I was on my way to Madrid, Spain where I would meet my daughter, Claire, who had been living in Italy. We would have a couple of weeks together to vacation in Spain. I arrived in London in the morning, and had until 6:30 PM (cheap flight-bad connection!) to wait. I took the train into Victoria Station and decided right then and there that my hair needed attention. There was a beauty shop just outside of Victoria station that cut and colored my hair, after which, at the recommendation of my hair stylist, I took the tube to Oxford Circus to have lunch at an Indian restaurant. After a really nice lunch, I took the tube and then the train back to Gatwick airport where I slept on a bench until it was time for my flight.
The next morning our first order of business was the Prado Museum, where we saw the beautiful Velasquez, Murillo, Goya, El Greco and H. Bosch paintings. The Prado is really something to experience—a stellar collection. After lunch at a coffee bar, I went back to the hotel for a nap, and Claire carried on by herself.
Later we took the metro to the Auditorio Musica and heard the National Chorus and Orchestra of Spain perform Haydn’s Mass and Tschaikowsky’s Pathetique Symphony. In spite of a not-so-good director, we enjoyed the music and the intermission champagne, with which we celebrated being together again after a whole year of Claire’s living in Italy. After the concert we took a bus to the Restaurant Alkalde where we dined on salmon with Bearnaise sauce, good house red wine and espresso.
Monday, we rented a car and left Madrid for San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a huge palace-monastery built in the 16th century by Felipe II as a thank you to God for helping him defeat the French. Unfortunately, it was closed on Mondays so we could only see this “eighth wonder of the world,” as it is called by the Tourist Board, from the outside. We moved on to Segovia, a beautiful town with wonderful old 11th and 12th century Romanesque churches, and a huge aquaduct that was first built in Roman times. The 16th century Cathedral was built on the site of a previous Romanesque church and contained within it a magnificent doorway from the old church.
Our dinner that night was at Meson del Candida where we enjoyed Cuchillilo asado (roast sucking pig), salad, chorizo from the pot, wine, and a dessert of Baked Alaska with coffee ice cream! What a tour d’ force! After dinner we walked in a misty rain in the twilight to the Alcazar, a castle resembling Mad Ludwig’s castle, with turrets, towers and witches hats, which the town fathers claim was the inspiration for Disneyland, although Mad Ludwig’s castle usually carries that honor. The misting added to the ambience!
Tomorrow we shall explore this further.