All that apartment hunting had made us hungry so we rejoined Katie’s new Fulbright friend and her father for a relaxing night out. Dinner, drinks, and lots of laughs gave us hope that the young ambassadors were off to a solid start. The next day, Sunday, we all met again to head north to Alcala de Henares in search of the schools where each of them would be teaching.
Katie, left, and her new Fulbright pal, Kelsey. There might be alcohol in those preprandials. Not really sure.
The waitstaff didn’t ask us if we wanted a starter, but this arrived anyway. And we were all glad it did. Gorgeous poached egg on these veggies made us all swoon.
Thank God I’m fluent in Spanish. Oh, sorry. I meant English. I’m pretty fluent in English.
A flurry of starters were bandied about so I ordered the most versatile and reliable white I could. The bottle arrived and everybody decided they just wanted entrees. Not a problem. Hello, Martin. Good-bye, Martin.
Fair pricing. America, are you paying attention?
Speaking of versatile in light of many different dishes. Our good friends at Emilio Moro do wonderful things with tempranillo. Tinto fino, with an emphasis on the fino. Delicious, modern, polished, and nimble. And the bank remains intact.
If more American producers could do this much with their back labels, I’d be a happier consumer.
Hard to enjoy a meal when all you get is an ounce. The sacrifices I make….sheesh.
Simple is good. Baby baby lambsicles. And some damn good fries to keep them company. Hola chuletas!
It was a quiet night at La Hoja, but the folks there took very good care of the six exuberant Americans. They understood quickly that we had minimal Spanish language resources — one full player and two half-backs — and took care of us with humor and warmth.
A nod to the Basque influence in the Life of Riley. Patxaran — for what ails you. Even if you’re not ailing.
Nightcaps in the Salamanca district, a short walk from our dinner spot. La Cochera was the perfect spot for wine, beer, and cocktails. Lost my juniper-berries-in-the-gin-and-tonic virginity. I’m still a bit shaken. Highly recommended spot.
Selfies from an entirely different point of view.
In the evening at our hotel, when ordering a cocktail, you are provided with a plate of nuts and olives. You are also provided with a small dish of Gummi Bears. Still trying to figure out why.
Atocha Station — Madrid’s version of Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station put together. Not all the grandeur of the former, but not all the slime and confusion of the latter.
If you’re a music buff who knows the 1960s, you’ll recognize these characters. It’s the Turtles, a very famous rock group. I think every train station should have a turtle pond, don’t you?
Katie Riley is going to be seeing a lot of this sign in the year ahead. A solid 35 minute train ride from Central Madrid, and then a mile-plus walk to her school. After the commute she had this past summer, from Brooklyn to Westchester, this is gonna be a breeze.
What else do you need to know?
I don’t want to take English lessons! You can’t make me!
Just what every town in Spain needs. Praise be to God.
Uh oh, looks like school’s about to start. Alcala, a city of approximately 200,000, has a large university and a sizeable assortment of other academic institutions. Everywhere you walk in this town you bump into some sort of school.
This is where some of them live when they are not busy delivering babies. Yes, those are stork nests. They are massive.
People like to say “any port in a storm,” but I like the port to be a good one, which this street-side cafe proved to be.
Simple, and simply delicious. And the service could not have been friendlier.
Maybe next time.
Grilled mushrooms and cured ham.
Lambsicles, again. We misheard the waiter when he said chuletas, thinking he was going to bring a ribeye steak for two. Nope. Have to admit I felt a little sheepish when these turned up. (It’s okay, you can groan.)
The day was hot and the walking was long — we did 10 miles-plus when all was said and done. Wish this had been my drink.
Not a crispy cold beer, but the next best thing. Chilled and refreshing. Two bottles disappeared in no time.
All the glassware, and this was before two folks ordered beer as well, left little room for platters and plates, so the waiter brought a few side tables for us to use. Like I said, great service.
You’d think T. S. Eliot had come to lunch with us.