As you might guess, Señor Ballentine and I have been working hard learning the essential survival skills required for navigating the serpentine streets of Spain’s royal city, Madrid. Today marked the official end of jet lag as we awoke with renewed energy and an appetite for adventure. We take turns playing Don Quijote and Sancho. After a delicious café con leche, we hopped on the metro to Banco de España. Along the Paseo del Prado, we feasted on architectural eye candy. The buildings glistened in the bright summer sunlight, not a cloud in the sky, and temperatures unusually cool for July, and deliciously comfortable for these eager trekkers.
Passing along calle Atocha, we visited the Anton Martin neighborhood, home of Todd’s Dulcinea from thirty years ago. Tourists share the streets with us as we aim for la Plaza Mayor. My comment is that in the past thirty years, the people in Madrid have gotten much younger. J On the back side of la Plaza Mayor, the Mercado de San Miguel greets us with a vast selection of tapas. Getting lost in the surrounding neighborhood led us to Opera, the famous opera house, which faces the Palacio Real, the not so modest home of none other than King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. We continued our walk to Sol, the official zero kilometer mark of Spain; that is, the center of this wonderful world. I was reminded last night that the name of the famous pastelería in Sol was La Mayorquina, so we made an important stop to reacquaint myself with “napolitanos,” a pastry straight from heaven. These delicacies melted in our mouth and reaffirmed my good taste from thirty years past.
A walk through Retiro park cooled us off and gave us time to relax next to families playing, lovers boating and young people re-enacting scenes from this week’s festival of San Fermin of Pamplona in northern Spain. These college age students wore the traditional loose white shirt and draw string calf length pants and a red bandana around the neck. They sang and danced in Retiro park making me want to be 30 years younger. We then met up with a newly arrived student who will be joining us in Bilbao tomorrow. Our bus leaves at 11:00 a.m. so now we must go to bed, but we probably won’t be able to sleep.