Along the Way...
Well, it's been a great trip. We started off in Madrid, went south to Granada and Málaga, then went west to Ronda and Sevilla. We enjoyed a great New Year's celebration in Sevilla, then headed northeast to see Barcelona, Cardona and Montserrat. The trip ended where it started back in Madrid, after a couple of day excursions to Toledo and San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
This collection of pictures doesn't really belong with a single place, so I'm lumping it all into one bucket. They are photos taken along the way and have something to add to the collection.
Getting ready. June packs for the trip on Christmas Eve. My what a big backpack you have!
Merry Christmas! Sugarplums are dancing... You know, I'm envious. I can't sleep on airplanes, but Michelle looks pretty comfortable.
Tav!! This guy was next to me on the long trans-Atlantic flight from Washington DC to Amsterdam. What a character!! I don't think he ever stopped asking for those complimentary cocktails on the 7-hour international flight. By the time we crossed over the pond, he was telling the flight attendants how beautiful they are and asking them to marry him. (It didn't work.)
"Hey ya know, we are THAT much closer to Aamsterdaam!" -- Tav announces while holding his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart, after watching the graphical display of the flight progress on the video monitor.
At last we are settled in at our destination - Hostal Cruz Sol in Madrid! This after some confusion over the reservation because we first went to Hostal Santa Cruz on the floor below by mistake. Oops! Hey, Santa Cruz, Cruz Sol, what's the difference (especially after a long trans-Atlantic flight)? You shoulda seen us trying to figure this out with limited Spanish knowledge.
Here we are in the lobby next to the Christmas tree. Our clean and well maintained rooms are directly behind us. Took us a long time to figure out the fancy hi-tech A/C unit though. This thing was intense! It had its own remote control with about as many buttons as a VCR remote. Seriously, we highly recommend this place. It was strategically located halfway between Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor, two of the most centrally located sights in Madrid.
Somewhere between Bobadilla and Sevilla on a train, we met this adorable Spanish girl. She was the life of the car. Everyone (especially Michelle and June) were gaga over how cute she was. They were teaching her how to speak English.
This picture was taken near the town of Dos Hermanas. We attempted to get a picture of the two sisters next to a sign that reads Dos Hermanas, but no luck; we couldn't find one. Do they look slightly embarrassed in the picture? That's because they just accidentally flew into some poor Spanish lady's lap after the train made a sudden stop.
Awww, this would be a great photo just by itself, but the sign makes it that much better. The English small print next to the cross reads: "Wayward Girls Assistance". I guess there's enough demand here to warrant such an office... This was taken in the Sevilla train station upon our arrival.
A sight we would get to know all too well. Here's Señor Escott Dijmon heading toward the information booth in a train station, armed with map and train schedule in hand. We would come to rely on his 3 years of high-school Spanish to get around.
You'll notice the quintessential American backpacker's fashion displayed by Señor Escott here. The hi-tech internal frame pack with waist strap (chest strap unclasped for easy access to valuables in the money belt) with ample capacity for 30 days of laundry, toiletries, guidebooks and souvenirs. The tell-tale white T-shirt, 2-to-3-day-old blue jeans, and I'll bet he had white tennis shoes, too. The only things missing are a water bottle in one hand and a camera in the other!
McDonald's restaurants are as ubiquitous in Europe as they are here (sometimes more so), and the stores are usually much more elaborate. The food they serve can be quite different though. Big Macs often taste slightly off key, they serve mayo with fries, and beer is available at some McDonald's. Here's June holding a cup of McGazpacho, a traditional Spanish soup shamelessly stolen, processed, and regurgitated by corporate America!