Plazas and Pizzas

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Day 5: Madrid

What a way to spend the first official Saturday of the school year in America. We woke up this morning in beautiful downtown Barcelona and will be going to sleep tonight in Spain’s capital city of Madrid. We had breakfast at the wonderful Wilson Boutique Hotel this morning and courtesy of one of my campers we even added some peanut butter to our oatmeal for some extra protein. The woman who works the breakfast shift had already put the water on caliente as soon as we walked in which was very sweet. We finished packing and reconfiguring some kilograms in our luggage, hopped a taxi and arrived at the aeropuerto in plenty of time to catch our Iberia flight to Madrid, although sadly we were not in time to see Jennifer and Lauren as they arrived for their week of holiday in the beach areas just outside of Barcelona. No champagne for the hubs this time but of course a definite nap for the wife; I don’t even remember taking off and when I awoke we were landing in Madrid; we had an empty seat next to us again so I got to spread out and have a good snooze. After a bit of a trip on the metro from the pink line to the dark blue one (also marked with line numbers that make it incredibly easy to follow just like Barcelona) we arrived at the metro station of Plaza de Espana and hefted our luggage a few blocks to the hotel; this one called Suites Viena located in a great part of the city.

We checked in, dropped our luggage, changed as the walk with the luggage left us a bit sweaty and spent and decided to spend the rest of the day checking out Madrid. Now, you have to understand, when we came in the first time we stayed at the airport which is on the complete other side of the city and looks like a very different Madrid. Although the errant disregard for one’s lung health still exists, this side of the city looks completely different. Beautiful old stone buildings, cobblestone walkways, plazas as far as the eye can see, gorgeous gardens that leap off the pages of a storybook and streets lined with shops and restaurants amongst the churches that are everpresent in the typical European tradition. We wandered through the Plaza de Espana which is a pretty little park with a few big fountains and a small pond, we took some photos in the Royal Palace Garden whose plants and trees are as well kept as the topiary figures in Disneyworld, wound our way through the small village streets of the Austrias which totally resemble what you would think of as old world Spain and found our way to the Plaza Mayor. Think Fanueil Hall in Boston meets St. Mark’s Square in Venice; a square lined with restaurants and souvenir shops with some buildings and offices and of course a church (where there was actually a wedding going on), a huge stone statue in the center, cobblestones every which way you looked, painters, street people and tourists as far as the eye could see. We took a lap of course but when we looked at the prices we realized that we are not tourists but travellers who would like to see as much as we can and not eat our way to bankruptcy. So, we took our pictures and memories with us and made our way to a restaurant a few blocks away and had delectable flatbread pizzas for dinner…we just couldn’t do paella one more day {although tomorrow could be another story}. As it is, we hadn’t eaten anything but our yummy oatmeal that morning so we weren’t as calorie conscious as we walked many steps today; the pizza was delicious and we were able to people watch on the streets of Madrid on a Saturday night. Interesting to see the people, some travellers, some tourists, some locals all intermingling together. Thousands of languages spoken and the apparent aura of enjoyment, relaxation and of course siesta (probably the reason most of the restaurants we walked past on the local streets were closed and wouldn’t reopen until about 8:30 that evening). Of course, I sit here and wonder who are these people, what do they do, why are they here, what is the reason they have come to Madrid…and my husband just sits and says it doesn’t matter, we’re here and we’re enjoying ourselves, right? Just another one of those differences between men and women I guess.

Dinner was super and we were tired from traveling so we attempted to make our way back to the hotel. We stopped at a local market to pick up some agua and some drinks for the next two days to save on some cash and went up to Gran Via, one of the central and vibrant shopping streets and had a bit of a trundle after dinner and of course decided this is one of the places we’d come back to tomorrow for dinner and realized that our hotel really is in an excellent location…good job husband! After searching for over four blocks for a local dessert place we did the un-traveller like thing and stopped at star bucks for cookies and headed back to the hotel for the night. We are presently in the lobby where there is free wi-fi for albus and a computer as we wind down our evening for another well traveled day. And then of course there is tomorrow’s adventure…The Royal Palace!

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