Trip Journals: Africa | Cambodia | China/Bangkok/Singapore | Europe | Europe Cruise | Greece | Haiti | Iberia (Spain / Portugal) | India / Kashmir | Israel / Jordan / Egypt | Italy | Maldives | New Zealand / Sydney | Peru / Machu Picchu | Poland | Russia / Baltic | Scotland | South America | Sri Lanka | Vietnam
Iberia Trip to
Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Gibraltar
Also Barcelona and skiing in Andorra!
January 13 to February 7, 2008
25 days in one suitcase - including skiing clothes!
Table of Contents
Jan 14 to Jan 26 was a Globus Tour http://www.globusjourneys.com. I traveled with my girlfriend, Judy.
Jan 26 to Feb 5 was an Atlanta Ski Club trip. It included skiing in
Weather on this trip was AbFab (absolutely fabulous).
I can't remember that it ever rained except for 1.5 days in
Spain: Winter: 40Â°F. http://www.gate1travel.com/spain-travel2/weather/Spain-weather.htm, Spain Average Temperatures: www.gate1travel.com/spain-travel/weather/Spain-weather.htm.
Morocco: Morocco climate is Mediterranean in the north and sub-tropical in the south. Dress is casual, even in the major cities. www.gate1travel.com/spain-travel/weather/Morroco-weather.htm.
Portugal: Portugal's climate is temperate. http://www.gate1travel.com/spain-travel2/Spain-Portugal-travel-tips.htm#climate, Portugal Average Temperatures: www.gate1travel.com/spain-travel/weather/Portugal-weather.htm.
Globus Vacation Overview
This 14-day trip covers three countries:
Finish packing. I could have checked 2 suitcases with Delta. One suitcase for the 2-week tour and one suitcase with my ski stuff. If I left one case in the
Glenda came over to my house and we drove to Judys house. Went out to lunch at Judys favorite place, Colonnade. Glenda left and Judys friend came over to drive us to the airport. I checked my suitcase. I had a carryon with enough stuff to last 3 days if necessary.
LV 655P AR ATLANTA Â Â Â 915A MADRID
Globus transfer to HotelÂ http://www.hotelagumar.com/
Paseo Reina Cristina, 7
Tel: 34 91 552 69 00Â Â Fax: 34 91 433 60 95
We met our tour guide, checked into the hotel. Rested a little while then ventured out and walked passed the train station (that got bombed) and over to the
meeting with the rest of the tour group. Welcome dinner was at the hotel.
7 wake up call and breakfast.
Depart for city tour:
Plaza de Espa (or "
El Prado Museum: http://www.museodelprado.es/index.php?id=49&L=5
My ticket said entrance cost is 7.50 Eur.
Opened in 1823. Las Meninas by Velazquez, The Third of May: The Executions by Goya, and The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest by el Greco. Also works by Murillo, El Greco, Rubens, Raphael, Botticelli.
Plaza de Toros - The main bullfighting ring - http://www.madrid-guide-spain.com/madrid-bullfight.htm) is gorgeous.
Plaza Mayor of Madrid near the Puerta del Sol. The Plaza Mayor is rectangular in shape, measuring 129 by 94 meters, and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings having 237 balconies facing the Plaza. It has a total of nine entranceways. The Plaza Mayor was built during the Austrian period. The Casa de la Panadera, serving municipal and cultural functions, dominates the Plaza Mayor.
Royal Palace of Madrid - Palacio Real de Madrid, also called Palacio de Oriente, "Eastern Palace") is the official residence of the King of Spain. The palace also has the distinction of being the largest royal palace in Western Europe in size, with over a combined area of over 135.000 mÂ² and more than 2,800 rooms
El Escorial http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Escorial - The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo - 16th-century EL ESCORIAL monastery and Spanish royal palace, a massive quadrangular complex 223 yards by 168 years (670x505 feet) of white-grey stone. Located about 28 miles north of
Valley of the Fallen. http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/spain/madrid/fallen/fallen.html - It took 19 years to carve the Basilica into the mountain. The nave is 860 feet long but they had to create a separate area because it could not be bigger than St.Peters (211,50 meters or 700 feet). Main dome by Padros built 1951-1955. Christ crucified wood carving by Beovide. Beautiful mosaic ceiling in the chapel. Embossed leather pictures and altar.
The 492-foot cross commemorating the one million victims of the 3 year civil war. Franco won and rulled as a dictator instead of turning leadership over the monarchy like he said he would.
We had dinner at the oldest restaurant in the world La Botin with Judith, Jean, Janice, Judy. http://www.botin.es/INGindex.html
According to the Guinness Book of Records this is "the oldest restaurant in the world, dating from 1725. The restaurant is also mentioned in the book Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Ps (published 1886-1887) and Goya supposedly worked here before becoming a painter. Hemingway was a frequent visitor and pronounced it one of his favourite restaurants."
, Madrid http://www.gomadrid.com/rest/botin.html Spain
Cuchilleros 17, near Plaza Mayor, Metro: Sol
913 664217 / 913 663026.
wake up call
We crossed the rugged Sierra de Guadarrama. Stop in
Roman aqueduct - 2,000-year-old
The Alcizar - http://www.alcazardesegovia.com/Â One of the most distinctive castle-palaces. The Alcizar was originally built as an Arab fortress.Â
We also stopped in
The Plaza Mayor is the central square in the city and is known as the living room of the Salmantinos (Salamancans). It was constructed at the beginning of the 18th century. It was originally a venue for bullfights but is currently used primarily for concerts.
We stayed here:
Paseo de la Estacion 1 (Plaza de Espana)
Tel: 34 923 28 26 26Â Â Â Fax: 34 923 28 27 00
When we got to the hotel, I stayed and rested, but not Judy. She ventured out and saw the (golden) square.
Dinner was included today. We ate in the restaurant in the hotel.
wake up call
Luggage out (we didnt get our luggate out till , oops)
Morning drive into
We stopped in
Fatima: "Twice a year this small Portuguese town is overrun by pilgrims to celebrate reported sightings of the Virgin Mary in the early 20th century. They crowd into a tiny shed-like structure known as the Chapel of the Apparitions, where it is said Mary appeared to three devout children above a diminutive Holm Oak. Today, a small white column marks the spot where the tree once grew, but the passion exhibited by the pilgrims who approach the site walking on their knees in penance is quite remarkable. The apparitions were said to have predicted WWI and s separation from the church. To this day, Russia Fatimais one of only a handful of Vatican-approved apparitions in the world."
Avenida dos Combatentes
Phone: 351 21
We did the night tour and dinner optional excursion. This was a great Portuguese dinner with drinks (Port and wine). We had entertainment with songs and dances, Fado-style. Unforgettable views of the illuminated city finish your day with a flourish. Cost was EUR 48 per person and worth it for the food and entertainment. We had a tasty soug, ate fish and meat, and dessert.
7 wake up call
Breakfast was the absolute best at this hotel. Maybe that is because the Marriott knows how to cater to picky Americans who demand a huge selection and a variety of hot food. I had my hot oatmeal and I got a separate big bowl of grits. OK, so I have to admit that after eating what they have provided for us for breakfast every day so far, it was nice to have exactly what I wanted to eat.
8:30 to 12:45 City Tour -
I did NOT do Optional Excursion to Sintra and Queluz - Enjoy one of the most beautiful landscapes on the
Four of us did not do the Sintra excursion. We took a taxi to Rossio square. I walked the city with Bob. Had a wonderful lunch at a place close to the square. Its on Rua Augusta, 238-240. Cerve Jaria Concha d'Ouro Marisqueira. Especialidades include:
Os nossos Bifes
Arroz de Marisco
Parrilhada de Peixas
Espetades - large chunks of beef rubbed in garlic and salt, skewered onto a bay leaf stick with vegetables such as onions and bell peppers and left to grill over smouldering wood chips
Bob and I walked the entire Liberdade street to the huge square.Â I was headed to the famous department store named El Corte Ingles http://www.elcorteingles.pt/. I bought a 220 volt curling iron for my hair. I paid 49.90 Eur and it's going to be worth every penny. Finally jumped in a taxi back to the hotel. I got back around 5 pm
wake up call
Enjoy a scenic drive through the
Hotel Hesperia Sevilla http://www.hesperia.com/hotels/Hesperia-Sevilla/
Avda Eduardo Dato, 49
Tel: 34 95 4548300Â Â Fax: 34 95 4532342
This is postcard perfect city. Centered around the
The tour scheduled for today in the itinerary was post-poned until tomorrow. I went for a fast walk with Judith. Judy went for a walk with Janice. They ended up going a lot further into the city so Judy was a very tired girl that night.
Dinner included today. We ate in the restaurant in the hotel.
We were supposed to get a wake up call, but the phone never rang. At 9:20 Judy woke up and rustled me. Yeow! Grab some clothes, my camera and run downstairs. I told them that we never got our call. Judy made it by our 9:30 Departure. We were not happy campers. At the first stop we grabbed something to eat for breakfast.
Guided sightseeing hear about the citys role in Roman times, its conquest by the Moors in 712, and its contribution to the discovery of the
MARIA LUISA PARK and Plaza de Espa and the fine baroque building, which is now the university but used to be the tobacco factory of Carmen fame. Plaza de Espana in Maria Luisa Park constructed in 1929 for the Spanish American Exposition. Reminicent of Venices Piazza San Marcos.
Cathedral was built from 14011519 after the Reconquista on the former site of the city's mosque. It is one of the largest of all medieval and Gothic cathedrals, in terms of both area and volume. The interior is the longest nave in
, and is lavishly decorated, with a large quantity of gold evident. The Cathedral reused some columns and elements from the mosque, and, most famously, the Giralda Spain
, originally a 12-century Muslim minaret, was converted into a bell tower. It is topped with a statue, known locally as El Giraldillo, representing Faith. The tower's interior was built with ramps rather than stairs, to allow the Muezzin and others to ride to the top.
We (including Judy) climbed all the way up all 32 ramps to the very top of the tower. There was a great view from the top.
This is right next to the cathedral is the Reales Alcazares The Alcazar A Moorish-Christian baroque architectural hodgepodge. It actually faces the cathedral. It was developed from the city's old Moorish Palace; construction was begun in 1181 and continued for over 500 years, mainly in Mud
jar style, but also in Renaissance. Its gardens are a blend of Moorish, Andalusian, and Christian traditions. Some pictures on the Internet are at http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/spain/seville/alcazar/alcazarindex.html
These two building beside each other is a great example of the result of 750 years (790-1492)when Christian kingdoms expanded over the Muslim states in the Iberian peninsula.
Then we "strolled" through the charming
6:30 pm - leave for dinner. It was "a truly Andalusian night out at a flamenco show". Judith, Jean, Janice, Judy and I sat at the table.
They served a three-course dinner with drinks. The meat was not good, the salmon was very good. While dining, we enjoyed a show of Spanish folklore. We were back at the hotel at 8:45 pm. Really tired.
Pack overnight bag for Tangier. Sleep.
wake up call
Drove through the sherry wine region of
Boarded a FERRY and sailed across the Straits of Gibraltar to
85 Rue de la Libert
90 000 Tangiers
Tel : 212 (39) 93.58.85 , 212 (39) 93.78.44Â Â Â Â Â Free call :Â 0.8000.37.44 (
Fax : 212 (39) 93.45.46
Email : General Information firstname.lastname@example.org
We did a bus sightseeing tour that featured "a picture stop at the Sultans palace and a panoramic drive to
The bus tour was brief, but I got the impression that is because there really isn't that much to see in this town. The guide was pointing out Christian churches. I saw a taxi that wouldn't stop for a lady and her child crossing the street - the car almost hit her. Gave me the impression of very little respect for women here. Of course the way the women must dress also give you that impression.
The bus stopped right across from the Kasbah. I looked like a fortress - not very attractive. No matter, we were not going to see it. We were paraded through the street and up an alley. We passed a small room in the alley where some boys were playing games on the TV. I didn't see any computer, just black boxes hooked to television sets.
We were let upstairs and sat in groups in an ornately decorated room. They brought tea and cookies. After, we just sat an talked, then we left. Back out to the road and to the waiting bus. It was a very odd experience. I think it was not entirely comfortable for the local either - it's unusual to have Westerners in their city.
The bus took us back to the hotel.
The itinerary said Time to explore this fascinating city on your own. That is NOT TRUE. We were asked not to leave the hotel!
I was still feeling a little uneasy/awkward from the afternoon outing. Janice and I decided that we need a drink so we went directly to the bar. I still can't seem to identify or write what it was that made me feel that way. The fact that we were ordered not to leave the hotel also made me uneasy. It's not a safe city (for us anyway).
Dinner was included today. We ate in the restaurant in the hotel.Â We had couscous and chicken. Good food, but a little bland for my taste.Â I'm guessing they cooked it that way for Westerners who are not accustomed to their spices. I wish they had used more spices.Â The dessert was orange salad (slices).
Wake up call, then breakfast. We were warned not to eat the strawberries and dont drink the orange juice.Â We cant be sure that filtered water was used and last thing I want to do is get sick. I had my usual coffee, bread and butter with jam.
I think we were the only Westerners in the city (because there aren't very many tours in January). The work got out to the vendors in the city and there were many people selling things outside our hotel.
We departed from the hotel for a tour of Tangier.Â We took a short bus ride to the Grand Socco market.Â The market was not very crowded, and not very many vendors, but maybe we came on a day that was not so busy.Â Â We saw some very colorful olive vendors. He must have had 20 different kinds of olives. Rui said that you can process olives from the same tree and they come out to be different colors. Anyway. I was finally comfortable with the city and enjoying being there. We walked to a big fountain in the square, then walked into the narrow streets of the Casbah.
Judy had quite an adventure on our walks around the city. The vendors figured out that she was buying, so they crowded around her. It was difficult enough to walk on the cobblestones, then she had people touching and grabbing her to buy things. One guy kept trying to get her to buy a bronze camel. At one point, I walked very close to her so I could keep them away and she could walk. But what I didn't realize is that she really wanted to buy that camel! She ended up with several souvenirs. I have to say that compared to some other countries, the vendors here were very nice - pushy, but not too pushy. You could tell they really appreciated making a sale.
At the ferry port "Puerto Bahia de Algeciras" I had a very interesting conversation with an English person while were waiting standing in the security line. We are having elections in the US and he was asking about the process. I gave him a short description of our primary process and the electoral "college". Editorial note: It a process that some people believe is the best in the world so we must force other countries to adopt it - so why is it so confusing to explain. I digress. Then he had one question for me that I could not answer: "Why did you reelect your president for a second term?" The whole world knew how bad he was, but our country was still "duped because of their misplaced trust" and they were "sold a bill of goods" http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/vance2.html. All I could do to answer his question was to say that in the democratic process we have the freedom to make our own choices, but sometimes we make bad choices.
We returned by FERRY across the Straits to the
Costa Del Sol
Paseo Martimo, 11 Torremolinos - M
Tel: 34 95
238 6677Â Fax: 34 95 238 6417 reservations 902 14 44 44
The MeliÂ¡ Costa del Sol hotel is situated on the priviledged landmark of Playa de Bajondillo, right on the sea front. 10 minutes walking distance from the shopping area of Torremolinos and 5 minutes using the lift. Next to the touristic resort of La Carihuela, easily accessible using the seaside promenade. 12 km from MÂ¡laga city center.
Judy and I had a fantastic view of the beach from our room, very high up in the building.
We did not do the optional excursion into Torremolinos - An Evening in the Countryside - "Enjoy a pleasant drive to MIJAS, market center of Andalusian crafts, with time to discover this pretty "Pueblo blanco" with its white houses and breathtaking views of the Costa del Sol. Later enjoy a three-course dinner with drinks included. Cost EUR 45 per person.
But we did do this optional excursion in Torremolinos - Dinner on the Carihuela . "Enjoy a four-course dinner, drinks included, at one of the most celebrated seafront restaurants in Torremolinos. Cost EUR 39 per person. We got on the bus and we were taken to a fabulous dinner. Unlimited wine, 2 salad courses, and they brought out many plates of delicious appetizers - seafood samplers plates (smelt - yummy), clams (yum), fish (yum). They finally brought out a huge (2 feet long) Sea Bass. It was cooked in a crust of salt. It was delicious.
wake up call
Depart on our full day excursion to the rock fortress of
From the itinerary Visit the strategic rock fortress of Gibraltar, which has been in British hands since 1704. Tour the Upper Galleries, Moorish Castle, ST. MICHAEL'S CAVES, and the colony of Barbary Apes. Approximate value: EUR 47 per person
St. Michaels cave was a beautiful little cavern. We a ticket stamped Gibraltar Tourist Board Upper Rock Dept
23 Jan 2008It was printed with Walkers only ticket to the upper rock tourist sites. They had lights positioned to show off the stalagtites and stalagmites. There was even an amphitheater in the cavern. I dont think they gave us enough time to walk around inside. There was a nice little tourist shop there also. I buy very few souvenirs on my trips now. I only buy a shield-shaped silver charm with the country name for my bracelet. They dont have the charms any more so I have to buy a silver spoon that had the shield-sharped charm on the end of rthe spoon. I realize that Gibraltaris not a proper country, but Im counting it,so I bought a spoon.
The tour ended around . After the tour, we sat down to have fish and chips on
Casemates Square. I noticed a Burger King across the square and I was craving a hamburger and I love the Whoper Jr. at Burger King. I paid 4.49 Eur for one Whopper Jr, Reg Fries. They charged .20 extra for two ketchups!
We get back back to the hotel around 4:30. We arranged to meet in the lobby later to walk somewhere for dinner. We walked along the beautiful promenade and watched the sun go down. We ended up passing the same restaurant where we ate the night before. The bus ride the night before went up steep hills, then down, then up again. It sure was alot shorter distance to walk along the water to get to the restaurant.
Interesting from the Atlanta Journal Constitution 1/27/08:
A troop of about 25 of Gibraltar's famed wild monkeys will be culled because the government there says "they threaten human health in one of the British terrritory's most popular tourist areas. The decision was not taken lightly said Gibraltar's tourist minister Ernest Britto who issued the license for the culling. "Children are frightened, people cannot leave their window open for fear of the monekys stealing : apes can bite and contact with them runs the risk of salmonella or hepatitis," said Britto. He added that once the population of the macaques is reduced to about 200, birth control and other measures will be sued to keep their numbers stable.
Thursday Jan 24 Torremolinos to
wake up call
Drove into the mountains to history-steeped
ROYAL CHAPEL - Houses the mortal remains of Isabella I of
and Ferdinand V of Aragon, also known as the Catholic kings, who unified Castile under one single monarchy. Spain (888) - A fantasy of lace in stone surrounded by arabesque gardens and fountains, it affords superb views of the Old Quarter and Sacromonte, a mountain occupied by gypsy cave dwellers. ALHAMBRA
The first reference to the Qalat al Hamra was during the battles between the Arabs and the Muladies during the rule of the Abdullah ibn Muhammad (r. 888-912).
We saw the room where Washington Irving wrote this:
After the Christian conquest of the city in 1492 by Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, the conquerors began to alter the
. Charles V (15161556) rebuilt portions in the Renaissance style of the period. Alhambra
GENERALIFE (1302) - Magnificent
. The royal summer residence The Nasrid Palace. The palace and gardens were built during the reign of Muhammad III (1302-1309) WATER GARDENS
After the organized tour, we had the afternoon on our own. We made our way through town to visit the Real Capilla de Granada Cripta y Museo de los Reyes Catolicos www.capillarealgranada.com. Email email@example.com . Ticket cost to get in was 3.50 Eur. It is where King Ferdinand of
1452-1516 and Queen Isabella of Aragon 1451-1504 are buried. In the sacrista Museo there are a painting that captivated me. Thank goodness they had a post card of it. It is La Oracion en el Huerto. By Sandro Botticelli. It is an angel talking to Jesus in the garden, while the apostles sleep. Castile
: We stayed at this hotel in Granada
Acera del Darro , 62
- Granada SPAIN
Tel. 34 958 25 83 00Â Â Â Â Fax. 34 958 25 64 62
Dinner included today.
Wake up call , Luggage out, then Depart.
Drove through the olive and orange groves of the rolling Andalusian hills and later the more barren landscapes of Don Quixotes La Mancha to Toledo, spectacularly situated on a granite hill surrounded by a loop of the Tagus River.
40 miles from
is Toledo. Madrid
In 1085 Alfonso of Castile took
and established direct personal control over the Moorish city. This was the first concrete step taken by the kingdom in the Reconquista by Christian forces. Toledo
We saw a huge Moorish bridge and an early SYNAGOGUE, the 13th-century GOTHIC CATHEDRAL
Church of SANTO TOM
with one of El Grecos most famous paintings. The Burial of the Count of Orgaz - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burial_of_the_Count_of_Orgaz - El Greco, 1586-1588,oil on canvas , 460 360 cm
(a small chapel) Toledo, Spain
The Burial of the Count of Orgaz is widely considered to be El Greco's best-known work. It illustrates a popular local legend. An exceptionally large painting, it is very clearly divided into two zones, the heavenly above and the terrestrial below, but there is little feeling of duality. The upper and lower zones are brought together compositionally.
The theme of the painting is inspired from a legend of the beginning of the 14th century. In 1312, a certain Don Gonzalo Ruz, native of
, and SeÂ±or of the town of Toledo , died (the family received the title of Count, by which he is posthumously generally known). The Count of Orgaz was a pious man who, among other charitable acts, left moneys for the enlargement and adornment of the Orgaz (El Greco's parish church). He was also a philanthropist and a right-thinking Knight. At the time he was being buried, Saint Stephen and churchof Santo Tom themselves, according to the legend, descended from heaven and buried him in front of the dazzled eyes of those present. Saint Augustine
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_Toledo - seat of the Archdiocese of Toledo, is one of the three 13th century High Gothic cathedrals in Toledo and is considered to be the magnum opus of the Gothic style in Spain . Spain
It was begun in 1226 during the reign of Ferdinand III and the last Gothic contributions were made in the 15th century when, in 1493, the vaults of the central nave were finished, during the times of the Catholic Monarchs. It was modeled after Bourges Cathedral, although its five naves plan is the consequence of the constructors' intention to cover all of the sacred space of the former city mosque with the cathedral, and of the former sahn with the cloister. It also combines some characteristics of the Mudjar style, mainly in the cloister, and with the presence of multifoiled arches in the triforium. The spectacular incorporation of light and the structural achievements of the ambulatory vaults are some of its more remarkable aspects. It is built with white stone
A sahn, in Islamic architecture, is a courtyard. Almost every mosque has a sahn, which is surrounded by an arcade from all sides. It usually contains a pool, where ablutions are performed.
We also visited a DAMASCENE STEEL WORKSHOP.
Before leaving town we stopped for a another photo op:
We returned to the same hotel in
Paseo Reina Cristina, 7
E Â Madrid Spain
Tel:34 91 552 69 00Â Â Fax: 34 91 433 60 95
As we were checking in, I gave the porter my ticket to retreive my left luggage. That worked out great. I put all my ski stuff in separate bag and left it here at hotel where I knew we were returning. I didnt have to keep packing and unpacking it every day on the Globus part of the tour.
Tonight dinner with the girls for the BEST Paella in
at La Cabana restaurant.Â We met in the lobby. 5 of us took two taxis. We got there 30 minutes early (before the restaurant opened). So we walked down the street and ended up in a bar. It was very obvious when we walked in that it was a gay bar. We had some drinks. I was seating facing the bar and I got a nice little show of two very cute guys making out. Madrid
The restaurant was very nice. Great paella.
One last night in this hotel. Our room was directly above a disco so I really needed my earplugs. Those earplugs really work great. Its amazing that I really slept great on this trip.
Judy and I took Globus shuttle to the
airport. We dropped off Judy first. She is flying back to Madrid today. I stay on the bus and they took me to the domestic terminal 4. Im flying to Atlanta on Iberia Flight: IB2720 from Madrid Barajas Terminal 4, departing at and arriving in Barcelona at . I paid a great price of $77.85 USD for the one-way flight. I think the train would have cost more! Barcelona
I flew into
into Terminal B and my suitcase did not show up. I went to lost luggage and they sent me to Terminal C where I found my suitcase. I had to run all the way down to Terminal A to meet the ski club. They flew Lufthansa on a 9 hour flight from Madrid to Frankfurt., 2 hour wait, then finally 2 hour flight Franfurt to Atlanta arriving at . Barcelona
I made it to the Terminal A arrival hall and met with the ground-only group. I had information on the bus services to
just in case I missed the group I would find my own way to the hotel. Im glad that was not necessary. After a little confusion about where to pick up their luggage, everyone from Andorra Frankfurtgot their luggage and we were off to the bus. The bus driver could not speak English so had a time tring to communicate with him. The bus trip from Wayne to Barcelona is 120 miles (about 3? Hours? ). We stopped for a bathroom break on the way. When we go to Andorra , we stopped several time so the bus driver could ask for directions to the hotel. Andorra
Check into hotel some time in the afternoon.
Carrer Maria Pla, 19-21
Valls de Canillo
la Vella ANDORRA
Tel 376 739 444, Fax 376 739 445
I was sooooo glad that I paid the single supplement for this part of my trip. After two weeks of sharing a room and operating on a rigid schedule, I was ready to relax and do my own thing. Oh, yeah after two weeks of wearing clothes, I had to do laundry. I washed enough stuff so I had clean clothes for the rest of the week. The single room was also great so I could hang clothes all over.
At there was a wine and cheese party to meet everyone on the trip. Trip Leader was Wayne R. People on the trip:
Carolyn, Jane, Libby, Susie, Mitzi, Rita
Pam, Marylyn, Suzanna
Robert & Karen
John & Arlene
Charles & Nelleke
Dan & Carolyn Nugent
What a fun group of people. We also got details about the hotel, dinner and skiing.Â After the meeting I went next door to the hotel to rent skis and boots around . Rented at the shop next to the hotel at Esports Roc Vertical. AD100 Canillo, Tel 376 851 610. Cost is 73 Euro for 5 days or 16 Euro for one day (that includes the 20% discount)
Everyone in the hotel must keep the boots and skiis in the basement room of the hotel. The room was quite, how shall I say aromatic with all those sweaty boots in there. They had special racks where you could mount the boots on poles with holes where hot air was pumped into the boot all night.Â It is great system as long as you got a pole with air. There had to be a least 150 pairs of boots in that room.
I bought a 2-day lift ticket at the hotel front desk for 68.75 Eur = $103 or $51 a day. A one-day lift ticket, was 38.50 Eur thats about $58 US dollars!!! Yeow.
There is a buffet dinner at (every night). The food the first night was absolutely the best. Lamb, beef roast, vegetables, dessert bar. Yum. The dinner selections were good the rest of the nights, but not ever as good as the first dinner (with Lamb).
The first day of skiing I met the group at by the back door of the hotel. Go the room in the basement and put on ski boots. Then you have to carry your skis about 500 feet (seemed like more) to the Canillo ski lift. There was no snow anywhere! Take the gondola up and finally tons of snow!Â Skiing was good the first day and better and the week went on.
covers 180 square miles (468 square kilometers) with a population of 75,000. Altitude from 2755 feet to 9655 feet. Andorra
We skiied in the Grandvalira area http://www.grandvalira.com/gv/home.aspx?lang=4§ion=&page=
You can ski the entire Grandvalira area over 77 square miles or 4,760 acres (1926 Ha) of skiable terrain or piste skiing. 110 trails, Over 124 miles (200 km) of ski runs. 64 lifts. The ski area is the biggest resort in the
Pyreneesand the biggest skiiable domain in the Iberian peninsula. Base elevation is 5610 feet, top elevation is 860 feet. www.grandvalira.com and www.skiandorra.ad
I skiied on my own one day. I usually reserve that luxury for the last day of skiing. Every day I look forward to the last day so I can relax and go at my own pace wherever I want to go. Well, I decided to ski on my own on the third day of this trip. What a great idea!!! I felt so much better skiing with the group the rest of the time since I had already had my day of skiing.
On Monday night we did Ice karting - bumper cars on the ice skating rink. Scot did a great job arranging this event. The 'Ice Palace' (Palau de Gel dAndorra) was right across the street. It was great fun! Cost was 14.40 Eur. And well worth it. I was in the first group of 8 people. We had to put on a full suit of overalls over our clothes. They offered us a blue hair net to use under the required helmet. Our first group was a little too rowdy they had a remote control to slow our engines and they used it. Its not really supposed to be bumper cars. We went for a really long time. I was ready to stop when they flagged us down to end our session.
I wanted to take a break from skiing, so one day I did snow-shoeing with Pam, Marilyn, Karen.Â First we had lunch at the pizza place across the street in Palau de gel d'Andorra. I got "Marguerita Prima" for 10.75 Eur and coke 1.62. Snowshoe rental was 4 Eur. Cost for the outing was 25 Eur. They picked us up at the hotel and we had a drive to the Grau Roig area. It sure was a lot faster to ski to that area. There was six of us in the whole group. Snowshowing was fun, but a lot of work. I didnt stay on the trail so I ventured off-road where I could get into deeper snow. One time the (very cute) guy leading us had to yell at me to join the group because I was about to go over a stream.
We stopped at an igloo to take picture. I got a great shot of Marilyn crossing the creek they had a 4 inch board that we had to step on to cross the river. Yeow. At the end of the tour, we stopped at the sled dogs. They were great fun. They had two puppies. One was 10 weeks old and the other 10 days old and the first time out on the open with people. We played with the dogs awhile before we headed back to the van for drive back to the hotel. What a great day.
The last day in Andorra and I had an invitation from a super nice guy that I had met. He was with a group of guys from New York. He invited me to go to the spa that last day. That would have been nice, but I'm really not a spa person and I really wanted to ski one more day. Tom was a very nice gentleman. He definitely made the week alot more interesting!
So the the last day of skiing was a blast and a killer. I was feeling great that day. We had a bunch of maybe 6 people. Geez, I wish I hadnt waited so long to type this journal, now I can remember who. Anyway, after skiing all morning, some folks were ready to head back to the hotel. I was not ready to go home, so I stayed with the die-hards. That was a challenge. Rita was so sweet. She warned me that they were heading towards a very difficult slope. I agreed because, like I said, I was feeling good that day. Well, that run almost did me in. The name of the run is Avet and I had to side-slip the top part the entire way. I was still feeling good, but not confident enough to tackle that thick ice crust that had formed from the shade on the slope. On the bottom half of the run, I finally got up enough nerve to point my skis down and just go for it. That was a rush. Everyone had a great time on that run, but I still called it the try to kill Suzanna run.
there is a free Gel Esqu Bus service connecting the Grandvalira-Canillo, El Tarter and Soldeu resorts and leading up to the Andorra d'Envalira. villageof Bordes
About the bus was at the hotel. We had to manage our own luggage and get it down to the lobby and load into the bottom of the bus. That was quite a hassle. Then we had long bus ride back to
. We got to the hotel around .Â They needed a credit card number from at least one person in each room before we could check in. We checked into hotel around . Barcelona
Hotel Avenida Palace http://www.avenidapalace.com
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 605 Â· 08007
Tel: 34 93 301 9600 Â· Fax: 93 318 1234 Â·
A hungry group of us went out for Tapas: Carolyn, John, and Buck. But before we left, I signed up for bus tour of the city. That was good for me to get familiar with the layout of the city. We drove by La Pedrera on our way to Park Guell. It was further than I wanted to walk so Im glad it was on the city tour. It was the Pullmantur company. The tour guide did the tour in English, Spanish,
The tour went to Park Guell, Sagrida Familia, and ended at the Picasso museum.
Park Guell - 40 acres (16 hectares). There are lots of rocks so it is difficult to decorate. It is symbiotic symbiosis between architecture and natural environment. Gaudi was single.- lived in this house with this father. 60 plots were for sale, but only one sold.The white house is the only other inhabitant in the park.
The wavy bench was built to accommodate the 400 people who were supposed to live in this area. Great lumbar support in the bench! Very pretty broken tiles mosaic.
Angled lovely woman viaduct and slanted walkway. Covered area for food market has 84 columns. Four suns on the ceiling for 4 seasons. Concave roof so water would runs down columns for collection. Symbol of the park is the salamander.
Sagrida Familia - http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/index.php - For this brief bus tour around the city, we did a walking tour around the ourside of the church. I came back the next day to tour the inside.
Construction began in 1882 and they are about 54 percent complete. There are currently 8 bell towers, but there are 18 bell towers planned. The tallest one now is 107 meters, but the tallest will be 170 meters when finished. There will be 12 spires for the 12 apostles. 24 chapels. They only build when they have money. No money comes from the government or from the church so they can be true to Gaudis design and plans with no outside influence. They are trying to convey exactly what Gaudi wanted. At first people did not like the sculptures, but now that he is famous, they like them.
There are usually about 150 people working here every day. 43 years of Gaudis life is in this church.
tree at the top of the Gaudi faÂ§ade is a symbol of eternity. He was close to dying of Brucelocis when he designed this faÂ§ade on the left is the last supper, middle is 3 days befroe he died, right is crucifixion. Cyprus
Sanctus means holy. The church is open so when it rains, it rains inside the church. The front of the Sagrida Familia was totally covered in scaffolding and a hidden in tarps.Â
When it is finished, the church will belong to the
. It will be Catholic church. Vatican
. He was 74 years old. Buried in the church. June 7, 1926
There is a Crytogram on the church a magic square of 16 numbers that add up to 33 (age of Jesus) in 310 different ways. Next to magic square is judas kissing Jesus.
1 14 144
11 7 6 9
8 10 105
2 3 15
http://www.museupicasso.bcn.cat/en/ - Picasso lived in Picasso Museum for 9 years until he found his love: Barcelona . Early Picasso works in this museum. Pink period. The blue period and cubism finally made him famous. Paris
Velazquez La Meninas Picasso painted 44 interpretations of this painting. His version of Infanta Margarita, Maria, Maria Augustina Sariento, etc etc. It was an exhaustive study of rhythm, color, movement with respect towards Velazques atmosphere.
Dad took pictures of these paintings back in 1981 when the rest of my family visited Spain.
This is the original painting in the Prado museum in Madrid:
||Another one of the 44 Picasso versions:
SATURDAY sightseeing I had million things that I wanted to see in this town and one of them was not the Maritime museum. The group called my room when they were at breakfast, but I told them to go on without me. This was such an incredibly beautiful city that I did not want to end up sitting at a bar somewhere drinking beer. Too much to see! So I ventured out.
I bought a 4 day metro ticket for 18.30 Eur. (1 ride is 1.30, 2 days is 10 E, 3 days is 14.30, 4 days is 18.30 and a 5-day ticket is 21.70.
I walked up
Gracia street.Â There are many expensive shopping stores: Burburry, Gucci, Armani, Chanel.
Gracia 6-14: Cases Antoni Rocamora
Gracia 35: Casa Lleo Morera
Gracia 41: Casa Ametller
Gracia 43: Casa Batllo
Gracia 92: La Pedrera
Sagrida Familia - Temple Expiatore de la Sagrada Familia - I walked to Sagrida Familia. That was a hike. Pay the 8 Eur entrance fee, and get the 3.5 Eur audio guide that you can listen to for a guided tour around the church.
I paid 2 Eur to ride the elevator (Ascensor Facana) to the top. NOTE: THERE ARE TWO ELEVATORS! The lift in front had over a 90-minute wait and the lift in the back of the church had a 20 minute wait. I took some good picture from the top. To get down, you can take the elevator, or you can walk the steps inside the spire. Now that was SCARY. Very narrow, nothing to hang on to, no guard rail. You cannot pass. Once you stairs you are commited until you get to the bottom.
Agbar Tower Bull ring. and the
For lunch I usually grabbed a sandwich "Jamon y Queso" Ham and Cheese 1.95 Eur and Cafe con Leche 1.20 Eur. In Portugal it is "Pao Bola d/Queijo".
I was headed to Font Magica. It is a work of engineering by Carles Buigas and the only surviving piece of the illuminated fountain set build in 1929. Its a light and water, and music show. Only on Friday and Saturday nights from to in the winter, so had to see it Saturday night.
convinced me to wait till to see if anyone else shows up, then we would leave to see the show. We finally left at , took metro to Espanya station and stayed to watch most of the show. Wayne
SUNDAY sightseeing: I bought a 3-day metro pass for 14.30. It was worth every penny.
Montjuic - Took the metro to Parallel station. Dont exit the station and take Teleferic de Montjuic (Montjuic funicular) up. Then I took the cable car (5.70 Euro each way) to the Castle. I walked around and it started raining so I didnt stay long.
So tired, take metro back to hotel for a nap. It was still raining, but I got back outside and took the Metro to Barri Gothic. I ended up in the Cathedral http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_Santa_Eulalia. I ended up watching a Catholic church service. They chained the interior of the Nave so no tourists could disrupt the service. It was all in Spanish. I was dead tired and didnt have anywhere else to go, so I just sat there and listened and watched. It was quite a treat to finally be able to listen to organ music play in a gothic cathdral. They finished with communion and the service was over about .
Arc de Triomf -Beautifully sunny day. I started out by taking the Metro to the Arc de Triomf. It was built in 1888 as the entrance to the Univeral Exhibition.Â Then I went back to the Cathedral to take a picture of the outside of the church, Roman walls. I walked up to the Palau de la Musica and bought a 10 Eur ticket for the English tour. It was 12 so I had time for a coffee and a walk down to see Santa Maria del Mar inside before it closed for the afternoon. It was build 1329-1384. Very pretty gothic church (on the outside anyway).
de la Musica - Very spectacular! This place is a World UNESCO site. The evening performers were practicing on the stage during our tour so it was almost like we attended a concert. There are 2000 pieces of glass in the ceiling. There were apartments above the ceiling, now there are offices. There is glass over the stained glass so it is all natural light during the day. Lights at night. The Organ was broken for 30. Repaired 2000-2003. Palau
Tibidado www.tibidabo.es - After the
tour I took the metro to the L7 tram, then a bus up to the Tibado fenicular. It was an older fenicular. Only 3 Euro round trip. There was a Basilica Ermita at the top and an amusement park! It is one of the three oldest parks in the world. There was a Carrousel, and ferris wheel, etc. I took some great pictures of the city. Back to the bus, then the L7 tram, then the metro to the hotel. So tired. Palau
I met with Scot to give him city maps and information. He has a 2-week EuroRail pass so he doesnt come home until Feb 21. That sure sounds like fun to me. Most everyone has 2 suitcases on this ski trip. I only have one suitcase so I offered to take a bag back to
for him. I gave him lists of things to see in Atlanta and Spain . Portugal
I met the group in the lobby for dinner. We walked a block to El Glop restaurant. Yum. Salad, grilled artichokes, and Sea Bass a for dinner. Yum.
The Ski Club folks went home today. The shuttle bus left the hotel at in the morning!!!! Lufthansa flights from BCN to FRAnkfurt LV and from FRA to
. I sure am glad I planned my own flights my flights are DIRECT with no stops! Im staying one more night in ATLanta . I made a reservation with the same Barcelona hotel for one more day. Avenida Palace
Before I left on this trip I tried to book the extra night on the hotel Internet site at http://www.avenidapalace.com. But the reservation system wasnt working, so I resorted to using my old stand-by method of getting a room anywhere in the world. I went to http://www.utell.com/, found the hotel, booked the room and gave them a credit card to reserve it. The cost was EUR 128 +7% tax service = 138 Eur. If I was paying with current exchange rate that is equivalent to $207 USD, but they let me pay in cash. I got those Euros a couple years ago in
when the exchange rate was a lot better so the actual cost was really $165 USD. Thats a big difference! This trip was a little bit cheaper for me. Italy
La Rambla I walked the entire length of the road. "Rambla is a series of streets, joined together one after the other, that lead from PlaÂ§a Catalunya to the sea. The word rambla comes from the Arabic term, ramla, which means a riverbed, and these streets actually used to be a riverbed that channelled the water coming down from Collserola hill. In the 13th century, convents and churches were built on both sides of the Ramblas and the streets were named after these religious buildings. During the course of the 18th century the medieval walls that separated the Barri GÂ²tic (Gothic Quarter) from Raval district were pulled down, and in 1830 the convents and monasteries were closed.
Along La Rambla Walked through La Boqueria Market. Wow. That was something to see!
At the end of Rambla, is the
monument at the water's edge. When Mom and Dad were here in 1957?, they rode the elevator to the top and took a picture of the view. I had that picture with me, so I inquired about the lift. Nope, it was not working. Columbus
I went across the bridge Rambla de Mar that connects to Port Vell.
I went on the tour of La Pedrera.Â Cost was 8 WurIt was very cool to see the attic, walk around on the roof, and The Pedrera apartment.Â Well worth the wait in line and cost of the ticket.
After that I headed to El Museu Nacional dArt de Calalunya. It was the last thing that I really wanted to see in
So I start the long trek home. In the metro station, I was walking so slow that everyone was passing me. I finally made to the Gracia station by our hotel. I took a long hot bath and relaxed.
Oh yeah, I tried using my ATM debit card and it worked. That was the first time in all of my travels that used it. It didn't need the money, I just wanted to test it to make sure it would work if I had to use it.
At I met Libby and Susie and we went back to El Glop for dinner. I got the eggplant this time. Yum.
Tuesday night, pack suitcases.
taxi to the airport with Libby and Susie.Â I checked both Scots suitcase and my suitcase through to
. (Thank goodness Im flying Delta allows two 50-pound (22.5 kg) bags for no extra cost. These were the Delta baggage rules in Jan, 2008: Atlanta
DELTA Carry on - one bag plus one personal item per passenger as long as it: Weighs less than 40 pounds (18 kg), Does not exceed 45 inches when you total length plus width plus height, Fits easily in our SizeCheckÂ® unit (approximately 22"x14"x9"), Fits in an overhead bin or underneath the seat in front of you.
Checked Baggage - two bags per passenger free of charge. Each bag must: Weigh 50 pounds (22.5 kg) or less. Not exceed 62 inches when you total length plus width plus height.
I reluctantly got on the flight I would like to have stayed longer. My direct flight was very relaxing. I had an entire row of three seats where I could lay down.DELTA 115
LV 1040A AR BARCELONA Â Â 300P ATLANTA
Judy picked me up at the airport. Back to real life. Uuuughhhhhh.
Oh yeah, cost of this 25 day trip was $180 a day for me:
1195 andorra + 399 single + 299 barcelona + 1893 total
654 air atl-spain rt + 78 madrid - barcelona = 732
1679 Globus tour + 40 xfers + 150 ins = 1868
$4493 / 25 days is 180 a day.