I´ve not posted for a while and thought I must quickly find an internet cafe to send an update on the goings on with the SA pilgrims. We arrived in Madrid early on Sunday morning by overnight Alsa bus and were fortunate enough to find an agent at the main station who could help us with accommodation booking in the city. We got two double rooms at about 22 Euro each per night in the Sol district right in the centre of Madrid – perfect location and value for money. Marieke spent another day in Fisterra and only came through on Monday via day bus from Santiago and she is now also staying in the same hotel. Leonie has gone off to Toledo and Segovia (outside the city) with the fast train early this morning and we will see her again tomorrow morning before we get mobilised to get to the airport for flying back home.
I must say it is VERY, VERY HOT in Madrid!!!!! According to the local reports we´ve been having 38 degrees as maximum day temperatures but I think it must be 40 at times. It is incredibly hot in the afternoons and early evenings and most of our sightseeing we try to do in the mornings and later in the evening. We did so many sights already since Sunday and Calvin and I even went out to a tango salon on Sunday night which was very nice. We plan to go out for tango again tonight.
We are enjoying this vibrant, busy and fascinating city – its origins going back to 711 A.D! We visited the Prado art gallery, the botanical gardens, the massive gardens with the Crystal Palaccio and the Velasquez Palaccio, also the Templo de Debod, various plazas across the city, took the historic and modern route open-top bus tours and did lots of touristy things along the way. This of course includes drinking sangria, a couple of strawberry mojitos, lots of vino blanco (!!), eating tapas and generally just chilling with the locals in their many sidewalk cafes. We even happened to be in the city on the same day as the annual Gay Pride parade (part of the ófficial´ start of the Madrid summer festivities as it is also now the Spanish summer school holidays). We were hoping to see crowds of people in fabulously festive costumes, but somehow we missed being in that particular area of the city at the right time and just saw a few people later in the evening that must have been part of the parade. Marieke, Sybil and Leonie also went to see a Carmen opera inspired flamenco show last night and they enjoyed it a lot.
It is now so hot outside that the only thing to do is to return to the hotel and find a spot under a fan to try and cool down before we go out again later. Just literally too hot to walk in the direct sun or even sit outside in the shade. I see on CNN that Cape Town has a maximum of 14 degrees today, so I know that a major shock is waiting for us on out return to SA on Friday. Sybil will split up from us tomorrow as she is taking the bus to Bilbao in the North of Spain and then doing her own thing for the next few days ending in Barcelona where she will be joined by her son for a few weeks´travel from the 4th of July. Unfortunately the rest of us must get back to SA and a completely different reality than what we were used to in the past month and a half. We´ve probably not really processed everything that´s happened and all the experiences we´ve had, but that will have to happen somewhere along the way or before Monday! I am not getting back to work immediately as I have 5 days of classes at the Cornerstone campus next week and will only get back to work officially next weekend.
I´ve had an awesome time in Spain and great experiences with lots of memories of places and people – it was well worth saving the money for this trip and getting the leave time together to break away for my Caminio adventure. See you all back in SA!