No rain, but it is getting colder
Tuesday and Wednesday, March 20 and 21, Madrid
Tuesday morning, the rain seemed to be over. The clearing skies brought colder weather, though. It was about 35 degrees at 8:00. It did not get a lot warmer during the day. There was also a cold wind.
At home, we might have opted to stay in, but our time in Madrid is getting shorter, so we went out. But the weather did make a difference: for the first time in our recollection we took 3 taxi trips in a single day. Usually, we only need a taxi to/from the train station or airport. Tuesday, we could only be out for a while before taking a taxi.
We started out at Mercado San Miguel for a small snack. While there I took pictures of perhaps the ugliest fish I have ever seen. I wasn’t the only one, either. People would go by, pull up abruptly, pull out a camera, and try to capture an image. One little boy would get close to the fish and then run back behind his father.
We decided to find the Hotel Indigo, where we would spend our last two nights in Madrid. We made a couple of false starts trying to follow the “shortcuts” but it was too cold to experiment with multiple routes. We gave up, temporarily, and went back to the apartment, by taxi, to warm up for a while. I should mention that we (Patricia) dipped in an out of stores while we were out. I observed that many of the small stores, most of which opened directly to the street with a single door, were unheated inside. They were COLD. I felt sympathy for the staff because except for being protected from the wind, it was like being outside. Mercado San Miguel is not heated at all—unless you count body heat from the crowds.
After we had warmed up, we resumed our search for the hotel. We ended up taking a long, but straightforward route. It looked like a nice place on a quiet street just off the Gran Via.
When we left there, we looked for a specific store that specialized in olive oil and gourmet foods. It was on the 9th floor of a place called Corte de Ingles (English Court). It was supposed to be just a short distance from Hotel Indigo. Using the GPS, I felt we were getting close but I could not pin down the location. Thinking that perhaps the building I was standing next to was blocking the satellite signal, I stepped into the plaza (and the cold wind). I am sure that you know what comes next: the building that was blocking the signal was the 9 floor Corte Ingles. We went inside to find a very modern, upscale department store. On the 9th floor is a place called the Gourmet Experience. It has all sorts of gourmet foods and small food booths. It is similar, in some ways, to Mercado San Miguel.
There are a couple of important differences. First, it is warm. Second, it has wonderful views of the west and southwest parts of Madrid. We had afternoon snacks, and took pictures from the balcony. It was a great find. We took another taxi back to the apartment.
In the evening, we did not venture far from the apartment to get dinner. We went to a place 5 minutes away. When we went in, there were a few other people, but by the time our food arrived we were the only ones left. There were not many people on the streets as we walked back which is very unusual in that neighborhood. Even when it was very rainy the streets were busy. We were not the only ones bothered by the cold. When I told one of the taxi driver “hace mucho frío” it got him started. He spoke so fast that I only got parts such as “No, it is not normal” and “It is usually 15 to 20” and, the classic for older people, “I remember when” all in Spanish, of course.
Wednesday was a moving day, our last until we leave for the airport early Friday morning. We woke to a temperature of 32 degrees, even colder than Tuesday. We got all packed up in good order. We took a taxi over to the hotel around 11 and the hotel stored our bags for us. Since we knew about the Corte Ingles, we headed over there for a cup of coffee (and some pastry, if the truth be told) and I took a few pictures of the surrounding area. We explored the store for a while—it was still cold outside—before checking into the hotel.
When we went out later in the afternoon, we decided to walk back to a restaurant near the apartment for a meal. We figured that the wind would be at our backs and we could take a taxi back. It was a great plan with only one small flaw: halfway there I realized that the restaurant would be closed for siesta. We decided to find an alternate. That turned out not to be such a great idea because while there were many open restaurants they were either a) empty, or b) too busy. Finally, we made our way back to San Miguel, where we had paella and pizza. It was cold enough that there were hardly any people in the Mercado, which made for a nice change.
In the evening we found a church that was just opening its gates. The outside was unprepossessing but the inside was very nice. The Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Carmen was built in the early 1600s. The church interior is in some disrepair now. There are many churches in this, the older part of Madrid. There is plenty to explore.
We went back to the 9th floor of the Corte Ingles to watch the sunset. Of course we had to get snacks to justify taking a table. It was a sacrifice, but we managed. The sunset was spectacular and we enjoyed the evening. We clearly were not the only people there with the idea of watching the sunset. That part of the building was full of people with cameras. Some of them were not at all shy about leaning across our table or shoving in behind us to take pictures.
So, despite the weather being cold, we had a good couple of days exploring.
Here is a track of some of our wandering on Tuesday.