Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Last Full Day in España

Wednesday, 30 November, 2016:

One last day to pack, do some last minute things and say goodbye to friends.

We headed into town to start this final day in Arganda del Rey with a walk into the pueblo.

What the . . .

Looks like we're going
to miss the fun this weekend

 It's ALWAYS something
to do with Spain's favorite author
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

 A local checking out the
Christmas decorations on the plaza

Cool "dress" in a flower shop

Time for lunch at our favorite
Armanda del Rey bar
La Tertulia

 Dried peppers add atmosphere

We gave owner/cook
Maricarmen some
GRACIAS flowers

 La Tertulia from our table

Lunch was GOOD!

Laurie finishing her meal
as seen from a mirror

Armanda del Rey's
Old Cemetery Entrance

 Lots . . .

. . . and lots . . .

. . . of flowers

One last pass by our Metro station

And one last night of practice
with the Osos Rivas teams

We had good workouts with both the Junior and Senior squads again tonight.

Coach Jesús Sánchez said some
kind words on my departure

I listened and felt sad about
leaving this great group of men

 I appreciated the players
applauding after Jesús' words

 Addressing the team one last time

 The players honored me by letting
me break the practice ending huddle

"3-2-1, WE ARE ONE!"

With MLB Fran

With our linemen

With a mob

 With a bigger mob

With the DBs

Me with DBs?

After practice we met at a nearby
Chinese All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

For only 12 Euros you also get all of the soda pop, beer or vino tinto de verano you can drink.

I think they lost money on us tonight.

 Juniors at the Buffet

More Juniors

More Seniors joined by . . .

. . . Daniel Vilches
"The Noblest Oso of Them All" 

Alex and Mario
My two Go-To Junior Linemen

Senior Guard Marine

Adios Osos, until we meet again!

Our Final Excursion Into Madrid and Our Final Stings Practice

Tuesday, 29 November, 2016:

Today would mark our last trip into Madrid. Wednesday would be dedicated to packing for the flight home to California early Thursday morning and to any other last second things that might pop up.

We started the day by packing up the entire Las Casa Grande family into the Land Rover for a drive into la ciudad as Bere had an appointment at the Mexican Embassy to start the process of getting the two girls their official Mexican passports for future travel purposes.

Though Luna and Camila were born in Spain, by Spanish law they are not automatically Spanish citizens. They will be though once they have Mexican passports like their parents and then apply for citizenship due to being born on Spanish soil.

While Bere was working on the passports, the rest of us went to the El Retiro park for some fun with the girls.

It is Madrid's HUGE city park

Great place to be on a chilly day
with kids

Or on a photo shoot with a
pampered white poodle

Autumn leaves serve only
one purpose . . .

. . . for kids play

Peek-a-boo game between
Camila and Jesús

Jesús with Camila and
Laurie with Luna

One year old Camila
likes to slide

Two year old Luna
likes to slide

Slightly more than
Two year old Laurie
likes to slide too

After about an hour of fun and frivolity we got the word from Bere at the Mexican Embassy, that all went well and we could pick her up.

When Bere boarded the Land Rover, we got out as we were going to launch our last official Calle de Jesús Tapas Crawl for 2016.

In true Tapas Crawl fashion, we were going to go from one bar to the next for just one drink and one tapa each until we got full.

First stop . . .

Cervecería El Diario

The vino tinto was good

So was the company

An army entering Madrid

Spain's? France's? Beats me.

I like these slices of tile artwork

It was our first time in El Diario and it was a fine way to start the day.

The next stop was . . .

La Anc???

Damn, the tree got in the way.

There we go . . .
La Anchiota

They specialize in seafood

Gambas with your beer

The gambas come automatically with your beer order. We each had another delicious seafood tapa as well.

Another great set of tapas but we were starting to get full.

Nevertheless, the next stop was . . .

Cervecería Los Gatos

It would be our final stop as we were ready to explode upon leaving.  

Easily our favorite spot on
the Calle de Jesús Tapas Crawl 

Since it was chilly, they served
every customer a shot of
warm chicken broth for free

Unusual, but tío was it ever spot on!

Caramelized onions are good

So are sun dried tomatoes

 Great colors and decor at
Cervecería Los Gatos

In Spanish tapas bars, the custom is to throw your used napkins on the floor, the staff will sweep them up during a lull in the action sometime in the late evening.

Thus, when you walk into a tapas bar for the first time, look to see how much trash is on the floor. If there is a lot of trash, by all means enter as it means that there have been a lot of happy customers before you!

More than fully sated and a little tipsy, we boarded the #27 Madrid bus for a 30 minute journey through many of Madrid's newer neighborhoods.We boarded by the Prado Museum and got off at the end of the line at the Plaza de Castilla and its stunning Puerta de Europa towers.

 How Laurie felt after
our Tapas Crawl

The 15 degree
Puerta de Europa Towers

 Calvo Sotelo was a right wing
politician who was assassinated
in 1936

 I guess that is Señor Sotelo
laying at rest

 Laurie in front of one of
Franco's typically Fascist
architecture styled buildings

They housed want of the Spanish dictator's ministries.

These Ministry buildings are
679 meters above the sea level
in wonderful Alicante

Brick Pillars

Francisco Largo Caballero
Spanish politician and
trade unionist

Indalecio Prieto Tuero
Spanish politician and leader
in the Socialist Worker's Party

I think that it is a safe bet that both of these statues were erected after Franco's death in 1975.

Laurie during our walk down
Paseo de la Castellana
 Fountain and Christmas Tree
at Plaza de España

We really need to see one of these trees lit up at night.

Fountain honoring
Queen Isabela Catolica

In front of the famed
Duchess of Alba's home
The Palacio de Liria 

Another random monument

 I've got to buy these

Palacio de Liria guardian

 Back on Puerta del Sol
La Mallorquina's offerings

We were strong.

Plaza Mayor
Photogenic as always

La Latina barrio this way

More food on Plaza Mayor

Magic Hour

First Santa Sighting of 2016

Plaza Mayor lit up with
a Christmas motif

We had purposely stayed out later than normal for one reason . . .

We wanted to see the Christmas
Tree on Puerta del Sol lit up

It was worth the wait even though it was pouring rain.

Madrid is just a magnificent city and we have been fortunate to experience so much of what it has to offer!

Now, it was on to my last Guadalajara Stings practice.

Go Stings GO!

It was a GREAT night to practice . . .

Oklahoma Drill
"Are you ready back there?"

 And away we go

 We're getting more physical
every practice

Could someone PLEASE
lower their pad level!

With my Sting linemen
one last time

With Coach Carni

With WR and team leader Alejandro

Thanks for the bottle of wonderful Rioja vino tinto Alejandro!

With Stings President,
Offensive Guard
and Defensive End Borja

 With Stings GM Hector

With Stings QB Tim

The drive out to Guadalajara and our late night practices with the Stings have been a delight for me.

I got a chance to meet and work with a lot of people who I regard as friends and brothers after these past two months.

I was very touched when, at the end of practice, instead of breaking the team huddle with the usual "3-2-1 STINGS!" they opted to go with "3-2-1 CONTRERAS!"

That was a first for me.

I am blessed to be able to say, "I am a Sting!"

Back at La Casa Grande
it was time to open
Alejandro's gift

GRACIAS again to all of the Stings family for sharing your time with me and be so coachable!