Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The next morning, we took the Metro to church which is held in the YWCA downtown. We walked about a kilometre in the most howling wind I've ever walked in. It must have been -30 or more with the windchill and I was wearing a skirt and no hat. Ugh ... it was awful! But worth it as we got to see my cousins! And Amanda's new little one, Jacob. The service was in French so we didn't catch much. We decided to head home right after the luncheon around 2pm. Thankfully, Adam drove us back to our hotel as by now the snow was swirling around. Our drive home was nicer because it was during the day but just as treacherous as Friday night. We saw three cars rolled over in the ditch. God's Hand was upon us for sure.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
In summary, we had an amazing trip and are so thankful that we were able to go to Spain. We recommend it to anyone wishing for a great cultural experience!
Next on the agenda:
I think that's the plan anyway, right Reuben?
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I just read this blog post and thought you might be interested. I couldn't link to the specific post but just to the blog in general. It's written on Dec 1. It's written by a woman struggling with whether to tell her daughter that Santa isn't real. It's written from a Christian perspective and is incredibly beautiful. Take a look.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Then we walked over to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza stopping at some souvenir shops along the way and Reuben went in. I had no desire to walk around another art museum so I went to Starbucks and tried a new flavoured coffee that they were advertising (not worth the calories) and then just wandered around for an hour.
Then we walked down towards a book market that was in the guidebook. Of course, since it was 2:30pm, they were all closing up but we browsed a bit and finally got brave enough to ask one of them if they had any English books. So this person brought out a whole stack of books most were on dieting, managing your life, self-help books but there was one kids fantasy book near the bottom that I bought because I needed something to read on the flight home. It was pretty good and I'm glad I have it as a memory from Spain.
Then we headed back to near our hotel and met up with Tim again. We walked towards the Royal Palace and actually went in the garden. It was pretty neat.
After this we did some more walking around and got lost in Chinatown which turned into this ghetto area. It was kind of scary but we quickly made our way out and ended up back where we started. Oops! So then we went in search of our friends' recommendation of 100 Monteditos; monteditos is Spanish for little sandwiches. We found a place that Tim said he used to go to a lot. It was really cool. They had about 75 different sandwiches to choose from and you write down what you want and then bring it up to the counter, pay for it and then go and get it when they call your number. We sat there for a couple of hours while we waited for Esther to join us.
And then after that, we went to an Irish pub just because. We had Guiness and just sat and chatted. It was a really nice way to end our time in Spain. We walked back to our hotel and then packed and set our alarm for really early the next morning.
Friday, November 28, 2008
While inside the cathedral we started hearing shouting and whistleblowing and cheering like all of a sudden we were hearing echos of a football game. So we went outside and there in the plaza was some sort of protest. It didn't look violent but there were police keeping things under control. As our Spanish is below elementary, we had no idea what was going on. I was a little intimidated though.
Inside we saw all sorts of neat things, old bedrooms, throne room and the armoury.
Then we walked up 152 windy stairs to the top of one of the towers.
And the breathtaking view of countryside and town were definitely worth it.
This is the 'drawbridge' and empty moat surrounding the castle.
Back in Madrid, we raced up all the steep hills we could find to the Egyptian monument in Parc del Ouest to see the sunset. It was stunning!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
After dinner, we walked down the historic Calle Mayor and tried to find a place that had a flamenco show. Our guide book told us of one just off the main street so we went there but it would've been 60 euros to see it; so we didn't. It was a really nice, warmish, dry evening. Then it was off to bed to be rested for our trip to Segovia the next day.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
At our stop, Reuben didn't get off the bus fast enough so the driver left and closed the door behind him. I couldn't figure out how to open the bus door from the outside. There were others trying to get off too so I was in a bit of a panic. Not knowing a word of Spanish I tried to find the bus driver in a sea of other travellers. There were 4 other buses stopped here all at the same time. It was a zoo. Thankfully, I didn't need to use the washroom as the line up was insane. And you couldn't get away from the smoke. Even out in the parking lot! Finally, as I was making my way inside to figure out what to do some guy on the bus caught the attention of one of the other drivers and he let them out. What an adventure.
We passed through some amazing scenery including going through the Cantabrian mountain range. As we went down towards the coast, the bus went careening around corners. The lanes are significantly smaller here than in Canada and we passed some large lorries. I couldn't even look sometimes!!
Once in San Sebastian, we had no idea where we were as we didn't have a map of the city. The bus stop was near a traffic circle and a fancy hotel. Reuben decided to go inside and ask someone. And the desk clerk knew some English and gave us a tourist map of the city and pointed out where we had to go. It was about a 20 to 25 min walk to our hotel. It was a beautiful night. We could already feel the moisture in the air from being close to the ocean even though we couldn't see it yet.
It took a bit of searching to find our hotel as the odd numbers on one side of the street didn't seem to have even counterparts on the other side. But finally, we reached it. We had to buzz to be let in and it was on the second floor of the building. The receptionist/owner was a super friendly older lady. She let us in to our room and our jaws dropped!! We were looking directly out on the ocean. There was only the boardwalk between us and the water. It was brilliant!!
The sound of the ocean waves was mesmerizing. After settling in, we hit the town for some food. We ended up at a small tapas bar and had a couple of cervesas of beer and some tapas.This guy was slicing up a jamon (leg of pork). They had this stuff everwhere hanging from the ceiling. It's a real delicacy here and each leg costs a good bit of money. It's smoked/cured. We had it on slices of bread with cheese. I had some spanish tortilla and Reuben tried all sorts of fishy delights.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Basically, we just kept walking around, stopping to take tons of pictures and looking at the views and everything.
And playing on random swingsets in deserted courtyards.
We took the bus home at 6pm because we wanted to see the sunset over the town. It was quite cool. And then when we got back to Madrid, Reuben wanted to see the Palace so we decided to walk back to our hotel. Except that the map didn't tell us it was uphill the whole way!!!!
We didn't ever go inside the Palace even though it's supposed to be spectacular. When we got closer to our hotel, we stopped in at a corner store and bought Cava (champagne, we didn't have a corkscrew so we couldn't by wine), a bag of chips and a chocolate bar as a late night snack. We also bought some muffins and pastries so that could eat breakfast in our room before we met up with Tim and Esther for church.