Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Episode 49 - Two's company?

This has been a fabulous trip, I just love this country. It’s such a shame that the majority of foreign tourists only go to the costas because there is so much more to Spain than just the beautiful beaches.

I absolutely loved the drive through the mountains. The scenery was breathtaking and then finding places like the wonderful castle at Almansa was so special. Every day there were new sights to see. Like wandering through the steep narrow streets in Alcala del Jucar and spotting the spectacular views of the steep gorge far below the city. One of my favourite towns was Belmont, which has a special quiet beauty on the famous Don Quijote trail. But if I really had to choose the most interesting place we’ve been to so far, it would have to be Toledo. It is absolutely magical.

When we were in Toledo I started chatting to a young Dutch couple who are trying to visit as many cities that have been awarded Capital of Culture as they can. They were so cute, they are travelling around in a battered VW camper van and look like they could do with a good meal but that hasn’t stopped them getting about. They started their journey earlier this year in Liverpool so they could enjoy the start of the 08 celebrations before heading north up to Glasgow. Then it was back across the channel and down France to Lille, then across to Porto. And now they are in Spain and have been to Salamanca.

I would love to see Salamanca even if it does sound like a character from a James Bond movie. Apparently has been designated a world heritage site and has the oldest University in Europe. I must admit I hadn’t realised that Spain has the second most UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world, but I think that I’ll have to leave visiting them for another trip, we’ve here in Madrid for another two days and then we’ll have to start making our way home. Martin is due home next weekend and Ella will have to get back to London for work next week but if I’m honest I would love to find myself a battered old campervan and take to the road.

Ella laughs at my daydreams of spending the summer driving around from one site to another without a care in world. She keeps asking if I’m having a mid-life crisis, cheeky bugger, I just long for the freedom to go where I want when I want without having to worry about anyone or anything. I’m probably turning into an old hippy, well a girl can dream can’t she?

I don’t know, maybe I’m getting a bit old for roughing it on campsites. Ella has really done a marvellous job of organising this holiday and I’ve been spoilt staying in some lovely hotels. Bless her, she even managed to book us into a parador, I have always wanted to stay in one and this was just wonderful.
It was a castle the Virrey de Toledo. I felt like a princess but even the little country pensions we stopped over in were lovely. The swankiest place we have stayed in so far has to be this hotel in Madrid. It’s right in the middle of the city and has a garden terrace and joy of joys, a pool. Can you believe it, an hotel with a pool right in the heart of the city. I had a long cooling dip in it after lunch today, absolute bliss.

Ella and Fr Frank have gone to another lecture this afternoon. I had enough this morning. Don’t get me wrong it was very interesting but a lot of it went right over my head. It isn’t as if I don’t have sympathy for the homeless and I have so much admiration for the work that Ella and Fr Frank do in London but I couldn’t take another three hours of sitting in a dark lecture without dropping off. Does that make me a bad person? Probably but what the hell, the sun’s shining, the shops are open and I’ve got a credit card burning a hole in my purse so I’m off to make a dent in the overdraft and look for a nice picture for the villa as a souvenir of the holiday.

I’m not sure what time Ella is due back but I’ve arranged to meet them both in the hotel restaurant at nine o’clock. Ella was right by the way, Fr Frank is a lovely chap but what she didn’t tell me was how young he is. There was I expecting a middle aged priest in a flowing black gown and in walked a handsome young chap in a black suite. If it hadn’t have been for the dog collar I would have thought he was a young City banker. I do wish she’d warned me, I must have looked a right fool standing there with my mouth open!

I wish I knew what I should call him, Ella just calls him Frank but I don’t want him to think that I’m being disrespectful. It does seem mad though, calling someone young enough to be my son, Father. Not that I’ve seen much of them. They have been spending a lot of time at the conference centre, that’s why I suggested that we could all meet for supper this evening. He has arranged a full day of site seeing around Madrid for us tomorrow and I didn’t fancy spending so much time with someone I barely knew. So this evening will be a good opportunity for me to get to know him a bit better.

It’s funny when you see him Ella together. They get on like an old married couple. They have so much in common, their jobs at the homeless hostel, their love of travelling and even their taste in music. It’s strange to think that they can never be a proper couple and I must admit I’ve wondered if the circumstances were different if they would be together. Oh well I suppose we’ll never know, he’s a priest and that’s that. At least they seem to have a wonderful friendship and that’s more than some people get in a lifetime together.