Monday, June 23, 2008

Day 131. A walk through Madrid

Today is Friday, and Maria Eugenia and Juan work only half day, so I went to meet them at the clinic at 2 pm, so we could go to lunch together. We went to a small taberna that they like, to enjoy some traditional Spanish cuisine. I had a salpicón de mariscos (seafood salad) and an asadillo de cordero (lamb liver in a tomato sauce), accompanied by very cold cider.

Afterward we went for a walk, meandering through the streets and plazas of this city of palaces. Juan is an excellent tour guide, and since he knows a lot about the history and legends of Madrid he kept an easy flow of facts and fiction about the places we visited. In brief, Madrid was little more than an Arab alcazar (garrison) during the Middle Age, and a small unimportant village during the Renaissance, so it doesn’t really have any really old buildings or Roman ruins. It was not until the mid 1700’s that Felipe II brought her into the limelight by deciding to make it the capital of Spain. From those humble beginnings it sky-rocketed into life and, particularly under the reign of Carlos V, experienced a veritable frenzy of construction. Most of the buildings are thus less than 200 years old, and very handsome indeed. The tourist has to remember to look up, however, to enjoy the full impact if its architecture.

Maria Eugenia took the chance to disappear into El Corte Inglés (a chain of very nice department stores) while we were looking at the few remnants of the three walls that encircled the city when it was an alcazar, a village, and finally a young capital. We walked along what used to be the moat of the village, looking at the old hostels that were there to attend to the needs of the traveling merchants, and finally came to the museum of the city, where the well of San Isidro is located. Legend tells us that his son had fallen into a deep and narrow well, and that the saint asked God to help the little boy; miraculously the water inside the well started rising, carrying with it the floating boy all the way to the top. San Isidro is since then the patron saint of the farmers, who ask for his intercession whenever they are faced with droughts or floods.

We finally came back to El Corte Inglés, where Maria Eugenia and I decided to go to the movie theater to see the latest Indiana Jones movie. Juan had to attend a meeting, so he said goodbye. We came to the theater and, rats, the movie had started 15 minutes earlier. So we bought tickets for the next show, and killed two hours window shopping, and visiting shoe shops and bookstores.

Later that evening we enjoyed Indy’s adventures very much. We are both fans of the character and, though the story line seemed a bit in the outfield, we got our fill of the close escapes that are the trademark of the famous archaeologist. Granted, the previous movies were better, but let’s remember that The Three Musketeers is not the same as Thirty Years After (the first Indiana Jones movie must have come out in 1980, so the comparison is quite a propos).

No comments: