Madrid, Sunday 23/5/15
Jane arrived in Madrid at lunchtime yesterday. The plane was in early and she was out, through the gates, in no time despite having to take the train trip between terminals 4S and 4. She was carrying her pack and so no wait for luggage.
I then proved, yet again, the depth of my skills on the transport system here by allowing us to somehow go two stops past our own. So we had to backtrack 😏. Hmm, at least we were headed in the right direction. An improvement over two previous trips last year when I headed in the wrong direction, on the right line! Yes. With certainty and determination. Sigh.
Left our things and walked from the apartment in Malaseña through the main plazas, Plaza del Sol and the Plaza Mayor. The first section of our walk was through Malaseña and she was very impressed with all the little bars and with the tables and chairs in all the different little plazas around here, the quirky shops, colourful graffiti and interesting people.
After I showed her the hotel I’d booked for when we return to Madrid she wanted to change it to somewhere nearer here. I was delighted as our booking was in the more central area, the busier CBD. Malaseña is Newtown or Fitzroy to the CBD and I very much agree with her, much better to return to this part of the city. So we have a new booking for when we return to Madrid. My current apartment isn’t available unfortunately.
Yesterday the downtown area was very busy later in the day. Thousands of people everywhere as we covered the many km we eventually walked. We walked far and wide through the edges of Chueca, the CBD, La Latina and back here to Malaseña. Passed the opera house, found some lovely houses and streets near there I’d not found before and all in all it was fun exploring with someone else.
Took her to my favourite cafe, really more a bar. I often drink chocolate there later in the day, the thick gluggy chocolate that is sooo Spain. I love it and was a little surprised she, a chocolate lover from way back, wasn’t that enthusiastic.
My fourth time here. Once walking through on the Via de la Plata, after that for a day or so, last October for another day or so and this time with Jane.
We caught the train from Madrid at 11.14. Walked straight to our hotel and headed out to explore Salamanca.
We started with the Plaza Mayor and lunch. As it was 3pm I finally lucked into another meal at Zuzu. Two years ago Eckhardt and I had a really nice dinner there on our last day of walking together. Since that first visit, I’ve always been around too early or too late to eat there. Yesterday our timing was ideal. Central Salamanca was very quiet so there were only a couple of customers in the restaurant when we arrived at about 3pm.
The menu del dia: salad with prawns, seafood spaghetti followed by brownies and coffee. Sounds fairly prosaic but it was far from that. The quality was excellent and, with mineral water and bread the cost was only €40 for a 3 course meal for the two of us outside on the terrace.
The central area, the plaza and the main tourist haunts near the cathedral, the house of shells and the bridge were still very quiet for a Sunday. So, I trailed along behind Jane (the photographer) who took great delight in everything, and I mean everything.
I like the gargoyles in the Shell House. Makes me wonder how many are based on people the mason didn’t like or who didn’t pay his bills on time.
Seeing a Spanish town through new eyes was great. She saw the patterns, the small streets, the buildings and behaviours that I tend to expect now when in Spain. We walked here and there. Everywhere in and out and around.
I love the Roman bridge in Salamanca. And I love the view from its other side across to the Cathedral.
By the time we arrived back near the cathedral after a walk across the bridge everything was different! The streets near it were full of well dressed spaniards ambling along in pairs, arm in arm, in small groups: generally, people were enjoying being out and around. The Plaza Mayor was also busy with people watchers, old folk sitting and watching, kids running around and people ambling through it to the streets at all corners.
The usual evening, a little busier than usual perhaps as the elections had finished and maybe people felt happier venturing out at that stage. We had noticed the police presence earlier at some voting stations, a slight and casual presence with few signs of life. But a presence nonetheless. Reminds me, Jane was very impressed with the very big gun one cop was carrying at the outer Madrid station we left from for Salamanca.
So, after a long day wandering we headed back like the many storks in the area to our perch. We are in the same hotel as I stayed in before: good location and a reasonable hotel. We will leave there about 1am Tuesday to catch the bus to our starting point for our walk, Vérin.