MADRID AND ON TO AMSTERDAM

            Unpacking was now routine.  Anxious to see some of the familiar Puerto de Sol before dark I relaxed over a Chai Latte in a street Cafe and watched the world go by.   Walking back to my room, leisurely browsing the hundreds of restaurant offerings I ended up at BACOA, a specialty unique Hamburg place for their Classico Hamburg to go.  When I settled back in at my room, the TV wouldn’t work, not a major problem but I don’t like paying for a service I can’t receive. The night clerk offered no help but said the maid would fix it tomorrow.  The food was good and my internet connection worked well so I was content.
       Saturday morning bike race in the center of Spain…with breakfast at one of the local cafes

          I got a really nice sleep and was to meet Pilar for lunch today so had coffee at Dunkin Donuts while checking my email.  Pilar reminded me our lunch was for the 18th and today was the 17th, her work day. I decided to return to my room and then go on a city tour BUT my maid hadn’t fixed the TV or the shower as I had requested.  I went to the lobby so she could at least clean the room but she was busy doing reception, other rooms, complaints and requests.   
      Finally she got my room cleaned, I changed and headed for Retiro Park, one of my favorite places in Madrid.  It was a wonderful day.  A passing lady noticed my hat and yelled “Viva Mexico”.  I got the most exercise I’ve had since leaving Mexico in April.  I walked a lot of miles but took lots of breaks also. First my left ankle was killing me until I loosened my shoestrings.  Then it was the sole of my left foot.  I was taking breaks to sit every 50 yards! Then, being a bit dyslectic, I kept going in the opposite direction from what my GPS Google Map said until I ended up at the opposite end of where I wanted to exit, where I met a lovely young jogger at the park map trying to figure a way to get where we wanted to go without leaving the beautiful park. 

Line at the Prado Museum

          I pointed to the Map. Aqui.  She said are you American…Si…er yes…I’m from Nebraska, then jogged off.  I followed and saw her disappear into the park wishing I could have went with her. My problem was I didn’t want to leave the park until I found a bathroom. Free in the park but I have to pay in a place of business to use the bathroom and I was trying to save my money so I could afford a really nice glass of Spanish Wine. I found my way out of the park and to the Botanical Gardens BUT the entrance was on the other side. I took a few more breaks and finally made it.  The map showed a beautiful lush park with more to see than I had time for.  It was only 1/2 Euro for us Honored Citizens and I was tempted but my feet said NO.  Monday would be great and maybe time to take in the Prado Museum again.

       I decided a battery operated bicycle would be a good investment…I could drive on the main drag with it as long as I stayed in the bike lane, see all of Retiro park in have the time and return with enough energy to take in a play or something? I made a note to ask Pilar, she is a cyclist , about that tomorrow when we have lunch.  

       I made it to the Hostel Victoria, lightened my load and headed for the Puerto de Sol but got lost on the way???  I don’t know how but Feldman’s Hot Dog stand caught my attention.  I made a note for later then got back on track and after maneuvering the crowded Puerto de Sol I arrived at the Plaza Mayor.  None of the restaurants appealed to me as they all had the same menu with photos posted outside….all exactly the same.  I was taking some photos when a man approached me and started speaking Spanish…are you from Mexico…this is the second time when I wore my cap from Mexico.  He spoke English and I now realize the other man was conveying the same information.  The Statue of the Horse with King Phillip the 3rd in the Plaza Mayor was a gift from Mexico.  It is not notable as the style was not artistic…but if I go to the Palace, there is another gift of another statue similar of King Phillip the 4th that is done in Gothic style and is considered the best.  The other man was telling me about the Statue of a man on a Horse that was in the Puerto de Sol that was also supposed to have been a gift from Mexico.  I’ll have to Google it.  Both men were around my age and the last mentioned that these statues were gifts to Spain when Spain was one of the most powerful Nations in the world….but alas that is not the case today. Spain is in trouble, he said.

The Puerto de Sol Horse

Puerto de Sol Bear


        I decided to try and make it over to the Palace to photograph this magnificent statue when as I exited the Plaza Mayor I encounter the fabulous Madrid Market from hundreds of years ago.  I forgot about how nice it was when I saw lines of people entering the Market , so followed to see the attraction.  Most of the entire Market had been converted to Tapas Bars, Cheese Bars, Wine Bars, Sushi Bars, Seafood Bars, Oyster Bars, Beer Bars….it was heaven.  I ate oysters, tapas, seafood cocktails, drank wine, drank some more wine…and toddled home full and happy with plans to return.

Pilar..pointing the way

Canned Seafood…etc



       Pilar, my Spanish High School Teacher, friend that I met when she visited me about 8 years ago in New River, met me for lunch to today.  She gave me a tour of her neighborhood nearby where we stopped for Vermouth “On Tap” and free Tapas.  It wasn’t far from me and very enjoyable but PACKED with Spaniards. We walked over to the San Miguel Market where I was last night and had some more Tapas…then walked back to where she lived and had lunch at a sidewalk cafe. We both had salads and Moussaka.  Neither were that great but we had a nice day together and enjoyed renewing our friendship.
     I returned and booked my room for my return to Madrid and flight to Phoenix.
I also sent notification to Peter and Jeannette in Amsterdam of my arrival. I’m looking forward to seeing them and being back in Holland.
     I ventured out later for a snack and a walk. While enjoying my Tapas, I noted two couples from NY that had been to a Play called Swingers.  The woman was all over the other woman, stroking her hair and touching her while still snuggled with her husband.  The other woman was uncomfortable but polite while her husband was ready to leave.   Now back to an early night. Lots to do tomorrow. 
    Monday, Monday….oh I was all set to go when I broke my glasses for the 2nd time this trip so super glued them back together again.  I also got Tom Ware’s blog, one of our Anglos at Vaughan Town, so I will post it here for your reading pleasure.Tom’s Blog
       Last night I turned on Madrid TV station at 10 pm and there was one hot lady doing one good tease on another naked lady’s large nipples…then going down on her with more passion than any porn I’ve seen on the net. Then a flashback to a Catholic girl’s school where she was being called into the Head Mistress’s office and being punished for some offense. The punishment was get naked and be spanked…really hard core.  Then her classmate who was next in line went for her’s but after hearing the screams…she decided to turn the table on the Head Mistress by being the aggressor by being submissive but flirting…so both just had a great time. Then the first ran away to Madrid then lonely on the street got an offer from a rich handsome man to stay at his mansion…well I fell asleep after the Maid drew her bath among other things. Not because I wasn’t interested but I could have make it better. 
      Then today I had to get some long underwear for Amsterdam after I saw the weather report. I had tops but thought a bottom might be prudent. I visited Cortes Ingles , a huge upscale department store and arrive on the third floor menswear , undergarment department.  The Male Manager ignored me but his female assistant was curious when I told her 28 Euros for one pair of bottom long johns was ridiculous. She agreed and returned with a box of 14 Euro bottom long johns that were not on display.  I pawed through them but they looked small for my height so asked for XL but they didn’t have them.  She pointed out that they were ALL cotton…so I paid 14 Euros to stay warm in Amsterdam. 
      I then went to the 7th or top floor Cafeteria for breakfast, determined to have a healthy bowl of fruit salad , juice, and coffee.  But no where on the way were any Spanish restaurants offering fruit salad but I felt sure this upscale Department store’s cafeteria would…they didn’t. I settled for another Ham and Cheese Sandwich but with Illy Coffee.

 As I was paying the 3.25 Euro bill, (this time NO tip thanks to Pilar’s advice…they get a good salary and don’t expect tips) my glasses broke again.  Now I know I super glue is not the answer so I left for a Pharmacy and a pair of cheap reading glasses…if you can call 12 Euros cheap.  I had three pair at home, and three pair of back up glasses too…but three more weeks before reaching home.  They didn’t have the style I wanted so I walked out looking very gay in a two tone color pair of reading glasses that made me dizzy. 
         I headed for the Botanical Gardens which was so awesome, peaceful, beautiful and relaxing I really didn’t want to return.  

There was a Photo exhibit of well nothing.  This female photographer took photos of nothing in order to focus on nothing and bring it to life?  I had hoped to maybe understand what she was trying to convey so studied every photo looking for something…empty trash bags really didn’t come to life for me…so I moved on to another painter’s exhibit that was mostly flowers and really impressed me.  She also had paper machete statues with her art and incorporated it into furniture.  Her prices were reasonable but it was the first day of her exhibit and she wasn’t ready to sell anything.  Of course I don’t need anything anymore but might frame a couple photos I took.




     

  My tour of the Gardens took up 3 hours before I decided to head for the Tapas Bar that Pilar took me to yesterday for cheap eats and Sweet Vermouth. I climbed what seemed a Mountain to get there while taking frequent rest stops along the way until I arrived to a closed sign. 



The Horse by the Palace


       Then I remembered the man who suggested I go to the Palace Real or Santa Ana to see the one statue of the horse and rider given to King something or other the 4th by Mexico that was one of the best in all the world.  After traveling back to the Plaza Major, the San Miguel Plaza , then on through a Maze of streets I reached the Palace to discover a waiting line and admission prices. I went to information and discovered the horse was nearby in the Palace Park so took my pictures but was too exhausted to walk uphill all the way home so decided to take the Opera Metro stop to the Sol Metro…but saw a Costa Coffee Cafe advertising the most impressive cup of coffee ever. I asked for the most impressive cup of coffee ever and the Cashier was perplexed…Cappuccino, Latte, large , small, espresso…I replied no just the most impressive cup of coffee you have…black and for here.  I wasn’t as good as Lilly but came a close second so I ordered a Brownie and blew my diet. I then took the Metro to Sol and for dinner I went to Feltman’s Hot Dog stand.  He invented the Hot Dog in 1850 ish in NYC.  I ordered the NYC Hot Dog for 3 Euros and left full for Tapa’s and Booze close to home.  

         My nice Waitress from the Philippines served me a nice Riojos Wine with Olives and Cheese…then a Sweet Vermouth with Chorizo, then another , then another Riojos with Chips…I left satisfied to discover I leave tomorrow. I read the calendar wrong but the hotel didn’t.  Now I’m packing and hopefully will get in a museum tomorrow before I head for the airport. 

MELS DINER

Frieda and Diego

        I did but it wasn’t until 3 pm so too late so headed to pick up my bags and made the airport early after taking the subway. The plane touched down at Schiphol Airport around 11 pm.  

I bought my ticket but while waited for the train, I realized I forgot to have it stamped at the entrance to the track so ask this kind gentleman to watch my bag a minute and hurried upstairs to the entrance, stamped the ticket and returned to watch our train leave without us.  I felt bad for the guy but we took the next train but my stop wasn’t on that train so had to go into the center of Amsterdam then take the Tram to the apartment.  I arrived after Midnight but they were waiting to greet me.  We had a drink and I retired to my  room to discover a bottle of wine waiting with my hash pipe and hash from 3 years ago.  Some things never change.  

The view from my window.

Window cleaners on my street.

Neighbor

Waiting for his Master

Breakfast

Train station




      The next morning I had coffee then left for the train station to get my Chip-kart updated for another 5 years and to add some credit to it. I walked all around Amsterdam until late in the afternoon when I ended up at Mulligans for a Pint of Guinness and caught Miriam the owner just leaving.  

We chatted a bit and the same bartender was there with one other customer. His name was Brian and his mother was American and his father Dutch. He knew a lot about Mexico, Spain, Vietnam…for a young man.  He said history was a hobby of his. I returned in time for dinner.  Hamburgs and Cole slaw, delivered by the BurgerMiester and the best I’ve ever had! 

     The weather was unusually warm and sunshine so I took off again but stopped at Broers across the street for Yogurt, fruit and Musiela.

           I ventured to the Bulldog Cafe and bought a lighter and some Marijuana then ended the afternoon at my favorite bar on Walstraat near Peter and Jeannette’s but it had sold and the new owners did nothing but drive off the old customers and paint the place so I left. Jeannette had prepared a Tangine of Moroccan spices, Lamb and vegetables with a nice bread.  It was heaven.  We had a nice sweet melon after with wine of course. 



      I met with Ruth, a SERVAS member in long standing at UK-SERVAS who was visiting Amsterdam. We met at the train station at noon and took a tram to the Museumplein to see a Warhol-Bansky exhibition.  First we visited the Stadtick Contemporary Art Museum.  

          Ruth was very knowledgeable about art but this Modern Art never attracted my appreciation.


 We left without seeing the whole museum and went to the smaller exhibit in an old home.  The exhibit was small and took little time to see.  

Ruth and Queen Beatrix

The Wildshut restaurant and outdoor cafe was close and it was late.  We had dinner there and Ruth returned to see more of the Van Gogh museum she missed the day before.  
        I was determined to walk home so headed out in the opposite directions.  I got to our neighborhood a bit early so stopped into another new place called TapZuid.  

A converted Suriname Restaurant that now had 20 beers on tap plus imports from the states as well as organic wines and nice snacks.  The place was packed.  When I arrived at home, they had just finished dinner so we watched a bit of TV and I retired around 9:30.



       Saturday proved another glorious day and the end of this episode of my transition to Amsterdam.  I visited a Vietnamese Pho Restaurant and …had Pho.
Then crossed the street to the Saturday Market but after bumping into people and not seeing anything that interested me I returned to get my computer and headed for my “office” across the street for some Mint tea and play on the computer while listening to Bob Dylan, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” and a great music sound and selection.

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