S: Spain 2012
FC: SPAIN 2012
2: MADRID WALKING TOUR | November 25
3: PUERTA DEL SOL | We landed in Madrid at 8:30 AM and began our walking tour at 11 in Fuente de Neptuno. We walked toward Puerta del Sol, passing grand buildings and cute plazas. | Fuente de Neptuno | Banco Benesto Building | Plaza Canalejas | King Charles III | Estatua del Oso y el Madroño
4: PLAZA MAYOR | We continued through the narrow streets to Plaza Mayor, where the square was packed with booths set up for the Christmas market. | King Philip III
6: JAMON | Mercado de San Miguel
7: CAVE BARS | Calle Cava de San Miguel
8: MESON RINCON DE LA CAVA | "Mesones" line Calle Cava de San Miguel. These cave-like bars come complete with wells, narrow stairways and old wine cellars.
9: RESTAURANTE SOBRINO DE BOTIN | The world's oldest restaurant Calle de los Cuchilleros
10: CAVA BAJA TO PLAZA De ORIENTE | After strolling down Cava Baja, we wound our way through the narrow streets and plazas toward the Cathedral and the Royal Palace. | Cava Baja | Plaza de la Paja
11: In the plaza between the Cathedral and the Royal Palace, we heard an accordion player playing Hava Nagila! On the way back through Plaza de Oriente, we walked (quickly) through a rally of the fascist party. | Plaza de la Villa | Catedral de la Almudena | Along Calle del Codo, we stopped to warm up and rest in a cloistered convent, Convento de las Carboneras del Corpus Christi. They are known for their sweets that you order through a special lazy susan door. | Convento de las Carboneras
12: After a very long day of traveling and walking, we ended our walking tour with Inez with churros con chocolate. Then we had a classic paella lunch before wandering back to the hotel for a long nap. For dinner, we found a very trendy restaurant, Ramses, near the hotel and had our first of many Spanish dinners of tapas and wine. | Ayuntamiento de Madrid | Banco de Espana | Fuente de Cibeles | Gran Via
13: A VERY WET AFTERNOON | November 26 | The Royal Palace
14: After a late start (we overslept), we headed back towards the Royal Palace to wander through the ornate rooms for a couple of hours. In complete opposition to the day before, we passed a communist party demonstration on the way. After lunch at Cafe de Oriente, in the Plaza de Oriente, we wandered up from the Royal Palace to Plaza de España and Templo de Debod. Unfortunately, it rained all afternoon and | we spent the rest of the day getting soaked in the rain. In the evening, we went to the Reina Sofia (free admission night!). In Plaza de Santa Ana, we tried a local "microbrewery" that wasn't really a microbrewery. Instead of the one cerveza available at most places, they had two. Luckily we found a great wine and tapas bar, Vinoteca Barbechera. Finally, we ended our evening at Casa Patas for an amazing flamenco show. | Plaza de Oriente | The Royal Palace
15: Palacio Real de Madrid
16: Templo de Debod | Plaza de España | Reina Sofia
18: MAZAPAN, OLD DOORS AND NARROW STREETS | November 27
19: TOLEDO | We traveled to Toledo by high speed train. Wow!!! Toledo is a city that lends itself to wandering the winding, narrow streets. We started in Plaza de Zocodover and starting off in the general direction of the Jewish Quarter. | Plaza de Zocodover | Iglesia de San Ildenfonso
22: Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes
23: THE JEWISH QUARTER | Toledo is an incredible intersection of cultures. Where else can you find Moorish architecture in church that was formerly a temple? | Sinagoga de Santa Maria la Blanca
24: Museo Sefardi
25: Just outside the Museo Sefardi, we found a gift shop at the bottom of Calle Samuel Levi. It is one of the few shops in Toledo that still sells handmade damascene. The owners are an adorable couple and they even gave us cookies! The people you meet along the way are the highlight of traveling.
26: Views from Jardines de Transito | El Greco Museum
27: Cathedral in mazapan at Santa Tome
28: Catedral Primada Santa Maria de Toledo
29: Alcazar | Museo de Santa Cruz
30: Toledo at dusk | Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz | Puerta del Sol
31: A DAY OF ART | November 28
32: We spent most of the day in the Prado and spent an extra hour after I discovered the checklist of masterpieces in the guide. I had to make sure we saw them all! The Thyssen was amazing, especially when you consider that this was a personal collection. | Iglesia de Los Jeronimos
33: Madrono Tree | Bosque del Recuerdo (Garden of Memories) | Monument to Alfonso XII | PARQUE DEL BUEN RETIRO | After the museums, we wandered around Retiro Park. It was a bit cold to really spend time exploring, but the park is beautiful even in late fall. | Monumento a Alfonso XII
34: PALACIO DE CRISTAL Y PALACIO DE VELAZQUEZ | We stopped in at these two building where the Reina Sofia has modern art exhibits. They were quite odd. At the Crystal Palace, string was tied around the inner pillars. At the Palace of Velazquez, there was a birdcage, a room with bar tables, and blue canvasses.
35: PLAZA DE LA INDEPENDENCIA | As we left the Crystal Palace, I noticed an artist who signed his name in Hebrew. I asked him about it and we chatted in a mix of Hebrew, Spanish and English. We exited the park at Independence Plaza and stopped for coffee and a pastry. We spend our last night in Madrid, catching up with a friend from grad school who helped us navigate a tapas menu at a restaurant on Cava Baja. | Puerto de Alcala
37: MONTJUIC AND MORE MUSEUMS | November 29
38: MONTJUIC | We took the high speed train again to Barcelona in the morning (still wow!). Getting to the hotel was tricky due to road closures for a marathon. Once we checked in, we were off to Montjuic to explore, from the top down. | Miro Museum | MNAC from the Miro Museum | La Font del Gat
39: MUSEUMS | We spent a few hours at the Miro museum. The "Explosion! The Legacy of Jackson Pollack" temporary exhibit was great. We wandered through the park, La Font del Gat, and had a quick tour of MNAC. We were a little over museums by then! | La Font del Gat | View from La Font de Gat | MNAC | Placa de Espanya
40: MERCAT DE SANT JOSEP DE LA BOQUERIA | On the way back, wandered through La Boqueria. Despite the odor of fish in the central area, it is an amazing place to get lost in. The fresh juices were amazing (and cheaper in the back). Walking through made us very hungry!
41: Speaking of hungry, we stopped at a cute self-service food (with drink service) pintxos and tapas place, Bilbao Berria, right near the hotel (this became a nightly stop for us) before having our first and only real dinner of the trip at the historic and cheesy 4Gats.
42: A GAUDI DAY | November 30
43: BASILICA I TEMPLE EXPIATORI DE LA SAGRADA FAMILIA | The difference from 1999 is staggering. Then, no actual building; now, an enormous, towering, awe-inspiring church.
48: PARK GUELL | After Sagrada Familia, we wandered through the park, listened to some very noisy birds nesting in the palm trees around the main terrace and enjoyed beautiful views of the city.
52: BARCELONETA | We wandered down to Barceloneta and stopped for lunch at Suquet de l'Almirall for our best meal of the trip. Despite the cold, many people were out on the beach picnicking, walking, surfing, and paddle boarding.
53: POBLE SEC | In the evening, we went to Poble Sec for tapas; it was recently written up in the NY Times. We found the highly recommended and very tiny (but very high alcohol per square foot) Quimet y Quimet. We ended up at Bilbao Berria (again) for dessert.
54: The lights of Barri Gotic
55: WANDERINGS AND FUTBOL | December 1
56: Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia
58: EL BORN BARRIO | After visiting the cathedral, we visited the Picasso Museum and explored the surrounding neighborhood. We were just in time to find Spidey in trouble down a narrow alley. | Museo Picasso
59: THE RAMBLAS RAMBLE | We walked down Las Ramblas again, but this time followed a self-guided tour from Placa de Catalunya to the waterfront, with a stop for a leisurely (slow) lunch in La Boqueria at Restaurant la Gardunya . | Font de Canaletes | Rambla of flowers
60: Church of Bethlehem
62: Placa Reial | Palau Guell | Statue of Christopher Columbus
63: Carrer del Bisbe Bridge | Carrer del Bisbe Bridge | College of Architects | Roman Aqueduct | BARRI GOTIC | The walking tour of the Gothic Quarter started right near our hotel at an old fountain and in Placa Nova. We then proceeded up Carrer del Bisbe, past the Roman walls and aqueduct and under the bridge.
64: Casa de la Ciutat at Placa de Sant Jaume | PLACA SANT JAUME | We made our way through the narrow streets and plazas to this open square with government buildings on each side. Then. we scaled the heights of Mont Taber but only peeked in at the Roman Temple of Augustus due to the swarm of teenagers also visiting. Finally, we ended our tour at Placa del Rei and made our way around the back of the Cathedral to our hotel. We needed some rest before the big game.
65: Placa del Rei | Chapel of Saint Agatha | Cathedral
66: CAMP NOU | We lucked out with seats 5 rows behind the goal. What a view of the goals scored in the second half! The energy in the stadium is unlike anything either of us has experienced. Getting back on the metro was also an unprecedented experience of being crammed in like sardines.
67: SITGES | December 2 | The end of the trip for me, I left for home the next morning. Patrick went on to Sitges for his conference and this view. Next time, once Sagrada Familia is finished, we will have to go together in the summer and enjoy the Spanish beaches.