Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Madrid, once again, even if only for two days

I had intended to write this update several days ago, shortly after leaving Madrid, but not having internet access in the room makes it a little more difficult to sit down with a computer when the pool and the sunshine beckon. So, I'll limit myself to talking about my current whereabouts (the H10 Timanfaya Palace on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands) and leave that for another blog post.
Iberia's First Class service on the way to Madrid
Sabine and I left Munich last Thursday morning on an Iberia flight bound for Madrid. Ah, I love airline miles with which one can buy oneself into First Class for flights that otherwise would be unaffordable! The plan was to see Howard and family for two days before leaving for Lanzarote on Saturday. Despite the fact that Howard and Sabine are my life-long friends (well, almost, when one looks at about 40-year-old friendships), the two had never met. So, the opportunity was just perfect.
Daddy, Eclipse, y Karen
We arrived in Barajas in mid-afternoon, and for the next two days we partook in the Davieses' homelife and did some fine sightseeing around Madrid, a place that Sabine had never been to. On Thursday afternoon we piled into Howard's work-issued Audi A6 and went with him and daughter Karen out to the stables where Eclipse, Karen's new horse, is kept. It was a lazy afternoon, punctuated by a few cold ones and Sabine's memories of her own time as a horseback-riding girl.
Don Quijote and his brother, practicing the poking of the bull at Karen's horse stables
That evening we had dinner at the house, with everyone assembled for wine, Iberian ham, great cheese, and all those other delicacies that Lydia likes to concoct. On Friday, Sabine and I took the metro to downtown Madrid, about a 30 minute ride from the Davieses’ home just minutes away from the Barajas airport. We had been told about the “Turibus,” an open double-decker that affords on/off privileges and makes two loops through the “old” as well as the “new” Madrid. It was a gorgeous day, with temperatures in the mid-70s, maybe, and nothing but perfectly blue skies. Madrid showed itself from its prettiest side—was it maybe because of the looming decision by the IOC on who will host the 2020 summer Olympics?
Madrid from the Turibus
Since my leg is still not anywhere near normal it was actually quite nice to sit on this slow-moving bus and take in the sights from a slightly different level  than that afforded by walking the streets. I don’t want to go as far as to say that I know Madrid, even though I can find such attractions as the Museo de Jamon and the fancy market. I enjoyed seeing things without much exertion, and once we were done with the bus we strolled around the old town on our own.
Ham, ham, and more ham

By mid-afternoon, Howard had joined us and we started to find places for tapas and beers—not a problem for us, at all. We went to some interesting little bars, and it seemed that Madrid kept filling up the longer we stuck around. Well, it was Friday afternoon, after all. Even though we spent less than 10 hours in the heart of the city, I think we both got a really good feel for the vibrancy of this city. What a nice day!
The buddies having tapas at the Casa Labras

When we got back to the house after nightfall, both of us were too tired to go out one more time—and we certainly weren’t hungry enough for that, either. So, we spent a few more hours talking the evening away and then hit the rack at a definitely un-Spanish time (around midnight), getting ready to close down our stop-over in Madrid and continue our trip toward the Canary Islands on Saturday morning. 
Bocadillo de jamon plus cana de cerveza for a measly 2 euro
Once I have faster internet service I will add a few more pics and then continue to tell about our impressions of this interesting island in the Atlantic, but now it is time to soak in the sun.  


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