Return to Madrid

August 25, 2015 - Madrid, Spain

Our train was to leave at 5:25pm so, after another filling breakfast, we left our bags with reception and went for a walk down to the El Greco Museum. After wandering a few back streets in the Jewish Quarter we arrived at the museum and went in to the peaceful gardens. The museum is in a 16th Century house surrounded by gardens and underneath part of the gardens are Roman Cellars which we explored before going inside.

The house is supposed to be similar to the house in which El Greco lived during his time in Toledo and is built around a courtyard like many quality houses of the time. The original benefactor also gathered furniture and other items of the correct period to give the house a bit more 16th Century character but the main thing is the artwork. There are many original El Greco works, paintings by his scholars (some finished by the master), some by his son and a few that are copies of artwork that is housed elsewhere. Some of those Margaret saw yesterday at the Cathedral and church. When seen side-by-side the paintings of the apostles by El Greco stand apart from those of his students and contemporaries so just being able to stand and compare made the visit worthwhile. After our visit to the house we walked through the gardens for a while and sat in the shade just absorbing the tranquility after the powerful vision formed by the art.

A stroll back through town took us past the shop of Enri, the Damascene worker Margaret visited yesterday, and we stopped in to look at his work again and to buy some earings for Margaret. We have seen Damascene work for sale in many shops, particularly in the tourist strip but the quality of Enri's work is evident. Enri's designs are so intricate and precise, all tapped out with his little hammer on a steel base. He has been doing this since he learned from his grandfather 56 years ago. He told Margaret 52 yesterday but since then had thought about it and realised it was longer. As he spoke to us you could see how much pleasure and pride he took from his work and he enthusiastically showed us how he could beat a piece of silver rod onto the black surface of steel and write his name and then remove it.

It was just after 2pm by then and Enri and his daughter were closing the shop for afternoon siesta as we left and I was tempted by the idea as well so we walked back to the hotel and I sat in the lounge area with a beer and a bowl of almonds and pistachios while Margaret went off for a last walk around the town. When she came back we ordered a taxi and went down to the station for the half hour trip back to Madrid. Even this short trip has a routine X-ray scan of the luggage before boarding. They seem more concerned here than I remember from France or the UK. On arrival in Madrid it was a simple task to get a cab to take us to the Ibis Styles Hotel which proved to be tucked away in a narrow little Calle where the traffic patiently waited as we unloaded. Our room was on the sixth floor, the top floor, and had a little terrace with a view of the rooftops and street.

The unpacking routine is just that by this stage but we really didn't need too many things out anyway as this was just an overnight stop and we were soon out for a walk toward the Plaza Mayor with the thought of a look at the market area and finding something for our supper. We followed the Calle de Prado dodging pedestrians, motor scooters and the occasional taxi while zig-zagging in and out of bistro tables until we found the plaza which itself was full of tables and filled with people. It was all a bit overwhelming for a hermit like me but we managed a bit of a look around and, after a cursory inspection of some of the menus, we headed back toward one of the pavement cafes we had passed earlier.

Once we were seated, by pouncing on a vacated table, I got my hands on a large beer which helped calm my frazzled nerves while Margaret found herself confronted by a mojito served in a large square vase about the size of a wading pool. In what appears to be traditional style, the drinks came with a little dish of nibbles. This time it was nuts and short bread sticks which kept us from eating the tablecloth while we waited for our tapas dishes to arrive. No, it wasn't a long wait, even for a busy place like this, but we were getting quite hungry by this stage of the night. Our friendly Cuban waiter was soon delivering some of our food and when a woman brought the last dish we asked her about the tomato based sauce on one of the others as I was concerned about garlic. She just laughed at the idea. She was the chef and it was her special sauce of tomato and onion and peppers with a little chilli and in a cream base, but definitely no garlic. Reassured we tucked in with relish, no with delight, the other was the special tomato sauce of the chef ... ha, ha.

Croquettas Cani contained ham, sausage, chicken, shrimp and cod all ground into a thick paste, rolled into a little sausage then crumbed and fried and tasted great;

Papas Arugadas which were roasted potato wedges with the suspicious tomato and chilli cream sauce, and simply wonderful;

Tabla Pinchos was crusty bread with thin pork loin slices topped with brie and caramelised peppers. I hope it makes your mouth water.

We certainly enjoyed them all and felt well fed by the end and in need of the walk home to the hotel. Before we left we talked some more to the Cuban waiter and got his recipe for Mojitos - mashed lemon and mint with sugar and club soda, topped with rum and lime juice and dressed up with lemon and lime slices and mint leaves. There are other variations that use bottled lemon squash but it is something we can experiment with later.


Pictures

El Greco Museum
El Greco Museum
El Greco Museum
Hotel Fontecruz
 
 

2 Comments

Sue:
September 4, 2015
Sounds s if you have been very busy on your photography tour.
Nice photos
Mair:
September 5, 2015
Lovely pics!
I thought you must have got lost
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