This Was Madrid

Hemingway once called Madrid the most Spanish of all the cities. This is one of the reasons we chose Madrid for our next leg of adventure.

He apparently ate next door though

If Paris is a Ferrari, Madrid is a Mercedes with one bent rim. It is a classy city, proud people, rich in culture but, oh, so laid back compared to ma belle Paris.

Our Air France pilot required two shots at landing the plane before we commenced the always arduous task of circumnavigating a new city. We took two cabs because there were five of us. The first cab dropped me and two of my sisters in the middle of a square and pointed his finger toward a narrow cobbled road. Our apartment turned out to be well more than two blocks away. This was Madrid.

This was our second pass over Madrid. Praying we land this time

Our apartment is spectacular. For about $50 per night each, we have enjoyed four spacious bedrooms, elegant modern design and triple noise insulation on the windows. This point goes to Madrid. Paris has nothing like this.

Dorothy and Marsha enjoying our fabulous Madrid apartment

By now it was well past noon and at least one of us was hangry (me). We circled Plaza Mayor and a few side streets. We avoided Botin, the restaurant often frequented by Hemingway, opting instead for what we thought would be a cheaper option. “Enjoy the tapas!” said everyone who had learned we were heading to Spain. And so we did. What we thought would be our cheap lunch option was, by a mile, our most expensive meal yet. This was Madrid.

Maybe not loving tapas?

Later that evening we joined a tour that we had previously booked. It was a tapas tour—virtually a repeat of what we had had for lunch. What we had believed to have been a cheesy-mash concoction in our earlier tapas turned out to be cod. Puréed cod. While this left four of us surpressing a gag reflex, Marsha, the one among us who dislikes seafood, helped herself to another portion.

The following evening we went to another previously booked engagement, a flamenco show. I have no words. It was passionate and beautiful. The gypsy-style guitar arrangement along with the rhythmical shoe tapping had me slightly standing and clapping the entire show. THIS WAS MADRID. (Dinner that night was tapas).

Of course we’ve enjoyed the museums as well making the nearly requisite stops at Prado and the Reina Sofia. We ventured out of the city boundaries to visit the Palace of el Pardo where Franco ruled until his death in 1975. Our tour guide (as a guided tour is the only way to visit this working palace) explained that half of Spain’s population would still vote for Franco if an election was held today. This was surprising news as Franco’s alignment with Mussolini and Hitler in WWII clearly puts him in enemy camp to those of us from the US. At any rate, the palace was a highlight for me but, sadly, no pictures of the beautiful tapestries inside were allowed.

At Prado
The only place photos allowed at this beautiful royal palace
At Reina Sofia before I knew no photos were allowed

Possibly the second highlight of Madrid was the hamburger we bought for lunch at a restaurant with locals only and a server who spoke zero English. Ah, the savory taste of a burger after all that tapas.

Sweet, Jesus. We could eat a burger here

Happy and laughing (and giving away any secret that we were American tourists) we boarded the train to head back to our apartment in central Madrid. The train car was crowded with bumping and pushing. When we disembarked Judy noticed her new (vintage) purse she had purchased in Paris had a gaping hole in it. Her first thought was it had been a bad purchase. But then it became clear the hole had been caused by a razor or sharp knife. The pickpocket got nothing from her except perhaps to steal a piece of peace.

Examining the slush by an attempted pickpocket

We went back to our lux apartment with the plan of going back out, Spanish style, around 8pm. This never happened. We sat and had a plate of cheese (confiscated from our restaurant platter earlier in the day), sipped Cosmopolitans made by Marsha from a juice which strongly resembled cranberry juice, and enjoyed our last full day in “The most Spanish of all cities”.

This was Madrid.

[All photos mine and copyrighted]


  1. That pickpocket (or, in this case, pickpurse) must have been a real pro to have made that slash (and presumably reached vainly inside) without Judy noticing. But for her sake, better a sad slasher than a mad slasher (if you’ll pardon a bad pun).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We think he or she was hoping the contents would fall out as Judy disembarked. Or at least loosened so they could their hands in the purse. It’s sad because Judy was clutching it like I told her but they slashed the side.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You know i lived in Madrid and visit every year. Wé say from Madrid To heaven and a hole in thé sky To look down on it everyday. Thé USA was thé biggest trader with Franco even military bases there i played baseball at US air force basé Torrejon de Ardoz outside Madrid.Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow – the pickpocket situation….sorry that happened. I’m glad nothing was taken and always shocked (but not really) at what people will do to steal from another. Thank you for sharing this because now I’m aware of another type of thievery when traveling on crowded public transportation in large cities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And just last night a pickpocket got my husband’s wallet from his front pocket on a crowded metro train. We have made a pact to never climb onboard a crowded train again. We will walk or wait. So disappointing.


      1. Oh no! What a headache and a stressor trying to cancel all cards and replace them. It is disappointing isn’t it, that people will purposely steal from others. It is difficult to be on the receiving end of the ugly side of human choices and actions.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was a shocker but then we decided to let it roll off our shoulders. Someone is out there enjoying our $100. We’ve canceled our credit cards and still have a debit card so we will be fine. Thanks for stopping by!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Spain comes in many shapes and sizes, having been created by the union of its multiple geographical and cultural regions, now called Comunidades Autónomas. My Dad was from Andalucía in the south and my Mum from Galicia in the north west. I, with 5 of my siblings, was born in Alicante, part of the Valencia Autonomous Community in the east. I lived in Madrid for a year as a student and worked as a waitress in Catalunia during the whole summer of 1984, saving money to come to the UK to study English. They are all very Spanish in their unique way. I am sorry you had a bad tapas experience, as they can be marvellous, delicious and quite economical. You must have gone to the expensive ‘Tourist Trap’ area. Next time, follow the locals. You know, when in Rome…

    Another tip, everyone agrees (including me) that the best city for tapas is San Sebastián, in the Basque Country in the north. 👍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes I’m certain we fell for the tourist trap. It felt so vulnerable not being able to speak the language although I studied in my own way for six months leading up to the trip. It is a beautiful country and I loved every minute. I just want to go back now as Toledo was marvelous.

      Liked by 1 person

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