Al Andaluz, April 1, Madrid

Pat Gibson
4 min readApr 18, 2024


David had scheduled our train trip back to Madrid early so we could have time to visit things we skipped the first few days. The trip was nice with breakfast on the train and comfortable seats.

On the train, April 1, 2024

The weather cooperated and it was sunny when we reached the station in the capitol city. I am still amazed by the tropical garden in the train station.

We checked into our hotel and went out to enjoy the warm sun. David said the tradition of ‘April fools’ seems to be a custom from England. No one he has asked about it in Spain has ever heard of it other than a silly American custom.

The view from our hotel room. That is the Iglesia San Sebastian in the background.
Our hotel is an example of the reuse of a historic building. It was once the headquarters of a major company but was renovated to be a hotel. It was a bit cool yet but promising to be a lovely day.

The ME Madrid Reina Victoria hotel was located in an area of Madrid where many of the most famous authors and playwrights lived and worked. We walked to the Iglesia San Sebastian where the tomb of the playwright Lope de Vega is advertised. It seems that back many years ago, his tomb and many others were opened, and the bones combined into a mass grave in another location. There is a plaque on the wall noting he was buried first in that church. It is an active parish church where a very African priest was saying Mass as we quietly visited.

We walked on to the Plaza Major where we had visited before. David posted these pictures on our family What’s Ap site. It shows how busy this place can be on a sunny spring day compared to a rainy day in March.

Our first visit to the plaza in the rain.
On a lovely day, warm sun, and lots of people in the Plaza Major.

Cervantes lived in the neighborhood of our hotel, as did many others. It has long been the home of the national theater of Spain, Teatro Español.

For my friend, Teresa, who has read his works in the original language.
His home is now a museum. Monday is the day most museums in Span are closed, sadly.

We enjoyed the sun and people watched over a glass of vermouth from Cañas y Tapas in the Plaza Santa Ana. The waiter for the tables on the plaza entertained us with his constant issues with tourists who didn’t realize the tables were not for picnickers. On one of our walks, we were stopped by a charming young woman who obviously wanted to try out her English. (It was good!) She worked at Tablao Flamenco 1911, a theater company, and promised us a great show. I struggled to remember the name of a famous American flamenco dancer I had seen in Austin. While the show in Savilla was good, very professional, this show had three dancers and five musicians. It was larger and flashier. It reminded me of Jose Greco, an Italian who fell in love with the Flamenco tradition as a teenager in Brooklyn, the man I had seen dance with his company in Austin. He was instrumental in introducing American audiences to the dance and the music. He even appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. (Look it up on Google, youngsters.)

Tablao Flamenco 1911, the building itself is worth the ticket. The tiled walls show the beauty and history of Flamenco.
David and I enjoyed the show.

Dinner followed at David and Patrick’s favorite steakhouse in Madrid. And want a meal it was! La Cabaña Argentina specializes in steaks and meat. The wine selection was excellent, and the steak was one of the best I have ever eaten. David and Patrick have exceptional taste.

One of the best steaks I have ever had!

When we returned to our room, I found a birthday card from the hotel with a birthday cake and glasses of cava for David and I. It was an early night for us because my flight was at noon and that means three hours to get all the security done.

What a way to end my birthday trip!



Pat Gibson

A fan of Liad, Valdemar, Pern, and Narnia, I am a writer, an educator, and a thinker.