Monday, December 8, 2014

Rising to the Occasion of the Map and Being lost in Madrid

Saturday night and early Sunday morning could not have been louder.  The clanging of bottles from nearby restaurants into the recycle bins was relentless.  And then, just when you thought sleep was upon you, the garbage trucks rolled in.  The reason they come that late is easily explained, they absolutely could not possibly get in the road for the throngs of Navidad revelers.  My respect to the men and women cleaning the streets of Madrid.  Our late rising is of course due to the late retiring.

We picked out locations for the day and headed out.  Starting with the west side of Madrid and heading to the Palacio Real.

The thing about using a tour book, is that it is published in a place in time.  The reality of boots on the ground is subject to the local construction schedule,  Which is everywhere.  When buildings and streets are this old, something is always in a state of restoration.  Not to be deterred we made it to the the Plaza de la Ameria. It is the space between the most expansive palace that I have ever seen and the largest cathedral in Madrid.  We stopped next to a couple in trekking sandals and socks to take pictures.  Th unfortunate part of this visit is the balcony overlooking the entire City was under construction and you could not look out to the beautiful Campo Park.  We did go north to the Camp Del Moro gardens with the long reflection pond and lovely gardens and statutes.  Charles said that he saw the aerial trams crossing the large park, but we could not figure out how to get there to ride them.  The views must utterly beautiful based on what we could see from the palace.

We then headed back down Calle Mayor because somehow we had missed the Plaza Mayor itself.  We were to miss it again as we don't know which of us made the turn, but we ended up far south and east from our destination.  We had originally thought we would go to the Plaza and then down to the El Rastro flea market of some fame.

But, alas, we headed down a wrong path leading us to quite different neighborhoods than before.  The changes were subtle, then I noticed there were fewer and fewer children, more young adults and a much different vibe. Many closed disco bars and small mercados. It reminded me of parts of Costa Rica.  There was no Feliz Navidad in the air, in fact there was curry in the air and the Indian restaurants were streetside, with cooking going on by the tables.  We realized that we were not in the tourist district and stopped to look at the map.  Unfortunately, our street and tiny plaza was not on the map or in the guidebook.  Quandaries and druthers.

We walked toward the setting sun and Charles decided which way was north and we headed out.  when we reached the Laviapes Plaza, we had a location.  Whew!  Darkness was soon and we had walked miles from our apartment.  Not speaking Spanish is definitely a huge disadvantage.  However, we did get to see a Michael Jackson act.

When we finally figured out where we were and how far it was, there was nothing else to do but duck into a pastry shop and drink hot coffee and eat empanadillas.  They were fabulous. I practiced how to order, went up to the counter and said it correctly (so I thought).  The lovely person behind the counter says, "you mean this one?"  So much for my Spanish.  We ate with glee.  All things taste better after duress, stress and then relief.

Last night, after eating we went downstairs to the little bar.  We bought a bottle of wine and I ordered what I thought were baked plums.  Turns out the  waiter was saying "prawns" and we ate shrimp for desert.  In case you ever need to know, gambas are prawns!  But the wine was excellent, the company great and the sleep of a Sunday night so very welcome.