The sun came out this morning. There were blue skies for the first time. There was also a quite ferocious wind.
We started our day packing and checking out of the hotel, following a lovely long lay in (I do like these late check outs). We then set off for Starbucks. Only we didn’t make it.
One of the most famous cafes in Madrid is Café Gijón. It was the favoured haunt of such people as Orson Welles and Frederico Garcia Lorca, to name but two. It was established in 1888 and soon became the place for intellectuals to gather and debate the issues of the day. It is just across the main road from the hotel and Mirinda declared we should take breakfast there.
The interior looks exactly like it should and the waiter who served us was very friendly. This soon changed when he disappeared and another, typical Spanish waiter took his place. However, the nice waiter suggested I try some churro. What a brilliant idea. Churros are long, fluted fried doughy things. They taste exactly like toast. Apparently you can also get sweet ones but the savory variety make for a perfect breakfast. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mirinda enjoyed her fan, as well.
Suitably set up for the day, we decided to have a leisurely morning, wandering around the Royal Botanical Gardens. They were set up in their present location in 1781 by Charles III after starting life in another location. By the mid 1970’s, the garden was in a state of disrepair and a major overhaul was put in place. It was closed until 1981 when it was returned to how it was back in it’s heyday.
It’s all in terraces and squares, all very regimented. Dave would seriously like the squares.
Naturally, given the time of year, there were very few splashes of colour. So much so that these daffs really stood out.
Of particular note was the amazing collection of bonsai trees. 109 extraordinary tiny woodland scenes and standalone miniature trees. I expected very small deer to peek out from behind most of them. They were donated in 1996 by the former Spanish President, Felipe González and represent flora found in Spain. They really are amazing.
One other thing of great note in the gardens is a rather massive nose. It belonged to Charles III and is the most prominent part of his statue.
Time was marching ever onwards (stupid arrow of time) so we headed back to the hotel. There was almost a serious calamity when a very strong gust of wind whipped my hat off my head and sent it spinning across the pavement, towards a fenced off tree. I managed to retrieve it with Mirinda yelling “Hurry! Hurry!” and an old man singing a strange little song about spring to me as I picked it up. Mirinda said I needed Tom for hat retrieval, given I don’t run. She maybe right.
Back at the hotel, we collected the bag and Mirinda’s taxi turned up to take her off to the conference hotel while I left to catch the airport bus for my afternoon flight.
I have to say that having a Q code on my phone and no luggage, made my trip through the various bits of security at Madrid airport remarkably easy. As was the trip on the bus. The weather may have been lousy and some of the waiting staff, awful, but getting out of Madrid was very, very easy.
My trip home was okay but long. I left Mirinda at 1pm and walked into the cold and lonely house at about 9pm. The worst thing was that the builders had still not been! I’ll be writing to Dave tomorrow!
All in all, I rather enjoyed Madrid. It’s a small city, as cities go, and rather easy to get around. I loved the food, especially the sushi, which is odd. And the hotel was lovely, if you ignore the glass bathroom.