Spain 2015

IMG_2346MaiTaiTom’s Insane For Spain 2015

After all these years Tracy and I finally made it to España.  Starting in Barcelona, we then flew to Granada, drove to the White Hill Towns and on to Sevilla.  From there we got on track and hit the rails.  We trained the rest of the way to Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid.  As you can see, we horsed around a bit along the trail and hoofed it through all these towns (nearly 200 miles of walking in 20 days…there was no stalling furlong on this trip).  Our friends, Kim and Mary, joined us, and we had a blast seeing one incredible sight after another…and, oh my, those Spanish GinTonics!  Come join us on one of the more remarkable journeys we have undertaken, which is why “MaiTaiTom’s Insane For Spain!”

Chapter One: Beautiful, Bustling Barcelona

Chapter One: Beautiful, Bustling Barcelona I don’t have any idea why it took my 19th trip to Europe to finally choose Spain as our destination. It had always been on our short list, but for some reason, it just never made the cut. I guess our recent vacation reaffirms the phrase, ”Good things happen to those who wait.”                                         Our three-week adventure would take us to Barcelona, Granada, a few White Towns, Sevilla, Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid.                                         Tracy and I would hook up with our traveling-companions-in-crime Kim and Mary in Barcelona, and it would truly be a “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” trip. We also walked nearly 200 miles in those 20 days, meaning I got to hear Tracy say, … Read more…

Chapter Two: Modernist Marvels

Chapter Two: Modernist Marvels Day Two: Take Me To Church, Seeing The Light, Silencio Por Favor, Classic Iron Butterfly, “The Elevator List”, Crypt-ic Message, This Old House, Feeling Blue, Up On The Roof (Part Dos), Tops Of The Tapas, Market Watch, The Dragon Lady, Borne Again, Music Courtesy Of Lluís Domènech, Suffering Sciatica, Setting A Good Eixample, Dinner #1, Pop Goes Dessert, The Dancing Fountains, My Big Fat Spanish Wedding and Our Second Dinner We awoke early to glorious blue skies and inquired at the hotel desk whether we could walk to La Sagrada Familia.  The man smiled and said, “It’s too far for feet.”  After much sole-searching, although I’m not a loafer, a taxi seemed like the prudent solution … Read more…

Chapter Three: A Wonderful Hospital Experience

Chapter Three: A Wonderful Hospital Experience Day Three – Up On The Roof (Part Tres), Another Familia View, A Lovely Gaudí Walk, MaiTaiTom Is Admitted To The Hospital, “Kingdom Of Health”, I Think I’m Done With Tapas, Tracy Is Definitely Done With Ruins, Museum Stays Off Elevator List…Barely, A Short Date With Picasso, Rodney Dangerfield Lives, Take My Wife…Please, A Nacional Treasure, Let’s Meat For Dinner and The Rain In Spain I got up before the rest of the gang, and walked out into the quiet of a Barcelona morning for some pastries.  The church was empty and the place where we would grab taxis throughout the week was nearly cab-less.                                … Read more…

Chapter Four: Montserrat & Montjuïc

Chapter Four: Montserrat & Montjuïc Day Four – The Human Alarm Clock, The Train In Spain, Mountain Basilica, The Near Shutout, Like A Virgin, Going To The Chapel, Incense & Peppermints, Direcció Barthelona, Lunch At The Bullring, Cascading Fountains, A Nacional Treasure (Part Dos), Joan Of Art, Oh She’s A He, Tracy’s Favorite Piece Of Modern Art, Public Transportation, I Finally Need A Siesta and A Beautiful Restaurant Find At 3 a.m. we were awakened by a deafening downpour, so I assumed that Montserrat would be a “no go” for the morning, but I had the alarm set early just in case.  Sure enough, I was wrong.   By 6 a.m. the skies had cleared. Montserrat was on. I called Kim … Read more…

Chapter Five: A Walk Through A Gaudí Parc

Chapter Five: A Walk Through A Gaudí Parc Day Five & (partial) Day Six – Parc Place, Leapin’ Lizards, Now We’re Dragon, Sweeping Views, Where’s McCartney, Gaudí’s Funeral?, A Valencia Stroll, Market Watch (part Dos), Sweet Interlude, Happening Plaça, Lunch At Yet Another Market, Cathedral View, A Snail’s Pace, Up On The Roof (Part, oh Hell, I’ve Lost Track), Cathedral Unseen, Taking A Gander At Some Geese, Hip To Be Square, Final Overture With Rossini, Not Quite The Cat’s Meow, I Want Candy, Cue The Next Queue, The Stampede and Adios Barcelona/Hola Granada! Once again, a rainstorm hit us overnight… …but by the time we were out the door and grabbing some croissants and Café Con Leche at CappUKccino (Carrer … Read more…

Chapter Six: Granada Rooftop Oasis & I Am The Eggplant

Chapter Six: Granada Rooftop Oasis & I Am The Eggplant Day Six (cont) – Well That Was Fast, Could You Tuck in That Side Mirror, Right Down Our Alley, Oh My What A View, An Illuminating Experience, Easy Alhambra Ticket Office, Stupid Americans (and they weren’t us), Onto The Bicycle, I Am The Eggplant, Ah Capilla (Part Uno), Weren’t You In Jaws, My (Almost) Last Tapas and Lighting Up The Alhambra Ninety minutes after take-off from Barcelona, our Vueling luxury jetliner touched down in hot Granada.   It was at the Granada airport where we had the fastest transition from landing to luggage to transportation in passenger history. Because I had wisely (yes, it happens) booked the first row of the … Read more…

Chapter Seven: Alhambra By Day…Alhambra By Night

Chapter Seven:  Alhambra By Day…Alhambra By Night Day Seven – No Justice, Alhambra By Day, Taking A Bath, Nice Knockers, Going To A Garden(s) Party, A Tonic (and Gin) For What Ails Me, Pillars Of Success, Are You Sure I Can’t Take Photos, Vino With A View, Music I Can Hear Music, I Love A Parade, I Hate A Parade, A Coronary Waiting To Happen, And Justice For All, In The Nick Of Time, Alhambra By Night, I Really Hate A Parade, Are We In Sevilla Yet and Getting In The Swing Of Things Let’s cut to the chase…it’s a busy day ahead. The Piazza Nueva was nearly devoid of people at about 8 a.m. when we walked through it, … Read more…

Chapter Eight: An Eventful Day In Granada

Chapter Eight:  An Eventful Day In Granada Day Eight – Ah Capilla (Part Dos), I Shutter to Think What He’d Do To Me, Church of Gold, Jerónimo, Mamma Mia Here I Go Again, Right Down My Alley, I’ve seen The Light(s), I Want Moor, Overrated, And The Horse You Rode In On, Hail Helados, No Flamenco For Us, Not In The Swim Of Things, Our Last Granada Happy Hour, Mary Don’t Steal That Child and Our Best Dinner In Spain A little after 9 a.m., the MaiTai Four were back on the streets of Granada and said hello to a little friend who greeted us each morning as we walked down the hill. Once again we were heading toward Plaza … Read more…

Chapter Nine: A Journey To The Pueblos Blancos

Chapter Nine: A Journey To The Pueblos Blancos Day Nine – I Thought All New Cars Have GPS, Aztec Basketball And Driving Do Not Mix, Help Me (Find) Ronda, Parking Faux Pas, Never Eat At A Place Just Because You Have To Pee, Gorgeous Gorge, Horsing Around, That’s A Bunch Of Bull, Mixed Church Reviews, Watch Out For That Tree, Mariano Rivera Couldn’t Do It Better, Who’s Afraid Of The Lonely Goatherd, GinTonics By The Lake and Another Spectacular Dinner It was time to say adios to Granada. Today’s driving adventure (and with us in a car, it always is an adventure) would take us on a route to the Pueblos Blancos (White Towns). We were picked up by a … Read more…

Chapter Ten: On To Sevilla!

Chapter Ten: On To Sevilla! Day Ten – Feeling Sheep-ish, Gorgeous Grazalema, Is That Legal, You Might Be Headed In The Wrong Direction (Again), We’re Going To Kansas City, Spacious Digs, Our Gang At Alfalfa, A Confusing Street Plan, The Largest Gothic Cathedral in The World, Back From Cuba, Ramping Up For A Defibrillator, A Visit To San Salvador, In The Chips and Tree-Lined Dining It was a beautiful morning in Zahara de la Sierra, and at 8 a.m. we all partook of the Al Lago breakfast buffet. Surprisingly, Julia Roberts (aka Ava, who had also served us dinner after serving us drinks after checking us in yesterday) was working the room on this morning.  Mona, if you read this, … Read more…

Chapter Eleven: The Alcázar & Walk Till We Drop

Chapter Eleven: The Alcázar & Walk Till We Drop Day Eleven – The Oldest European Residence Still In Use, Awed At Every Turn, Let’s Take A Bath, Give That Man A Hand, Retirement Home For Priests, That Sounds Like In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida To Me, Torre But No Joe, The Other Side, Molto Bene, Meet Me In The Plaza, Hey Buddy Don’t Throw That Chair At Me, Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Pepper “Two” And The Giant Mushroom Grabbing some quick pastries, we headed on what we knew would be a very hot day to one of the more incredible places I have ever visited, the Alcázar. We passed by the Cathedral and arrived early. Technically, the Alcázar is the oldest European … Read more…

Chapter Twelve: A Hot Time In Steamy Sevilla

Chapter Twelve:   A Hot Time In Steamy Sevilla Day Twelve: Don’t Pan Pan, Pilatos Not Pilates, Do You Know The Way To San Jose, One More Church, Bellas Fellas, Losing My Head, We Finally Get To Try This Restaurant, I Will Not Be Doing The Macarena, Archeological Dining And Where’s Tom Cruise And Madonna For some reason everyone was up fairly early (perhaps one of us was making extra noise to help roust the crew). By 9:15 we had found Pan y Più (Calle Cabeza del Rey Don Pedro, 15), a delicious bakery near our apartment.                                               Fortified by savory and sweet pastries and bread that didn’t cost a lot of dough… …we headed to our first stop of … Read more…

Chapter Thirteen: The Marvelous Mezquita

Chapter Thirteen: The Marvelous Mezquita Day Thirteen – The Train In Spain Is Really Not A Pain, Pillars Of Strength, Who Put This Cathedral In My Mosque, A Stable Environment, Flower Power, Pepe Power, My Biggest Fan, Hospital For The Water Fearers, A Quick Stop At San Miguel, The Golden Arches, You’ll Fry On The Roof, A Familiar Wine, Bridge Work and Should We Hit The Flamenco Tonight The kids were up early on this Friday morning thanks to one semi-OCD person….that would be moi. When it comes to trains and planes, I’m pretty much a freak when it comes to getting to the train station or airport early (most would say “too early”), and thankfully my traveling partners indulge … Read more…

Chapter Fourteen: Traveling To Toledo

Chapter Fourteen: Traveling To Toledo Day Fourteen – Where Is Everybody, Coffee And Gin, Drinking Problem?, The Madrid Turn Around, We Are Not In Ohio, Room With A View, Pick Your Dish, Burger Joint, We’ve Got The Meats, Cathedral Shut Out, Short Changed, The Doménikos Theotokópoulos Experience, The Revenge Of The Sneeze and Oh Deer Balls Digression: Later in our trip (while sipping some vino in Madrid), we all reflected on our list of Spanish cities we had visited, and we were unanimous in our observation that our “least” favorite (not “bad,” but “least” favorite) of the major towns we stayed was Córdoba (yes, I know many will disagree with this assessment…it’s only our opinion).  That’s not to say we … Read more…

Chapter Fifteen: Traversing Toledo

Chapter Fifteen: Traversing Toledo Day Fifteen – Scrambling For Breakfast, Military Exercise, Jimmy Stewart Wouldn’t Like This Climb, Peter The Cruel’s Treasurer’s House, Hanging With El Greco And Friends, From El Greco To El Transito, Monster G&T, Another Isabella & Ferdinand Production, The Pooping Monkey, No GPS Required, New Meets Old (And I Don’t Mean Us), I Want More Marzipan and A Beautiful Rooftop Setting It was just like home (except for the fact that Kim and Mary don‘t live with us) when on this Sunday morning Mary made us a good scrambled egg breakfast to start our day.                                              As kitties scampered along the neighboring rooftops, we hastily ate our eggs and sausage. We would need that sustenance to … Read more…

Chapter Sixteen: Holy Toledo!

Chapter Sixteen: Holy Toledo! Day Sixteen – The Corpus Christi Effect, Sensational Sacristy, Marzipan Central, Another San Salvador Trip, Are These Guys Going To Kill Us, An Interesting Synagogue, Hey We’ll Open this Place For you Guys, Sol Searching, A Surprisingly Great Museum, A Bridge Too Far, Where’s The Damn Escalator, Choo Choo Through Toledo, Remarkable View, How Come All Our Walks Are Uphill, The Last Table and Don’t I Get To Eat, Too Not wanting to wait in a long line, we arrived at the Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo (considered one of the greatest Gothic structures in all of Europe) a little before its 10 a.m. start time, only to find a rather long line. It moved … Read more…

Chapter Seventeen: Marvelous Madrid & The World’s Oldest Restaurant

Chapter Seventeen:  Marvelous Madrid & The World’s Oldest Restaurant Day Seventeen – On Track Early, Baby That’s A Big Head, I Could Live Here, Hip To Be Square, Pleasing Plaza, My First Sangria, Regal Royal, Turning Japanese, There Are Never Enough Cathedrals, The Barber Of…Madrid and Dining Like It’s 1725. Needless to say, I woke everyone early for our short 1/2 hour train ride to Madrid.  Due to our early arrival, we relaxed in the patio of the historic Estacion del Ferrocarril with our croissants and coffee.                          Arriving in Madrid, Spain Select had a taxi waiting for us (near the Baby Sculpture…With Giant Head… by Antonio Lopez at Puerta de Atocha Railway Station. The sculpture represents the head of … Read more…

Chapter Eighteen: Madrid Art Museum Day

Chapter Eighteen: Madrid Art Museum Day Day Eighteen – Bear With Me, The Meat Loaf Art Museum Tour (Or Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad), Best Art Museum…Ever, My Favorite Crazy Artist, Going To The Dogs, Rogier That, I Proclaim You King Of Spain, Lost In Translation, I Hope I Don’t Go Blind Looking At This, War What Is It Good For, Glorious Gallery, Picture Imperfect, What Reservations, College Reunion and What’s All The Fuss About? It was a picture perfect day, but our day would be spent mainly indoors as we would tour Madrid’s “Big Three” art museums…Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo Reina Sofía and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.  With that much art on our plate in one day, we needed … Read more…

Chapter Nineteen: Hot Times In Madrid & The Old Pickpocket Trick

Chapter Nineteen:  Hot Times In Madrid & The Old Pickpocket Trick Next: Day Nineteen – Corpus Christi Strikes Again, Temple Of Doom, An Artist’s Tomb, Eating In Florida, No Great Story Started With Someone Eating A Salad, My Jenny Craig Lunch, Plaza Del Elevator List, Rumble At The Sport’s Store, Plaza Magnifico, Too Hot For A Cocktail, Channeling Our Inner Bruce Lee, Blatter Infection, A Politician Makes The Elevator List and Dinner At The Mercado After a rather late start for us (the trip was winding down…so no need to be the evil task master now), the Brown Bear beckoned… …and once again full of pastries, we hit the streets of Madrid. Our goal was to walk about a half … Read more…

Chapter Twenty: Final Day In Madrid & Adios España

Chapter Twenty:  Final Day In Madrid & Adios España Days Twenty & Twenty One – A Peaceful Retreat, Colorful Area, Nothing Blooming Here, The Monastery Shut-Out, How The Other Half Lives, Missed It By That Much, The Invisible Man, A Fruitful GinTonic, Are You Going To San Francesco, A Last Stroll Through Madrid, Ginger (But No MaryAnn), What About Flamenco, The Unexpected Return Of Nurse Ratched, Down The Stretch They Come and Maitaitom’s Spain Epilogue Our last day in Spain and our last day downing excess calories at the Brown Bear. It was ok, however, since we calculated at the end of this day…our 20th…in Spain, we had walked in excess of 200 miles.  Oh, our aching feet! After indulging … Read more…