Post lunch it was up to Grand Via and walk among the thousands of Spaniards out doing their regular shopping. Grand Via is a very fancy street but the level of the stores is decidedly middling – the designer shops are more centered up near the Prado in the Salamanca district. However, there is a trendy side street called Fuencarril which has many modern shops and cafes. It’s a pedestrian mall for most of its length and we like to window shop there. On the way down we passed the king of all Lindt chocolate shops with giant vats of truffles along the walls and down the center. We also stopped in at North Face and decided to solve our bulging suitcase problem by purchasing the brother bag of the two we have with us. It’s tree-frog green trim caught my eye and after a long discussion (under the watchful eyes of the store clerks) we decided to buy it. MLW had the brilliance to remember to ask for the VAT forms because on a purchase like this, we’ll get $50 back. Justifiably satisfied with our purchase, we wound down the afternoon with a dose of chocolate and churros at Valor, the store that started it all for us when we stumbled into it so many years ago in Valencia.
Probably the only major complaint I have about this apartment is that the bedroom is a tomb. As in there is no window. Well, there is a tiny window, about 18” square up in the wall with a blind over it but it doesn’t go out to an airshaft, it goes to the stairwell as I discovered early this morning when the automatic stairwell lights came on and woke me up. I thought “oh, the sun” but couldn’t figure out in my sleep addled brain why the sun kept turning off and on.
One of the great things about visiting the same old places is that you have absolutely no pressure to do anything at all. Madrid is also a funny city in that it doesn’t have a lot of historical sites, the kinds of things that get me out and standing in lines. It does have lots of museums (all done,) good day trips (all done,) great neighborhoods (mostly done,) and plenty of food (ongoing.) But once you’ve been here 5 times like we have, you can settle back and just roam around.
So that’s what we did this morning- a walk down Arenal, coffee, some time spent around the Palacio Real taking photos of street performers and some oddball Japanese woman doing Geisha poses in front of the daffodils. There were several hundred children on the steps of the cathedral in natty red and blue uniforms that really made you appreciate the positive effect that programmed clothing has on kids. They were a raucous bunch but sitting properly and taking directions from their chaperones.
There were a few police around on horseback and a lot of police around in cars and on foot. An older man sang opera, accompanied by a friend on accordion and a beautiful young woman posed silently in a black and purple Flamenca dress until you dropped some coins in her hat, when she sprang into a short dance, castanets and all.