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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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October 25, 2015

Sunday - last full day in Madrid

Yep, tomorrow I fly the friendly skies of Iberia back to Barcelona. I think I get there first, and then Chris arrives from Rome, and lastly Heather arrives from Morocco assuming she doesn't miss her flight like she has done two or three times in the past, bless her. I am so looking forward to that even though it means once again spending a good amount of time at the airport.

 I officially became a bad traveler today.  Last night I was SO tired that I thought I would give up on the trip to Toledo - it was just too much to contemplate. But by the time I went to bed I decided "okay, if I wake up rarin' to go and early enough to get ready in time to catch an early train I would go. Otherwise I figured I might go back to the Palacio Real and also the Thyssen Museum even though neither one of them allows photos which really bugs me.

Well, I woke up and felt really fairly lousy - kind of queasy stomach, tired, etc., so I gave up on Toledo and as if that wasn't bad enough, I couldn't make myself go to the Palacio again - would either have to walk it or tackle the metro again and I wasn't up to either one. So I took my time getting ready - nice hot shower in my minute shower enclosure, had a very light breakfast cause I think I've been eating a bit rich since I got here(!) and somehow figured out what the huge white building with the "welcome refugees" sign was - must have been searching the internet for something. Anyway, it's called the Palacio Cibeles (the name comes from the monument in the circle in front which is the goddess Cybele in a chariot pulled by two lions). I never could find why the "palacio" because it's not all that old and nothing I looked at ever mentioned it being used as a royal residence. But at any rate it has become the iconic symbol of Madrid and when I read that I realized that was the picture I had used in my "hasta la vista" post.

So I decided okay, I would go back, take better pictures, go inside and up to the roof (which you can do) and go on from there, just taking more pictures of this and that. So I got down there through the hordes of people and found what would have been a good spot to get as much of the building as possible but the sun made it impossible to see what I was shooting with the camera so I decided okay, I'll go on over to the building and get inside. Nothing's going to stop me, right? Well, I get over there, and go in the entrance, get all scanned for weapons, etc, and look around for the ticket office because you must have a ticket to go to the roof. A couple of girls told me they thought it was up the entryway's flight of stairs so up I go, ask a man behind a counter where do I buy a ticket and he said you need to go back outside and around to the left and there's a ticket window. And I said and then I have to come back through the scanning line, right? And yes, that was right.

At that point I decided okay, I wouldn't go to the roof and instead I would go across the street to a really pretty building that I had entered my first or second day out but was told they weren't open that day.  Here's a picture of that very pretty building from the outside.  Aren't these buildings wonderful?

I did that, asked outside could I go in and yes I could and I should talk to the girl at the window inside. So I did and she said yes, they were open on Sundays but you could only go in on a guided tour and they were full for today. So, I said okay and as I was getting ready to leave I looked once again at the really beautiful area at the top of the stairs and thought well I'll at least get a picture of that. Took out my camera, aimed it and heard "no, no, no - no pictures!" I mean, it was like I was pointing a cannon or something. So I gave up and went and sat in the shade for a while feeling very grumpy.

After a bit, I realized the sun had shifted enough that I could probably get a decent picture of the Palacio from across the way. I tried a couple of spots but they just let in so many signs, posts, etc. I saw where I knew I wanted to be to get a good one but I didn't know if I'd get in trouble. I looked around to see if there were any of the ever-present police around and there weren't so that was a good sign. I needed to get out to a decorative island that left me with nothing between me and the Palacio but pavement, the huge circle with Cybele in it, and then the building - lots of flags and such but not any clutter. So I took several and this is the best of the lot. Not the entire building but as close as I could get with my camera and I'm pleased with it. But I will say it is a very white building which the picture doesn't accurately portray except at the top.

and this next one is Cybele in her chariot.  It's not the best picture because I had to take the big one above and crop it down way more than one should.  But it gives an idea of the monument.
So all of that turned out to be a good experience.  Got me quite chuffed with my daring-do and not getting yelled at for it.  And then the only other thing I did was another walk taking pictures of buildings since apparently the only thing you can photograph is the great outdoors.  I didn't walk nearly as far as yesterday but it was a very enjoyable walk and I got some pictures I was happy with.  A couple are probably the same as some I've taken before but who knows?  maybe they're a little better.

Loved the pillars on this building - they are huge.  And of course the giant statues in the front.  I tell you, the Spaniards believed in making their buildings noticeable!
This is a side view of the building above.  Once again, the white color is what it really looks like - not this pretty ivory color.
I loved the red building and I liked how the building in the distance was framed by these wonderful buildings up front.

Next I decided that I simply had to get off the insanely busy street I was on.  The street my hotel is on was right down about a block from where I was and I could have taken that to get to the hotel but it's even busier, if possible, than the street I was on.  So I took the first side street that ran parallel with my hotel street and discovered that this is what I should have been doing from the first day.  It was delightful - quiet, pretty, interesting shops and restaurants, very nice buildings - just very pleasant.  I discovered an Indian restaurant and was going to take their menu back to the hotel and translate some of it and then I decided to heck with it, I would just eat there now.  So I did and it was delicious although the samosas weren't anywhere near as good as Nawab's used to be when Nawab's was good.

This is one of the pretty buildings on the quiet street and below is another ironwork picture I took for Chris.
And believe it or not, that is the last picture.  I was so full after my very good Indian late lunch that I trundled myself all the way to the street I knew was the one directly beside my hotel, went down it (another very interesting one that I wish I had known about), turned the corner and was home.  I worked on these pictures, rested a bit, played my Simpson's game a bit, talked to the buy at the desk and found out that I would need to leave earlier than I had thought I would to get to the airport in time so spent a longish time getting myself all packed except for what has to wait till tomorrow.  Around 8:30 I went down to the hotel or "not-hotel" restaurant, had a mixed salad with their crusty bread and one more glass of their delicious Rioja wine.   I've had Rioja everywhere I've eaten except for one restaurant and this funny little restaurant in the hotel has the best IMHO.

So now, I will sign off and go to bed feeling much better than I did when I woke up this morning.  Just think - tomorrow I start a wonderful week with two of my kiddies and the next week I get home to Italy.  Can life get much better?

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