and alley ways, wine, beer and hot chocolates.
Arriving in the wintery morning, dumping our luggage and wondering sleeplessly along the streets is anyone’s nightmare, yet for me it seemed like a wondrous experience. Ordering our first meal at a bar, watching Joanna sipping into her first strong coffee and me tasting the freshly squeezed orange juice made us feel at home at once.
No museums, we decided before our trip, just soak in the atmosphere of the city. And then, suddenly you realize that you are walking in the proximity of the Guernica. What fool would not take shelter from the cool morning in the museum housing Picasso? And next day, when we were asked what we did on our first day, it took us a while to remember. Such is the jet leg. But now, a fortnight later, Guernica is still in front of my eyes, a touch smaller than I imagined, but nevertheless etched in my mind.
And if we were already walking by the Prado, we might as well go in. Limited visit, just the way I like it, trying to find those painting that even those visitors who have as limited knowledge of the arts as I do, feel as a must. El Bosco alias Bosch did not disappoint. The details!
|Our new friends with churros & hot chocolate Madrid style|
But the most important part of any
city is its inhabitants. The people that are the heart and soul of a city. We
knew that Spaniards go out late at night, yet we could not wait to try those
tapas and those tostas. We found a bar that seemed to be frequented by locals
and was packed already at 7 pm. So much so that we offered to share our table
with a couple who could not find one.
Friends with Garcia Lorca!
What luck! They were so nice, taking us
around the city for hours, pointing out interesting sights, sneak us in for a
peek of a live flamenco show, alas only for 1 minute. A great warm up for
The lights for Navidad were not lit when we arrived but upon returning at the end of our trip we enjoyed the Christmassy ambience.
Who would not want to visit the Canary Islands? Especially when a good friend from high school is willing to put you up for free. The eternal spring is an added attractiveness. A tourist paradise. We enjoyed it but mainly the parts where most tourists don't go.
The village of Teror – for example. (Spelling is correct!!!) To get there you need to drive through winding roads that terrorized our host so much that he skipped the trip.
Then wandering in the mini Sahara around Maspalomas! Discovering the other side of Las Palmas.
Those were the highlights for us. No regrets but three days were plenty.
The forgotten bigger city of Spain. Relatively few people visit Valencia. Madrid and Barcelona win out when it comes to larger cites. Do not miss it! And have more time than we did! We feel like we got a taste of the squares, the fountains, the churches and cathedrals, and of course the covered market. But we did not see the beaches and the modern part of the city. Did not have paella there even though Valencia claims to be the home of the dish that is served everywhere. Next time.
We rented a car in Madrid. The roads in Spain are exceptional, built well and because of the weather require less maintenance. And the drivers actually keep right when they are slow! But then in the cities parking is a nightmare and if you happen to have a bigger car you may not fit in the alley ways. Park as soon as you can and walk, use public transportation.
Alhambra! Should write it again, Alhambra! What a place on top of the hills. Blue skies and the sun is just rising! Magical.
And the people of Spain listened to Trump, they are preventing wild fire by diligently raking and collecting all the foliage.
Started our visit with tapas, ate there one of the best small steaks I ever tasted. Made friends with visitors from Chicago and could not refuse their kind invitation to share a bottle of wine. Wine is cheap but seems to be always good.
Took a free guided tour learning about the history of flamenco. Then watched a free show at a bar that brings in its clientele solely because of the free show. The only place in Spain where the food was at best mediocre.
And next day, professional flamenco! Joanna was in seventh heaven, mesmerized by the guitarist, the singer and the dancers and their clothes. She apparently loves to listen to cats in pain! (That is how the singers sound according to her own admission).