You would think that with temperatures in the 100s that Katie and I would be taking it easy in Spain. Despite drinking lots of water and walking slowly, we still managed to fit in a lot today.
This morning for breakfast we stopped at a cafe right next to our hostel for churros with chocolate and coffee (caffe con leche for Katie and cappuccino for me). The churros were not as sweet as the Mexican-style ones we see a lot in Chicago, and the chocolate wasn’t inside the churro. It came in a mug that you dipped your churro into. It was good, but after a while, my stomach told me I’d had enough fried goodness for one morning! I was actually glad the cappuccino was a little more bitter than the ones I had in Italy.
After breakfast, we walked through the Plaza del Mayor again on our way to church. This morning it had sort of a mini flea market feel to it. There were lots of tables of people selling collectible stamps and coins, as well as currency from various European countries before the Euro took over.
We arrived at church (San Isidro) about 20 minutes early, so we had time to walk around. It’s a beautiful church with lots of statues of Mary.
Two things I’ve noticed about churches in Spain so far:
1) They have a lot of saints that I don’t recognize depicted in their churches, which is not something I noticed in Rome. Why is it the Italian saints are well known, but the Spanish ones aren’t?
2) They seem to like dressing up Mary in a Spanish sort of style, which isn’t really surprising. Think of how many Renaissance artists made the holy family look like they lived during Renaissance times. Every culture seems to adopt Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to look like one of them.
After Mass, we went to the big flea market that’s only open on Sundays and just down the street from the church. It’s so big we didn’t even see all of it before we tired out and stopped for some fruit, snacks, water, and juice at a local supermarket. The flea market is pretty much what you’d imagine a flea market in Spain to be like. It’s hot, it’s crowded, you get elbowed from time to time, and there are lots of different tents selling goods, but a fair number of them seem to be selling the same kinds of things and you wonder if the guy at the next one is going to sell that folding fan with the flamenco dancers on it for less than the guy you just bought one from. Other things being sold: Spanish t-shirts, kids’ clothes, Levis jeans (no kidding), jewelry, paintings, key rings, magnets, and hats.
Then we headed off to see the Royal Palace. Along the way. we stopped at the cathedral, which is called the Catedral de la Almudena. Katie and I stopped in for a few photos and a little more time to pray. The church is really pretty and bright inside. Also, they had some recorded music playing (chanting kind of music), which I think helped maintain a prayerful attitude inside.
Then we headed to the royal palace, which is really just next door. They don’t let you take pictures inside, but we saw a lot of the old royal apartments. The current king of Spain (Felipe VI) became king on June 19, 2014, so he’s only been king for a little over a year.
Then we walked the royal garden for a bit and sat in the shade fanning ourselves with the fans we bought.
Then we found a Haagan-Daz ice cream shop. We stopped in for dessert, air-conditioning, and the free wifi.
Finally, it was time to head out for flamenco dancing. Katie had ordered us tickets for the 8:00 show. We ended up with front-row seats in this theater that would remind a lot of people back home of a stand-up comedy club.
The dancers were really good. Their feet moved so fast they reminded me of a mix of Irish dancing and tap dancing.