Well, we hadn’t been there before; it has a fascinating mix of cultures and religions; southern Spain is very reminiscent of Morocco; and I had a romantic view of what it might be like. Like every country, Spain has a lot to offer once you start looking, so we decided to limit our trip to Madrid and southern Spain (Andalusia). Next time, Catalonia!
After a hot, noisy flight on Brussels Air (and angst about whether we would actually have seats, but arriving four hours early worked), we caught our second flight, from Brussels to Madrid, and landed, fairly sleep-deprived, in Madrid. The Hotel Europa is just barely off the busy Puerto del Sol, where we saw peaceful protests almost every evening.Our room is in the back and very quiet, with a great bathroom complete with walk-in shower (best bathroom of the trip!).
We had a late lunch at the Europa restaurant on the sidewalk seen here just below the sign, on a bright blue, sunny afternoon. This is a pedestrian street so we could enjoy watching the tourists and locals walking by as we ate. The tortilla Espanola was just the thing to restore us enough to go back in and take a nap.
We walked through the Puerto to find dinner at a couple of tapas places. Alison’s friend Catherine recommended La Abuela, so we stopped in at the bar side for some delicious ham and a chato (small glass) of white wine. Another customer was eating sizzling shrimps, so we will have to go back and try them. They were cooked in this tiny area in the corner. Notice the beautiful painted tiles.
We wandered up and down the streets – it was early for dinner, so some places weren’t yet open – and ended up at a tapas place where we had a surprisingly large plate of fried anchovies and shrimp in garlic. The television in the corner was tuned to the news, live coverage of a church service for 13 people killed the other day in flash floods in Mallorca.
Walking back through the Puerta we came upon a mariachi band. Mostly for tourists, I’m sure, but the crowd seemed to include all kinds of people. And so to bed.
Fried anchovies and shrimp in garlic!?!