The Written Word: My Travel Journal from Spain
Join me for a Peek into My Travel Journal
I always have the very best of intentions when it comes to travel journaling. I bought a lovely little journal, complete with a new Monte Verde pen (did I mention that I am a pen freak) and pledged to write of my adventure every single day.
On this particular trip, I did great for the first three days, then I got so swept up and just plain worn out, that I couldn't manage to pick up a pen to save myself. I wanted to share with you here those first three days from my travel journal. Enthusiasm for my writing abounded before I got so completely wrapped up in the experience.
As I write this, we are officially over the Atlantic on our way to Madrid at 5:22 PM EST. Has been a great, but tiring day. We started out at 6:00 AM catching the shuttle from Chattanooga to the ATL airport and well as everyone knows, that is an adventure in itself. We hopped the first leg to Miami and that pretty much went without incident. Now, the nine plus hour adventure that is the "Transatlantic" flight has absolutely begun.
This journey has been a dream in the making for many, many (did I say many) years and now the dream is coming true. Why, you may ask, have I always been enamored with Spain? It goes way, way, way back in my life, when this country grabbed onto me and simply would not turn me loose.
I first fell in love with Mexico and all things Mayan (still am, always will be). When I really dug into the history of these lovely people and their culture, I could not escape Spain. Although there were some atrocities involved with the Spanish Conquest, it intrigued me nonetheless. Being an avid reader and loving the research, I began a lifelong love affair with Spain and with Sevilla in particular.
I have written 2/3 of a novel based largely in and around Sevilla with prominent characters weaving their way through the city. Alejandro is one those characters and is the quintessential Sevillano gentleman, dark and handsome, mysterious, well-spoken and brilliant. I haven't worked on my novel in a few years, life continually gets in the way, but I continue to live every day with Sevilla in my heart, so here I am, on my way to see my true love!
I am operating on two or three hours sleep, but will hopefully be able to rest on the flight soon. Super nice plane, new, latest amenities. Thank you Iberia Airlines! The verdict is still out on the crew (a good deal are multilingual, some not so much). Most people on the flight are a bit pushy and rude, maybe they are heading home from their vacation. My Southern senses are screaming out for a bit of pleasantry or a simple smile, but that is not to be had at the moment. Of course this plane holds over 250 people, the vast majority of which are Spanish and home bound!
Interesting to see how the remainder of the flight goes, food, etc. Alejandro, I know you are still out there, working your stealthy magic with Nicole :) - You will creep back into my life very soon, for I am not done with you yet. Anyway, I will finally make it to Sevilla! To see all the places I have only imagined in my dreams.
The streets of cobblestone, the hanging clusters of bougainvillea, the flamenco and Spanish guitar. I will soon know if it is but a fantasy or could it be a reality? What about the long smoldering glance? Perhaps I will experience it first hand. I look forward to finding out, that is a certainty.
I hope to experience it all - great company, great culture, the opportunity of a lifetime. Things are changing in my life. God has given me a second chance and for that I am grateful. I will do my best to be a worthy soldier! Until later...need to sneak away for a few. Maybe catch a few winks.
We landed at last! Almost 10 hours later, but I am on Spanish soil...
It is approximately 10:40 AM Madrid time. The flight arrived on time, had a bit of confusion over where to find the correct "belt", at baggage claim. Then more confusion on how to get out of the airport. Couldn't find our driver, so had a few calls back and forth with the Trafalgar folks. What terminal? Some coffee shop? Didn't have me listed at all. Alas, found our driver, finally, not near a coffee shop, by the way, and eventually made it to the hotel with a driver who did not speak English (gorgeous limo, though) and two Southern chicks who do not speak Spanish.
The first room key didn't work, but thankfully the second one did and they had our room ready early. Had a language barrier on how to obtain Coca Colas here (and everyone knows I cannot, repeat cannot be without my steady supply of Coca Cola) and whether or not they came in a can or a bottle - language barrier again. Will walk to the store later on - it is supposed to be only a minute from the hotel. For now, I have 3 glasses of ice and 3 glass bottles with no opener from room service. Guess I will be walking to the store that is a minute away to purchase a bottle opener!
My initial impression was, of course, confusion and not really feeling the "warmth" of the Spanish people yet. Hopefully that will all change when the tour gets underway. New country, new folks, lots to learn. Elayne is getting a nap and I'm trying to decide what to do with myself. I'm tired and could certainly use the rest, but I hate to be in Spain and not be doing something besides sleeping. Just need to decide on the best course of action and go from there. The tour doesn't really start until tomorrow evening at 5:30, so we'll have some time tomorrow to explore the city as well.
The hotel is okay. Very European, very different, pretty basic. I have quickly learned that they not only have a belief that washcloths are totally unnecessary, but air conditioning is totally unnecessary as well. I need to quit complaining...I'm not really here for the hotels - here for the history, the culture, the experience of it all. So it should be all good. And of course, as usual, I brought entirely too much stuff, but I will figure all that out. I think I'll start highlighting some things in the Rick Steves book that we can do later this evening or tomorrow before tour time. Check back later...
We took a walk around the hotel and immediate area. Trying to gauge how far from City Center we are. The street maps they have on the corners are massively confusing, no surprise there for the "Spanishless" Southern chicks. Will definitely need to take a taxi to see what we want to see tomorrow. Plan on going to the Prado Museum, Plaza Del Sol and do a walking tour to the palace (Rick Steves again). Reminder to self: Brush up on those 4 years of Spanish you had next time!!!!!
We decided to order room service and I had a Hamburguesa with manchego cheese and sweet onion. Remarkably good. Elayne had a club, which she said was more like a chicken salad sandwich, but it was good. We sat outside the hotel on the park benches and just enjoyed the weather, watched the people and dogs. I'm still not finding the general population or locals very friendly. Hoping things will get better in that area as the tour starts. Guess that is my Southern roots trying to dig in here. I think everyone should be friendly, all the time. That is just the way it is supposed to be!
I failed to mention the amazing sunrise as we were landing this morning as 12:43 AM EST. That in itself was such a weird phenomenon. It literally looked like a lake of fire. Simply stunning - words cannot describe. Plenty of pics, though. Very thankful for this opportunity to experience all of God's glory. It is almost 10:00 PM here now. We are going to get showers and try to get some rest for a great day tomorrow. Adios --- for now!
Boy oh boy what a day! This has truly been one of the most enjoyable days of my life and the tour hasn't really properly begun. Just got back to the room after intros and tapas at Cinco Jotas, which means "Five Brothers". Amazing! I started out thinking I would have to come back here and order a burger, haha. Was I very, very wrong! We had wine, bread, croquettes, cold tomato soup, omelets, asparagus, cheesecake, lemon sorbet, etc., etc., etc. I still can't believe that I just sat in Madrid and had tapas. AMAZING! I am still pinching myself...
Really had a great day overall. Started at the Prado Museum around 9:30 AM, quarter to 10:00. There are no words, really. The most amazing collection of paintings, sculpture, metalwork, inlay and wares in the world. Spent a couple of hours there enjoying it all, including a replica of the Mona Lisa that was painted along side the original. Beautiful grounds, gorgeous architecture and even enjoyed the guards carrying automatic weapons to protect all the fabulous works of art. Madrillano men are not too shabby on the eye (especially armed and in uniform, lol)!
We walked from the Prado to the Plaza Del Sol and took in the sights along the way. Beautiful fountains, statuary, architecture and culture. Had a photo taken with a street performer, which was funny. Spent a long time in El Cortes de Ingles department store. Unlike anything I have ever seen. It spanned several city blocks and was 7 stories tall. Crazy! Elayne bought me 2 t-shirts for my birthday. We bought several postcards, souvenirs, magnets, sandals and lots and lots of other stuff. Where am I going to put it all? This is day 2 and I already need to buy another suitcase!??!?
We made our way back to the hotel via taxi in time for the meet and greet as well as dinner. I have tons of pictures and will detail the day in full when I'm not so tired. Tomorrow, we go to Toledo. Should be fun and interesting. Full update to come later on. Tired, tired, tired!
Obviously I was so tired, and so engaged in the experience that this was the last sentence that I wrote in my brand new journal! Again, the road is paved with good intentions, but I would never trade the experience for all the money in the world! It was a dream come true!
Until next time...Godspeed!