Once reaching Santiago, I had inevitably to return to Madrid – before & after in more ways than one.
Unbeknownst to all but me, I’d lived in Madrid for a few months in 1992-ish under quite angstified circumstances, which aren’t relevant here. Suffice to say, that Madrid held a lot of ghosts for me some 20 odd years later. Yes, I’d flown into Madrid some 50 days recently to start my Camino, but I hadn’t walked around the joint. It was going to be a bumpy ride for this little peregrina.
But prior to that, I had to get myself onto the train out of Santiago de Compostela. I discovered Patrick again in the cafe part of the station – we were both at the food counter. I was delighted to see a friendly face but on hearing that I’d caught taxis through Galicia, he declared that I’d “leap-frogged” as if it was a pilgrim’s swearword and he scurried away with his brekkie – I felt plague-ridden.
And so we both boarded the train on different carriages. Very odd. But by then I was Ms Independent and I’d accepted that I’d walked and taxied and made no bones about either.
And for the record, I’d walked around 800 ks worth of pilgrimage on one of the most difficult ways for a novice. So he and other picky veterans could put that in their pipes and smoke it! (Truth be told, there is a lot of one-upmanship to be encountered at times).
When I got into Madrid I had the daunting tasks of finding a place to stay and also to confront some long ago ghosts of a long ago time far far away – to do with my second marriage back in the early 90s.
I found a hotel on one of the main drags that called itself after Don Quixote.
After checking in and sorting out, I went out for a walk. I walked around til I refound the Prado Museum (last visited in 92) and do you know, I walked and walked and walked. It was hours in that art gallery. I was soooo fit I never once felt tired. I checked out art I’d seen 20 years ago – the old Grand Masters (men) and I must admit, I got sick of looking at art just by men. I went into the shoppe and bought some gifts for folks back home and then strolled out of the place unscathed.
In this precinct there is also the Cathedral San Geronimo which I also had visited way back then and today was a wonderful thing. It was a grand wedding and me with my new-gained self-acceptance, I simply watched a family getting its self married to another family with little kids all dollied up. A happy way to dispel old silly memories.
After a couple of months of Menu del Dia I was famished for some spice so fortunately I eventually found a place that sold Indian curries and I positively gorged!
And I left Madrid after meeting the most gallant of men!
My walk had been cut short by some days with the taxi-ing over those Galician ks so my air ticket needed to be brought forward (at some cost to me but I was anxious to get home to my dog!).
I flew out the next day after and arrived home in Oz in rural Far West NSW and back to the same old same old…. but reunited with my beloved pup and infinitely changed for having walked over 800 ks by myself across Spain.