We had a horrible night's sleep. It was so, so hot in our room, and we're having pillow problems. It turns out that I bought the winner travel pillow at the airport, thank you Brookstone, and between the heat, the caca pillows, and the jet lag, we barely slept. But, somehow we fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning. When we woke up, it was about 11:30. We figured we could still make it to Segovia for the day, but wanted to run a load of laundry first. That was a mistake. We tried everything, but the washer kept going, and wouldn't let us extract our clothes. We ended up giving up on Segovia for the day, and spent the day relaxing around Madrid.
For lunch, we wanted atmosphere, so we went to the most touristy place in the city, Plaza Mayor. There's a Plaza Mayor in every town and city in Spain, as it just means biggest plaza, or main plaza. This being the most famous, it is packed with tourists, and rightly so. It is a beautiful place. But, where there are tourists, there are inflated prices. What would have been a meal of about 5 euro anywhere else, was about 30 there. Serves us right. We'll never eat at a tourist attraction again! But, like I said, nice for ambience and people watching.
Then, we went on a mission to find delicious olives. We ended up walking towards where I used to live, Anton Martin, to visit the market where they have a wide variety of freshly brined olives. As with anything in a foreign country, at any moment a storefront is likely to be closed. So, we ended up finding some canned olives in a little store instead. But the walk was not for nothing, we bought some of my favorite candies in one of the stores I used to frequent. Gumi huevos (gummy eggs)!
That night we went to find more places to tapear (eat tapas). Seth needed to try patatas braves, and pulpo a la galiciana and he needed to ingest more JAMON!! The first stop was to my old stomping ground, La Zapateria. This was the first place I went to eat the first time I visited Madrid, and was my favorite place when I lived here. I learned that one of the reasons I probably liked it was because of their wide variety of vegetarian options. But those vegetarian days are over, and the chorizo was good!
We went to a few places after that, but finally ended up at Las Bravas. A sort of chain, but they have amazing brava salsa. It's a red tomato based sauce with heavy amounts of paprika and a touch of spice. It's really tasty and it's drizzled over thick chunks of fried potato. Delicious! We also ordered the octopus (pulpo). This is one of my favorite treats. They serve it in olive oil, sprinkled with paprika and coarse salt. It was so tender and full of flavor.
We woke up the next morning, with the help of an alarm, and went to Segovia. Though we had a bit of an adventure following Alberto's handmade map to the train station, we made it just in time for a bus. The ride was short and easy. We walked through the town to get to their beautiful, old, roman aqueduct. It's one of my favorite sights in Spain. Our plan was to see the castle and eat cochinillo, roast suckling pig. We did half of that. Though we have been excited to try the local dish of cochinillo, something about the bus ride over made us a bit car sick, and devouring a fatty baby piggy didn't seem like a good idea. But, we made it to the castle, and that was beautiful. It is said that Walt Disney modeled his castle to look like the one in Segovia. There are definitely similarities.
After wandering around Segovia for a while we made our way back to the bus station, where we caught a ride back to Madrid. I believe we both nodded off for some time during that trip. After dropping off our things at Alberto's place, we headed to the nearby store to pick up the ingredients for tortilla, a spanish omelet of eggs and potato. It was a really cool market where three different vendors sold different products, a nice collaboration. And, the best part was, it was super cheap. The cost of food in Spain is amazing compared to the US, especially Los Angeles. For about 7 pounds of potatoes, 2 onions, a pack of chorizo, and 12 eggs it was about 6 euros, which is about 10 dollars. If only...
We then had to do a bunch of horrible planning/arranging of trips. The internet was down at Alberto's house, so we had no way of contacting anyone, including ticketing agencies and train stations. And, we had to swap our train ticket to Pamplona for one to Barcelona. After waiting till the last minute, we couldn't wait for Sloane's friends to pull through in order for us to go to Pamplona. It was either sleep on the streets (with all our stuff) or cancel Pamplona. So, we went to the train station to buy tickets to Barcelona. That took a long time. We had to find internet to see if we could Skype with the ticketing agency, but the sounds in the train station were too loud. We ended up writing them a letter to cancel our tickets, and we're hoping that they go through. And we bought (after a million little problems like our tickets not coming out of the machine after payment) tickets to Barcelona.
Finally making it home, Alberto began to teach Seth how to make tortilla. That was fun to watch. Our plan is to find people to teach us a recipe (well, more like teach Seth a recipe) to bring home. This was our first. We, then, feasted on our two tortillas along with jamon, olives, and cheeses with Alberto's two roommates, Jorge and Ruben. It was a nice way to spend our last evening in Madrid, having dinner with our amazing hosts.