Salamanca and Madrid

Bar life: the perils and benefits of knowing too little

Now, if I’d understood what the woman behind the bar said, I’d have been happy with the rice and beans for lunch. She didn’t call it soup and obviously thought I meant proper soup: chicken stock, salt, small noodles and a hard boiled egg cut up. So, she made it. And it was nice. ☺️
The place was busy. Six or so people around the bar drinking a glass of wine or a coffee, one watching football on TV and an old lady who eats here daily, ensconced in her usual seat at her table. A guy who is also often there took her empty chair as she left.
Most customers are older. Fits with the decor and the measured approach to service.
Cold today. Too cold to even cross the Roman Bridge (puente Romano) as the wind would blow my hair off or the umbrella inside out. Brrr.
Did I tell you the ugly (but free) brown umbrella I was given by a young guy earlier left me! Jumped ship soon after I’d commented on its deficiencies, like not staying open in the rain. Now long replaced by a €7 model condemned to a liquidation store in Arevalo and now to me.☺️

Monday, leaving Salamanca

Another wet day. Not cold. Feels a bit over 5C, validated by one of the ubiquitous pharmacy temperature displays as 6C.

Fast Train from Salamanca to Madrid

Easy to buy tickets online, a big improvement. The ticket inspector checks your phone. Even easier as a traveller.

The fast trains are fast. The one from Salamanca is travelling at a sedate pace, 120km/hr versus over 150km/hr earlier. It’s smooth and doesn’t feel that fast.

The lasting countryside is brown, green, dry, with stone fences, cereal crops, like this, from a fast train:


  
     

Madrid

Monday: Madrid is wet and miserable today but not especially cold. Between 5C and 8C I’d guess, based on the number of bits happily above freezing.
I’m staying in an Airbnb apartment in an inner city suburb, Chueca. The apartment is a little tired and unusual but it’s a lot better than being in the ‘brothel’ JP and I unwittingly stayed in last time.😙 The location is great and with the heater on full, it’s warm.
I’m trying to find a good vegetarian restaurant. Left the first one, unnoticed, after a severe lack of service. The food in the second was to die ‘from’, rather than ‘for’. So, back to my favourite hot chocolate shop in Calle Valverde, a few blocks from here, for consolation. Even better, a little dog in there thought I was ok. Well, it soon became clear he preferred my bag with its food contents!

 
Ended up trying a different one today and had vegetables within their natural life span and not pallid, dead and greasy like yesterday. Ugh!

The choice in Madrid is unbelievable. So many small restaurants within a block of where you live, if centrally, offering a large range of options from plastic food of all types to whatever you are willing to pay for. And bread shops. I found another today, around another corner near here.

Found different museum the other day. A house and contents from the early to mid 1800s. Hard not to compare life in it, just after the war of independence against France, with contemporaneous developments in Australia: soon after the first fleet etc, the building of Sydney and Hobart. Here it was so developed, sophisticated, formalised.

Oh, and as this was the relevant period, poor Queen Isabella II had to look over her troops from the side saddle position. Well done her and no, she is a much later Isabella than the one who intrigues me, from the 15/16th centuries. I liked this picture of her.

 Wednesday: Last full day in Madrid this visit

The day started with me leaving a small bag of things I don’t want to take to Italy or to later lug around Spain, while we ‘tour’. Left it at the hotel we are staying in for our last night in Europe this visit. The guy was so helpful and I was so relieved. I had options but this was best.

Next: I couldn’t book some bus tickets we need last night. Not a new experience. Stacks of data in, get the end and it will accept only European ID so, bang. Finish. Agggghhh. Last night a new failure point. I was booking too far in advance. Odd. Very odd.

So, off to a travel agency this morning. Same thing, except she said that bus company is never available and we have to go to their office. Yeah, it will be in the relevant town where we will be in 2 or 3 weeks. Not helpful but I’m guessing the bus won’t be full with the company acting that way.

Then a quick visit to catch up with Pedro, the boss at the language school. He was away today. Yes, he’s back tomorrow. So a quick chat with the woman at the front and then with one of the teachers. He’s tall, very thin, smokes like a chimney and so is outside every break. Yes, again today. He was no help in answering: do more school in Salamanca or Madrid?

Around the corner two shops to visit: one that organises walking trips in the countryside outside Madrid, as well as to other countries. Got a hard copy of its brochure. Because I could. Then to one of the nearby bread shops. Oh yes.

And then to the bookshop, Atticus-Finch.

  I thought it had shut but, no. At 11.30 the owner was there, happy to again accept half a loaf of bread, share a coffee, and to catchup. She doesn’t speak any english and it was good chatting about disparate topics in Spanish from her health to why people from Madrid are called cats. Three options for the latter: like cats, Madrilenos are nocturnal; or, because they live like cats chasing after mice up in the attics, from the time when only Madrid had many multi-storey buildings; and finally, that they are said by outsiders to have attitude, as is always said about a city that has been the capital for hundreds of years and is perceived as believing itself superior!

Last two catchup visits: the cheese shop for a blue goat-cheese from Zamora and then the exciting shop that sells drones, electronic games and moving things. Hard to keep my credit card in hand in that shop. Very very hard.

Back at the apartment: I don’t what the guy at the door really wanted. He is a cleaner and i didn’t mind him getting a bucket of water but I don’t know what else he wanted. His Spanish was highly accented and he has too little english for me to understand. Plus, why ring only this doorbell and why show me paperwork.

I could truly say ‘ask someone who cares’! But, with zero mutual understanding, even that was not possible!

Rome

Rome tomorrow! Exciting. My first time in Italy. Jp and I are meeting outside a particular information spot in the airport. Wish us success as she’ll be very tired flying in from Sydney.

And Venice on Friday/ Saturday. Unbelievable!

Storks

Time in spring in Spain could not pass without mentioning storks. Everywhere high and spacious (church towers and spires) in country Spain. Clacking away. From Arevelo to Medina Del Campo to Salamanca. Each has them.

 And no Virginia they are not white as in the cards welcoming babies but often a little grotty. And I love hearing and seeing them.  Can’t get enough of them.

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