Dear Well-Loved and Appreciated Readers,
" ...And Lighten Your Pack" is terminado, and Tom and I are back home in Columbus, Ohio.
But read on, if you'd like; "Ailantha" is again up and running, and today's post covers our last hours in Madrid. If you'd like to continue (or starrt) following "Ailantha" you can find it at www.ailantha.com.
Whatever you do, always enjoy!
Yesterday was our last day in Madrid. We decided to spend this day - or most of this day - doing what most of the Madrileños - the people of Madrid - seemed to be doing, strolling the streets of the city.
When we left our hostel at around 9 am the streets around Puerta del Sol were quiet,
...but by early afternoon the streets were once again filled with people,
...and the street performers and amazing floating mimes had returned.
We walked around Old Madrid,
....and along the Gran Via,
...the theater section of which bears a resemblance to Broadway.
We visited the beautiful Cathedral de la Almudena, full of light
...and having only small bars.
We saw the final item on our "wish-to-see" list, the Museum of the History of Madrid.
This museum chronicled Madrid's history from the 16th through 19th centuries, mostly through the art of the times.
As we perused the paintings I reminded Tom that I've never been much of a fan of classical art. Realism doesn't appeal to me. It doesn't spark my imagination.
But then Tom reminded me that Realism was how people captured the images of their time before photography. As soon as he said that a light bulb went off in my head - Yes! I thought, realistic paintings are a form of history.
At that moment, after kicking around the planet for all these decades, I think I finally got classical art. In any case, I spent the rest of our museum visit appreciating the paintings.
Except that at one point it occurred to me that the artists could have represented.a scene however they wished without precise regard to reality.
For example, did this scene representing an outdoor social gathering really represent what a such a social event would have looked like, or only as the artist wanted to present it?
Is this as honest a depiction of Madrid's Plaza Mayor in the 18th Century,
...as is my photograph of the Plaza Mayor in the 21st Century?
But now that I think about it, I suppose a clever photographer can present as biased a view of reality as a painter.
And so, for that matter, can a clever writer.
By the way, if anyone read in the news about a Communist Party demonstration in Puerta del Sol, Madrid last night, we were there.
Not participating, just watching.
Today Tom and I return home from beautiful, wonderful Spain after two months and will be crossing the ocean, God willing, as most of you are reading this.
If anyone wishes to know what the best part off our trip was, I can say, unequivocally, the best part was the people: the wonderful pilgrims we met on the Camino, the kind, hard-working, Spaniards, always friendly, always, above all, helpful,
So this is the last post of "...And Lighten Your Pack". But if anyone would like to continue reading the various and sundry observations of this traveler just visiting the planet - as we all are - my regular daily blog, Ailantha, at www.ailantha.com should be up and running again soon, maybe tomorrow or maybe in a few days. But soon.
I thank you all from my heart for reading my writing. I hope you enjoyed. 8)
Yesterday morning we hoisted our packs back onto our backs, left our lovely little Hostal Plaza Goya, hopped back onto the Metro,
....and returned to Estacio Sants, Barcelona’s state-of-the-art, disco-y railway station,
…with its equally arty bathrooms,
...with awesome self-cleaning seats that clean themselves after each use. The Barcelona railway station latrines nonetheless cost .50€ to use, though I suppose the charging of this fee does keep the facilities up to snuff, which they most decidedly were.
We took another 300 km -per- hour fast train from Barcelona to Atocha Station in Madrid where we decided to stop one last time (though who really knows?), for lunch at the raiway station cafe that we think of as "our place",
We ordered the 8.95€ hot beef, cheese, and pepper bocadillo and patatas fritas (drink included) platter which was served with a side of tartar sauce,. The tartar sauce was rather unexpected, but actually worked pretty well. In truth for all the many bushels of fries we've eaten in Spain, I don't think we've once seen any ketchup.
For dessert we had slices of yummy apple tart.
After lunch we grabbed the Madrid Metro and headed to our hostel.
For our last two nights in Madrid we'd hoped to find a hostel near the train station, which would have been wonderfully convenient. But I'd had to scour Booking.com just to find us a private room-plus-bath anywhere in Madrid this holiday weekend and finally found one at a not-cheap hostel off Puerta del Sol a few streets away from our last Madrid hostel.
When we got off the Metro Puerta del Sol was a dense sea of people.
We made our way through the crowd trying not to get separated until we found the, thankfully, less populated side street where our hostel was.
At first glance our hostel, Hostal Madrid, looked a weence on the swanky side - hostels are usually located on an upper floor of an older, multi-use building - but this place looked more like a regular hotel, and a nice one at that. I hoped I hadn't misunderstood the price - 109€ - about $125 - per night, or had the wrong place place.
But no, the place and price were right.
The lobby was cute, all exposed brick and rustic-looking,
....and as I was so admiring the decor one of the young, sweet hospitalieras,
...offered to take our photo with the lobby as a backdrop.
I've said it before, I'll say it again, the Spanish people are so nice.
The hospitaliera explained to us that, though Madrid was really in high tourist season every day of the year except during August, this weekend is one of the busiest not only because of Halloween but because the following day is All Saints Day, an important national holiday when people honor their dead, Day of the Dead, So this is a long holiday weekend in Spain, and we were seriously lucky to get a room. Our hostal, too, is now sold out.
Our room is pretty and bright and is also done in exposed brick,
...as is the bathroom.
Our room has a balcony with a street view,
...and the place has a classy stair case.
After we’d settled into our room we went back out to Puerta del Sol to mingle amidst the street festivities. Among the crowd were young children in Halloween costumes holding onto their parents’ hands and groups of older kids and young adults also in costume. There were young parents pushing baby strollers and old folks walking arm in arm, people of all ages. There were also street entertainers, mimes who appeared to be somehow floating above the ground who, it was understood, expected payment for snapping their picture, people in character costumes, and hoards of street hawkers selling their wares, purses, tennis shoes, sports teamq shirts, jewelry, stuff of every kind, on sheetzs spread out on the ground with ropes attached to the corners of the sheets for a quick wrap-up, presumably in case the Guardia Civil came by. People seemed to be buying up the stuff, though, especially the purses, which I expect were knock-offs of popular brands.
By evening the sea of people had transformed into a slow-moving wall.
One would have thought Times Square on New Years Eve, everyone out just for the fun of being there.
But this morning, Sunday morning, by 9 am Puerta del Sol was quiet and already spotlessly clean, the streets freshly washed,
...a lovely Sunday morning in Old Madrid.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
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of German Village,
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