Spain and Portugal travel blog

Royal Tapestry Factory

Crystal Palace

Bull Bar

Dinner on Tapas Row ono n Calle de Jesus




Our last day in Madrid. After the last couple of days of freezing winds, we were prepared and left the apartment wearing 5 layers each since it was supposed to be one degree cooler than yesterday. We did one of Rick Steve's self guided walks and found some interesting things close to home--an historical bar dedicated to bull fighting and a nunnery bakery among others. The bakery is located in a nunnery down a side street. You push the buzzer and patiently wait until someone rings you in after you tell them you want dulces (cookies). Then it is into a dark hall and down a dark corridor until you find a big lazy susan. A voice calls out asking what you want in Spanish. I asked for almond cookies. "No almond, only galleterias" "O.K." "Kilo or 1/2 Kilo?" "Half" "How Much" "9 Euros". Then we put the money on the lazy susan, the lazy susan moves, we hear some rustling, and the cookies and our change come back. Never saw a nun.

We headed back to our apartment to drop off the cookies and shed a few layers. It turned out it was a beautiful day and there was no wind which made a huge difference. We had 12:15 tour tickets for the Real Fabrica de Tapices so we had to get going to the metro to get there. No problem buying our tickets (a lovely lady helped us) and figuring out which train to take. Had to ask a sanitation worker for directions once we got off the train and we just made it at 12:15. The factory was founded in 1720 by King Philip V when he lost the Belgian territories and its tapestry factories. This is the only remaining tapestry factory in Spain and they are struggling to stay open. They make both tapestries and rugs but currently repairing both is bringing in the most revenue. They have had to let their cartoonists go (the people who traced the designs on to the woof) and the weavers are using plastic stencils instead which is harder to do and they have closed their school to train new weavers. Looks like it is going to be a dying art at least in Spain. The tour was very interesting and it is amazing to see the detail that goes into the tapestries. Made Judi and I realize how simple the woven scarves we made were.

From here, after a mushroom pizza for lunch at a local "diner" in the neighborhood, we walked over to Retiro Park which was only a few blocks away. It is Madrid's Central Park and it is beautiful. It was a really gorgeous day and we walked the park from one end to the other. Two highlights were the glass and iron Crystal Palace and the lake. A very enjoyable afternoon and one of the highlights on our trip so far.

Now back to the Metro to get back to our apartment for Happy Hour. But to our surprise this metro (a different line than we used earlier) was closed to Puerto del Sol (our station) but there was a bus that would take us close (sound familiar?). We found our way to Puerto del Sol and found the marker for Kilometer Zero, the symbolic center of Spain.

After resting our feet and finishing off our wine supply, we headed out for our last evening in Madrid. We started with a drink at the historical bull bar, La Torre del Oro Bar Andalu, because we wanted to take pictures, and then headed out to walk to the Great Tapas Row on Calle de Jesus that was recommended by Rick Steve's. It was a little bit of a challenge but we did find it. There were several restaurants and lots of people so we picked one on Rick's list we thought looked good. The food is cheaper if you eat at the bar so the bar was crowded but lots of open tables. We shared two toasts--breaded cod with onion jam and white asparagus and Brie and each had a cocido croquette. According to Google cocido translates to cooked so we have no idea what was in it. It was creamy and rich. By now it was 10 p.m. so we found the closest metro station (different line so we didn't have to take a bus to our metro stop) to get back to our apartment and to bed. A good, but tiring, day. JB

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