Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Spain - Day 1: Traveling and Madrid

We've made it to Spain! It is day 5 (or something?) of our vacation and I finally have been able to have a couple moments to catch up writing down what we've been up to.

We left for our trip on Saturday morning (July 25). My mom drove me, Jason, Alyse, and Tanner to the airport, and then took our girls and our nephew back to our house to watch while we're gone. From the Raleigh airport we flew to the Atlanta airport, where we met up with my dad. The Atlanta airport is huge! We landed in terminal A, and then had to take this super fast underground shuttle thing to terminal F. (And then they changed our departure gate to terminal E, so we walked back to that terminal.)

The flight from Atlanta to Madrid was very long, and right at bedtime. Jason and I tried to sleep, but it was just impossible. We even tied our heads to our headrests using blankets. Amazingly, that did not induce restful sleep. So instead we caught up on movies. We watched "Home" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron" together, and then Jason watched "Interstellar" and I watched "Into the Woods" and "Cinderella."

We finally landed in Madrid at 4 AM our time - and 10 AM Madrid time. After waiting for our bags (my dad's didn't show up at the bag carrel, and after talking to the desk we found out it had gone to Paris instead) we took a couple of taxis to our hotel, the Gran Melia Felix.

After some quick (very, very quick - I only got to sleep 10 minutes) naps, we walked from the Plaza de Colon down towards old Madrid.

(Side note: We're all taking lots of pictures, so if I use any pictures taken by my sister Alyse or my Dad on the blog during this trip, I'm going to label them "from Alyse" or "from Dad").

Monument to Colon (Columbus) - from Dad
Random giant frog statue
From Alyse

We walked past sites like the Palacio de Comunicaciones (Madrid city hall - a really fantastic building), the Palacio Buenavista, and the Puerto del Sol. We eventually arrived at our destination, the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, only to find that it was closed. (According to the posted hours and the hours online, it should have been open, but for some reason it wasn’t.) So instead we stopped for a drink of water (and a chocolate milkshake that was a lot more like chocolate milk) and then walked a couple more blocks to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace).

The Palace was amazing! It was so opulent. We walked in past this grand, huge courtyard, into the entryway and up the stairs. Then we went through room after room of intricate carvings, ceilings, chandeliers, and more. The dining room was incredibly impressive. I also really like the porcelain room - the entire room was covered in porcelain tiles and carvings. (Jason said it was like a “giant toilet.” I thought it was nicer than that, haha.)

From Alyse
From Dad

This next picture is for Ellie. Mom, can Ellie see the pattern of the mantles above the windows? 

Pattern power!

From Alyse
From Dad
From Alyse

We weren't allowed to take pictures of anything inside other than the entrance.

At this point though, our energy really started waning. We still hadn’t really slept since Saturday morning – and it was now late Sunday afternoon. After we finished walking through the Palace, we caught a couple of cabs back to our hotel. We finally were able to take some naps (for just a couple hours).

After we woke up we met up with Banks and Nan (who had arrived, with Max and Saya their children, from the airport a couple hours after us) and went to dinner at a place just a couple doors down. We had some roast chicken and some pizza-y stuff that had something like strawberry jam on top. Afterwards we walked down just a block or so to a park with a big monument to Columbus and the men on his ships. We hung out in the park for a while, just relaxing and enjoying being outside, before walking back to our hotel. Jason and I talked to our girls on google chat for a couple minutes before finally getting to go to sleep.

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