Plaza Mayor, late morning. Look at the jet trails

Getting from Barcelon seemed very easy—except for the part about waking up at 5 AM to get out to the airport. Fortunately, the traffic Tuesday morning was much lighter than when we arrived on Thursday. It only took about 35 minutes. The flight was smooth and we arrived about 20 minutes early. Iberia got those 20 minutes back by making us wait well over a half hour for our luggage.

We have done the drive from the airport to the city so often that we can comment on how the road construction has (or has not) progressed. Madrid is like Chicago in that no matter which road you choose to follow, it is pretty much guaranteed there will be construction on it. Our taxi driver, who possibly learned to drive in New York City, wasted no time and took every advantage to keep us moving and even surprised us by going through a little tunnel we did not know existed. He dropped us off directly in front of our building, which is on a street where we thought taxis were not allowed.

The apartment seemed unchanged from our visit a year ago so it did not take us long to get setup and outside for our required shopping.  We ate at a familiar restaurant and had an early night.

The weather forecast for Wednesday was good. As in Barcelona, the day was supposed to begin in the upper 40s and have a high in the mid 60s. It’s the first part that you have to pay attention to. It may have been 48 when we went out, but it often felt much colder. Many of the streets we walked in the morning were in shadow and they felt COLD. Our goal for this first outing was just to get out and walk around. We did that. We wanted to see if the construction around Puerta del Sol, which clogged up the whole area last year, had finished. It had and the Plaza was open and full of sunlight and people.

Construction at Mercado Sam Miguel

From Puerta del Sol we took a path to Plaza Mayor which allowed us to discover streets we had never encountered before. We did that on purpose—honest! Plaza Mayor was busy, but most of the outdoor café seating was unoccupied despite the bright sun. We worked our way to Mercado San Miguel, the revitalized mercado which houses many food stalls and food vendors. We found that parts of it were hidden behind construction fences, indicating even more “revitalization” was going on. When we got inside we were happy to see that it had regained much of its former lively atmosphere. Last year, after COVID, it seemed kind of gloomy, even if it was busy. This time, it was just busy enough. We got some lunch—we had planned to wait to eat a big meal until evening—and actually found a place at one of the crowded communal tables to eat it. The paella was just as good as we remembered.

Churros y parras con chocolate

We took route along Calle Mayor back to Puerta del Sol and decided to walk through [another] shopping area to Grand Via–a really big shopping area. Since we were discovering new routes, we took a different path than usual. We did that on purpose—honest! We headed in the direction of the apartment but decided that, since we were out, we might as well try to find a good churros place. With a little help from Google Maps, we did that, even though we went well past the apartment. We are glad we made the effort though. The churros, parras, and [hot] chocolate were very good. Plus, we got to have a discussion with the staff about making churros.

All that food put an end to our plan to have dinner out. We have all the ingredients for a good night in: some wine, cheese, and crackers. Tomorrow we are going to the Prado. We haven’t been there since before COVID, and are looking forward to it.

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