Very nice of our old friends M & C to up and move from New York to Madrid, where they first met as young children living here with their respective families. Decades later, they are living for several months in the lovely Retiro neighborhood in a 1970’s-era apartment building on the 13th floor with superb views of the city.
We had an uneventful trip here on Aer Lingus with a brief layover in Dublin, delayed slightly by fog that has hung over the city. Yesterday we had time to stroll along a ramblas, of sorts, a brick pedestrian strip lined with a street with cars on either side. Families, couples, singles, young, old people all strolling on a Saturday afternoon. Very civilized. m &C eat one big meal a day, a late lunch at around 3 p.m. Yesterday we went to a traditional local place, La Hoja (La Fueya) aka The Leaf that was packed with families. We shared big plates of sliced jamon, sliced cheese, grilled artichokes, and then entrees that were big plates of meat, game or fish (wild boar, pork) and then cider served through some ceramic contraption.
Today we packed up the two white dogs (one who looks like our lab mix Millie ) and hit the road for a scenic drive to the lovely town of Escorial, famous for its 17th century monastery/palace, an imposing pile of stone at the edge of a wide plaza. IN the distance the fog rose from the mountains and the sun finally appeared, along with a rainbow lining the mountains like a dandy’s scarf. We strolled into the old city, with narrow lanes lined with lovely old buildings and small plazas, past whimsical Christmas decorations – large paper mache animals, including a cow giving birth and a donkey perched on a stone staircase , as if in mid step. We stopped at a little cafe for tapas – little plates of marinated anchovies, olives, cheese, sausage, an omelette/hash browns concoction.
On to Segovia, a hilltop town with a spectacular Roman aqueduct, cathedral and castle. Isabella, the queen of Castille, was crowned in the cathedral in the 1400s. She dispatched Columbus on his expedition to the new world.) Lunch was at a famous old world place called mason de Candido, around since 1884, in a rambling old building with lots of carved wood, casement windows, painted murals and photos of local and world dignitaries. I didn’t realize until we finished lunch that I was sitting under a photo featuring Jimmy Carter. This seemed like the right place for sangria, grilled baby lamb (crispy on outside, succulent inside), potatoes.