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Trip Report Dos Hermanas (2 sisters) on a train in Spain...

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Hi everyone, my sister and I are about to close a month in Spain...Madrid, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Nerja, Valencia, Peniscola and Barcelona..off to San Sebastian tomorrow..will post the first 'chapter'..if interested will post more,,,the story goes on...
A visit to the Marquis and the Trashy Tapas Tour….
Body clocks still need some more rebooting and I am awakening too early and unrefreshed, however the show must go on and the sister knocks on the door at 0900 also looking like yesterday’s bread, we are both a little weary…the weather has now turned unseasonably cool and we are undecided about what to do to fill in this morning,,,,we are hoping to take the second part of the city tour titled ‘Majestic Madrid’ at 3pm this arvo, so I need to come up with this morning’s plan…the sister is looking disinterested despite my attempts to motivate, but when I suggest that she either perks up at the idea of visiting the Museum de Callebro or we will be hitting the shops to stay out of the cold, her attitude is automatically adjusted and she puts up both her hands for another museum trip… (We all know that being sentenced to any time spent in shops is as palatable to Rosie as a term in Pentridge prison…)
A quick cab trip and we arrive at the Museum Carralbo, the 19th century home/palace of the 17th Marquis de Carralbo, a notable figure of the time, a wealthy merchant with an interest in archaeology, weaponry and any other interesting artifacts he could cram into his palatial digs….it’s a cheap entry at 3 euro plus 2 for the audio guide and we spend a pleasant hour and a half discovering how the wealthy lived in that time…the palace/home is beautifully preserved and is all gilt and wall to wall paintings, china, chandeliers and armoury. Many of his archeological finds are on show but it’s the house itself with it’s sweeping grand staircase, rich salons and dining rooms that capture my imagination. It’s nice to be able to view all of this so close up, in the bigger palaces the expanses of space are so huge some of the impact gets lost. This feels a lot more personal…there’s a magnificent ballroom and I can imagine swanning around in a crinoline begging the gentry to fill my dance card…
Thankfully the sister has been adequately entertained and has deemed this visit worthy of her effort to get there and says she has actually enjoyed the visit to the Marquis residence more than the Royal Palace, so satisfied with this excursion we return to Plaza Santa Anna and our favourite haunt the Bar Café Milan tucked around the corner to beg some warming soup from the sisters that operate the kitchen at this tiny bar….most of the seating is outside but the chilly wind is too cold for comfort and we find the only tiny booth in the window inside to enjoy an early lunch…at this point I need to comment on the wardrobe challenge of today, with the unseasonable snap in the weather, the temperature has dropped from a sunny 26C to a very cool 13C and rain is tipped for the remainder of our stay in the capital..as we have anticipated warmer temperatures right throughout Spain our wardrobes are very light on in the winter category and the sister’s selection of warmer items is particularly woeful…consequently she appears this morning in her makeshift winter ensemble of black socks worn with glitzy spangled sandals, a black long sleeved tshirt with a short sleeved t over the top with a large red design that clashes beautifully with her orange fleece…LOL…and I was hopeful that no-one would notice the purple heels of my socks tucked in my Maryjane travel shoes along with my too short summer length jeans…LOL Thankfully we are unlikely to meet anyone we know in Spain…Grateful for the black pashmina scarf I threw in the case and the extra black jacket, the wind whips right through to your bones down the narrow alleyways of the city…
Finally our soup arrives, a steaming bowl of bacony broth filled with chunks of bread, it’s delicious and hearty and we share the serve and then enjoy a tapas of their spicy meatballs as there are no croquettas today…Rosie is devastated, she is on a mission to discover the most perfect croquettas in Spain and the ones we devoured here the other day were fabulous morsels…the ‘hermanas’ (sisters) promise us more croquettas tomorrow and are treating us like royalty now they recognise us as ‘regulars’… Tiredness is overcoming us and I have scheduled in a nap early this arvo before we join the free tours group again for the 2nd tour of the city called “Majestic Madrid’ leaving from the Plaza Mayor at 3pm. We tuck ourselves in but sleep still eludes me however at least a little lie down has refreshed us a little and we make our way back to the main plaza…as it turns out not enough English speakers arrive for the tour and they can’t run it just for us….so disappointing and this has left a gaping hole now in my carefully planned itinerary as we were to take this tour finishing about 6pm and then join the tapas tour at 7pm…the guide is really lovely and is hopeful that we will join her tomorrow when the Majestic tour will definitely run for English speakers…
So what to do now?…we have to meet for the tapas tour at 7 and the starting location is a distance away so we move towards that spot and plan on finding a watering hole to relax and enjoy some people watching…a little plaza with a couple of funky cafes offer the perfect solution and are sheltered from the wind so we vote for wine over coffee and sit and plan for tomorrow’s tour of Toledo as I have now allocated Rosie the complicated job of booking the tour using her phone wifi…it’s pleasant kicking back and people watching and we move on from café to café until we reach our tapas departure spot and spend another hour there entertained by the gregarious gay man at the next table theatrically gibber away in Spanish and laugh hysterically with his friends.
Eventually the tapas tour crew meet at the red umbrella…it’s a diverse group of about 22 and we get underway after a short spiel from the guide about the Spanish tapas culture…we are to progress through the city to 3 different bars and will be served one drink and tapas…the first place we all cram in around formica tables and are served either a sickly sangria or beer..the array of dishes bought out are plentiful but the quality worse than a soup kitchen in the ghetto on a bad day…boiled chunks of potato swimming in an oily broth, a bland pasta salad flavoured with nasty bits of raw onion, pre fab stringy calamari and bits of dry bread topped with salami with paper rind still intact,,, the young backpacker from Tasmania is shovelling down everyone else’s leftovers, probably unsure as to where his next meal is coming from, and probably needs to line his tummy as he is on the pub crawl of the city once this tour is over.…my expectations were not high as this tour only set us back 14euro, but this ‘feast’ is largely inedible…however, the company is interesting of many ages from the US, Canada, Serbia, Spain, Korea, China and a few travelling Aussies thrown in and everyone is busy swapping travel stories..we move on to the next place, Rosie and I looking longingly in the windows as we pass by where more discerning diners are feasting on exciting looking dishes and washing them down with large glasses of decent vino blanc out of shiny crystal goblets…at the next pitstop we have to stand around the counters and the place is hung with legs of ‘jamon’, hooves intact, a vegetarian’s worst nightmare…a morsel of jamon here in a mini hideously sweet bread bun and a bottle of sickly ‘summer wine’ and then to the last establishment, a cider house with a smattering of tiny edible morsels that don’t fail to disappoint, but the barman entertains by pouring glasses of cider from a height, and then inviting other guests to have a go, not appreciated by the Americans seated close by whose jackets are getting sprayed with the sticky cider on the back….
We say arevaderci to our new friends and seek out a decent nightcap before turning in…the weather is not set to improve tomorrow but it’s time to get out of the city and explore what country Madrid has to offer…..L

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