The “fasten seat belt” sign turned of, I pulled out my kindle and secretly relished the fact that they were not able to seat me next to the kids and hubby. The journey toSpain, was at the heels of two or three rather crazy weeks both at home and at work to get the annual budget wrapped up before the year end and of course our vacation. A little quite chilling time would help me get in shape for the travels. The seven hours passed uneventfully, between some reading, a good glass of Tempranillo (yes, surprisingly good considering it was the airline selection) and a few hours of sleep. I was back inMadridafter a almost 25 years. I had visited ages back with my family. Most of my memories of that trip had faded, but I remember a great family dinner and discovering Paella for the first time and I remember being mesmerized by the art in Prado. My father and I did the museum and I am not sure what my mother did with my baby brother, some sort of shopping expedition of sorts.
We navigated our way and checked in to the hotel and picked up lunch nearby and savored an excellent bowl of Gazpacho. Well, looks like I had found a new love for summer. The kids were thrilled with their Mixto, something that was essentially a grilled Ham and Cheese sandwich and the rest of my meal was interesting. We came back in got a shower and wandered about the downtown area. The plazas that meandered into each other were charming with almost something for everyone. Walking cartoon characters all too willing to pose with the children for, “monorita”, roadside artists and everything in between. Walking and taking in the sights was nice, although the walking began to get to my suburban children.
Dinner was all about, “girl meets Tapas”. We went to La Latina, which is the Tapas Mecca of the city. We were a little earlier than the traditional dinner time or even a full blown Tapas hour. The bars were filled with people savoring chilled beers over soccer. The Euro Cup is huge here. I tried a Salt Cod torta, a crusty chorizo sandwich, some ham and marchengo cheese and a plate of seafood fritters. All of this was washed down with a cold glass of lambrusco.
The second stop called Tzakolina was actually recommended in the Lonely Planet book that we were using as a loose reference. This has a huge plethora of options, several variety of Basque style pinchos. I enjoyed these with a glass of basque wine, the Txakoli, and marveled at the bright light as late as8:20in the evening. By the time we reached our hotel, the sun was barely showing signs of an evening. We made an ice cream stop and this made the kids very happy and I just need an excuse to indulge my sugar addiction.
We went to bed with a promise of an early morning and covering theRoyal Palacebefore heading off to Raquena. Well, those were good intentions! We slept till11amand all of us woke up well rested and cheerful. My daughter was a little disappointed at not seeing the palace, but her mood improved as we started driving on A 3 and watching the amazingly clear and crisp somewhat arid landscape of the land. The trip we decided we would not have any absolutes but just enjoy what time would allow us to do.