May 14th started with an 0730 rise and shine to re-pack and set out.
My dad and I attempted to locate a “supermercado” while the rest of the fam ate at the local croissanteria (pretty sure my dad made up that name). No luck. We caught taxis and in true Dieden fashion arrived at the bus station 55 minutes early. I read Tina Fey’s book on the world’s most uncomfortable bench and at last it was time to board. Off to Madrid!
Shockingly I dozed off for most of the trip. I woke up once when we picked up more people and again when we stopped for food (at least that was MY intention…the Spaniards used it as a smoking break).
I promise the ride was more scenic than this photo indicates.
And this one. But seriously, look at the size of my sammie!! It goes across my entire lap 🙂
Why do I have a man hand in this photo?
The radio on the bus played Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson back to back to back to back. Dear Mr. Bus Driver, we get it, you like American pop music.
Do you think that entire truck was full of aceite de oliva? Oh man. I totally would have highjacked that mothah.
So about that rest stop.
I never thought Spain would have such massive places for commuters to stop and grub. America, yes. But it doesn’t seem like a Euro thing.
I liked this area the best (obviously the hanging legs of cured meat wasn’t my cup of tea). From fresh fruit (even kiwi!) and juice to yogurt and pudding, it was nice to get stocked up for the road.
The center island was like Spain’s version of the WF hot bar with prepared sammies in every combo.
They had pastries too, but they looked like they were from 2010.
If you’ve never tried pan de higo (Spanish fig cake), you are missing out. These were baby ones, a thus called Panecillos de Hijos.
Traditionally, they are made with higos secos (dried figs), almendras (almonds), canela (cinnamon), clavo (cloves) y matalahúva (anise seeds). They are basically Larabars, made with figs instead of dates. Some have sesame seeds, honey, and/or brandy in them. Can you imagine if Larabar made a bar that had alcohol? Wow. What do you think?
After making our way from the bus terminal, to the train terminal, to Atocha station, we were finally within walking distance of our hotel.
So. About the planes/trains/automobiles commuting experience. When we arrived in Madrid, my dad informs us that our family’s taxi business is done-zo and we are back to cheapo schlepping. I sound so spoiled. If we didn’t have 350 pounds of luggage (not an exaggeration), this would be NBD. But, in fact, I did drag my equipaje up and down multiple staircases and one subway transfer. Thank god, my dad didn’t get mugged and the rain even held off for our 15 blocks of hiking to the Westin Royal Palace.
Ok. So, this is a five star place. The Cordoba hotel seemed like a shack compared to the Westin. Talk about a complete 180 in accommodations! It’s, like, crazy fancy. And then our sorry asses comes tumbling in…like haggard worn travelers. We definitely brought the place down a few
We look out of place, no? There were really rich people all around. And I’m quite certain none of them had pale green luggage.
But somehow we ended up with a “preferred guest” room. I bet they all say that.
Not to sound like total snobs, but at first we were pretty disappointed by 2 things: (1) no bellhops (my arms were jello, but I still pulled my own weight up to the room) and (2) wifi cost an effing 16 Euro per day. WTF, even janky hostels give you wifi gratis, so this was not cool as far as I was concerned. This is the friggin Royal Palace! The Westin redeemed itself pretty immediately (basically as soon as we saw the Heavenly beds and showers). Yes. Please.
Well this was a nice change! Heavenly beds. Multiple full body mirrors. Huge bathrooms with normal showers.
They also had fruit bowls at every elevator, full of apples. Granny Smiths aren’t my first choice, but free is free. And having access to unlimited amounts of fruit in a foreign country meant there was still some normalcy (read: regularity) in my life. [I realize the fruit was probably for display purposes only, but I didn’t really care]
We were a far cry from the
hoity toity snobby proper guests that typically stay at the Royal Palace (there were 65,000 Euro handbags on display in the hotel’s lobby). If there were a Westin’s worst guest list, we were on it.
I felt cleaner than La Virgen after
25 45 minutes in that 3 nozzle ducha. So fresh and so clean, clean. And the towels! Gah! So fluffy and wonderful; plus they were even more amazing following the exfoliating sandpaper I used in Cordoba.
Dinner time! Thinking I’d go fancy pants, I got my #1 ‘fit on and even did my hair…only to discover it was suddenly raining. WTF Madrid! Work with me here. I don’t like putting effort into my hair for this kind of payoff. The rest of the fam was wise on the weather sitch though so I, too, changed into more practical attire.
Nothing like a family photo in the bathroom. Can you see Laura peaking her head up from the separate toilet part of the bano? Classy.
I hugged my dad for max umbrella coverage on the way to Estado Puro, a lounge/bar a few blocks from the hotel.
My mom, dad and I got vino, my little sis got cerveza, and my other sis got “the best” mojito she’s ever tasted. She tried a few more on the trip and maintained that this was definitely the best.
Because it was rainy outside, the inside area was packed and we were forced to sit at the bar.
I loved the cute little anchovy tins that they used to serve us olives and potato chips.
After two rounds of bebidas, we were off to dinner!
Yes, that menu says seitan. :)
To be cont…