Thursday, July 20, 2006

Iberian Adventure June/July 2006

And so it begins. . .I join the world of bloggers. For now, I will use the space to report on our most recent vacation.
NOTE: accompanying photos available at (send me an email if you want an invitation to see them)
DAY 1--23 June—24 June 2006 Fri/Sat
Our flight for our 2006 vacation leaves at 8:10 p.m., so Carlin went to work for ½ day while I worked to prep our home—changing sheets, putting out cat food, etc.
We left at 1:30 p.m. to drive to Newark. Once there we encountered a LONG line at the Continental desk—Newark is a main hub for Continental, but when we got to the front of the line, we had a most helpful agent. We had tried to pick seats online, and kept being told that seats would be assigned when we checked in.
Flight itself was fine although thunderstorms in the Newark area delayed us about 45 min. on take-off.
Arrived in Madrid; another long line at customs. Once at our hotel (Agumar near Atocha Train Station), we went for a quick stroll. We stopped at a local cafĂ© for beer and pizza. Seemed to be all locals eating there—no one speaking English at all.
Back at hotel, we took a 3 hr. nap, then showered & dressed for evening meeting with tour group. 35 on tour—met a most interesting couple, Janis Stout & Loren Lutes, both had taught at Texas A & M, now retired. He taught civil engineering, and she American Lit. Turns out she is a Willa Cather scholar.
Tomorrow—day tour of Madrid.
DAY 2--25 June 2006 Sun

Today—we toured Madrid, stopping at Cervantes Park with a monument of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Sadly, strong smell of urine & lots of trash; also a bratty kid crawling all over the statue, egged on by (presumably) his grandfather.
We drove by many buildings and squares—things being pointed out briefly. Thankfully, when we were here in 2002 we saw more.
Only stop—the Prado where we had 2 hrs. to stroll through the gallery. We headed for Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delight—a pleasure to see it again. Worked our way through museum. We were most happy the city guide did not try to take us around. Some guides warble on about this or that painting as THE BEST—that’s a decision each of us likes to make.
In the afternoon, we went to the Valley of the Fallen and el Escorial. The city tour guide gave her version of the history of Franco—he just wanted to restore democracy in Spain! The monument at the Valley of the Fallen is where those who died on both sides of Spanish Civil War are buried, including Franco and Jose Antonio.
El Escorial was built as a summer palace for Spanish monarchy and is also the place where many monarchs are buried in the mausoleum.
Once back at hotel, we rested and watched World Cup Soccer (Eng 1/ Ecuador 0). We then went out for dinner, walking past Atocha Train Station (site of the
11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings) to the T/B museum square and ate in a little restaurant there.

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