This Monday’s installment of our EU Austerity Drinking Tour finds Tracy and I 111 days deep into Europe.
Bedazzling Barcelona broke us. Constant sight-seeing, drinking, and planning had turned into a chore. Shoes, ipods, clothes, health, sanity were all tattered.
With winter coming even to Spain, and without a car, we decided on an end date and streamlined our visits to major cities. Although I love Port, it became too difficult to reach cheaply.
But we had to visit Madrid.
Our bus cruises through Barcelona’s industrial outskirts. Soon we enter Penedès: home to Spain’s sparkling wine: Cava. The nearby Mediterranean keeps this land green.
Village-sized wine facilities like Freixenet break the lazy roll of vines and shrub-land. It looks so much like central coast California, we feel our first pangs of home-sickness. But the jagged Serra del Garraf mountains remind us we are far from Cali.
I can hardly believe Cava, Spain’s austere, citric bubbly, comes from such a warm, easy place. They must pick very early. The region’s ripe, oak-aged reds make more sense.
Further on the land flattens, dries a ruddy brown, and gets really boring. Mars must look like this.
We climb up a mountain range for an eternity. Our ears pop a thousand times. We crest the cloud line and only see grey. Then we descend into a new landscape:
It takes a lifetime to traverse sprawling Madrid. We switch to the Metro, loop town, and huff it to our home stay.
An odd, converted shed on a deck becomes our new home. Our hosts seem young and affable. They feel the recession only slightly. Since we must cross their deck to use their restroom or kitchen, we eat out more. Awkward!
We spend the next day exploring hall after hall of the Prado Museum, only stopping to eat pizza. The guards get fed up and herd us out.
There’s nothing to report drinks-wise. Our livers need a break. So tea suffices.
Just knew it would be a battle with those guards!