First, I'd like to state that the trip was an adventure that compiled of many smaller adventures, such as arriving in new-to-us cities or towns, reading and speaking a different language, navigating foreign public transit and rail systems, getting from A to B without getting lost, eating new food at hours that were much later than what we do at home, seeing historic and jaw-dropping sights, meeting new people, using two different currencies (euros and pounds), and even operating different plumbing systems in our hotel bathrooms. My five senses were alive and optimized for the entire trip! I love it all!
Second, the trip was an awesome success 100%! In fact, in some ways, it exceeded my expectations. Looking back, there were many touch points where something could go wrong but we did not experience any mishap or mayhem throughout the entire trip. Sure, I did my best to plan for our trip but sometimes even the best laid plans would not work out so I think there was an element of luck on our side.
1. Plaza Mayor, Madrid's landmark and most beautiful square, celebrates its 400th anniversary this year. It is surrounded by three residential buildings, having 237 balconies facing the Plaza.
2. Sobrino de Botin, Horno de Asar, Hemingway's favourite restaurant, has been opened since 1725. It received the Guinness World Records Certificate for being the oldest restaurant in the world.
3. Statue of the Bear and Strawberry tree at Puerta del Sol, one of Madrid's best known squares. The same image appears on the city's coat of arms.
4. The Cibeles Fountain, created in 1782, and situated in its current location since 1895. The fountain depicts Cibele, the Roman goddess, symbol of the Earth, agriculture, and fertility, atop a chariot drawn by two lions.
5. Royal Palace, home to the Kings of Spain from Charles III to Alfonso XIII, as seen from Plaza de Oriente Square. Look at that blue sky!
6. Along Paseo del Prado, known as the Art Walk, leading to the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofía Museum.
7. Scene from one of the pedestrian-only shopping streets in Madrid:
8. Toledo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage and historical co-existence of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures. In the picture below, Toledo's Alcazar, a fortified palace with its army museum, presides over the whole city.
9. Toledo's Cathedral, the crowning glory of the City, was completed in the 15th century and was considered one of the high points of Gothic art. The maze of streets making up the historic centre of Toledo is only bounded by walls in which many gates were opened.
10. Toledo's train station was designed to echo the historic architecture of the city. The central section is flanked by two side naves, one of which is adjacent to the clock tower, which imitates the style of Toledo church towers.
11. The next three pictures show Toledo's train station interior in Neo-Mudejar style, its hall and ceiling.
12. One of these two Renfe Avant trains took us from Toledo back to Madrid.
I hope you enjoy the pictures. I'll be posting my pictures from Cordoba, Gibraltar, and Seville in the next posts. Please feel free to leave a comment.
Have a great week!