Thursday, July 19, 2012

Spain 2012

Time to change countries with a flight to Madrid. Our friends from Stellenbosch, Ainhoa and Javier, met us and spent the week showing us around their hometown. Our hostel was right in the middle of the city in Puerto del Sol above the metro station, but it was very quiet inside and had everything we wanted (except a plug for the sink – ‘no plugs allowed’). There was an amazing bakery below us that had the most delicious pastries and cakes!
We went by fast train (200km/hr) to the town of Toledo, a historic city not far from Madrid. It has many historic buildings and they are still discovering more layers of history beneath. One museum had a Roman road below a Islamic mosque, that then became a Christian church. We nearly had to stay the night when we accidently got the wrong train time - luckily the guard was kind enough to let us stand up for the journey home!
Back in Madrid we met up with some friends from Newcastle for dinner - traditional Tapas - yumm! Then the next day the adults went to the Prado and saw the most amazing art I’ve ever seen while the kids and Ainhoa had an adventure on the metro (choose your own adventure)! We finished the afternoon with Churros and Hot Chocolate - a must for any visitor - thankfully Ainhoa could order for us. Very rich thick hot choc with donut-like light deep fried churros to dip into the chocolate.
After sharing in this delicacy we said goodbye to Caitlin and Tim and had a rest! Javier’s family invited us for lunch so we enjoyed some traditional paella (no seafood for Niall) and overcame the language barrier with some games and lots of laughter! We survived a red bus tour during a downpour (with no proper covers on the top level!) and managed to get our washing done at a nearby laundromat (while chatting to another Australian, of course!). Another interesting town we travelled to (by bus this time) was El Escorial where we saw the fantastic Royal Palace and Monastery with so much art work and beautifully manicured gardens. We hiked up to Felipe’s seat and could see snow on the mountains in the distance. Such a beautiful day - and it was Mother’s Day!


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