Toledo is a centuries' old city in central Spain perched magestically atop a hill over the Tagus River, and a World Heritage Site. Reached by a series of escaltors and filled with churches that were former mosques and synagoges dating back to 1085, Toledo is like stepping back in time and is so steeped in history its impossible to do it justice. But that's a story for another day, because when the tour bus returned to Madrid after 9pm, it dropped me in a different part of town. After checking the GPS for directions back to my apartment, I stupidly put my phone in my back pocket and went inside Mercado de San Miguel. Well in the blink of an eye I was bumped and pickpocketed. But worse than being robbed was the treatment by Asurion insurance; after a dozen calls from Madrid, my sisterinlaw finally was able to reach them from Brooklyn, and file a claim, but they refused to send my replacement to me in Spain. Most important, it was only a phone and not my wallet or my passport.
However, that dark cloud had several silver linings as I was led to a host of new friends and new local haunts. The day before, I discovered a shop a few feet from my apartment, that is a testament to ingenuity and cleverness, "Nails Maker, Nail Bar." A nail salon only a bit larger than my closet; a mere 8-1/2 meters? Of course I was skeptical , but gave them a try and the service was amazing. Open seven days a week from 10:30am until 9:00 pm, and with only 4 chairs and 4 employees, the shop is never empty, because the staff is efficient and personable, the prices resonable, and the work first rate. Susana and Karla did my mani/ pedi and made me feel like an old friend.
So, they were the first people I thought of for help with my lost phone. They found the nearest police station and wrote out the directions for me. Fortunately, it was a short walk. To my surprise, the station was unexpextedly crowded, but another woman filing a complaint spoke English and was a great help to me in filling out the required forms. After about 90 minutes, I was interviewed by a very personable young detective named Rafael Munoz. When I told him the story and also that the "find my phone app" located it, he said he would walk with me, and he did. The location was a reataurant, but alas by the time we got there, the message read "your phone cannot be located because it is turned off or the battery is dead." When I told him I worked in the courts in New York, he gave me an official patch and small badge that reads, Cuerpo Nacional de Policia.
He then used his phone to google Sprint locations, and told me if i could get the VIN number he would check local pawn shops for me. He also talked about his experience marching in the Columbus Day parade in NYC. A really nice guy who went above and beyond and made a bad experience less frustrating. We said goodbye and I grabbed a cab to the Sprint store which turned out to be a gas station near the Chueca neighborhood of Madrid; and no one spoke English. Tired, hungry and now near tears, I was about to leave when a customer came in and miraculously he spoke English. He sat with me and allowed me to call Sprint, but when Sprint transferred the call to Asurion, his phone died. But ever helpful, he told me not to worry his office was nearby and he would get another phone for me to call, and also help me to buy an inexpensive phone so I could have access to the internet for the rest of my stay. What a Godsend! I will be forever grateful to you Mr. J.M.Person.
Back in my neighborhood, I decided to have dinner at MARINA VENTURA, allegedly Ricky Martin's favorite spot in Madrid. The restaurant was recommended by a customer at the nail salon, because they are known for their paella which I was fiending for. And I was not disappointed. The mushroom fritter appetizers were to die for, the wine was exquisite and the paella succulent. All made even better by my attentive waiter, Diego, who is originally from Bogata and speaks perfect English.
And so, I continue having a blessed time here in Madrid. More of my adventures and recomnendations for what you should do and see in Spain. Coming up: Toledo, Barcelona, Sitges, Girona. Ciao!