I was so exited to get back to Madrid, one of my most favorite Spanish cities. The entire city seems alive with people out in the streets, eating long afternoon lunches, sietas in the park beneath the towering maple trees, and vibrant nightlife lasting until the morning. The massive Retiro park was my first spot to visit. It was actually the first place I went when I came to Madrid two years ago. It was definitely more crowded now, but it didn´t stop all my memories from coming back. I walked to the football field sized lake and watched the boaters rowing through schools of orange and black fish. I enjoyed a cold coke at the first cafe I ever visited in Europe, and I followed the sounds of beating drums to the central monument on the lake. Here I found a group of at least 12-14 drummers beating wildly to their own tune, somehow working perfectly together. Crowds of people gathered and the hippie, dread-locked Madrianos danced barefoot to the beats.
The next day in Madrid I continued to revisit the parts of the city I had already known. The memories unfolded in my mind as I walked down the Calle de las Huertas, a long narrow walking street lined with colorful builings, cute shops, and popular cafes. I returned to the Corner Cafe where I often had breakfast and enjoyed a fresh squeezed orange juice. Walking into the Plaza Mayor I stood in awe of its size, a huge square surrounded by four connected buildings, forming one seemless courtyard, a retreat for pedestrians. The cafes had spread out into the plaza, and the street performers were filling my ears with music.
The next morning I headed for Segovia, a smaller town about an hour and half by bus from Madrid. I visited Segovia on my last trip to Spain. I revisited the areas I had known as well as I few new to me. I first came to sit in the shade of the enormous roman acqueduct. The grass was cold and soft so I had a bit of a siesta. I continued to the top of the acqueduct for a view of the red-roofed city below. I wandered through the little streets to the plaza mayor, and on the left was the famous cathedral. I continued down the hill to the alcazar, a castle that was supposedly the inspiration for Disney´s own castle. Below the castle winds the paseo walking path until finally below the city is a cool quite park where most of the university students go for siesta. I finally grabbed a bite to eat at the cafe Ven Ven where I had once met a group of crazy swiss folks two years ago before heading back to Madrid.
The next day I went of to check out Toledo. It is much like Segovia with a castle and cathedral, but no acqueduct. It is set on a huge hill along a deep valley with a little river flowing through. I wandered about, stopping for a siesta and had paella for lunch.
I had originaly planned to travel to Biarritz, France, but when I missed the train by 10 minutes I had to quickly run off and find an internet cafe for a new destination. After nearly 2 hours of work I found a less than expensive, but not cheap, hostel in San Sebastian and had a ticket to board the next train. I was excited that I would actually see the city I have always wanted to visit.
The night I arrived we had a down pour with thunder and lightning. The next morning I set out to find cheaper accomodation, with success, in the pouring grey morning. The rest of the day in rained on and off and I wandered up and down along the harbour at the edge of the Atlantic ocean. Elderly men and women were the only ones crazy enough to swim, but it was the perfect oportunity to beat the usual crowds of sunbathers.
I hiked to the top of the castle and had a view of the entire city and the cresent shaped harbor that it rests against. By the afternoon of the second day, the sun had come out and I was at the famous surfer beach watching all the beginners attempt the less than ideal waves. I returned to the beach just a few blocks from the hostel until the sun set and I began to freeze again. Today I am off to the beach once more to relax, work on my tan, and have a swim in the cold Atlantic.