Last day in Spain

Involved a lot of driving, as I’d predicted.

I thought maybe I’d stop in Cordoba and see the Mezquita but after battling my way into the city, driving down a one way street that unexpectedly dead ended because of construction, reversing half a mile to get out of said one way street and then making 3 or 4 futile circles around the Mezquita looking for parking while Mrs. Tom Tom yelled “Turn Left. When possible turn around. Make a right turn and then a right turn. You have arrived at your destination. Turn left. When possible turn around.” until I turned her off and decided this was not the day for the Mezquita.

So… I hit the open road to Madrid, enjoying very official highway signs like this

Spain

And ended up at the Holiday Inn Express near the Madrid Airport. Que pena!

But let’s not dwell. In my last night in this delightful country, allow me to share a few things I’ll miss most about Spain:

Drinking my morning cafe con leche (x6) on the public square

Granada Spain

And drinking my evening sangria on the public square

Granada Spain

Every city in Spain has multiple public squares. Some are little parks and some are courtyards with fountains but each is ringed with cafes and outdoor seating. In two weeks, I think I ate 2 meals sitting inside. The people watching view is much better outside.

This is the casual happy-hour standing-around portion of the day that lasts from about 4pm until 10pm. At 10, everyone gets serious about finding a place to eat dinner.

As to dinner, well, I’ll save food for my next post.

Zaragoza

We didn’t intend to stay in Zaragoza but it’s about halfway between Pamplona and Barcelona and we found hotel rooms with no trouble; so, Zaragoza it is!

Notable things in town include the ruins of a Roman theatre built between 11-32AD and used as a performance space for the next 300 years.

And the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar built around a sighting of Mary in 48AD.

Zaragoza Spain

They’ve remodeled the northern tower and added an elevator and several flights of stairs leading right into the tip top cupola, from which you can see 360 degrees around the city.

Zaragoza SpainLike most cathedrals, this basilica is a mix of architectural influences, including Moorish influenced roof tiles.

We ended the night with tapas (naturalmente)

Zaragoza Spain

And Sangria out of a tapped cask

Zaragoza SpainUnlike most places in Spain, Zaragoza shuts down early. By midnight the streets were empty

The Basilica looked beautiful at night

Zaragoza Spain

Tomorrow: Barcelona.

Bienvenidos a Madrid!

It’s been a long travel day. Enough said. But you made it to Spain! It’s noon, let’s start with the good stuff, like olive oil in a jug.

Madrid Spain

Perhaps you’ll enjoy eggs scrambled with cuttlefish ink – turning them an appetizing grey… – and then topped with fried cuttlefish??

madrid spain

I’m hearing a no. (which was also my reaction when it arrived. It was better than it looked, which wouldn’t be difficult).

Perhaps I can tempt you with an Iberico ham bocadillo, thin silky pieces of deliciousness trapped in fresh baked bread?

Madrid Spain

And Sangria! You’re in Spain so you gotta

Madrid Spain

The waitstaff is in no rush so you shouldn’t be either. Go ahead and make it a 3 hour lunch.

Now you need a walk or else that jet lag and lack of sleep is going to put you out. It’s hot (90 ish degrees) but there are dozens of pedestrian walkways covered with sun shades

Bonita, no?

Enjoy the manicured gardens

And a little flamenco reheasal

Madrid Spain

Stop in at the Prado. Corey says the proper order is Information, Espresso and then Art. Who are you to argue?

That’s a lot of Renaissance paintings of Christ, right? But the room of Black Paintings by Goya gave me chills.

Shake it off with some street art.

Madridlenos enjoy historical “monuments” to social causes. Actors paint themselves to look like statuary and then freeze in a position. Fortunately, they put out a little plaque describing their tableau or the situation might just be confusing.

The causes range from political, like this monument to women who’ve been silenced:

To entertaining, like this monument to Ham:

Madrid Spain

Leave them a tip and they’ll break their immobility to smile, nod or wink at you.

It’s 9pm but the city’s just waking up. See how much longer you can last before you have to fall face first in bed so you can get up and do it all again tomorrow. We lasted 3 more hours…

Madrid Spain

Madrid Spain

More tomorrow? Por supuesto.

Corey and Kaitlyn, out.