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…
…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.
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).
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.
With 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).
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”)
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).
…nearby we saw someone who I don’t think should be allowed to drive…even a motor scooter.
We 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).
…but we were now going somewhere much more important…Florida…the restaurant not the state.
When 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.
Oh, 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.
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.”
As 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.
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.
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.
There 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.
Instead, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dinner was quite good starting with our appetizer.
The circuitous route back to the apartment burned off some of those excess calories and we ran into a giant lizard…
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