Burt and I concluded the Ten plus mile day with aan evening return to the Prado for more art and more walking. More on the art later. I was again seduced at dinner by croquettes, this time with a side of grandma’s meatballs. There are small plates of comfort food everywhere you look in Madrid. The croquettes were spinach, pine nut, and raisin. I dare you to resist them. Fried dough balls of spinach, pine nuts, and raisins. Each ingredient blended away to its flavor essence. No chunks in these croquettes. All essence of the ingredients in crispy outside, warm and soft inside, balls of dough. I dare you. A plate of meatballs to balance it.
Despite the epic walk, memorable meal and two ativans I did not sleep. I was even crabbier than the day before but we got up and did an 8 AM march back to the Plaza Mayor to catch a tour bus to Toledo. This is where decision fatigue and jetlag combined to lead us to make the only bad choice on our Spanish journey. The bus tour was a complete waste of money. We could have caught a train or public bus to Toledo and done as well, perhaps better on our own. We would have saved money and there would have been no time constraint on our return.
Here’s my summary of the tour part:
1. Go to Plaza Mayor, buy tickets, and wait. The bus is 40 minutes late.
2. Stop at three other stops to pick yp other irritated people.
3. At 11:20 you still haven’t left the city. You got out the door at 8 AM to make this convenient and expensive bus that supposedly left at 10.
4. No useful information is shared on the hour long drive to your destination city.
5. Arrive in Toledo and take an escalator up the steep hillside into the city’s ancient walls. Think to yourself, “Ok, now we’re gonna have a tour. We’re gonna learn something. Chin up.”
6. Follow tour guide as she leads you and forty of your new friends plus several ancient, nearly disabled, non-active persons in inappropriate footwear but wielding canes through a maze of uneven steps and shadowy passage ways.
7. Listen carefully through the complaints and screams of misery to hear the scant tidbits of local lore. Lucky for us we are relatively young and agile and can always navigate to the head of the crowd to try and hear the guide.
8. Forty-five minutes later the survivors arrive to a town center. I think, “Okay, now were gonna get this tour under way and learn something.”
9. Guide bids adieu with cryptic instructions on how to return to the bus. Says be there at 6:00PM. It is now well after noon.
10. Wander away from the main plaza sans map. Realize GPS is spotty in the tight streets. Wonder where to go. Have lunch to avert meltdown.
11. Manage an informative if chaotic tour of Toledo on your own.
12. An hour before departure start attempting to find the bus while looking for the one landmark the guide mentioned that your husband really want to see.
13. Get lost looking for the landmark. Feel like an idiot because you can’t find said landmark. You can’t find the route to the bus either. The GPS says it is right THERE. A 1000 year old wall is between you and there. Feel sympathy for hungry rats in science experiments.
14. Wander. Panic builds. Nearly fall staring at GPS and trying to cover ground quickly.
15. Suddenly find bus. There is time to spare but both Burt and I agree we are too scared to re-enter the city and look for the missing landmark.
16. Sit in grass for 45 minutes wondering when bus will arrive and could we have found the landmark. Best view in Toledo and we couldn’t find it.
17. Ride bus home. Bus driver says here’s your stop but it’s not our stop. It’s nobody’s stop. We are all dumped off in a completely new place. We are not where we started the tour. This is the perfect ending to this tour. I wanted to go insane but could only laugh. Lost again.
18. Find starting point because GPS works in Madrid. Walk 2 miles home without getting run over.
More on the sights later.