Parroquia de San Sebastián

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  • Day51

    “Boring” Travel day

    May 11 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 79 °F

    It’s a “boring” travel day today - tho I still even relish these days. Seeing the different airports, navigating the mass transits, taking the buses, walking up out of the subways into the old squares and seeing them for the first time, even watching the flight attendants do their jobs in all different languages. I can’t understand them - but I know what they’re saying!! I am fascinated by the most mundane and even the routine on this journey.

    We left Bordeaux and flew to Madrid, Spain! Not the end of France for us — We’ll be back to the southern coast the first of July.

    We got in to Madrid in the late afternoon so we made it to our hostel, got our bearings, had a quick bite at a restaurant that is considered the “fast food” of Madrid — had beer, cokes, a small burger, small chicken sandwich AND a flat bread — all for under $10! Crazy. Haven’t seen “cheaper” food (without seriously hunting for it) since Costa Rica. We also went to Los Artesanos 1902, a chocolateria, and had Madrid’s signature churros dipped in hot chocolate - more like a thick chocolate soup! It was delicious! Can’t wait to see what Madrid has to show us in the morning

    This trip feels SO crazy - going to places I only have seen on TV or in the movies. I never imagined I would make it to all of these places. It’s actually really fun seeing the world this way - comparing/contrasting the different cultures as we go from one to the next. I still can’t even absorb what I’m doing tho — as I book the next legs of our journey to places like Switzerland and Budapest! 🤯
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    Don Norman

    Uncle Don and I enjoyed our time in Madrid especially the town square’s sitting and watch the people walking about in the evening, grandparents, parents pushing or holding hands of their children. Wonderful memories.

    Christie Mitchell

    It seems like a GREAT place to people watch! Too tired tonight, but can’t wait to just sit around and absorb the surroundings tomorrow

    Lisa Pelletier

    I love your new perspective on the world! Travel is wonderful for the soul.

    Christie Mitchell

    It’s definitely been a life changing experience. And I’m only 7 weeks into it today. It REALLY is good for the soul. ❤️

    Julie Burdette

    I love that you love the mundane. That was my biggest complaint about Deb when we were in Rome. She was constantly on her phone. I didn't get it. We were in Rome!!! I wanted to soak every last thing in.

    Christie Mitchell

    EXACTLY! I’m here to experience everything I can. Seeing it all. Also, jordan doesn’t pay for a sim in each country, so has no access to her phone unless we’re near wifi. I have a very limited data plan, but reserve it for gps needs and such. It’s nice to not be “connected” so not even tempted to sit on our phones — until back in our hostel each night.

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  • Day52

    Madrid’s beautiful parks & gardens

    May 12 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 73 °F

    We spent the day wandering thru some of the most beautiful botanical gardens and parks today in Madrid. First went to the Jardin Botanical and then to El Retiro Park - both just gorgeous. Both had sections devoted to huge rose gardens and I can’t even describe the smells as we walked through. Very relaxing day, which was really needed after our push thru Paris and Bordeaux.

    Figuring out food in these different countries has almost become comical. We go to pretty authentic places, so most menus aren’t in English. Usually, we can kind of figure out what we’re ordering with google translate and such. But in Madrid especially, it’s been tough. Today’s lunch we had ZERO idea what we were actually going to be given, or even what was in it - ended up being really good, but makes for interesting times.
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    Kathryn Kelley

    The picture of happiness

  • Day53

    Madrid … day 2

    May 13 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 79 °F

    So today was a tough day. I snapped. Broke down crying trying to order my breakfast. After so many days in foreign cities/countries, it all got too much for me today. EVERYTHING I do here is so much harder than in “normal” life … ie, ordering food, figuring out where food is, WHAT food is, locating anywhere we want to go, navigating public transport (vs just getting in my car), finding a bathroom, using the shower (handles are all different and backwards). You name it, it takes twice as much effort to accomplish it. Don’t get me wrong - this is a trip of a lifetime, it’s absolutely magical … but some days it’s really hard, too.

    Madrid hasn’t been my favorite city - at least not yet. It’s not quite as “magical” to me as France - but that was a hard act to follow. Jordan came down with the stomach flu today so put a damper on activities - pretty sure it’s not food poisoning since we share almost everything we order, and I’m still feeling great.

    Before Jordan came down sick we did end up getting to the Cathedral de Almudina (the biggest church in Madrid) which was gorgeous as always, and we made it to the Royal Palace. They only allowed pics in one area so couldn’t capture how beautiful it was inside — but damn, trust me, it was amazing.
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    Lisa Pelletier

    Hang in there!

    Julie Burdette

    You're bound to have days like this. 50 days is a long time to be on the road and in foreign countries. Don't beat yourself up. Magic is around the corner!!

    Christie Mitchell

    I assume.

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  • Day2


    March 22 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    رسیدم به مادرید و با مترو رفتم تا هاستلی که تو مرکز شهر رزرو کرده بودم. بعد ازینکه وسایلم رو گذاشتم تو هاستل زدم بیرون تا گشتی تو شهر بزنم و سوپرمارکت برم.
    روز بعد تو مادرید باید چند تا مغازه میرفتم. نمیتونستم عصای کوهنوردی رو تو هواپیما با خودم بیارم بنابراین اون رو از مادرید خریدم. گشتی تو شهر زدم. شهر خیلی قدیمی به نظر نمیاد. ولی شلوغ و زنده بود. مغازه‌ها و رستوران‌ها و کافه‌ها بازن و مردم در جنب و جوش. مثل همه پایتخت‌های دیگه.
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  • Day14

    Cinco Fotografías- Day 2 Madrid

    April 27 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    We thought that today would be a great day to get a little sense of the city by wandering without a specific agenda.

    I want to start with the notion that we are really appreciative of having the opportunity to stay in Chuecas, a gay neighborhood in Madrid. Back home, we have been startled by the events in Florida that strive to make queer people invisible. When I first came out, I wanted to move to an urban area and live in a gay ghetto. It's not that I wanted to be segregated, but I wanted to be in space where I didn't always have to self-censor to just make others comfortable. I want to be clear that I'm so very grateful for straight allies, but when we wander in the streets of Chueca, I was reminded how exhausting it can be to be in space where you're on alert about whether you will be harmed for just being who you are. I don't want to get lost on this tangent; I just want to express my gratitude at how Spain has strived to create safe space despite a tradition deeply routed in Catholocism. More on that later...

    After a lovely light breakfast and cafe con leche, we headed to the Royal Palace of Madrid. It's massive and we enjoyed walking adjacent to the grounds and witnessing the changing of the guard. There is a beautiful Cathedral adjacent to the palace, but we wondered instead to the Crypta de la Almudena. This was the burial grounds of the wealthy and powerful people of Madrid. When I pondered the donations that a family must have contributed to be buried in this magnificent space, I also thought of "los pobres " and their very different experience. Nevertheless, I was moved by the stunning artwork, stained glass, mosaics and gold where the wealthy have left their loved ones to rest over the last hundred plus years.

    As we walked back home, I noticed several Progress Pride flags. The evoked a bit of home town Pride as the designer is a non-binary artist who lives in Portland.

    After resting in the afternoon, we went to a Flamenco performance that was recommended by a former colleague in Washington. We loved the brilliant costumes, singing, the amazing guitarists, and the dancers. I have to admit that my knees ached vicariously watching the energetic footwork.

    It was a really lovely first day. The Portland rainy season is chasing us a bit; however that has not dampened our joy in exploring this amazing city.
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    Kelli Houston

    Pride flags are amazing. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit

  • Day17

    Cinco Fotografías-Madrid Day 5

    April 30 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    "It's our last dance, last dance in Spain... "🎶 (apologies to Donna). This was a relatively quiet day where we read and lounged during the day. Madrid feels quite festive and energetic this weekend given that Madrid is celebrating its Festival of Communidad holiday on Monday.

    Madrid definitely "loves the night life..." 🎶 (Apparently, I have disco on my brain today. ) I'm writing this post a little earlier today as we are venturing to a dance tonight that starts at midnight. So long naps have definitely been in order for us because "somos viejos" 👴 👴

    Earlier this afternoon we took about a three-hour stroll in Retiro Park. Birdwalk Alert: Given that this is the first day after my final regular work paycheck, retiro (withdrawal, retreat) seems like the perfect word. Fun fact: the Spanish word for retirement is jubilación.

    We loved this park for many reasons. First, one on my favorite trees in the U.S. is the chestnut. This park has an abundance of a chestnut variation and the blossoms are stunning.

    There were many vendors selling their wares throughout the park. We were amused by the many costumed characters seeking to attract visitors who might want a photo for a free. We first noticed cuddly bears for the kids followed by the not so cuddly creatures from the films Predator and Alien. Micky and Minnie Mouse were also in attendance. Jim dubbed an emaciated replica of one of Jim Henson's Muppets as "Sad Kermit" who definitely reinforced that "It's Not Easy Being Green".

    During our walk, a thunderstorm rolled in and we sought shelter at the Palacio de Cristal which is made almost entirely of glass. Once the storm passed we made our way back to our apartment to rest and prepare for a late dance.

    We are very grateful for our inaugural trip to Spain. The people and culture are lovely. Hasta mañana, amigos y familia. 💞
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  • Day16

    Cinco Fotografías-Madrid Day 4

    April 29 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We slowed the day down quite a bit today, and it felt quite a bit more like living locally rather than simply existing here as tourists.

    Our first task of the day was to locate a post office. Despite using Google maps and asking for directions from local officials who gave contradicting advice. The search felt a bit like a location clues game resembling "Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego?".

    This meandering search was fortuitous as we noticed a crowd gathering along the street of two fenced buildings. We noticed military police guarding these two structures as well as a cordoned off area on the public sidewalk adjacent to the area. Festive nationalistic songs were broadcast loudly through speakers.

    I listened to the chatter of the crowd, and I was able to learn that it was a relief of the guard ceremony that happens only on the last Friday of each month at Buena Vista Palace and the Spanish army headquarters. There was considerable pomp and circumstance, and the exercises were fun to watch.

    We returned to our search for the post office, and after another clue from a startled security guard who wondered why we were entering the premises, we were led to the right location. The post office was quite massive with several workers at counters. I approached a post office worker and learned that we needed to secure a ticket, much like one would experience at the DMV. Shortly after, our number appeared on a huge screen and we went to that station.

    During the next few minutes we were able to answer several questions about sending the package, level of coverage, speed of delivery as well as purchasing postage for a postcard for a friend's birthday.

    I know the lengthy description of the mundane task of going to the post office might in itself be a bit overly descriptive. For us, it was fun to feel part of the daily living of the average citizen as we noticed the similarities and differences of the processes and only speaking and listening to Spanish to figure out what to do.

    After the post office, we decided to plan for a picnic in the park. A new acquaintance, José, who I met on social media gave us recommendations for a park and nearby attractions. He was quite kind and helpful with detailed recommendations, and we decided to follow his sage advice.

    After picking up lunch items at one of the local Supermercados, we took the bus route to our first destination. This was our first bus trip in Madrid and the video displays were quite helpful about stops while contemporaneously displaying bits of random trivia information.

    Our first stop was at Templo de Debod. According to the website this temple was built in the 2nd century BC ,and it was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government to save it from floods caused by the construction of the Aswan Dam. The temple was restored stone by stone and place in the midst of a beautiful park.

    After this stop, we headed to the Madrid Teleférico, a magnificent aerial tram that our friend recommended that we take to get to our park destination for lunch: La Casa de Campo.

    La Casa de Campo (Country House) is the largest park in Madrid, and this space was first acquired by King Phillip II when he moved his court to Madrid in the mid 15th century. The park belongs to royal families until it was acquired by the government and made open to the public in 1932.

    We really savored walking the trails in the park, and sitting on a park bench to enjoy our lunch. We could hear the exhilarated screams of children at an adjacent amusement park, as we took in the first warm sunny day of our trip.

    We concluded our day with wine on the Plaza and we invited José to join us for dinner as gratitude for his guidance. José is from Paraguay originally and he told us about the culture of his country and his life in Madrid. He traveled extensively as a cruise guide until the pandemic hit.

    We finished the day with beers at a nearby bar. It was packed and festive as we are approaching a holiday weekend, celebrating Madrid's Festival of Comunidad May 2nd.
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    Richard Isaac

    Enjoying reading the journal! I think May 2 is just a Madrid holiday, from what I can tell: Fiesta de la Comunidad de Madrid. Oct 12 is the national day, I believe.

    Jim Fotter

    thank you for the correction, Rich.

  • Day16

    Cinco Fotagrafías-Madrid Day 3

    April 29 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Today we traveled to two museums: The Prado and Reina Sofia.

    After a light breakfast, we walked about 15 minutes to arrive at the Prado first. Today's first lesson was that to get the right answer you must ask the right question. I inquired about the line we should be in if we had pre-purchased tickets. The museum worker asked if I had "the code". I replied, "yes"and he directed us to a line behind the museum. After about a half-hour wait to get to the front of the line, we learned that we needed a QR code and not the bar code. So we started over again to get that exchange, and returned to the first line to get in.

    Once inside the Prado, we learned that taking photos is not allowed. I'm trying to think what the job title is for most of the employees at the Prado. I'm thinking that Scolding Agent will suffice.

    Initial sarcasm aside, the Prado certainly does have a vast collection of paintings. While I recognized some of the great pieces, most I knew very little about. I particularly liked the El Greco and Goya works. So many of the works portray Biblical stories. I did wonder about some of the portrayals of Jesus, particularly where the newborn Christ looked old enough for kindergarten. Most who know me well are aware of my default to playful irreverence. I kept conjuring up my own inappropriate titles for pieces as we moved through the exhibits.

    The numbering system of the salas were a bit strange to us, but we did manage to come up with a plan to tour and see some of the more famous works. Admittedly, we were a bit worn out after the Prado. While we appreciated, the antiquity of the works, our art illiteracy didn't necessarily create the most fulfilling experience.

    After the Prado we took a gelato break. The restroom had a little rocking horse in it. I wondered if this was an intentional children's distraction accesory while parents relieved themselves.

    Later in the afternoon we ventured to the Museo de Reina Sofia. This collection has more modern artworks, featuring many pieces by Picasso, Dali and other artists of that time period. We really wanted to see Guernica. It's a massive Picasso piece, and it was interesting to see Picasso's stages of development to create it. Guernica shows the tragedies of war and makes the case for peace. With the current Russian invasion in Ukraine and the growing involvement of other countries taking sides, I wonder if old men will behave once again with an absence of memory and repeat the mistakes of the past or choose peace instead. I pray for the latter. I wonder what the art creations will be that reflect our times.

    One of the interesting, yet bizarre features of this museum were some films from the time period. We were trying to make sense of the clips. I will spare you details, but the violence in some of the films was quite graphic and disturbing.

    Part of the museum experience was the green spaces adjacent to the museums. Frankly, I enjoyed much of those spaces nearly as much as the museums themselves.

    When we returned from the museum and rested at the apartment we shared a same thought: we don't have to do all of the things. The best part of our first two weeks on the road is to slow down and just notice the differences and similarities of the culture we are experiencing. It's also giving us time to reflect on this next chapter of our life together post-retirement. Tomorrow is my last regular paycheck after working for 42 years.

    We finished the night with a drink at a local bar. We struck up a very pleasant conversation with an Italian couple. They knew very little English and we knew very little Italian, yet we were able to find out many commonalities between us and to gain insights about our upcoming weeks in Italy.

    Prior to leaving for this trip, many friends asked what attraction we were most looking forward to seeing. Today's experience reinforced for me that the good fortune of being able to see places I've only heard or read about is pretty amazing. Yet, the treasure will be always centered in the people who we meet and the time we have together. This was best summed up by a sign in the bathroom of the gelateria: "Collect moments-not things."
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    Marvin Newton

    When I went to the Prado we didn’t yet have cell phones so I never thought about pictures inside like we do now. I have to say that I spent an entire day looking at Las Meninas by Velazquez though!

    Jim Fotter

    I really liked that piece.

    faye Rm


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  • Day13

    Cinco Fotografías-Madrid Day 1

    April 26 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    After a leisurely final morning in Barcelona, we boarded the AVE (fast train) to Madrid. It really is remarkable to experience such a smooth train ride while traveling at 300 km/hour.

    The near scenery was a bit of a blur (see photo) as we whisked by vineyards and arid lands that reminded us of Southern Wyoming. The notion of arriving in less time than Amtrak takes from Portland to Seattle when the distance is doubled reminds us that the U.S. really lags in rail transportation.

    We noticed that the train and the metro experience was considerably more crowded and intense. I was really put off by a man who pushed me as we were getting off the train. I did notice that it triggered a jolt of testosterone, and I was searching my Spanish vocabulary for every curse I could think of to express. After a few deep breaths, my better self prevailed. I do know the words though. Similarly, the metro was very crowded, and I was worried that I would floor an elderly woman with my backback as I tried not to bump her as the crowd surged in at every stop. I did feel calmer and amused watching and listening to a young boy sing to his father in the midst of the chaos. In retrospect It certainly makes sense about our initial transit experience here. Madrid is about 6 million people- three times the population of Barcelona.

    We made our way to our rented apartment which is in a lovely spot overlooking the Pedro Zerolo Plaza. Shortly after we arrived and settled in, there was a brief thunderstorm, and we wandered a few blocks to a nearby paella restaurant. It is remarkable how inexpensive and tasty the wine is. We had a really great mixed paella.
    After dinner we wandered the neighborhood and sampled the gelato.Gelato.. Jim C had coffee/hazelnut mix and I enjoyed lime/pistachio.

    We are staying in the Chueca neighborhood which is known to be the gay neighborhood. At the end of the evening we dropped by a local bar and we met the owner. He was very welcoming and he recommended some restaurants in the neighborhood. When we heard his accent, we asked if he was from Ireland. Sure enough, he hails from Dublin. When he heard that we were spending our last month in Ireland, he also gave us several tips for our upcoming travels there.

    We are excited about checking out Madrid, and we're grateful for an easy travel day.
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    Sharon Smith

    It’s amazing how large and yet so small this global experience is ❣️

  • Day54

    Last day in Madrid

    May 14 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 75 °F

    Not too sad to be saying goodbye to Madrid - it wasn’t my favorite city. They DO public parks VERY well, I will say. Beautiful green spaces everywhere. But other than that, it wasn’t really for me. Luckily, Jordan woke up to find her stomach bug was all gone. Whatever it was only lasted about 12 hrs.

    We went to Mercado San Miguel for an early lunch of Tapas. Really yummy. Then off to an art museum to specifically see an exhibition of American landscape paintings - the museum wanted to bring American artists work here to show Europeans their talent. It was pretty cool.

    I’m not quite sure what’s up with Europe having Egyptian artifacts, but we visited the Temple of Debod - an actual Egyptian temple it was being destroyed in floods in 1968, and Egypt asked anyone in the world to help save this temple, and Spain came to the rescue. They dismantled, shipped and rebuilt it here. Crazy.

    The plaza mayor is the central gathering place in old town Madrid - we headed there for dinner and a final farewell.
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    Julie Burdette

    We saw meat like that hanging everywhere in Italy too.

    Julie Burdette

    It must be done!!! Just like the toe shot on the beach.

    Julie Burdette

    That's a beautiful shot. So pretty all lit up.


You might also know this place by the following names:

Parroquia de San Sebastián, Parroquia de San Sebastian