Monday, 20 May 2013
Madrid's Casa de Campo and the Quest for Tapas

We arrived as scheduled at 4:00 pm on Sunday at Madrid-Barajas Airport. After 10 days in Scotland Spain was going to look, taste, feel and smell very different from what we had recently experienced

Jeff was there waiting for us and whisked us off to his and Ana's new place in northwest Madrid. When I visited them in 2010 they were living in Segovia and enduring the daily grind of commuting to Madrid. Now, they could be to work in 30 + minutes instead of the 2 (+-) hours formerly required.

We got settled in and Jeff and I walked around the corner to get some items required for dinner as well as beer and snacks.
Then we went for a stroll around the neighborhood and came back for a delicious dinner of tuna empanaditas and fried padron peppers.
Betsy and I tried to keep the kids, high energy little Ana and rambunctious Guillermo, occupied while Jeff and Ana worked on dinner.
Then it was sacktime around 10:00.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is a big change from the view when on their balcony in Segovia! The population of Seovia is around 55k. Madrid? Over 3 million. Welcome to the Big City.

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I have no idea where this barrio is but it was like this in all directions.

The next morning, after Ana had left to drop the kids and head off to work, Jeff, Betsy and I walked down to the Plaza de Castilla Metro station and took it down to the Principe Pio Station.
Jeff showed us the ropes on how to use the Metro. We also got our bus tickets for our trip to Segovia the next day. The whole thing was a bit overwhelming for us small town rubes.

First stop after exiting the Metro - food!

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Betsy and I ordered "tostada con aceite": toasted bread with olive oil and tomato sauce. Very tasty. Jeff had churros. We all had café con leche.

After breakfast we walked up to the entrance to the Casa de Campo. Jeff now had to leave us and head off to work. So, at this point we would be on our own to find our way through the park, up to the Teleferico, over to Plaza Mayor then Canyas y Tapas then back to Estación de Príncipe Pío and back to Jeff and Ana's.

Madrid, Spain showing Casa de Campo

The Casa de Campo (for Spanish: Country House) is the largest urban park situated west of central Madrid, (Spain). It was formerly a royal hunting estate. Its area is more than 1,700 hectares (6.6 sq mi).

Source: WikiPedia

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The entrance to the Casa de Campo is on the west side of the Rio Manzanares. Along the river is a nearly 7 mile long park - Madrid Rio, for walking, cycling, and relaxing along the water's edge.

The waters of the Manzanares River flow once again as a result of the ambitious plan to move the old M-30 motorway underground, creating over ten kilometres of pedestrian and cycling routes.
Puente de Segovia and Puente de Toledo bridges, the Virgen del Puerto Chapel and new urban landmarks, like the Puente Monumental bridge in Arganzuela Park and the city beach.

Madrid Río has opened up new spaces and incorporated existing areas into a project tackling three aspects of city life: the environment, leisure and sport. Its most outstanding achievement, however, is doing away with the barrier hindering communication between the two river banks, which separated one side of the city from the other.

Source: © E.M. Promoción Madrid, S.A. 2011. All Rights Reserved.

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Here, Betsy greets us from the formal entrance to Casa de Campo.

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The Madridians have been beautifying their city with trees for a long time. And as one would expect, Madrid has many old trees. This is a London Plane tree (Platanus × acerifolia).
It was first recorded in Spain in the 17th century, where (P. orientalis) and (P. occidentalis) had been planted in proximity to one another.

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We saw this sign on one of the walking paths. There are lots of cyclists who ride in Caso De Campo. Perhpas this represents them?

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We wandered around the park, referring to the map occasionally and eventually made our way up to El Lago. Here we took a leisurly stroll around the lake.

The Lake of the Casa de Campo is a body of water located in the park. Originally there were five ponds interconnected and built in 1563 by Dutchman Pierre Jasen and dispensed by the stream Meaques , given rainfall ponds gathered into one. It was in the nineteenth century Great Pond is formed which leads to the current Lake Country House.
Today is an area to practice canoeing and triathlon , besides having an area of pier.

Source: WikiPedia

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There was a dock with boat rentals, eateries and snack shops all along the lake. One can only imagine how busy this place would be on a warm summer weekend.

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Here, Betsy practices her safe crossing technique.
Look at all those trees! What a treat.

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Jeff had mentioned he had seen and heard parakeets in Madrid. And so did we that morning. We also found the enormous nests in the Plane trees from which the raucous calls of the parakeets emanated.

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I am guessing this nest was around 30" across. Note the entrance hole.

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We left the lake area and started choosing our route which would eventually lead us to the Teleférico de Madrid. We were now in a recently planted forest of trees which was carpeted by wildflowers.

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Runners were in the minority today and there was a steady stream of cylicts on all manner of bikes.

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And here it is - the Teleférico! Soon, or so we thought, we will be riding in one of those gondolas. However, we had now walked a good bit and it was a while since breakfast. We were both hungry and I was fading fast. We had no idea where we were as far as getting some food but there was obviously a barrio on the other side of the busy M-30 autopista.
There was an auto tunnel going under the M-30 but we saw no way to walk across. Betsy took a look at the map and spotted what looked to be an over pass. We walked that direction and on the other side of a copse of trees was a substantial pedestrian overpass to a barrio near, or called San Antonio de la Florida.

We crossed over and found ourselves in the parking area of a row of apartments. We walked through and out to the sidewalk making note of the pharmacia across the street to be used a landmark when we came back.
Walking just a short distance up the street we saw a sign with the welcoming word "bar" on it. We peeked in the window and it looked good for some grub. We walked in, found a menu and through a series of questioninglooks and fingerpoints we were able to order a couple of bocadillos.

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"I've been drinking a beer at a bar with two names...".
With apologies to the Eagles.

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Here is our order. Very simple, but tasty which I think is mostly due to the nice crusty bread.

We enjoyed our lunch as we people watched. Across the street was an Académie of professional dance. At one point a troupe of young girls poured out on to the sidewalk and proceeded to light up their smokes. Seems many more people here smoke than in the US.
The Gilda is right next to a bus stop and during our short stay 3 buses came and went.
Satiated and rested we paid up: 10 € or about $13.00 for two bocatas, two bottles of beer and chips.

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On our way back across the M-30 we got another good look at the Teliferico. Later we would see this from the opposite point of view.

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Soon we were back amongst the trees and millions of wildflowers.

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We wandered through the park sometimes not being sure exactly where we were. This is because the local mountain bikers seem to think they can bike anywhere they please and so have created a maze of unofficial trails. Every trail created kills the vegetation which was there and leaves a lasting scar on the landscape.

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The monument shown here contained just one thing - a water tap placed in the middle of if. These may have been for picnic areas which were scattered about but hard to see because of the height of the vegetation.

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The recent rains had really pushed up the wildflowers.

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What a beautiful collection of flowers.

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There was an endless sea of wildflowers.

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Ok, here is where we got into "trouble". See that tower with bump-out on the right? For some reason I thought that was the east (city) end of the Teleferico and I based our next several navigational decisons on this. Wrong...

Because of this we walked and we walked and we walked and we walked. Then we consulted the map. Then we walked and we walked and we walked and we walked. Then we consulted the map...
You get the idea. Finally I saw the error of my ways and found our way to the west (park) end of the Teleferico. We were both beat and ready to sit for a bit.

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The view from the Teleferico view platform. Somewhere off in the distance is our Tapas destination.

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It's great having a model always at the ready!

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This is the first of several shots taken from the gondola of the Teleferico. We are traveling west to east - from the Casa de Campo to the Parque de Oeste and the world famous Rosaleda Gardens.

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Flyin' high!

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From the Teleferico we got a bird's eye view of where we had been walking for the last several hours.

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The dome on the left is the Imperial Palace which is near the place where we started today's adventure. To the left is the dome of yet another cathedral.

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It was interesting seeing the tops of the trees we had previously hiked under.

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A good look at the late snow which has blanketed the surrounding mountains.

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This is looking down on the pedestrian overpass which we took to find our lunch. Or, as Jeff would say, our "second breakfast".

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To me, the density of the population is quite stunning. But I am a country boy.

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Another look at the Palacio Real de Madrid.

Shortly we disembarked and were once again amongst a sea of flowers. But they were very different from the carpets of wildflowers we saw earlier in the day.

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Welcome to Rosaleda Gardens.

La Rosaleda garden is located within the Parque de Oeste near la Calle de Francisco and Calle de Quintana.

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This amazing Rose Garden surely has a rose for everyone.

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I was thinking of our neighbor Kay in Arizona as I looked out over this expanse of flowering beauties.

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This was one of my favorites.

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The color range was amazing. But that is what roses are famous for.

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The last shot at the Rose garden.

Now armed with a map, which did me no good whatsoever as I am spacially challenged, I led us on at least a 1 hour wild goose chase for our Tapas destination.
We got so turned around we finally asked a waiter on a smoke break to point where we were on our map. Bummer...! not where we wanted to be.
We back tracked and started over and got completely turned around again. I have to say I blame this partly on the almost complete lack of street signs as well as us both being dead tired and very hungry.
We saw two policia and stopped to ask them for help. One spoke broken English which was 10 times better than my Espaniol. They got us more or less oriented and then went on to tell us to be very careful about the pick-pockets and purse snachers in the area. I reached around to my wallet and felt the zipper hanging wide open and my wallet in plain site. Then I realized why he had given us two rubes the warning.

OK - here we go again. More back tracking up to the main drag, the Gran Via. We turned down a street near the Metro station, which one I do not recall. Finally we reached Calle Arenal which I knew was close to where we wanted to go.
Again, I set us off in the wrong direction. But finally we got it right and found the Canyas y Tapas at Plaza Celenque, 1, just a few doors up from Calle Arenal.

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Betsy, dazed and confused with a beer foam flick on her lip. I felt about the same way after beating the pavement for god knows how long!
The little sausages and bread are what is called pincho. They are complimentary and served whenever you order a drink.

A pincho (Spanish:literally "thorn" or "spike") is a snack, typically eaten in bars, traditional in northern Spain and especially popular in the Basque country. They are usually eaten in bars or taverns as a small snack.In Basque country they are a cornerstone of local culture and society. They are related to tapas, but are usually 'spiked' with a skewer or toothpick, often to a piece of bread. They are served in individual portions. Pinchos are mistakenly called tapas in some areas.

Source: WikiPedia

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The pinchos helped us keep from passing out until our chopitos got to the table. It is fried baby cuttlefish, a type of squid.
We also ordered Sepia a la plancha which is squid grilled in garlic and olive oil. Very tasty!
We washed this down with two "doubles" of beer and then hit the street to start the search for the metro station we would need to get home.

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Calle Arenal is now a pedestrian way and there were lots of people out.

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We stopped and enjoyed a bit of music along the way.

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Betsy recognized what they were playing: Pachelbel's Canon in D Major. Good thing one of us has some culture...

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This was the last shot before we got to the Opera House. From here we had no trouble what-so-ever finding the Príncipe Pío metro station and covered much of the same ground as when we were "lost".

Soon we were back at Jeff and Ana'a and supping on a delicious "winter gazpacho" and some very tasty morcilla (blood sausage).

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After dinner I went out to the terrace to enjoy the air and caught this rainbow. And then it was soon to bed.

What a day!!!

 

 

 

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