Plaza de Vazguez de Mella

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    • Day 57

      Tag 57 - Familientag und Realmatch

      October 30, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

      Zum Glück konnten wir aufgrund der Zeitverschiebung diese Nacht eine Stunde länger schlafen, denn ich muss sagen, ich bin ziemlich müde. Ein wenig ausgeschlafen, bin ich aufgestanden und gemeinsam haben wir zuhause ein gefrühstückt, heute aber nur wenig, denn wir haben uns heute mir den Cousins von meiner Mutter zum Familientag verabredet. Mit dem Metro fuhren wir zum Treffpunkt, wo wir die Cousins getroffen haben. Es ist bereits auch eine Tradition, dass wir uns am Sonntag treffen und sie uns alle Jahre wieder neue Viertel in Madrid zeigen. Heute mussten wir ein bisschen früher abmachen und hatten auch nicht all zu viel Zeit da um 16:15 Uhr Real Madrid spielte und nicht nur ich, sondern auch mein Vater und mein Götti unbedingt zum Spiel wollten. Wir liefen also durch einen Markt, der überfüllt von Menschen ist. Da am Dienstag auch hier Feiertag ist, haben viele Menschen auch am Montag frei genommen und sind nach Madrid gereist. Vom Markt aus, liefen wir bereits zum ersten Restaurant. Es war knapp 12:00 Uhr und wir, ich ausgeschlossen, assen eine riesige Tortilla. Wir liefen eine weitere Stunde weiter durch die Gegend bis wir an einem alten Essmarkt angelangten und dort wurde wieder gegessen. Mein Götti, mein Vater und ich verabschiedeten uns von dort und gingen zum Fussballspiel. Meine Mutter und mein Gotti blieben noch ein wenig bei den anderen und zogen noch weiter. Ich habe mich richtig auf das Fussballspiel gefreut, hatte wieder gute Plätze in der 10. Reihe, nur leider auf der anderen Seite der Ultras. Mein Sektor war voller Touristen, neben mir sass ein Chinese, der durch das ganze Spiel immer wieder eingeschlafen ist. Die Stimmung im Stadion war der reinste Horror, von den Tribünen aus kam 0 Unterstützung und die Mannschaft hat lustlos und schlecht gespielt, dazu kam noch, dass der Schiedsrichter richtig schlecht gepfiffen hat. In der 70. Minute ging Real mit 1:0 in Führung und ich war ein wenig beruhigt. Doch nur 10 Minuten später, erzielte Girona, die Zeitletzter waren, per Penalty den Ausgleich. Danach erhielt Toni Kroos unnötig seine erste rote Karte in seiner Karriere und als Real das 2:1 erzielte, wurde das Tor vom Schiedsrichter aberkannt. So endete das Spiel mit 1:1 und meine Siegesserie wurde ebenfalls gebrochen. Ziemlich wütend und enttäuscht trafen uns wieder mit meinem Gotti und meiner Mutter, gemeinsam fuhren wir dann zum Restaurant wo wir unser Abendessen geniessten.Read more

    • Day 19


      September 19, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

      Woke up to snow on the mountains in Chamonix just as we’re ready to go. It was a fond farewell to a lovely town. Had dinner on the last night with our newfound TMB friends from Colorado and Seattle. Couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of trekkers and we will miss them. So we zipped over to Madrid where it is lovely and warm. We’ve enjoyed a couple of days here just wandering around, took a tour on the sightseeing bus as you do. Slept looong hours in a our hotel. We’ve been fully in recovery mode after the TMB. Scoffing cafe con leche, empanadas and tapas daily here. Not much in the way of photos to show. Went wandering and found a book each in the English section of a Spanish bookshop. Can’t be without books. Jem is donating his big leather hiking boots as he has no room for them in his case now. They’re pretty heavy and he will be needing some lighter ones for the future treks. (Xmas?) His toenails are black and he’ll lose them for sure. This may be the real reason for better boots. 😜Read more

    • Day 17

      Cinco Fotografías-Madrid Day 5

      April 30, 2022 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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    • Day 16

      Cinco Fotografías-Madrid Day 4

      April 29, 2022 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 wondered why military police were 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, Madrid's Festival of Comunidad on May 2nd.
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    • Day 16

      Cinco Fotagrafías-Madrid Day 3

      April 29, 2022 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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    • Day 13

      Cinco Fotografías-Madrid Day 1

      April 26, 2022 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, the noticeable crowding certainly makes sense in 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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    • Day 14

      Cinco Fotografías- Day 2 Madrid

      April 27, 2022 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.

      We appreciate 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 Catholicism. 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. This 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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    • Day 54

      Restaurant La Barraca, Madrid

      May 17, 2023 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

      We were determined while we were in Madrid to try their traditional paella and after a bit of Google searching to find a highly recommended restaurant in which to partake, we settled on La Barraca. It opened in 1935 when the Solis family decided to bring a prominent piece of their beloved Valencia region to Madrid, their paella. Paella is a part of their culture, tradition and history and is a ritual that is passed down through the generations. And we were not disappointed.

      After Brad had had a “bad” paella in Avignon, (who orders a paella in a tourist section in a French town), he was a bit hesitant to try again but thankfully he did. We chose the mixed paella so there was seafood for Brad and meat for me and it was delicious and very generous. We even got to bring home a doggy bag so we could enjoy the left overs for dinner.

      With full bellies and a few drinks we decided to return to our “groovie ” apartment for a siesta and to start packing for our early morning start tomorrow.

      Madrid has been a pleasant surprise and we have enjoyed our time here exploring the many sites and different areas. I will miss the lovely view from our bedroom window.
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    • Day 2

      Cumple en La Latina 🎂🎁🎉

      July 1, 2023 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

      A pesar del retraso del vuelo, llego al piso de Carmen con tiempo suficiente para prepararme para el Cumpleaños de Sergi, que es en "El Estudio de los Arquitectos Madrid", en el barrio de La Latina.

      Llego allí con Fran y conozco a mucha gente nueva. Cenamos allí,incluyendo tarta y regalos para Sergi y después vamos a una fiesta en Ya'sta Club, una discoteca en Chueca donde hay un espectáculo drag especial por el orgullo de este año💅
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    • Day 39

      Madrid - te quiero tanto!!!

      February 26, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

      Morgens um 5.30 Uhr landeten wir in Madrid. Ich war elends zerstört und hatte nun definitiv genug von langen Flügen und Nachtreisen! Zum Glück aber kannte ich den Flughafen Madrid so gut wie meine Westentasche und fand mich schnell in der Metro und dann bereits in den wunderschönen, immer noch dunklen Gassen Madrids wieder. Homecoming! Es fühlte sich alles so unglaublich vertraut an, ein richtig tolles Gefühl. Und einmal mehr zeigte es sich: Madrid te quiero, te amo, te adoro, me encantas tanto - hasta siempre! Schnell erreichte ich die Calle de la Palma, Kevin liess mich rein und wir nahmen gleich noch einen Nap. Etwas später, Kevin war dann auch gesprächiger, trafen wir uns mit Angy im Urbanos für leckerste Bagels und Avocadotoast und ich realisierte, wie fest mir die beiden gefehlt haben und wie lieb ich sie habe. Dann schlenderten wir durch die Strassen, shoppten Basics und genossen die Sonne im Gesicht. Nächster Halt: Naif. Da konnten wir auf der Terrasse die Sonne noch besser geniessen und diese gemütliche Sonntagsstimmung schrie nach Aperol und Tapas. Auf Aperol folgte Kaffee - dieses mal mit den beiden coolen, amerikanischen, ehemaligen Lighthouse American School Teamkolleginnen Golde und Cat (Paco!). It was a pleasure meeting and catching up with them, exchange the latest gossip and seeing that they are having a good time. Lovely!Read more

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