Wednesday, November 14, 2007

We're Home from Madrid...

Yes, those of you who know that we have been planning a parent's get away to Venice, Italy may be confused by the title of this post.... long story short, Scott and I were bumped off the Venice flight on Thursday evening and found ourselves with the children taken care of until Tuesday night and no place to go. So, our first reaction (probably because we DO have 4 small children at home) was to run from one end of the airport to the other and get on a flight to Dublin, Ireland because it was the last flight out that night. Then, moments before the flight crew prepared to close up the plane, we came to our senses and realized that not only did we have no reservations or plans for where to stay or what to do in Dublin, but we also DO have 4 little people with an army of folks caring for them who would be unable to get in touch with us for quite a while if need be...... so we hopped off of that flight and went to Janice and Tom's to regroup. Their home is beautiful, and our welcome was very warm there, as always. The overnight away from the girls seemed to make the stress of international travel planning at the last minute melt away. On Friday morning we awoke refreshed and began searching the flights to European cities that had the most available seats for that afternoon. After a little bit of deliberation we settled on Madrid and then headed for the closest bookstore. We spent a couple of wonderful, relaxing hours in the Borders Bookstore reading over everything they had on Madrid and Spain. We purchased a Lonely Planet Guide to Madrid and headed back to the airport for Take Two. This is where the story takes a giant turn for the better- First Class is the only way to travel. We watched movies, read books, played games, and managed to sneak in a couple of hours sleep, because when we arrived in Madrid it was 9:05am local time, 3:00am home time.

Saturday morning we found the metro, our hotel, hot showers, fresh clothes, and headed out for our first days adventures.

Madrid was full of parks and gardens with wonderful outdoor venues for families. Here we are in one of the only decent pictures we got of the two of us, in front of a man-made lake, in the middle of the Parque del Buen Retiro.

By some miracle, I happened to remember on the way to the airport Friday to call Kari ( she was somewhere in Spain for a summer 10 years ago) to see if she had any suggestions for things to see/do. She reminded me that we have a friend Whitney, who lives in Madrid where her husband Tom plays professional basketball. So, Kari emailed Whitney for me while we were traveling, and I had her phone number by the time we arrived. Whitney and Tom invited us to come see one of his basketball games out in Fuenlabrada, and it happened to be on Saturday night.... our first night there. We found our way to the train station and made the 25 minute trip. It was a great time catching up with an old friend, meeting her 3 beautiful boys, and watching some exciting basketball.

Can you tell who the pro basketball player is in the above photo?

The fans were amazing... screaming, yelling, beating home made drums and blowing horns the entire time. We were absolutely beat by the time we made our way back to our hotel for the night. That night we slept from midnight to noon the next day!!

After we woke up on Sunday, we went to El Rastro, a huge flea market open on Sundays in one of the sections of Madrid. The streets were closed and there were thousands of booths with the typical flea market wares. We hit a few more parks and gardens for the rest of the afternoon, and then got ready for our evening tour with Stephen Drake-Jones, the self appointed Chairman of the Wellington Society, of which we are now members. We did a tapas tour of old Madrid with 6 other Americans that lasted well into the evening, and on Sunday night only ended up getting 9 hours of sleep.... still tons for people used to 6 or 7 hours max. The photo above is in the Plaza del Sol below the horse where we met The Chairman and the others for the beginning of our tour at 7:30pm. It was a little more difficult than we anticipated to find them because there was a protest of sorts in the plaza right where we were supposed to meet... something about communists, fascists, and skinheads?!? It was difficult to understand what the problem was, but it was clear that there was something bad going on.

Then on Monday we took a high speed train to Toledo for the day. The architecture, cathedrals, paintings and just everything there was amazing! It was an awful lot of steep climbing/walking, but well worth it.

Overall, we had an amazing trip, and when we came home it seemed the girls had all grown up so much. I think they missed us as much as we missed them, and life has settled back into normal again. The rest are some of the other wonderful pictures that Scott took while we were in Spain. Enjoy!!

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Kelly said...

MB, what a great trip! Wow, Madrid is just gorgeous. I'm so glad y'all had such a good time. I hope you got some rest! Now you will just have to plan Venice for another time. Darn!

Denise Wheeler said...

MB, It looks like you had a wonderful time despite the change in plans. That is wonderful that you were able to still get away. Those are some beautiful pictures. Madrid looks like it is absolutely beautiful.

Kelli said...

Wow! What an incredible and your husband are so inspiring to me! I hope to do something like this with my hubby too someday!

You both look so happy in your picture, and the pics of Madrid are spectacular!!

Kelly is right - now you just have to plan another getaway with your DH to Venice! ;o)

- Kelli

3 Peas N A Pod said...

What an incredible trip! We had plans to go to Venice this spring, but things fell through. We never thought about going to Madrid... but from the pictures, it looks like we should have investigated Spain. Spain looks gorgeous.


guinnf said...

It looked like you guys had so much fun. I am so happy you got to go.
Kimberly and the GA Guinn Trips

The Dairy Wife said...

Oh, it looks like you had a dream get away!

Love the pictures! You lucky duck ~


Candace said...

Hey there - I thought of you all week (in Venice), and was quite surprised reading your entry!

You won't have fun when we plain, boring, southern folks visit!

By the way, Sam wants to know what the picture is that looks like a weird rock formation???