Chapter Nineteen: Hot Times In Madrid & The Old Pickpocket Trick

6Chapter Nineteen:  Hot Times In Madrid & The Old Pickpocket Trick

Next: Day Nineteen – Corpus Christi Strikes Again, Temple Of Doom, An Artist’s Tomb, Eating In Florida, No Great Story Started With Someone Eating A Salad, My Jenny Craig Lunch, Plaza Del Elevator List, Rumble At The Sport’s Store, Plaza Magnifico, Too Hot For A Cocktail, Channeling Our Inner Bruce Lee, Blatter Infection, A Politician Makes The Elevator List and Dinner At The Mercado

After a rather late start for us (the trip was winding down…so no need to be the evil task master now), the Brown Bear beckoned…

1…and once again full of pastries, we hit the streets of Madrid.

P1030161Our goal was to walk about a half hour to the Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande, an 18th century church.

P1030172When we arrived, the doors were shut. Being non-believers (of the place really being closed), the four of us channeled our inner Ferdinand Magellan as we circumnavigated the church…

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…and sure enough it was closed for a Corpus Christi mass (at least that’s what the lady said at a nearby market), and we weren’t getting in…but at least we got a few photos of its exterior and a lovely little garden near the back.

P1030171Not too far away we did venture inside La Iglesia de San Andrés, a church that dates back to the mid 1600s.

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No photography was allowed inside, but I didn’t find that out until I had taken one photo (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

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On my agenda, I had written down that we should visit the Templo de Debod, which once stood in the Valley of the Nile, 19 miles from Aswan.

2With that history, I thought it would be a dam good place to visit since when a new dam threatened to make the temple obsolete and thanks to pleas from UNESCO, the Egyptian government dismantled it and presented it to Spain (below is what it looked like in Egypt).

Francis_Frith_-_The_Temple_of_Dabod,_NubiaAdmission was free, which coincidentally was just about what it was worth.

11I thought about putting it on the Elevator List, but since it was constructed in the 4th century BC, its historical significance made it somewhat worthwhile to see (and it is photogenic).

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We did also step inside for a few moments.  For some reason Steve Martin’s King Tut song played in my head (“had a condo made of stone-a”)

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I wouldn’t go out of your way, but if you’re in the neighborhood, it could be a quick stop, especially at night when it is illuminated (photo below from aboutmadrid.com).

templo_debodAfter winding our way through a park…

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…nearby we saw someone who I don’t think should be allowed to drive…even a motor scooter.

P1030169We walked another 15 minutes or so to our next destination, Ermita San Antonio de la Florida and the Panteón de Goya (Goya’s Tomb) where there were two domed hermitages built in the late 1700s (the one on the right contains Goya’s tomb).

goya (1)Goya’s tomb has a famed fresco on the dome and cupola depicting the miracles of St. Anthony.  It has been dubbed by many as “Goya’s Sistine Chapel” (no photography inside…photos from internet).

89263968Exiting, there was also a statue of the artist across the street…

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…but we were now going somewhere much more important…Florida…the restaurant not the state.

P1030191When we had passed this restaurant earlier in the day, we were intrigued by the sign out front stating, “because no great story started with someone eating a salad.” At this lunch, all four of us could be deemed idiots.

Despite the sign, Kim, Mary and Tracy all ordered…Salads!  When the owner of the restaurant heard about our order, he came out to chat with the group about his establishment.  It turned out that Marco (the owner who was from Toledo) had just opened this restaurant ten days previously. He was a really personable guy, and after talking with us even sent over a complimentary tapas appetizer to share…a Toledo specialty of spicy roasted peppers and tuna on toast that was extremely good.

P1030193He also showed us the giant CruzCampo beer vats, but said he might have to change beers on his menu because CruzCampo is enjoyed more in the south of Spain.

5Oh, and my dunderhead order? I, on the other hand, did opt for the beef, ordering a couple of hamburgers and a beer. The only problem was that they were really small hamburgers, but I decided I didn’t want to spend more money on lunch. It might have been wise for me to really look at the menu when I had ordered. When our bill came, I saw that my hamburgers cost a whopping €0.75 (almost an entire dollar). It seems those burgers were meant just as small appetizers, and even though my compatriots ordered a salad, I became the biggest lunch dunce.

P1030184We grabbed a cab, and our taxi driver took us on a thrilling ride through the streets of Madrid passing monuments that we could only catch a quick glimpse of thanks to our race car driver.

10Fortunately our driver deftly missed numerous pedestrians by a matter of inches as he wove his way to our destination, Puerta del Sol.

P1010114Called, “the nerve center of Madrid,” it just seemed rather dumpy to us and has made our Elevator List.

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We had stopped here because we saw a Futbol store where I hoped to pick up an FC Barcelona or Real Madrid souvenir or two. As the late “Sock-It-Me Girl” Judy Carne said on Laugh-In, “It may be futbol to you, but it’s soccer to me.”

P1030195As we walked inside, all of a sudden a large contingent of seemingly angry people were congregating outside the store protesting something it was doing (perhaps selling FC Barcelona souvenirs in Real Madrid territory was getting on their nerves). There was nothing I really wanted to buy, so we scurried out through the angry (but non-violent) mob.

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On this hot afternoon, we walked through some neighborhoods checking out some interesting Madrid architecture until we found ourselves at a beautiful square full of vibrant flowers.  We were at the Plaza de la Cibeles.

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We saw the 18th century Fuente de la Cibeles (Fountain of Cybele), which depicts the Goddess Of Nature driving a chariot pulled by lions. During the Spanish Civil War, the patriotic Madrileños protected the statue by sandbagging it as Nationalist aircraft bombed the city.

P1010121On the other side of the plaza is the Cibeles Palace, which almost looks like it could be a cathedral.  Built in 1909, this former Postal and Telegraphic Museum became Madrid’s City Hall in 2007.

6There was a bar on the roof where we could have drinks, but the hostess informed us that the only tables available had no shade. Since temperatures were hovering near 100 degrees, we passed. We did want to go to the observatory platform, but it was closed until 4 p.m.

P1030208Instead, we headed across the street (12 lanes of traffic) to a little street fair selling trinkets. As you might know from past trip reports, these street fairs interest me about the same as Picasso paintings, so as Kim, Mary and Tracy wandered through the trinket stalls (and made some purchases) I took a few more photos.

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Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young woman approaching me. At my age, I knew she wasn’t going to ask me for a date.  Instead she was holding a piece of paper and loudly stating that she wanted me to sign her petition.  Since I had no Madrid voting rights and had heard about this pick-pocketing scam, I tried waving her away to no avail. Unfortunately my magnetic personality (or perhaps her desire to steal something) drew her closer. I told her “back off” and when she pressed nearer, I pushed her forcefully away while at the same time she gave me a slight punch to the chest as she attempted to reach in my shirt pocket. Sadly, the only thing she came away with was three weeks worth of lint.

At about the same time, another would be pick-pocket was trying the same scam on Kim. She also came away empty-handed. When I was informed about Kim’s experience, I told our wives it reminded me of college when Kim and I often had to fend off women. For some reason, Mary and Tracy didn’t believe that story.

We walked back to the apartment along the tree-lined street (shade was our best friend) back to the apartment and rested.

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The big stories on CNN that night was Sepp Blatter (what a tool) and FIFA, along with Rick Perry announcing that he was running for president again.  After hearing his speech and hearing the Blatter story, Tracy said, “Let’s put both of those guys on the Elevator List.”

When we arrived in town, Alex from Spain Select had told us about an “authentic” Madrid neighborhood where it might be fun to dine, so out we went about 8 o’clock.

P1030215In a Ben Hur moment, we passed by BBVA Bank with its fantastic quadriga (Four Horse Chariot Sculpture) on top of the building.

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We finally came to Mercado de San Antón (Calle de Augusto Figueroa 24) in the Chueca district. This place was packed at 8:45 p.m.

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The multi-leveled Mercado de San Antón has vendors selling everything from meats to fresh produce to regional specialties.  It also had numerous bars and tapas places.  We walked to the top floor and dined at La Cocina de San Antón.  We really enjoyed the atmosphere at this restaurant.  Since the patio was overrun with young hipsters (we, of course, fit in very well with the “young hipster” crowd, except for that damned “young” thing), we ate inside.

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Dinner was quite good starting with our appetizer.

P1030219Kim ordered a roasted chicken that was certainly a cut above since his lovely server helped him by carving it…with scissors!

P1030225Mary once again got her tentacles on another seafood dish, Octopus and Shrimp…

P1030220…while Tracy had a chicken curry dish.

P1030226I believe my dish was the winner…a pork loin with port, raisins and pancetta.  Outstanding!

P1030224Including a bottle of white wine, some glasses of red wine and two desserts (apple tart with vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream with chilies…great), the bill came to €116.

The circuitous route  back to the apartment burned off some of those excess calories and we ran into a giant lizard…

8…but I was feeling sad because tomorrow would be our last full day in my new favorite country, España.

On our final day we would explore the great outdoors with some strolls through a famous park and botanical gardens, pay a visit to an aristocrat’s house, enjoy my final Spanish GinTonic and finally check out the basilica we had missed due to Corpus Christi.  Add an Invisible Man we met along the way into the mix, and our last day in Madrid (and Spain) would become a memorable one.

Next: Day Twenty & Twenty One – A Peaceful Retreat, Colorful Area, Nothing Blooming Here, The Monastery Shut-Out, How The Other Half Lives, Missed It By That Much, The Invisible Man, A Fruitful GinTonic, Are You Going To San Francesco, A Last Stroll Through Madrid, Ginger (But No MaryAnn), What About Flamenco, The Unexpected Return Of Nurse Ratchet, Down The Stretch They Come and Maitaitom’s Spain Epilogue

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