Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hello Madrid: A Bittersweet Goodbye

 Barcelona streets are decorated with yellow ribbons, similar to the pink cancer ribbons.  We read the words surrounding them, but it wasn’t until yesterday that we learned what they meant.  During the recent coup when some people tried to separate Barcelona from Spain, a few people were imprisoned.  Many people in Barcelona/ Catalunya want these prisoners liberated, hence the yellow ribbons.  This sign makes me think it is part of the disgruntled factions, but I couldn’t begin to understand the complicated saga.  So, for me it is a sign that tells me there is unrest here just as there is around the world.  Despite these feelings in Barcelona, we never felt threatened or uneasy in this beautiful city.

Another train. Another bunch of jostling tourists.  A window seat across from a pleasant Spanish gentleman.  Listening to opera music on headphones. Beautiful panoramic vistas outside the train window.  Goodbye Barcelona. Hello Madrid.
Our hotel for the night is the Mediodía Hotel near the Atocha Train Estación and it’s a beautiful respite for us.  Two tall windows with balconies surrounded with black filigree above cafes and bars below us are special. Old world wood and character everywhere.  And a bathtub!

The metro was a challenge here, quite different than Barcelona, but several people saw our frustrations and helped immensely.  We returned to the Calle Postas, where we spent last week near the Plaza Mayor and found the shoe store where I’d purchased my polka dot shoes...where the Spaniard smilingly replaced them with a new pair. And I smiled as we walked away.  

Caroline had spied umbrella covered tables in a café on a side street, so we plopped down and then magic started happening.  I have never had this happen before.  First, the server brought each of us champagne flutes and filled them with rosé wine.  Then, a small plate of crisp bread pieces with a small dish of creamed cheese mixed with butter and dill AND tiny glasses of chilled gazpacho soup and a basket of bread.  And we hadn’t ordered any wine or a meal. The white table clothes and freshly-pressed white linen napkins were devine and we looked across the table at each other with raised eyebrows.  Caroline ordered pasta and I ordered a quinoa salad with shrimp. More rosé. And then? Wait for it! Champagne sorbet and Mango and Cheese pudding...without asking! Caroline enjoyed an Americano coffee with cream.  The ambience, smiling servers and peaceful interlude on the quiet street (no cars) was the perfect goodbye to Madrid for us.

With my shoes in hand, our 46,90 euros paid for the unequaled meal, and a feeling of contentment, we headed to the metro to ride back to the hotel.  Enough walking, we thought. And then we overshot the return ride and ended up deep in the bowels of the train station again, but we were okay with that since we could see the hotel from the exit doors.  

Tomorrow, Caroline flies back to America and I take a bus into the hills that lead to the villages of Toro and Fuentesaúco, the northern lands of my Spanish grandmother and her Silván, Trascasas, Marzo, Hernández and Gonzales families.  

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