3 NOV 2021
In July 2021 Rita’s beloved Peugeot 206 cc cabriolet caught fire and exploded. It was a write-off. Rita was of course upset. She had bought the car new and had run it for 20 years without any major problems. She decided she wanted a similar model, so she started looking for a used 206 or a 207, the slightly larger model that replaced the 206.
Then, in July, Rita spotted what looked like a good ‘un that had just been posted on milanuncios.es. A 207, 12 years old, low mileage, black with red leather seats. From the photos it was a real looker!
I said we’d be happy to travel to Madrid (Rita’s never been so we thought we could make it into a city mini-break) if Mónica would give us first refusal. She agreed and even promised to take the car off the market.
Off to Madrid
We immediately went online and booked single train tickets for a Saturday, a hotel in Madrid city centre for two nights, plus a night in Toledo on the way back, on the assumption we would be driving back in Rita’s “new” car. We were all set.
On the Saturday our train to Madrid was over an hour late on arrival so, under the terms of RENFE’s customer charter, we got 50% back! The car was getting cheaper by the minute!
In Madrid we checked in and went in search of food. The area around the Puerta del Sol was buzzing! What a great atmosphere!
We managed to find a table outside – it was still warm at 11.00 o’clock. We paid city prices, of course, 35€ for three small beers, two raciones and bread. But, what the hell! We were on holiday, sort of!
After a good night’s sleep I popped out for an early morning coffee while Rita got herself ready. We had breakfast and then took a stroll around the area, found a branch of Unicaja (they recently bought Liberbank so now the former Andalusian savings bank has branches throughout Spain) and withdrew the cash for the car, which we secreted in various places about our persons before catching the metro to our pre-arranged meeting place in a rough area called San Cristóbal on the outskirts of the city.
We viewed the car, tested it and bought it!
We drove back into the city and parked in an underground car park near our hotel. It was going to stay put until we left on Monday morning, despite the 32.50€ overnight parking charge!
De Madrid al Cielo (See Naples and die)
It was now mid-afternoon, so we took off to look at the Retiro park, the statue of Cibeles and to spend some time in the Prado Art Gallery.
After a wash and brush up, we headed out for dinner in the Plaza Mayor. We stumbled on the Mercado de San Miguel.
The market has been turned into a massive food hall. The former market stalls have been turned into tapas and drinks bars. There were also speciality stalls selling cheeses and other local products, as well as a bakery and a coffee shop.
Not cheap, but as I said earlier, “What the hell!”
Toledo – Monday to Tuesday
After an early coffee we paid our exorbitant car parking charge and headed off to Toledo, Spain’s capital until 1561.
Rita took the wheel of her car for the first time. We travelled on ordinary roads to enjoy the scenery and stopped in the village of Illescas for breakfast. Back to sensible prices!
When we got to Toledo we were too early to check-in at our hotel so we drove up to the Parador which sits on a hill overlooking the city and offers the best views of this medieval walled town. Stunning is not a strong enough word to describe what you can see. Monuments of Arabic, Jewish and Christian origin are all over.
Then, we strolled back up again for dinner at La Abadía, a former abbey where they’ve been permitted to restore Roman caves under the building into dining niches. The food here was somewhat different and the range of draught locally-brewed craft beers was amazing!
I reckon the trip to Madrid, ie train ticket, hotels, food and drink, local transport, car parking and fuel, added around 700€ to the price of the car, but we had made a great little holiday out of it.
I reacquainted myself with two cities I hadn’t been to in a couple of decades and Rita saw them for the first time. She thought Madrid was beautiful – the nicest big city she’s ever been to and she’s travelled a fair bit.
Toledo too she thought was delightful, a bit like Carcassonne in France, but not, if you know what she means!
Clearly, this was not the most conventional way of buying a second-hand car, but it was very agreeable and I recommend it highly!
All photographs by Paul and Rita Whitelock.
© Paul Whitelock