It’s been fantastic with fiestas, religious celebrations & of course the Spanish king’s coronation ….. all quite by accident too!!
Riding along the beautiful coast, we stumble upon a fiesta. The small coastal village Sanhor de Pedro (almost suburban Porto) held a colourful fiesta that goes back to when the Chapel was built in 1686. The street light decorations were spectacular, lining the small streets!
Traditional food stalls everywhere!! We gravitated towards the Farturas Stall … . . mmmm What on earth is a farturas? Sounds ominous!? We had to buy some of this for sure! It comes in about 1 metre lengths & is cut into pieces & dipped in icing sugar—– similar taste/texture to a doughnut.! Not bad at all really!
Next, an old lady was selling small biscuits and Bev wanted just a couple__ but she ended up filling a box, weighing it on an ancient scales. Bev thought she said €30, & nearly fainted, but no, €7 sounded like €30 in Portuguese – Ha!.
The whole fiesta came alive at 10pm – just after dark. Again the good lights on the bikes came in handy – it was close to midnight when we headed home – more and more people arriving as we left – the fiesta goes till dawn for four days!!
Hams, chorizo & cheap vino tinto everywhere.
Driving east we cross the Portuguese border into Spain & head for stunning Salamanca! Historic universities, palaces & famous cathedrals. This cathedral was begun in 1150. Interesting contemporary elements like the astronaut & cute dog motifs were added by the masons & restorers in 1992.
Thought it would be interesting to visit Toledo as this used to be the capital before Madrid! The streets were decorated with flowers, ribbons, colourful flags and even chalk pictures on the sidewalk. The city was abuzz with activity & excitement in preparation for the street parade that night, celebrating Corpus Christi. We were a bit early – Mark, waiting for parade!!? Holy Toledo!
We had discussed not going to Madrid as we prefer the smaller cities/villages!!…… What can we say – Marvellous Madrid!! Having parked Bruce in a camping park near a metro line, we threw a few things in a backpack & headed to Madrid by train, a 45 minute ride. When we exit the metro (come back to ground level) we realize we are in the middle of the coronation celebrations and fanfare! Yellow & red flags are handed to us and there are super large TV screens showing the live coronation of King Felipe VI. We happen to be in the best position to watch the screens and then the live procession & motorcade!! Thousands line the streets and the atmosphere was joyful with most approving of the abdication of King Carlos and the coronation of his son Felipe. When the new King and Queen pass us, we receive the “Royal Wave”!!? The police and military are all out in force but fortunately all goes smoothly.
Our hotel is smack in the middle of the action & is terrific! Found it on booking.com and cost €66 for the night. As we check in we hear someone behind us ask “Are you Mr & Mrs Bartlett???” Turning around we are facing another Mr & Mrs Bartlett who have also just arrived. This confused the hotel staff who thought one of us had double booked!! Ha! Joe and Doris Bartlett are from California & we enjoyed discovering the nightlife of Madrid with them. A great couple & we hope to catch up with them in San Sebastian next week too!
Our 2 hour walking tour with guide was excellent & worthwhile. Check them out here http://www.newmadrid-tours.com/. Started on Plaza Mayor (adjacent to our Hotel Plaza Mayor).
Saw the oldest restaurant in the world (Has a Guinness Book of Records certificate stating such in the window!!) You can make a booking online if you wish — http://www.casabotin.com/?q=en Goes back to 1725.
The Prado Museum is world famous & we spent 7 hours trying to absorb the amazing paintings and sculptures. https://www.museodelprado.es/en/
Many interesting street art in Madrid too!
The Buen Retiro Park (Spanish: Parque del Buen Retiro, literally “Park of the Pleasant Retreat”, or simply El Retiro) is the one of the largest parks of the city of Madrid, Spain. The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park.
Next stop Segovia, north-west of Madrid. The Roman aqueduct is 1st century BC!!! A masterpiece of Roman hydraulic engineering, whose masons were so precise they have neither mortar or cement to join them – however water still flowed for 15kms from the source of the water into the town!! When it got to the town, it then went underground to the fort (now Alcazar (palace)). World Heritage Site.
Intriguing castles in so many villages.
Taken from the tower of the castle, can you spot Bruce?
Followed this religious celebration that moved through the tiny little village from shrine to shrine! Priest, band, traditional costume & dancers with wooden sticks.
Mark was able to capture the moment of the dance – it is worth clicking on the you tube link below:
Relishing the opportunities to experience other cultures and history.