Once I had had a welcome hot shower and Kate gave my feet a massage, we went out for a wander. It was a beautiful afternoon and we made our way via several shoe shops to La Puerta del Sol where we were entertained by the many street “statues”and cartoon characters who tout for the odd coin thrown in appreciation (or exasperation) by generous tourists!
We continued on to the Plaza Mayor where we found a sunny spot in a cafe and then spent a pleasant couple of hours in the sunshine drinking wine and tasting a variety of tapas.
La Plaza Mayor is beautiful; as you walk through one of the small archways that give you access from the surrounding streets you are faced wth a huge square surrounded by high ochre coloured apartments – tiered levels with ironwork balconies that look down onto the central with a statue in the middle. It is a delightful though busy and noisy place to sit by mid to late afternoon and probably gets even busier as the madrilenos and the tourists hit the restaurants by ten o’clock! It is ironic that the first public event to be held there was a beatification of Saint Isidror, Madrid’s patron saint, and then it was used later by the Spanish inquisition for executions of heretics.
There are people everywhere; children running around with balloon creations made by the many street vendors, young and old couples in their own worlds, tourists of all ages; families, singletons, school groups, young and old, travellers of all nationalities, colour and creeds, exploring the world, wandering, laughing, joking, pondering the world around them, people-watching, drinking, eating, celebrating, chatting,…. The cafes and restaurants are hidden under the arches but their sunshades and tables line the square and you can always find a sunny place to sit. There was the noise of laughter and chatter all around as well as the incessant and infuriating squeaking of one of the street vendors to whom we were tempted to toss a few coins just to send him to the opposite end of the square. But he is part of the scenery and atmosphere of the place so we decided to put up with him!
As the sun went down we headed back to the hotel. It has been a long day and I am ready for bed!