Sunday, June 23, 2024


Well, here we are in beautiful, sunny and very warm Madrid. That's the view from our hotel room, above, overlooking the Calle de la Princesa (which becomes Gran Vía as it bends to the left) and the Plaza de España (the green space on the right). That huge building on the left is the Edificio España, a very fascist-looking 1953 structure that now houses the Hotel RIU. We are staying in the Barceló Torre de Madrid, caddy-corner from the RIU.

I am not blogging from my phone, by the way. Dave brought his computer so I'm using that.

Getting here went smoothly enough, though it was time-consuming. We left home about 7:30 a.m. and got to our hotel just before 4 p.m. (There was a one-hour time change in there as well.) Dave wanted to relax a bit but I prodded him to go with me to the Plaza Mayor, because our time here is short and I wanted to see some sights!

I was last in Madrid in 1994, another lifetime ago. I was in the Peace Corps in Morocco at the time, and I crossed the Strait of Gibraltar on a ferry to meet a friend and tour Spain. I'd never spent any time in Europe up to then, so it was my first encounter with a European city -- cathedrals and narrow streets and historic structures and art, art, art.

I have laughed for years about the restaurant known as the "Museo del Jamon," or Museum of Ham, and I was happy to see this Madrid institution is still going strong.

When I was here the first time, my friend Arthur and I would hang out daily in the Plaza Mayor, so it's the place I most associate with the beauty of Madrid and I was eager to take Dave there. We sat out with a glass of wine and watched the passing throngs. (Including some guy dressed up in a gorilla suit -- definitely not something I saw the first time around!)

We rode the Metro (subway) back to the Plaza España and then walked to our friend Chris's apartment, just across the Manzanares River from the Principe Pio neighborhood. It's about a 20-minute walk from our hotel. 

There we met with our friends Keith and Gordon and Chris and his boyfriend Joan, and had a Spanish-themed meal featuring salted cod, meat-stew croquettes, cheese, olives, and a delicious gazpacho that included cherries, of all things. And a custard-and-cherry tart for dessert. We've been gathering for meals with this same group of friends for years, though usually in London -- this is the first time that Chris, a music teacher in Madrid, hosted us on his own turf.

This was the sunset view from Chris's windows, looking north toward the mountains. The swallows (or swifts? I never know the difference) were swooping and diving all around the building.

I hope to do a little more walking around this morning -- I desperately need coffee, for one thing, but my impression is that Madrid is not an early city, especially on a Sunday. So we'll see how successful I am! And then, back to the airport and home.


Andrew said...

That is such a short holiday. I am though envious of you being able to travel to Europe in such a short time.
The view from your accommodation is brilliant, and what meticulous street planning.
A lovely sunset too, with friends and good food.

Moving with Mitchell said...

What a location. Such a wonderful place to be. And, no, Madrid is not an early city. I hope you enjoyed your wanderings. How great to connect with your friends, too. I’d love to be there!

roentare said...

I was in Madrid in 2019. It was a lovely visit. Enjoy your time away

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Great stuff!
"Wave Dave!" rhymes as does "Leave Steve!"... or possibly "Grieve Steve!"
Three nights would have been better in my ever-so-humble Uriah Heepian opinion.

Boud said...

That's a flying visit! No wonder you didn't let Dave spend any of it resting.

Bob said...

Great views and a museum of ham????
I'm in.

Jean said...

What a stunning sunset. The meal sounded fantastic.,and how lovely to meet up with your friend on the home turf.
I always admire your navigating by foot in cities. Jean in Winnipeg.

Ellen D. said...

That Plaza reminds me of the Piazza San Marco in Venice. They look so similar to me. What a short visit you made but sounds like you enjoyed it. Now to get ready for your next adventure...

Debby said...

That sunset is magnificent!

The Bug said...

Gorgeous sunset! I love Dave's cranky wink back at you - ha!

Red said...

What a beautiful city! That is too little time to spend there.

ellen abbott said...

wow, quick trip. fly in for dinner and then fly home the next day.

Kelly said...

I enjoyed the short clip. You pan so smoothly!!

Just the other day I was talking about swifts vs. swallows with someone. I never know which is which, either.

John Going Gently said...

How wonderful. I so want to return to Madrid, it’s so chic

Sharon said...

I love the video! I see the guy in the gorilla suit and I hear a lot of Spanish being spoken. You had a great view from your hotel and from your friend's apartment. Such a fun 48 hour get-away.

Margaret said...

Wonderful sights! I loved Madrid the only time I was there. I can't imagine cherries in gazpacho. Madrid is definitely a late and not an early city! :)

Jim Davis said...

You're right that Edificio Espana looks like it was designed by Albert Speer! That sunset is breathtaking! Safe travels home.

Jeanie said...

What a grand excursion! I've not been to Madrid -- it looks wonderful. And there is nothing better than gathering with friends. Nice view from Chris' house. And that gazpacho sounds to die for!

Susan said...

Good friends enjoying time together. Nothing better! Madrid is a beautiful vibrant city with lots to see and do. Your sunset photo is lovely.

Allison said...

I love the plazas in Europe. Too bad we don't have those here.

River said...

The sunset is gorgeous!! And I love the symmetry of all those windows.

Steve Reed said...

Andrew: It's a little insane, even though it's a short flight from here.

Mitchell: Fuengirola still felt a long way from Madrid! How long does it take to get there?

Roentare: Thanks! It was short but well worth it.

YP: Yeah, I don't know why we didn't make it a longer weekend, except we have the dog to think about.

Boud: I'm normally fine with Dave's need for downtime, but in this case I felt like we just didn't have any to spare!

Bob: Right?!

Jean: I am blessed with a very good sense of direction, which I think comes from years of reading maps for fun. So I can usually get around pretty easily!

Ellen D: Somewhat similar, yeah, though the Plaza Mayor is a perfect enclosed rectangle, while the Piazzo di San Marco is open on the side facing the Grand Canal.

Debby: It was a really great one!

Bug: Dave always groans when I involve him in any photographic activities!

Red: I agree! It would have been ideal to have a few more days.

Ellen: Exactly! We were only about 24 hours on the ground.

Kelly: My Merlin bird app identified them as common swifts.

John: It is very chic! Chic Eleanor would feel at home.

Sharon: Not even 48 hours! It really was insanely short.

Margaret: The cherries in the gazpacho worked really well. They made the gazpacho a strange purple color, which took some getting used to, but the taste was lovely.

Jim: Doesn't it?! Fascist all the way!

Jeanie: Have you been to Spain at all? It's a marvelous country. I could live there.

Susan: Yes, you only live once, right? We thought, "How often will we be invited to a dinner party in Madrid?"

Allison: Some American cities have them, but not steeped in so much history.

River: Yeah, the beauty of the Plaza Mayor is in the uniformity of the design and construction.

Moving with Mitchell said...

Fuengirola to Madrid is about a 6-hour drive. But the high-speed train from Málaga takes less than 3 hours.

Ms. Moon said...

That sunset photo is glorious.
Dave- hah! He can scowl like Popeye!
What a fun, short little adventure. I really would like to eat at the Museum of Ham.