We had agreed to get up early to have a chance to give Guadalupe a tour in the morning light – which we had found to be the better light to take pictures.
We had only taken one suitcase with us the day before… the second had already the laundry in it – no need to move that one.
As you may have imagined already, I was keen on having breakfast, which in Guadalupe is served in a dedicated breakfast room and not as in most Paradores in the “comedor” of the Parador. This breakfast room in Guadalupe must have been the former “refectorium” – the dining hall.
Breakfast in Guadalupe however turned somewhat out as a disappointment – no freshly prepared huevos fritos (fried eggs), the service was slow and not very attentive – the selection on the buffet somehow limited: there were no bread rolls, no croissants…
Well, you cannot always have it all – the Parador itself and the surroundings were so beautiful that I decided not to fuss too much about it.
After breakfast, M., B. and Manfred armed themselves with their photo cameras, I said I’d be staying in the Parador and upload some Blog entries in the meantime.
45 minutes later the photo hunting party returned – Manfred reported on a pretty nice market on one of the “Plazas” where he was able to shoot some scenic pictures
Time to get going though. We checked-out, loaded the cars and were on our way higher up to the Sierra to our “final destination” – Madrid. To be able to spend some of the afternoon in Madrid before dinner, we had agreed to drive without too many stops.
We’d be driving 80 km or so through the Sierra, the highway from Navalmoral de la Mata straight into Madrid.
One stop was scheduled at the outskirts of Madrid, where we would switch co-drivers to ensure that M. did not get lost in the traffic entering the city center of Madrid.
As responsible travel guides we had all luggage arranged in a way that we could quickly unload it in front of the Room Mate Laura; there was seldom space to park the cars – Manfred and M. would continue to the car rental agency while B. and I would take care of the luggage and the check-in.
Leaving Guadalupe we got a last glance down to the city and the monastery and the so-called Geo-Park around it. This region is popular with hikers and cyclists.
It was a pleasant drive and a great way to say “Good bye”. I wanted to get the group to arrive in Madrid soon, that is why I did not stop the convoy even though there was a real huge snake on the road. I knew that M. and B. would have liked to take a picture of it but I accelerated the car and drove on.
As a consolation however I stopped not far from the highway as there were storks just arranged in a way as if they had been paid to sit there and to wait for tourists to take pictures of them. (And yes, they were alive)
At this occasion – of course M. complained that I hadn’t stopped for the snake.
We stopped one more time – as planned to switch co-drivers, then entered Madrid and arrived at the hotel without any major issues around noon. Unloading of all luggage took place like a clock work – flying splice.
Manfred and M. took off to return the cars, B. and I carried the luggage up to the air-conditionned reception area of the hotel. There is one down side to the Room Mate Laura – the 10 or so stairs from the street up to the hall – they should install a luggage lifter. This is about the only low-light about the Room Mate Laura and the friendly welcome made me forget the stair were even there.
All was prepared, and we got – yet again – two upgrades. Another great duplex with view to the Plaza outside for Manfred and me, and a studio on the fourth floor for M. and B. It always pays to be a regular customer.
After we all had freshened up and relaxed a bit – we took M. and B. on another tour to Madrid – this time showing the “Almudena” from a different perspective.
We started – yes, well guessed – towards “Puerta del Sol”, turned right into “Calle Mayor” headed towards the “Palacio Real” where we kept on the shadow side of the street. Again the heat in Madrid was almost unbearable, but surely we did not miss the cold and the rain in Germany.
Now, dear reader, I must admit, while we walked in the hot afternoon past a couple of chocolate stores with the finest merchandise, I succombed to an old addiction of mine – “Yes, my name is Lothar and I am a chocoholic!”
There it was, the flagship store of Torrons Vicens. Manfred knew from the look on my face that I had a relapse – however, I was able to discipline myself while I was inside – maybe I was not a lost cause after all. I “only” spent 9 EUR.
With my blood sugar in balance again I was able to assume my duties as responsible travel guide – M. and B. had waited patiently outside, Manfred had escorted me inside the shop, ensuring that I would not spend our travel budget on sweets.
We continued down the street, passed by “Plaza de la Villa” with the “Casa de la Villa” a part of the city administration of Madrid behind which the “Casco Historico” of Madrid is situated.
Further down “Calle Mayor” we arrived at the “Palacio Real” where we turned left into “Calle de Bailén” to cross “Calle Segovia”.
To the right – just after the bridge – there is a public garden with bars and cafés – the gastronomical quality of these places is dubious, though the reason why you should have at least one drink there is the great view on the “Almudena“.
We had – as you may have guessed already – a couple of “cañas” which weren’t real “cañas” but bottled bear, an espresso and sparkling water. The usual mix so to say.
It was about time to head back to the hotel, taking a rest, freshen up for dinner. Why not taking a quick dive into the “casco historico” on our way back to “Room Mate Laura”.
Crossing the “Caille Bailén” we took “Calle la Moreria” down to “Calle Segovia” to just walk around the small streets, looking at impressive buildings and churches – all spread out there. This part of the city is worth a day of touring – we will certainly explore more next time M. and B. decide to pay Madrid a visit. So, esteemed reader – stay tuned.
Our mind was really set on dinner and I could sense that there was not much hunger for new discoveries in M. and B. that day – so we just took another round of refreshments close to the “Plaza de Puerta Cerrada” – interesting for us to see that two young guys rolled their joints in the open light in the middle of the day just across from us in front of the Spanish Fast Food chain “100 montadillos” – and within seconds the sweet odour of grass whiffed over to our table…
Before getting too high on passive consumption in combination with the beverages we had consumed we moved on. Up “Calle Cuchilleros”, through “Calle Cava de San Miguel”.
Almost as a tradition – and you have to bear in mind that if Germans do something at least twice, it is called a tradition – we payed “Plaza Mayor” a visit, which was as beautiful and grand as always. Writing these lines I cannot help but thinking of the “Place de Vosges” in the 4ieme arrondissement in Paris, France.
You, dear reader having followed this blog carefully, you know by now your way back to the hotel without me re-iterating it – right?
9:00pm – ready to get food into our systems. Our friend Luis met us in front of the “Room Mate Laura”, he was joining us for dinner again.
We had made booking in a quite traditional restaurant this time, the “Casa Jacinto”. They claim “La tradición de la cocina en su mesa” – so to say: home cooking.
With Luis as the trusted local guide, Manfred and I could take it easy. The restaurant is in the “Calle Reloj” close to the “Teatro” and – more interestingly, the Spanish Senate. Even Manfred or I had ever been here – so, you always learn something new.
The “Casa Jacinto” is a truely authentic place and not frequented by tourists so much – it is off the tourist trails and actually should not be mentioned here.
We entered the small guest room where only one guest had an early dinner (mind you it was past 9:00pm). The restaurant would not fill up that night – it was middle in the week, even the better for us. We had four waiters taking care of us, and the entire kitchen staff focussing on our orders.
Looking around in the guest room I personally found the place a bit too authentic-folkloristic with all the pictures of bull fights and stuffed heads of bulls hanging around – though I always appreciated the Spanish tiles the “Azulejos”.
As starters we ordered:
- a sampler of starters:
- “Cecina de Vaca Leonesa” (dried cow meat)
- “Croquetas de Jamón Ibérico”
- “Ensalda de Quinoa con Mozzarella” (Quinoa Salad with Mozzarella)
The main courses were:
- two “Cogote de Merluza” (Codfish)
- “Merluza a la Romana” (Codfish)
- “Rabo de Toro” (Oxtail)
- “Solomillo de Vaca” (Cow Tenderloin)
- Sparkling Water
- Red Wine from the Vadepeñas Regeion
- Finca la Estacada
- Finca Antigua – crianza
Check for the night: EUR 185.45
- Food – 4 of 5 stars
- Beverages – 4 of 5 stars
- Location – 4 of 5 stars
- Service – 4 of 5 stars
The food was good – a bit too down to earth for my taste, but that is what we had wanted.
As it was still early (as far as evenings out in Madrid was concerned) we all agreed on having a night cup – which we did take in one of the many bars around “Plaza Domingo” – it always had surprised us how generous the liquor is served in Spanish bars (even more so outside Madrid). I actually had to ask the waiter to stop pouring Tanqueray Gin in to the “big belly” glas to fit some Tonic in. Luis did not seem to be surprised at all – he had taken the precaution and had told the waiter that he wanted his Gin “suave” (mild).
We sure took our time savouring our drinks, enjoying the company, telling Luis about the trip and how much we loved his country before we went back to the hotel. Needless to say that is was past 1:00am when we put our heads to rest.