Madrid- Segovia Part 2

Madrid Travel Blog

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Plaza de Espana
I returned to Madrid that evening and spent the rest of the week visiting other parts of the city and revisiting some of the same parts. I pretty much went to Plaza del Sol nearly everyday. On Tuesday my friend Scott, one of my fellow sustainability warriors at UC Davis, came to Madrid for a renewable energy conference. I spent the whole day making my way to meet him. I casually walked from Gilberto’s over to and down Calle Princesa, stopped to eat what turned out to be overpriced microwaved pasta, and spent time on a bench in Plaza de Espana. This plaza features the world famous Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, which must have been placed there after the plaza was designed and constructed because it did not fit the style.
Gran Via


I continued to make my way to the center reaching Gran Via, one the first main streets in the modern city, taking some side streets and somehow finding my way back to Grand Via. I ventured over to Plaza del Sol and tried on some jeans, but you know I am not loving this tight narrow leg style at all.

Eventually 8pm arrived, I met Scott at his hostel and we went out for tapas. We ate at two places that night. Tapas are much bigger here than in the States and really simple. We had patatas bravas (potato with hot sauce), jamon iberica y pan (spanish ham with bread), and ensalada mixta (mixed salad) at the first place. Scott had a cana, which is the typical serving size of beer, about a half pint or cans worth. The next place we went to Scott said was so very Spanish (he lived in Spain for six months before) and here we ate gambas ajlio (which I was told are medium sized shrimp, but these were closer to bay shrimp with garlic) and pimiento verde a la parilla con sal (small grilled green peppers with salt).
Fuencarral
We called it an early night and I headed back.

The next day I returned to Plaza del Sol and spent most of the day in a Basque restaurant eating more tapas, a little more posh here, and used their wireless. Thursday I met up with Diego at the University, where we had lunch and walked all over the city from there, focusing on the areas that I had not walked yet. Which took us passed Gilberto’s into the hip streets to the east, into the hipster alternative neighborhood, into the lovely gay district, and eventually over to the wealthier more conservative area. The was a lesson in the socio-economic and political differences within and between the neighborhoods of Madrid.

Later we met up with Scott for dinner at a Cuban place near Plaza del Sol and moved onto a punk concert at El Sol and can you believe I was on the guest list.
Fuencarral
Scott did not make to the end of the first act and the rest of us left before the second act was finished.

Thursday also marked a shift of residence for me to Diego’s Mom’s house, where I got the best sleep and shower I had in Madrid yet.

Friday I met up with Scott again and we spent most of the day finding a place to stay in the city center, which was tough on the Friday and the day before the Saturday. I suggested we go in to this travel agency to ask her some questions and she ended up getting us a place in the center in a hotel for the same price if not less than a hostel down there, but with privacy and only for Friday.

We spent the day relaxing, in the Basque restaurant for lunch and wireless, and then met up with a friend of his from the conference and some of his friends.
Me and Scott out for tapas
We went out for dinner at a funky place with a very unique atmosphere and unique, admirably presented, and tasty food. We moved onto a Spanish 80’s bar, but the smoke was getting to me and I wanted to see about this other place that apparently had Cuban salsa, but didn’t. But all was well, as we needed to get some good rest for our trip to Segovia the next day.

We kind of gave up on finding a place to crash on Saturday, figuring that the worst was we have to stay out all night with every one and when the sun came out crash in a park and maybe leave our stuff at his friends so we did not have to worry about it.

But we had plans so left our bags with hotel and took off for Principe Pio transit terminal.
Puerta del Sol
A little confusion eventually got us to right place, where we had thirty seconds to get to the bus. We ran upstairs to find out that we had to run down stairs, but thank goodness we made it. On the way out it was amazing to see how high, mountainous, rocky, and dry the region is. Also I saw the giant, I mean giant, cross that Franco had erected out of a cathedral cave in the mountain side where his body can be found.

We arrived in Segovia and it was amazing. Everything I loved about Madrid, but smaller, older, and narrower, especially in the historic center. Segovia is most well-known for its wondrous aqueduct, cathedral, and castle. And one can also enjoy the medieval wall and the many places for tapas. We stated at the locals spot and had some traditional Segovian tapas. One that we did not try though is baby pig that has been cooked some special way and that they cut with plates, to illustrate just how tender the meat is. We moved back up to the tourist area and had some more touristy tapas such as calamari, which I had been desiring for days.

The newer parts looked the same throughout the city although we did not get to see much in out short trip. Still we could have seen more…when we returned to get on the bus just in time the driver told us we needed to exchange our tickets for the return, the line was long and as we were in the process the bus left us. So we had to wait for the next, but the bus was only a half an hour away. Did I mention that the bus station had the most disgusting bathrooms I have ever used.

When we got back to Madrid, we hung around Plaza del Sol stunned at how many people were out and about. No matter what street you looked up there were hundreds of people. All you could was heads packed close like corn kernels on the cob. So cool, why don’t we come to the streets like that? Oh yeah, cars. We need to reclaim some streets for our most fundamental mode a transportation, walking.

That night we both crashed at Diego’s after we went to one of his favorite local Majadahonda bars, met his Dad and some more of his friends. Sunday featured their second soccer game of the season on a horrible dirt field. They lost this one. Scott left later that afternoon, I was so grateful that I was able to meet up with him, and in Spain of all places, he really lifted my spirits.

Monday I headed to Madrid via bus and met Diego again on campus. He hooked me up with a ticket to the Bersuit concert at Joy Eslava on Arenal Street, one of the pedestrian streets off of Plaza del Sol. I had never heard of the Argentine rock group before, but why not, I had nothing else to do. The ticket once belonged to his ex-girlfriend, but she had not recovered from getting her wisdom teeth out so I got it, lucky me. I passed the time away in Plaza del Sol and hung out in a bar, had some tapas slowly and talked to the bartender from Ecuador who came for vacation and never left.

The Argentine community was there in full force. The band opened with a song dedicated to their new President Cristina Fernandez, the Evita of today. The crowd was not so supportive of her, I was told later that is that same old thing, that little will be different from what her husband had done in the previous terms, so on and so forth. I am sure I will find out more when I get there, which is very soon. Crazy.

Tuesday I hung around the house and spent the afternoon eating and talking with Diego’s mom about serious topics that she, Diego, and Tio Rafa had been discussing the previous night while I mostly observed. The conversation made me nervous because of my poor Spanish, which had never seemed so bad. Nevertheless, it was a great conversation. Diego arrived from class and soon after we were off to Sevilla to the South, where his sister lives and interns for El Pais, the #1 newspaper in Spain.
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Plaza de Espana
Plaza de Espana
Gran Via
Gran Via
Fuencarral
Fuencarral
Fuencarral
Fuencarral
Me and Scott out for tapas
Me and Scott out for tapas
Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol
Madrid
photo by: vulindlela