Madrid, I love you!

A redheaded white woman with a glass of red wine
Dress fairly nicely and you can hit the bars more or less straight from the plane...

When I turned 50 back in February we couldn't go away like we did last year for Mr Robot as the cattery was closed that month. (The Urchins are nervy little things, being ex-ferals, and so always go to the same cattery to avoid too much distress.) February's a bit rubbish weather-wise anyhow, so we booked time off (and cattery space for the mogs) in April and went away then instead. Our destination? Plasencia, in Spain!

I see that blank expression. That's okay, it's a town in Extremadura, a region less visited by British travellers. It's not even on the main AVE high-speed rail line. The main reason I picked it is because I love Spain's paradores, the state-owned luxury hotels made in many cases from converting heritage buildings. The one in Plasencia was once a monastery, and is right in the heart of the town. 

First we had to get there. This meant an evening flight to Madrid. As always, we stayed in the Sol area as there are good bars and cafés round there. We didn't get to out hotel till just before 11pm, but that was okay: forget New York, Madrid is the real city that never sleeps. We dumped our stuff and went straight out, starting at La Venencia. We'd been to this 1930s sherry bar before as we found it while I was looking for the street where Laurie Lee lived in his trip through Spain (if you've never read As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, about him bumming round Spain with his violin in the 1930s, it's fab). I later found out it was famous for its vintage interior and no-photos policy, but I'm still counting it as my own special discovery. It doesn't seem very popular with tourists anyhow, possibly because it serves sherry, sherry and sherry, and if you don't like sherry, you won't like La Venencia. I do like sherry, and a wall full of dusty bottles, and having my bill chalked up on the bar. 

After that we had a prowl round a few more bars and ended up in La Fontana de Oro - its principal appeal being that it was open and most other places weren't. It's very traditional in structure, with its dark wood and old portraits - in fact, it's said to be the oldest bar in Madrid. A novel by one of the country's most famous classical novellists was even named after the place. All the same, it's now also an Irish theme bar, with Guiness on tap, and when we arrived a band was just finishing their set with an Oasis cover. I remarked to Mr Robot that Oasis now are probably almost as old/dated as the Beatles were when Oasis were new, and then we both felt properly ancient. Not that that stopped some young fellow groping my leg while Mr R was at the bar; I need to learn the Spanish for, "GO AWAY, I AM OLD ENOUGH TO BE YOUR MOTHER."

What happens in Madrid, stays in Madrid. Unless I blog about it.

As we walked back to our hotel later, in the wee hours of the morning, the city's cleaning crews were already out in force, getting it ready for the day ahead. We got lots of free tapas (sit inside, order in Spanish), drank some fantastic sherry, decent wine and okay beer, and managed it all surrounded by history. I do like Madrid, though I think a week there would kill my liver. Maybe one day I
'll test it out.

Anyway, now I've rambled a lot about Madrid and nothing at all about Plasencia, so I guess we'll get to that in my next post!


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