From the Pastor: What We Did In Madrid
Last week I gave you the prayers and vows of the Consecration which Sister Rachel Maria and the others took as they became perpetually professed Religious. (In case you are just tuning in, so to speak, Sister Rachel Maria is from one of our families, and just took her Perpetual Vows as a Religious Sister with the Home of the Mother. I traveled to Madrid, Spain with my mother to attend the ceremony at their Mother House.) This week I want to let you know what else we did while in Spain. First of all, many of you must have assumed that we were going to be in Spain for a month or more, since you kept insisting that we visit Toledo, Avila, Garabandal, and too many other cities to mention. The reality is that we were only there a few days! We were to fly out of Tampa Wednesday, September 4 shortly before 8 pm. After sitting on the tarmac for a couple of hours, we got off the plane for a couple of hours and then back on for another hour before finally taking off about 1:00 am Thursday morning. Of course, that meant that we missed our connecting flight in Amsterdam, and our new connection for later that day was also then delayed. We didn’t get to Madrid until well after midnight on Friday the 6th, arriving at our rented Airbnb sometime after 1:00 am. Amazingly, the streets and sidewalks of Madrid were packed with people at that hour. It seems that they keep much different hours than we do around here! Shops started opening up around 10 am and many of them closed from noon until 4 pm, although restaurants were open and it seems that 2 pm is a normal lunch time. The restaurants then closed again until 8 or 8:30 pm but few people ate that early. 10 pm is family dinner time. 2:00 am sees everything close up once again.
Friday morning we slept in and then headed out to San Gines, where we wanted to indulge in their famous churros and chocolate. But getting there proved harder than expected. I have never used my phone for GPS while walking but have used it extensively while driving. Most of the time it works extremely well on the road. But while walking in Madrid, the little arrow which indicates where I am and what direction I am moving was not pointing in the proper direction. Ever. It wasn’t always pointed in the same wrong direction, either, so it was quite confusing trying to figure out where we were supposed to be heading. None of the streets are parallel. Most are only a few blocks long, ending in a plaza or roundabout with 4 or five other streets intersecting, and the GPS was more confused than I was. Street signs are non existent, though some of the buildings have the street names emblazoned in tiles about ten feet above head level. But not all buildings do, and only one per intersection has it if it is there at all. Since the arrow was never pointing in the right direction, I tried just listening to the phone’s voice commands. “Turn right at Calle de la Misericordia” it would say, but we couldn’t find such a street name and three streets all branched out to the right, so we just guessed as which right was right. We walked a lot without getting anywhere. But we finally found it, and it was worth the trouble. The churros came five or six to a plate, along with a mug of warm, thick, dark, chocolate for dipping. Although some online reviews said that one order was enough for two or three people to share, we each got our own and were darn sure happy to have done it that way! By the time we were done snacking, the church next door, named San Gines, of course, was already closed for the afternoon. We spent the whole afternoon at the Prado museum and only left when they kicked us out at closing time, 8:00 pm.
From there we started home but had to find a place for dinner. There were little bars/restaurants everywhere, with most blocks having several. We rather randomly chose one when we looked through the door at one small, crowded bar and noticed a dining room down a hallway. There was a whole room back there with tables which were completely empty since it was way too early for the locals to eat! We got the absolute best meal of our trip there. Fresh shrimp, fresh larger shrimp, fresh even larger shrimp, (each with a different, delightful taste) and fresh langostinos (like a cross between and huge shrimp and a tiny lobster). Then, feeling adventurous, we ordered the fresh grilled octopus. Scrumptious!
Saturday and Sunday were set aside to be with the Religious Sisters and the Hernandez family (and the Coughlins, former parishioners now living in California who were there, as well as one of our girls, Valeria Merkt, who, along with Maria Hernandez, is an aspirant with the Sisters). Monday and Tuesday were filled with more churros and chocolate, more shrimp, prawns, langostinos, fish, octopus, clams, mussels, barnacles (they taste like clams), and crabs, and visits to many beautiful churches. We didn’t have time to see (and eat) everything in Madrid, let alone travel to other cities! Wednesday morning we headed back to the airport to come home. Mom took photos everywhere we went and she is more than happy to “show and tell” if you ask!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
I didn't think to take the photo until we were already well into this meal, as seen by the shrimp heads on mom's extra plate near her.