National Geographic : 1965 Mar
was trying not to block traffic on Madrid's gay white way, the Gran Via. Some of Europe's greatest skyscrapers towered above the noon bright theater lights. I was an hour finding our hotel; the city never again seemed so big. When I finally saw Martha, I found that in a monetary way-I, too, had suffered flood damage. "These Galician laces were so cheap," said my wife, "that I got enough for Tina's wedding dress." Our daughter Tina had just turned 7. "And of course I found a few little things for myself." Too late I recalled that Balenciaga, Rodriguez, and other famous fashion design ers were Spanish. Nor was that all; inlaid chessboards, damascene jewelry from Toledo, antique Crusader crosses, and bright rugs were heaped around our hotel room. "The most marvelous place to shop is the Rastro-the flea market," said my wife. "These parchments cost just 25 cents apiece - they're pages from a 16th-century hymnal. You can go with me Sunday. I want to buy some old carved doors, but I can't carry them." I managed to latch Martha's open-door policy, but I found temptations of my own in coal reserves estimated at 41/2 billion tons and produces 16 million tons a year. Mines a thousand feet deep yield bituminous coal. Madrid's great restaurants. Ernest Heming way's favorite little restaurant here had been the taberna El Callej6n, aptly located on Calle de la Ternera, or Veal Street. I bowed to his taste. Each day of the week, the menu changed to foods of a different region, begin ning with Valencian chicken-rice-and-seafood paella on Sundays, then Castilian boiled din ners, the baked-beanfabada of the north, the Andalusian gazpacho-usually called a cold soup, but more accurately a liquid salad. From such research I gained 12 pounds. Whether one is searching for food, fashions, or folklore, Madrid offers a synthesis of all Spain. Among the city's two-and-a-half mil lion people, many are newcomers from rural areas; on the streets one hears accents of the entire nation-from the plains of Extrema dura to the mountains of Navarre. The mayor himself is a country squire. He is the most excellent Sefior Don Jose Finat y Escriva de Romani, Count of Mayalde and Finat, Duke of Pastrana. But for all his titles, he is a man of simple manner. "The population of Madrid has more than (Continued on page 326) Beret-topped Basques exchange news in the port of Elanchove. A distinct ethnic group, the Basques have a language all their own.