October 6, 2019
First, an explanation. Last spring while hiking the Camino de Santiago and blogging, our experiences outran my writing.
‘I’ll finish when I get back to the United States’, I thought, confident that I could put our adventures in a few short paragraphs.
I was so wrong! Life kept moving as we returned to the USA, and, 3 months later, I still haven’t finished writing about our pilgrimage in May and June!
However, the time to return to Spain and continue walking the Camino had arrived. So, on Friday, Jay and I boarded an airplane and flew to Madrid.
Today, our first full day in Europe since last June, armed with a map and determined to thumb our noses at the nine hour time difference, we walked. My body protested vociferously, but I persevered, encouraged by sunlight slowly working to change my internal clock.
We walked from our hotel, on the Calle Atocha, to the Palacio Real and the Catedral de la Almudena. Though mass was partway over when we arrived, the sound of the organ encouraged us to go inside. Jay and I squeezed between tourists parading across the back of the sanctuary and stood by the wall to listen, taking in the soaring arches, frescoed ceilings, gilt decorations, and the atmosphere of concentration as worshipers participated in communion while the organ and a pure soprano voice gave glory to God.
Continuing on, we came across a street musician playing an accordion. When he began skillfully playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Jay and I found a park bench. I closed my eyes and let the music transport me, the interwoven melodies speaking of friends, nature, and God’s love.
We continued walking, seeing many buildings and statues, including the Plaza Mayor and the Puerta del Sol, both places crammed with Spanish history.
Eventually, we came to the Puerta de Alcalà, a huge gate, built in 1778 as part of the Paredes de Felipe IV. The Calle de Alcalà had featured prominently in the Pimsleur language tapes we had practiced at home. We were bemused to find our feet treading where Spanish lessons had led us. Jay took a picture of me in front of the Puerta de Alcalà to commemorate the serendipity of the day.
The best part of our large exploration of Madrid was walking through the Parque de El Retiro. We enjoyed seeing the Monumento Alfonso XII next to a lake with small barcos (boats).
A short walk through beautiful trees and across green grass brought us to the Palacio de Cristal, a gorgeous building of glass.
Two young musicians played a waltz by Verdi on violin and bassoon. What fun to hear them!
After even more walking, we ate dinner at our favorite Spanish fast food restaurant, The Good Burger. I was tired but happy from all the sights we’d seen. Madrid, crammed with people, buildings, history, and beautiful parks, had given us a full day.