Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Madrid then Santiago de Compostela

Phew it is hot. The country is scorching today and I have memories of 2003 when the heatwave struck Europe. Let me start back in Madrid ....

Madrid - July 5
We started at the same cafe in Plaza Mayor as yesterday for desayuno because Kees wanted Vicente to taste their tostadas con tomate . While sitting in Plaza Mayor the Royal Guards on horseback started to assemble, then came the horse and carriages. While walking to the palace Vicente mentioned that although he had called earlier the palace would be closed. If a Royal function is taking place the Royal palace is closed, the King does not live at the palace he only performs royal duties there. Vicente was correct, however, what was to be a visit to the Royal Palace turned into a Royal treat.

Four ambassadors were being presented to the King, the horse guards in front of a black limousine then more horse guards followed by the horse drawn gold carriages. On arrival at the palace the Royal band plays the Anthem of the Ambassador as the limo passes them. The ambassador is taken through an archway to the palace in the limo, he presents his papers then leaves in the horse drawn carriage. This went on all morning and we saw three presentation parades. I thought of Andree and wondered how many times her father had been presented to a King, Queen, or President and was she with her parents at the time.

We visited the Cathedral opposite the palace which is gothic in design but with modern decorations. The cathedral is highly colored inside but simple, not over done. I loved this Cathedral, as did Kees, but Vicente who is an art dealer, is not happy with it. Again it was a hot day so across the street is a famous Vermouth bar where we sat and had a drink. This time in Spain I have learned how to order my decaf iced coffee so I am a happy camper. Meanwhile Laura, Vicente's maid for twenty plus years and now friend, was preparing a wonderful lunch for us at home.

What a treat to be staying in a family home in Madrid. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of salad, then swordfish cooked Laura style followed by melon and pastries. Kees was off on an earlier train than me so it was farewells and thanks, thanks for a wonderful time in Madrid Kees and Vicente. I have grown to understand and appreciate siesta especially in this heat, so while Kees and Vicente went to the train station I went for siesta. More Chinchon later in the evening where I did win a game but Vicente came up with Chinchon, a same suit straight, in three hands for the next game. It was a perfect end to a lovely day and a fantastic visit to Madrid.

Santiago de Compostela
I arrived yesterday morning in this wonderful city of pilgrims and tourists. It is very crowded with bus loads of tourists, groups of students, and village folks all in same color shirt with their village (or country) name proudly displayed. I understand that folks want a souvenir from SdC but why do they buy a walking stick with shell and gourd and walk around like a pilgrim without the obvious signs of blisters or injuries.

To see the pilgrims arriving brings back many different memories for me. Some with injured knees and ankles obvious by the braces and others with many plasters all over their feet and toes (seen when wearing sandals). They are limping and walking slowly, this was me in 2002 and 2007 before I worked on blisters and had many, ouch, and then in 2008, 2009, and 2010 with my knee problems.

This year backpacks are not allowed in the Cathedral so a backpack area is available in the building beside the Pilgrim Office. Pilgrims can leave their backpacks while searching for their needs in SdC (hotel/albergue etc.) or visiting the Cathedral.

Yesterday, when I saw the line to pass through the Porta Año Santo I thought oh no, not in this hot sun. For those who do not know, this door is only open during the Saints year and people come from around the world to pass through it. I asked the guard for the best time to visit, he told me 0830, 1500, or 1900 so before three o'clock I sat at Rolf's Bar and called Rolf to let him know I was once again thinking of him in Santiago. Not only Rolf am I thinking of my special friend Rolf but there are many pilgrims friends who come to mind, Roland, Kees, Wolf, Kim, Bauke, Maureen, Martin, Connie, Aard, Ashley, Steve they are all special people to me. I watched the line get smaller and smaller ... then went over and joined the line, I was in through the Porta Año Santo in ten minutes. This year you pass through the door and are directed one way through to Saint James then down to the crypt and outside. The Porta Gloria in unfortunately still undergoing reconstruction and cannot be seen. There are new Museo displays open for this year and it is excellent. I had a wonderful day rediscovering SdC.

I tried to load photos for the Blog but am afraid the computer is going to select all photos on my disk, so sorry no photos.

World Cup Semi Final
Spain vs. Germany

I just have to post this .... today on television I have seen twice the little dig at Germany: Adios Alemania/otro vez/podemos (Goodbye Germany/another time/we can). The folks are all wearing the Spanish colors or draped in the flag and the game is about to begin .... more later.


  1. Anonymous8:38 AM CDT

    Hey Luiza: Sounds as if your adventures just get better and better. Madrid is someplace that I would really like to see. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to go. I have been following Katie's blog. She crashed her bicycle in Holland into barbed wire, but was ok, just a few scratches. They really enjoyed Denmark and dancing and met wonderful people. They are now on to Germany and France. Continue on your journey and adventures with blessings from The Saint. Have a wonderful time and good luck. Love, Dawn

  2. WoW sounds fantastic.... yes I did crash and burn but got back on the "horse" so to speak and rode to town today to shop.... actually we leave for Paris tomorrow then the Loire Valley coming back to Haarlem thru Germany by next Monday night. It is not so hot here in Haarlem....quite comfortable really...and you know what a great host Paula is....keep on keeping on....and we'll see you when we all get back to TEXAS....

  3. Thanks Dawn and Katie. Poor you Katie but good you for getting on the horse again.

  4. And now it is all over. I am sad for Germany, they had played so well during the last month. However, the game is what it is!! The weekend will see Nederlands and Spain, two teams who have never won the World Cup. So it will be a special game.

    I trust all is well my wife, enjoy your coming chores at the Refugio.

  5. I will watch with interest for Kees (Nederlands) and Vicente (Espana) Sunday night. Whichever team wins it will be good, but it will be crazy here in Spain if they win.

    Thanks Garry, I am getting ready to move on but have the time to go to Sue´s talk in the morning which is fortunate for me.

  6. Best of luck to Spain on Sunday!

  7. Thanks for the thought!
    Take care, and enjoy the giving back.

  8. Ashley you are with me along the way ... as I pass places with memories of you and Steve.

    The giving back is about to start and it was so nice to be at the albergue today. Ave Fenix is not for all but it is one of my favorite albergues along the camino.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. The Solitary Walker

    It was magical being here in Spain last night. To see the happiness on the faces of all was heartwarming. The Spanish are so good to us pilgrims that it was wonderful to be able to congratulate them on their victory over the Dutch.