Sometimes the best things happen when you don’t expect them. After relaxing for the later part of the afternoon and packing our bags we decided to avail ourselves of what had become a really beautiful evening, and go out for a paseo, in the true Spanish tradition. We figured one last walk down Arenal to the palace before going and finding something interesting to eat for the last meal of this vacation.
It was that time of day when the low angle sun blinds you unless you make your way to the shady side of the street, which we did for the long stroll down the mall. When we reached the area in front of the Iglesia de San Ginés de Arlés, we knew something was going on. The police had set up barriers, behind which were hundreds of devoted senior citizens. And in the courtyard of the church, the parochial float was out and parked for all to see. San Ginés surrounded by spring flowers sitting atop a big silver urn. Having done a Semana Santa or two, we were familiar with such a sight. So I took a couple of photos and we continued on our way, passing a Madrid Police color guard, resplendent in brass helmets and decked out Andalusian horses, a block or two later.
The park by the palace was pretty busy as we took a spin around it, exiting the way we came. The half-moon was rising over the apartment buildings that ring the square, and the sky was a deep clear blue like nothing we’ve seen in the last 3 weeks.
As we approached San Ginés again, the police color guard was lined up, heading in the other direction and the parochial float was close behind it. We’d stumbled via pure dumb luck into some mini-festival for this parish. A perfect end to our stroll around town.
First came the parish flags, then groups of parishioners dressed to the nines. Then came the float, held aloft by 30 or 40 people, swaying in time with the music from the trailing brass band. It was quite extraordinary, and completely unexpected. Avoiding the crowd, we headed up a side street and at the top, realized that the whole procession as going to climb that very hill. The police color guard was half-way up and trailed by the rest of the retinue when we crossed Calle Mayor.
We had our final vacation meal on Plaza Mayor at a restaurant called Los Gayolas. More deep-fried Iberico ham chunks (literally pieces of pig on the menu,) a nice plate of grilled vegetables and an order of Delicias de Bacalao. The sun was setting, the air cool, the food wonderful, just a perfect moment for both of us.
Of course, one cannot leave Madrid without one last portion of ponche so off to Mercado San Miguel it was, and that in hand, back home for the last of our evening.