Hotel Meninas (120€)*
We are finished with this, the third part of our walk. This section has covered 416 kilometer/260 miles, with the total from our start at Le Puy-en-Valey now 1367 kilometers/860 miles. Breakfast in the hotel bar, then off to the bus station where we join new best friends. We leave at 9:15 AM for a four hour trip to Madrid. The ride is through very open country… highway I-5ish. We pass ever-rolling hills and villages. No wonder the Spanish felt at home in California, settling finally just North of San Francisco in Sonoma. The landscapes are so similar. In Madrid we take a taxi to our hotel, small, very nice and modern. We make reservations for the shuttle to take us to the airport tomorrow and then venture out for lunch at the nearby Cafe Opera, quite good. Nick has ensalata mista, veal steak, fries and chocolate cake; I have a bowl of beans and sausage. Then off to the Prado, a wonderful museum… Hieronymus Bosch is incredible, as are Rafael and El Greco. Nick buys a traditional Goose Board Game in the gift shop. We have coffee and then head back to the hotel. The driver drops us just short of it, so we walk the plaza across from the Opera House and check out possibilities for dinner. B+N. Up at 8:00 PM, and out to a lively and colorful plaza. At an outdoor cafe we have gin and tonics (a simple, reliable drink throughout Spain), gazpacho, pizza and wine. An accordionist serenades us. Back to the hotel and to bed at 10:30. In our short stay, we have thoroughly enjoyed Madrid, a beautiful city, at least the parts we’ve seen, with big public plazas, grand old buildings and beautiful parks. There is street repair construction all night outside our hotel, right under our room… Oh well!
The next morning, we have the breakfast buffet at the hotel, catch a cab to the airport and away we go… home!