Sunday, July 11, 2010

Aranda de Duero and back to Madrid

Aranda de Duero and back to Madrid

We drove south to Aranda de Duero and checked into Hotel Julia, in the center of town. Aranda is not known for anything particular, though tourists do come here for the lamb roast, reportedly the best in Spain. Also, like Laguardia, it too had underground wine caves, of which we visited one. We just came here as a pit stop between Rioja and Madrid. But surprisingly, we liked the town. 

Aranda has a nice river running through it and a city park abuts it. We settled into a spot in the park near the bar (which is right next to the kiddy playground). Young mothers can have a glass of wine while they watch their toddlers play. Very cultured.

The park truly exemplified Spanish family life. Families, eating, playing, fishing and otherwise enjoying the park. Several dads were walking around with their young toddlers. Diane spotted some young parents smoking around their babies at times blowing smoke near their faces. That kicked in Diane’s anti-smoking campaign. She marched over to the young parents and gently scolded them in Spanglish. They all reacted with surprise as if they hadn’t thought about the impact of the smoke to their babies. I think she did some good, at least making those parents think twice before blowing smoke into the faces of babies.     

We drove back to Madrid the following day with a detour to a city that was at the center of Islam in medieval days - Guadalajara. We visited the Gothic Palacio del Infantado, a relatively plane looking palace from the outside with a beautiful façade courtyard. We had lunch near the palace, on a park bench, munching on a bagget, cheese, ham and fruit. 

Later that afternoon we arrived back at Gys and Paloma’s pink villa in Madrid. Of the three kids, only Diego was left home - and he was off to the north of Spain in the morning for surf camp, Marina and Julia already were at their activity camps.

In the evening the five of us set off to a nearby Peruvian restaurant. We started off with a strong Peruvian drink, a Pisco Sour, made of egg white, limes, sugar and Pisco. That was followed by several exotic appetizers ranging from a ceviche, to a baked dish with potato and octopus. I was about full from the appetizers, when dinner arrived - for me, a lightly cooked fish with yet another type of potato (Peruvians have over a hundred types of potatoes). Luckily, a couple of good bottles of Rioja wine enabled me to consume the dinner too. It was  a scrumptious meal. No room for dessert, though.

On our last day in Spain we stayed at the Madrid Airport Hilton, since our Easyjet flight to Amsterdam was an early one. The hotel décor was ultra-modern, nothing like the hotels we’d been staying at. But our room was roomy and comfortable, the pool, nice. In the evening at dinner, we watched Germany beat Uruguay 3-2, in what was a fun and exciting game to watch.    

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