July 16 - 22
We returned from our Lisbon trip nice and tired. Our time these days was spent taking walks in Madrid and getting ready for Christopher and Carolyn to arrive. It has been very hot (high 90s) and humid. Mike had a GI bug for a few days, with a fever, but that passed (no pun intended!). We go out early in the day when it’s cooler, return home for siesta by 3 pm, then go out again in the evenings.
July 23 - 29
We were so excited when Chris and Carolyn arrived! They had traveled many hours to get here from Salt Lake City, but after naps and showers, they were revived and ready to see some of the city. We started with tapas nearby, then walked to Sol, Plaza Mayor, Mercado San Miguel, and best of all, stopped for churros at a place called San Ginés Chocolateria, a place Carolyn knew of. Holy sweetness, those churros were good!
Every Sunday, there is a huge flea market in barrio La Latina. We all enjoyed this festival-like event of music, food, and block after block of colorful stalls where one could buy just about anything….
One of our best days with Chris and Carolyn was our day trip via train to Segovia. This is a small, ancient city a little over an hour northwest of Madrid. Its historic center and first century Roman aqueduct are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The iconic aqueduct was built without mortar between the granite blocks, and the remaining portion spans 2,500 ft., reaches 100 ft. high, and has 118 arches. This 2,000-year old wonder was once 9-miles long. We wandered through the Gothic cathedral, built in 1525 and which took 200 years to build. And finally, we toured the Alcázar, a fortified palace built in the Middle Ages. Chris and Carolyn climbed the 152 steps to the tippety-top, while Mike and I enjoyed a coffee/tea break below!
Carolyn had the fantastic idea of trying ponche segoviano, a dessert made with an almond and honey mazapán base. Heavenly. We had a late lunch at a Rick Steves-recommended restaurant, where Chris did not enjoy eating the roast suckling pig he wanted to try.
The evening before Chris and Carolyn flew home, they made reservations at a very special restaurant called Casa Benigna. It was 20 minutes north via metro. This turned out to be way more than a meal…it was an experience! When we found the restaurant, it didn’t look open. There was a very big door and a tiny sign, with no lights visible through the draped windows. We had to knock on the door to be let in. Once inside, though, we were welcomed into a small, cozy dining room where we enjoyed excellent service and amazing food. The owner makes his own balsamic reduction to go with olive oil for dipping bread, and it was so delicious that we bought some to go. Little bowls of delicate garlic soup, Norwegian smoked salmon, raw veggies with avocado dip, fresh bread…..all leading up to the best seafood paella in Spain! Then we shared a serving of chocolate mousse, and THEN the waiter brought out four, tiny, complimentary cups of chocolate into which we dipped pieces of thin cookie. After this feast, we were feelin’ kinda full, so we walked home from the restaurant, about 2 miles. There are lots of folks out at 11 p.m. here, and we enjoyed following Chris and Carolyn’s lead, past the busy street cafes and bars to home.
Their visit with us flew by and, too soon, they were off to the airport. After they left, Mike and I kept busy making tomato sauce and lentil soup. We heard they arrived home safely after 28 hours of planes and airports!
July 30 - August 1
Mike and I will be leaving Spain on August 28 and we’re beginning to feel that our time here is short. We have spent the past few days walking the streets of Madrid, discovering areas we have not seen before, and revisiting some favorite spots like Templo Debod and Retiro Park. We wandered through a beautiful old building that is home to the Museum of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. I don’t know what it’s called for short.
Stay tuned…..on August 5, Cris and Claire and Jordan and Katelyn will arrive!