Last Saturday in Madrid

We have no more agendas on our last weekend, just wandering back to our favorite places and watching the throngs of people on the streets of Madrid. On Saturday we took the Metro to the Puerta del Sol station, just one stop from Lavapies but a long climb up the hill if you are walking.

Like all Metro stations, our Lavapies station is immaculate. Obviously, we had just missed the train, but the next one was only three minutes away.

On Saturday, Puerta del Sol is chocked full of people, tourists and residents alike, all out enjoying the beautiful fall sunshine.

Harry Potter invites tourists to ride a broom with him in Puerta del Sol. The bloodmobile behind him has been there for a week, not just Halloween weekend.

All the streets leading out of Sol are equally packed with shoppers, one of whom is Lynn. She was on the hunt and bagged a sweater and a top with a Spanish fringey decoration at the collar.

On a side street just off Puerta del Sol, a pair of costume characters take a break from entertaining tourists in the huge plaza.

We made our customary walk down Calle Major but halfway down, we cut over to a parallel street all the way down to the Opera, which stands across a small park from the Royal Palace.

Oddly on such a glorious weekend day, there was no line at the group gate of the Royal Palace. The formal ceremonial guards stood sentry down the street, two on horseback and two standing at attention. Off to the side was an army guard who was not ceremonial at all, holding his automatic weapon at the ready. He’s not the first we have seen.

Ceremonial guards on duty at the Royal Palace gate. Outside the frame to the right was a soldier in regular uniform, armed with an automatic weapon.

But if no one was in line at the group gate, there were plenty at the main gate, where the visitors wanting entrance snaked all the way back to the cathedral. We passed them by on our way back up Calle Mayor and Mercado San Miguel in search of a quick lunch and beer.

As expected, the Mercado was packed with people jostling about ordering from the food and beverage bars, then looking for space to stand and eat. We ordered more empanadillas and squeezed into the corner of a small table. Since we already had a beer, I just wanted to of the meat pies, but the menu included drinks, so the attendant gave me a third meat pie to compensate. She wanted to make sure I received my six euros worth of Mercado rations.

Since our route goes downhill back to Lavapies, we walked back to Plaza Santa Ana near our old hotel from last year. As we passed the salon where Lynn had just visited, we were surprised to see that the place was completely shut down. They must have closed up the day after doing Lynn’s hair and nails. A handwritten sheet of paper taped to the door gave the new address of the salon. Fermé. Closed.

Once back in Lavapies, we were in the mood for relaxing over a glass of wine, so we took a terrace table at one of the Indian restaurants lined up for two blocks along Calle Lavapies. The wine was a great bargain at 3.50 for two glasses, and we soaked up the sun and the sounds of the girl band playing on the sidewalk. But when we ordered another round of wine, we were told that the tables were for eating only, and if we just wanted to drink, we could go inside.

Not wanting to upset their profit structure, we got up and left.

It’s not that Lavapies is wanting for drinking establishments, so we walked down to the plaza to visit a cerveceria I had wanted to go in ever since we arrived here. There I was able to order two more glasses of wine for a grand total of 2.80. The numbers were definitely working in our favor.

So jammed with people over the weekend, you can barely squeeze in to order a glass of wine for 1.40. No wonder they do so much business.

Yet another band across the street caught our attention, this time playing brass-centric music that could have come straight from a Mardi Gras parade. Once again, our hood is rocking.

These guys wold be right at home in New Orleans.




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