Memories of Madrid…

When I go to Spain my time in Madrid is usually a bit whirlwind. It’s either on the way into or out of the country, and only for as much time as I can squeak out – making sure that the patient I’m traveling with has been compliant, is healing appropriately, and is ready for the big travel day from the Alicante province to Madrid.

I must confess here a bit: I love Madrid.

I mean, what’s not to love? The shopping is amazing. The food is spectacular. The place drips with history. The architecture is show stopping. There’s the Prado! The Royal Palace! Flamenco Dances! Okay – now I wanna go back.

Anyway… days in Madrid with a baby post-op in tow can be a challenge. Sometimes we all look at each other – realize we should have had a snack or a meal – oh, about an hour ago – and if we don’t get something to eat NOW, we WILL keel over!

(That’s it! The little café in the corner – with the white umbrellas over the tables!)

January 2007 was one such occasion. Linda, Meredith, and I were roaming the streets of Old Madrid, headed for Plaza Mayor when we realized that we were famished. Eating in Spain is sometimes a challenge to the American frame of meal planning mind. We eat at 7 am, noon, and 7pm – or some semblance there of, right? Well, Spanairds eat more like this:

7am – first breakfast
10am – bakery stop – second breakfast
noon – snack – tortilla de patata in a bar perhaps
2pm – lunch! This is the BIG meal of the day. Everyone comes home for this meal.
4 or 5pm – bakery stop – snack time!
7 or 8pm – drinks and tapas somewhere
9 or 10pm – dinner
midnight – drinks and tapas somewhere

It kinda rocks the American mindset.

While it seems like you should be able to find a meal anywhere at any time – I mean we do that in the United States, right? – not so much in Spain. If you hit between a culturally recognized meal time – your only hope, for the most part, is tapas at a bar somewhere.

Bar – by the way – is not like what most Americans think of when you say “bar” – it’s more like a small neighborhood café that – yes, serves alcohol – but for the vast majority of the day the focus is deep, dark, extremely rich, heavily dosed with rich cream Spanish coffee.

So – Linda, Meredith, and I – about ready to keel over because we’re STARVING. It’s cold, we’re hungry, and not much is open. But we think ourselves extremely fortunate to find ourselves at just such a little bar/café which was happy to serve tapas at pretty much any hour. We quickly scanned the menu and I was able to find a couple of options that our baby post-op could handle.

One of the dishes that Linda and I thought we’d do well with was called Patatas Aioli. I may have been to Spain a dozen times, but sadly, I don’t speak the language. I was, however, able to ascertain that this was – I thought – something akin to potato salad. We decided we were game.

Our food arrived – the day was saved – and Linda and I took our first bites simultaneously.


One could just weep, sometimes, at the perfect marriage of different ingredients into the concoction that you know you simply couldn’t continue life without on a fairly regular basis.

THIS is one of those foods.

Honestly – WOW.

I should tell you – you gotta be a garlic lover. Garlic wimps need not even go here. Seriously.

I have made a point of going back to this same little café to order said Patatas Aioli – well, pretty much every time I’ve been in Madrid since!

This past weekend Linda told me she’d found IT. She didn’t have to explain. I knew what she was talking about. She’s now – officially – my BFF for LIFE!

Here you go:

 Patatas Aioli

2 pounds Small red potatoes
2 cups Mayonnaise
1 cup Sour cream
4 tablespoons Crushed fresh garlic (not minced)
2 teaspoons Ground white pepper
2 tablespoons Fresh parsley, chopped


Makes 4 to 6 servings.

  1. Boil potatoes until tender. Peel and cut each into 4 to 6 chunks. Allow to cool.
  2. Whip together mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, white pepper, and parsley.
  3. Combine potatoes with the whipped mixture, adding small amounts until you get the consistency you like for potato salad. Chill.
  4. Garnish with parsley.

Notes: This Aioli sauce (the mayonnaise, sour cream, and seasonings) is excellent on top of fish, or as a dip, or even thinned out with a little milk to make a salad dressing.

This is definitely a recipe for garlic lovers! Weak at heart beware!


This is our last morning in Altea. To the left is Denise from Canada, who had surgery on the day I was discharged from the hospital. She’s obviously doing fabulously!This is me 7 days post-op and on our balcony of our room in Altea.
Here are John and I on the evening of the 17th in Madrid – at the Flamenco show that we took in that evening. That was such a fun night!

This is the morning of the 21st – the morning after we arrived home. I asked John to take pictures of me for the blog… he did and then he said, “But you should take the sweater off – it camoflages too much.” To which I said, “DUH! Why do you think I wear one?! Well, except for the fact that I’m always cold!”

BTW, I’d lost 10 pounds at this point in time. Below are the pictures without the :ahem: camoflage!

I’ll take more pictures on Monday since that will be three weeks from surgery.

I love home

Ann was saying yesterday when we were in the Atlanta airport – after an already long day of travel: “No one ever talks about how sucky the trip home is!”

So I will. It’ sucks. It’s long. It’s not really painful. But it’s – well, long. Really long.

I got up at 5:30 a.m. in Madrid yesterday. That’s a 9 hour time change from here in Oregon. We left for the Madrid airport at 7:30 a.m. from downtown Old Madrid. Got checked in with Delta. Got through security. Got a little breakfast. Shopped in Duty Free for about 15 minutes. Then we got on our plane at 10:10 a.m. It departed about 11:00 am. We arrived in Atlanta at about 2pm Eastern Standard Time – that’s a 6 hour time change from Madrid – so, that would have been about 8pm. We had to board our plane from Atlanta to Portland at 6:30 pm – so that gave us enough time to try and find some food, go potty, walk some, and sip lots of Starbucks Iced Green Tea (with extra ice!).

Here’s the thing about traveling as – for me, anyway – an 11 day post-op, is the fact that when you have weight loss surgery you burn lots of fat. And estrogen, my friends, is stored in fat cells. So, you’ve got all of this free radical estrogen at play – and the eternal day of travel about mid-way through the experience becomes the eternal day from hell!

Some of us get weepy. (I was – I missed my kids – BAD! And I was on the way home for heaven’s sake!) Some of us get cranky. (I had my moments.) Some of us get depressed. Some of us get goofy. Some of us get mad. We are amazing individual beautiful creatures, aren’t we? My goodness, God is an amazing Creator!

What makes it even more frustrating is the fact that it’s hard to get calories in when you’re a baby post-op and traveling. So you gotta go prepared. I took baby bells (they’re great little semi-soft cheeses wrapped in wax – they travel well). I took some very tender tea cookies – they’re bland and they go down well with hot tea, which is easy to get on a plane. I took cup a soups – again, hot water a breeze to get on the plane.

When we were in Atlanta we went to Chili’s restaurant hoping to find a post-op friendly meal. Didn’t happen. We tried to find soup. Um, not so much happening, either – much of anywhere. I did find a soup at one of the deli’s – it was truly awful. Things got prettier when I got my Venti Iced Green Tea, no classic, with extra ice at Starbucks. I started sipping, and then I realized, my fluid intake had been dismal thus far for the day. Duh! I was seriously dehydrated. Then I got to thinking better – and a little more creatively.

I am still on fuller liquids, but that’s nearly impossible when you’re traveling, so you gotta maybe bump it up to soft foods until you get home. We found a great little restaurant in the food court called Paschal’s – it’s apparently a well known restaurant in Atlanta – and bless their hearts for having a place in the airport! I settled on some chopped steak with lots of gravy and green beans. I nearly wept with joy over the green beans – they were so good! The chopped steak, in tiny bites and chewed carefully with lots of gravy was perfect. As soon as I got some protein in me things got amazingly better!

The last leg home is always the longest, for some strange reason. We had a delay out of Atlanta by about an hour, so that put us into Portland later than expected. But you know what? I didn’t care by then – I was just glad to be home!

It’s a long trip. Is it worth it? You have moments in the midst of it when you wonder why the heck you chose to go halfway around the world for surgery – then you remember Dr. Baltasar… Yeah, no brainer – totally worth it!

We’re in Madrid!

Okay – so I should probably preface this by saying that while I *love* my life in the burbs on our wonderful 1/2 acre with our kids and chickens and cats and dog… I love Madrid.

It’s beautiful…

It’s historic…

It’s exciting…

It’s pretty much the heartbeat of Spain.

I usually spend just a few days in Madrid on the way out of Spain – but it’s possible to do quite a bit in even just a couple of days.

One of the things that I recommend whole-heartedly is taking in a Flamenco show. If you’re gonna do it, then choose the best – Corral de la Moreria. Most hotel concierge services (aka front desk clerk) can call and get you a reservation. Shows are at 9:30 pm and midnight. I’ve been to both – both are fabulous.

So fabulous, in fact, I just gotta share:

Obviously, we went last night – just a few hours after having arrived in Madrid. This is just a snippet – but you cannot sit through a flamenco show and not be moved.


It was amazing. I will also interject here that we three post-op girls managed to find stuff to nibble on – while the guys ate like kings. It was all I could do to keep from hitting John over the head and stealing his leg of lamb! LOL!

Today we’re going to take the Madrid Vision tour bus today with a plan to take in the Prado – the world’s largest art museum. That should be awesome.

More to report later!

Hours until take-off!

The garden at the Royal Palace (above).

The side view of the Royal Palace (below). The Palace has 2800 rooms. If you’re ever in Madrid – DO THE TOUR! It’s impossible to do it justice with mere words. Breathtaking can only be used so many times as a descriptor!

It’s after midnight here in Madrid… in the past two days I’ve walked miles through old Madrid and environs, taken a bus tour of Madrid, been to the Prado, been to an *amazing* flamenco show, been to the Royal Palace (no tour of which would ever be complete without a turn through the royal armory – wow!). But you know what? None of it compares to: HOME.

The Prado (above) – the largest art mueseum in the world. They have more in storage than some of the larger museums in the world have in their entire collections! There is something truly, beyond description – to stand within arms’ length of a painting that was painted in the year 1420 and be able to clearly discern the artist’s brush strokes on the canvas.

But I can’t wait until I’m home! I miss my husband! I miss my children! I miss my animals! I miss my garden!

What a blessed woman I am to have such a wonderful family and home to return to. God is so faithful and kind.

Posting fom Spain…

I’ve got a few minutes of relative quiet (if you’ve ever been in a Madrid hotel room, you know what that means! LOL!) and thought I’d post some reflections about the book that I’ve been reading during this two weeks in Spain. I’m in Spain usually 2 or 3 times each year for a couple of week each trip. This is my eleventh trip since 2002. I don’t typically have time to read while I’m gone – I work while I’m gone. But this time, while on a layover in the Atlanta airport I saw the cover of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver. I bought it on whim – in the back of my mind I had an impression that I’d heard favorable things about it and hoped I might have a few minutes to sneak reading to at least get a start.

Well, here I sit two weeks later and I’m nearly done with the 370 page book. I hope to finish reading it before I leave Madrid Tuesday morning for home. (There, undoubtedly, will be a few more very late nights sneaking in more reading than is prudent when one is walking as many miles a day as I am at present!)

I am a woman of deep faith and convictions. I don’t necessarily agree with Kingsolver’s faith world view – but there are a heck of a lot of other world views that she articulates so much similarly to my own convictions that it’s sometimes a little spooky!

I know one read will not be sufficient. I hope my husband will want to read it when I get home. I secretly (well, maybe not so much now, huh?! LOL) hope my 15-year old daughter will as well. Would the boys (ages 14 and 11) sit through reading it together aloud? Nah! Pipe dream!

I’m inspired to try some things that I’ve known in my heart that I could do, but was – well, I guess – afraid to try. My husband will likely groan aloud when he learns that I *really* wanna try making cheese. I’ve been talking about it for years. Well, darn it, I wanna try it finally!

I love the ideal of trying to eat food that is local, sustainable, and season appropriate for so many reasons. We do this to a certan extent – can we do more? We’ll see…

Anyway, it’s about time to head out and do a tour of the Prado – I’ve wanted to do this very thing for years now, and today’s the day, or so it would seem. The thundershower of earlier today has passed, the sun is peeking through, and Madrid calls…