Madrid, the capitol of Spain, has castles, the most museums, the largest Plazas and the busiest streets. We found out quickly that the roundabouts work well here because when you make a mistake which is easy to do and you need to turn around you just go to the next roundabout and go the other direction. The parking under the streets works well too to get you where you want to be the closest to. They have shopping for everyone except gun enthusiasts since Spain has a law against owning guns.
One of the restaurants that Natalie showed us was one her father in law said was his favorite. He travels to Madrid a lot so we took his suggestion. And we are so glad we did. It is called Las Cuevas De Luis Candelas and it is under the main square in a cave. The sangria was filled with different kinds of fruits, the salmon was grilled to perfection, the salad was cold and crisp and the ice cream was just enough to share. At the end of the meal they brought us a small cup of strong black hot coffee and that was perfect to end the afternoon with. We just added a lot of sugar and cream.
After days of traveling to visit all these small historic old towns here in Spain, it was time to do as the Spanish people do to relax and beat the heat, 100 + degrees. So we drove about thirty minutes north of Merida to Extremadura. Aqua Libera certainly did their research before they opened this Roman House. It was built and operated like it was 2000 years ago when the Roman’s occupied this area. The day passed so quickly as we had massages and sat in the baths and relaxed under the shade. The people were so helpful even without speaking English. The way they treated us needed no language. It was a warm and universal caring that came through. Even their dogs were especially respectful as they wondered around the spa stopping to sit with each of us for a moment as we relaxed and read books we had brought with us. I will be going back for dinner some evening after 10:00 pm, of course, to experience the ancient recipes they studied to prepare here.
The Mediterranean diet is an easy diet to be on when you’re in the Mediterranean. Everywhere you go things are cooked with olive oil or they put it directly on your salads and you can dip your bread into it. Their tapas is served the minute you sit down, and it consists of olives or small dishes of cut up tomatoes and herbs with olive oil, or just small plates of anything for you to nibble on while you wait for your meal. Your meal is never heavy with flour coatings and fried. And talk about salads, the lettuce is paired with a variety of healthy choices like avocados, artichokes, very flavorful tomatoes, onions, red peppers, fresh corn cut right off the cob, legumes and any kind of seeds and nuts. The dressing is olive oil and vinegar, of course. It looks as pretty as it tastes.
Olive oil is added to shampoos, lotions and conditioners as well. It feels very soothing on your skin and helps with the dry heat to keep your skin soft.
We decided to drive just an hour north of Merida for dinner and see yet another one of Spain’s small historical towns. It was a little deserted at first but the time there was only 7:00 pm, a bit early for most Spaniards to eat dinner. So we walked up the hill, following the sounds of bells until we found the old church where they originated. As the sun began to set the people started coming out, and talking to them was one of the most unique situations we have had. The conversations began in a restaurant that had a seductive feeling about it as the lights began to come on. Everyone was so receptive to us too and it started with our waiter. With David interpreting, we had a very informative conversation with him. We learned that Spain does not allow their people to own guns and that their crime rate is very low. He said “I have a knife and that’s all I need!” He also proceeded to tell us “what big balls” our president has and that they admire him. Then later, we got into another conversation with a man and his family from Egypt. Again, he was saying how our president is a businessman whose own pockets are full so he doesn’t need other countries to fill them with bribes. He thinks he’s really doing a good job of trying to straighten things out for our country, trying to get industries to set up there and giving them incentives to do so in order for more Americans to have jobs. He continued to say, “your president means what he says and will do everything he can to do what he says,” again saying how much he admired him. I’m not used to all this positive talk. On Facebook and in the media all the time you hear how bad Trump is doing, pointing out the bad and not letting go of past things. It was a fun and informative dinner, conversations that none of us were expecting.
Less than 3 hours away from Merida is Seville, Spain, famous for its flamenco dancers and bull fighting. It’s filled with old buildings that ooze history and charm. It has beautiful cathedrals and museums. The Seville University is close to the train tracks and bus stops which give it easy access for students. As David, Rebecca and I searched for parking we quickly found out the “P” signs everywhere did not mean parking! Instead they are a rating for hostels, “P” meaning cheaper ones, where an “H” meant more expensive. Both are clean and governed by the government, so either is fine to stay in. Now, this was nice to know, but back to finding parking. As we drove around and around David finally stopped right in the middle of one of the courtyards where a wedding was about to take place, got out, and talked with a policeman. Because David can speak and understand Spanish, he easily followed the directions. Turning right here and left there, our streets were getting more and more narrow with people and bicycles still coming toward us. We felt like Chevy Chase in his famous “European Vacation” movie. Honestly, we were all getting so nervous at this point because as the cobblestone streets became more and more narrow we were worried we might have to back out!! Eventually we found a road to take us out and it didn’t matter how far away we had to walk, we weren’t going down that path again. Time for lunch and sangria!