North America, Europe · 14 Days · 37 Moments · April 2019

The Clarkes go to Spain

8 May 2019

This was our last night in Spain and we enjoyed some wine and a snack before walking around town one last time.
This was SUCH an amazing place! The Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid is located inside a cistern structure going back hundreds of years. 'Medina Mayrit '(The City of Madrid) is the name used for the Al Ándalus enclave belonging to the Kingdom of Toledo and that served as a meeting point for different cultures. This small enclave occupied the area adjacent to the Almudaina (today the Almudena Cathedral) and was surrounded by walls with a small extension reaching Plaza Jacinto Benavente, where the Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid stands today and where the ancient Arab baths may have been located. We were basically there for an hour an hour and 1/2 and it included a 45 min couples massage. The rest of the time we were in the steam room and the shallow pools that were various temperatures. It was super dark (candle lit) and steamy in the whole place so the ambiance was incredible. Note that the last four pictures (of the baths) are from the website since they wouldn’t let us take pictures down there.

7 May 2019

3/3 We found this tour on Viator (it’s where we book most of our tours) and it lasted 4 hours. I highly recommend this to anyone coming to Madrid. In fact, I highly recommend any food tour or cooking class when traveling since it’s a great way to experience a variety of local foods while also learning a lot about the area and meeting interesting people.
2/3 We made gazpacho, sangria (mmmm) and paella and they were all delicious!
1/3 Since we had so much fun doing the cooking class in Florence, we wanted to try one in Spain. This one was a much smaller group and much more hands on and we had a blast. The first set of pictures was from our shopping excursion. The tour guide was very informative and we learned a lot about Spanish meats, produce and fish.

6 May 2019

Biking through Madrid had it’s scary moments. Madrid doesn’t have the extremely bike friendly lanes that València has so sometimes we were out there with the taxis and busses. We stopped and started a lot but ended up riding over 16 miles all together. 🚲

5 May 2019

3/3 I could not stop taking pictures here. 📷
2/3 Wow, we walked into this amazing church and actually saw some of the Sunday service. I promise I just took a few quick pictures and we were all the way in the back. It was seriously beautiful.
1/3 What a treat! So glad we made it to Montserrat! Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain range near Barcelona, in Catalonia, Spain. It is part of the Catalan Pre-Coastal Range. It is well known as the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary and which is identified by some with the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurian myth. "Montserrat" literally means "saw (serrated, like the common handsaw) mountain" in Catalan. It describes its peculiar aspect with multitude of rock formations which are visible from a great distance. The mountain is composed of strikingly pink conglomerate, a form of sedimentary rock. Montserrat was designated as a National Park in 1987. In 1493, Christopher Columbus named the Caribbean island of Montserrat Santa Maria de Montserrate, after the Virgin of Montserrat. Again, in 1606, the Spanish expedition of Luis Vaéz de Torres charted Mount Ernest island in the Torres Strait as Santa Maria de

4 May 2019

Last night with the tour group. We were probably 15 years younger than the youngest of the 40 person group but met some fun people that we look forward to staying in touch with.
We walked through the gothic quarter and ended up at the waterfront. Clearly this is a VERY popular spot for locals and tourists on a super beautiful day like it was today!
Walking around Barcelona, so glad it’s sunny out today!☀️
The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is a large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, his work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church and proclaimed it a minor basilica. Construction started March 19, 1882 and it will take longer to complete than the Egyptian pyramids, which only took 20 years. Our guide told us the expect it to be completed in 7 years.
Located in the city of Barcelona, the ​​Park Guell is one of the most beautiful icons of the city. It's a work of Antoni Gaudí located in the upper part of Barcelona, which has wonderful views of the city.

2 May 2019

Bike riding to the beach in València and then dinner. 🚲🌴
Part two of this fun excursion featured a boat ride on the canals surrounding rice field plantations; a visit to a traditional fisherman’s home known as a “barraca”. Part three was a nap on the bus back to the hotel. 😴
Today we visited the area where paella cuisine originated. The first part of our paella experience was a paella-making demonstration and an authentic paella lunch. We were served an incredible quantity of food and sangria before the next part of the excursion (next post).
LOVE going to local markets!
Morning jog in the park by the river.

1 May 2019

Walking around València in the evening after the rain. after the rain.
3/3 The amazing views from Alhambra!
2/3 The gardens in Alhambra.
1/3 Wow, this place has a long and interesting history! I’ll post a few Journis since I took so many pix. The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition), and the palaces were partially altered in the Renaissance style. In 1526 Charles I & V commissioned a new Renaissance palace better befitting the Holy Roman Emperor in the revolutionary Mannerist style influenced by humanist philosophy in direct juxtaposition with the Nasrid Andalusian architecture, but it was ultimately never completed.

30 April 2019

We’re not going to be in Grenada long but I’m so glad we stopped here for a night! This is a very walkable and clean city with a huge selection of fun places to stop.
One of our favorite places so far. Super small local place with tons of atmosphere, non stop delicious tapas and, of course, lots of wine to choose from. 🍷🧀

29 April 2019

Another amazing cathedral. The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Spanish: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede), better known as Seville Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Seville (Andalusia, Spain). It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is the third-largest church in the world (its size remains a matter of debate) as well as the largest Gothic church. Just inside the door stands a monument to Christopher Columbus. His tomb is held aloft by four allegorical figures representing the four kingdoms of Spain during Columbus’ life, Castille, Aragon, Navara, and Leon.
Various shots while alking around town in Seville.
The Plaza de España ("Spain Square", in English) is a plaza in the Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park), in Seville, Spain, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. This place was a block away from our hotel and while taking a walk this morning before breakfast, I ended up walking around this plaza, pretty much all by myself. We then went later on a tour, so Gregg got to see it too. The plaza has been used as a filming location, including scenes for the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia and it was also a filming location in the Star Wars movie series Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) — in which it featured in exterior shots of the City of Theed on the Planet Naboo. We had all intention of visiting one of the GOT film sites (Dorne!) but the line was estimated at an hour and a half. 😒

28 April 2019

Cordoba is best known for La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating from 784 A.D., featuring a columned prayer hall and older Byzantine mosaics. After it became a Catholic church in 1236, a Renaissance-style nave was added in the 17th century. The combination of a mosque and a Catholic Church was very strange, one giant room would be all dark and a bit gloomy and you turn the corner and suddenly it’s extremely bright and ornate.
Córdoba is a city in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. It was an important Roman city and a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages. The ”streets” are cobblestone and super narrow, the shops are adorable and the sangria is delicious. 🍷
Sights on the journey from Madrid to Cordoba.

27 April 2019

Enough of the bus for today. After seeing the royal palace, we decided to abandon our tour group, guides, and bus and instead walk the 3 miles through Madrid back to our hotel. On the way back we passed a sidewalk cafe that Tammy loved at first sight, so we stopped for some wine. The people watching was great. We became obsessed with who occupied the adjacent benches, with Gregg eventually posing covertly. Four hours, many snacks, and much wine later we strode home glowing.
SANTA IGLESIA CATEDRAL PRIMADA DE TOLEDO is considered by some authorities to be the Magnum Opus, of the gothic style in Spain. “The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary in her Assumption to the heavens.” The construction of the cathedral began in 1227 under the direction of the Archbishop Don Rodrigo Jimenez de Rada. However, the King, Ferdinand III gave the order for its construction. During the 15th century, the gothic style was added to the cathedral by building the Chapel of Saint Peter and the Chapel of Saint James.
This morning we traveled to Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the capital of medieval Spain until 1560. A comprehensive tour highlighted the magnificent Gothic cathedral and the 13th-century synagogue, a testament to Toledo’s Jewish heritage. We also stopped at the Church of Santo Tome to view El Greco’s masterpiece painting, The Burial of Count Orgaz.

26 April 2019

Some of the sights we saw as we walked to our hotel after lunch at 7am EST. Our internal clocks will hopefully be fully adjusted by tomorrow when our tour begins.
Great brunch to start out trip. We had to blow time before our room was ready so we walked around and found an awesome little restaurant to have a few drinks and lunch. I’m sure we’ll get used to the time change soon, but essentially we each had two glasses of Chardonnay at 6 AM after two hours of sleep on the plane. 😁

25 April 2019

Heading out! Business Class to Madrid... what a great start to our trip. 😁