May 24, 2009 - Posted by Erin in Travels in Spain

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This is the first time that I actually have a moment to recap the last of my recent adventures – this one included my quick trip down to the southern region of Spain, called Andalucia, with Kim. I’ve been there a few times before and it happens to be one of my favorite places in Spain, so when Kim said she was making her second trip out to Madrid to visit me, I knew I had to take her there!

What ended up being quite ironic about her trip is that after she planned it, I had learned that I needed to head to the US for a conference, which ultimately landed me on the same plane as Kim heading back to Madrid. Upon our arrival back to Madrid, we immediately repacked our bags and got ready for the next leg of our journey (squeezing in a little nap too). Then it was off to the train station where we caught a train down to Cordoba to pick up our rental car.

In Cordoba, the road trip began. We made the two hour drive to Granada with surprising alertness. The drive was absolutely gorgeous – between the olive tree covered rolling hills and the abundance of green and colored spring flowers, it was just stunning.

Arriving in Granada, we stopped at the hotel, and then set off to find our restaurant for dinner – the same one that Jacob and I had visited years before. The restaurant has a stunning panoramic view of the Alhambra and is the perfect place to watch the sun go down, and the lights go up on the “red fortress.”

The next day we entered the Alhambra – it was then that I really remembered why Granada is my favorite place in Spain. The Alhambra is literally paradise. It is different than so many other places because it engages more of your senses in such intense ways. The soft sounds of the running water (which is an important and constant theme at the palace), the smell of blossoming flowers and fresh air, and the many colors, whether from the palace, the landscape, or the millions of different plants in bloom. For me, it was like a drug, a type of euphoria that I can’t quite explain. All I can say is that there is just no place on this planet that has ever seemed to come closer to paradise.

After our trip to the Alhambra, we continued the road trip back to Cordoba, where Kim would be staying for the next day. I had to leave that night, but had enough time before catching my train in order to wander the streets of the town for a bit and discover some of the enchanting patios that I loved so much the last time I had visited. Unfortunately, a couple of hours later, it was time for me to head back to Madrid.

On Monday, it was back to work for me, but not before one last excursion with Kim before bidding her farewell. I took her and Heather to see the famous flamenco show that I’ve taken a few of my other guests to. It was totally impressive as usual.

Now it’s a rainy weekend here in Madrid, which is absolutely perfect. We’ve had nothing but sunny and amazing weather, so it’s nice that the gloomy weather is encouraging me to just stay inside and get some rest.

Up next for me will be another trip back to Bucharest, as well as a return to SF for a conference in late June. For now though, I hope to at least remain in Spain for a bit…and I guess I have to – my passport is at the embassy getting new pages :). Forced rest, thank goodness!

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August 26, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Traditions, Travels in Spain

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What a week Kim and I have had! I arrived here in Madrid last Tuesday, followed by Kim on Thursday. I couldn’t have asked for better timing – it’s not easy transitioning back to life here, and having a buddy with me while I get back into the swing of things cheered me up more than I ever could have imagined.

We had quite the itinerary laid out for Kim and she was up for the challenge. The first day Kim arrived she was a real champ – we pretty much headed right out to tour Madrid. We hit up Retiro Park, Puerta de Alcala, The Prado, and even shopping on Serrano – all before heading to drinks, dinner, then drinks again with Jacob. Kim powered through the night without a trace of jet lag.

The next day we returned to Madrid to finish up the site seeing, which included the Palace, Plaza Mayor, Sol, Gran Via and more shopping! We capped off the day with an evening at Jacob’s friend Manu’s house for homemade paella on the BBQ – best paella ever!!!

Saturday we hit the road and headed out to Segovia – Kim’s favorite spot on the trip. On the drive home we swung by La Granja (a palace with beautiful gardens) and made the trip home for a nice dinner in Madrid.

Sunday brought a new excursion for me – Salamanca. The city known for its university, was extra charming and like no other Spanish city I’d visited before. What we especially loved is that we were able to walk the perimeter of the inside and outside of the cathedral – a unique perspective that we’d never had the opportunity to see in the past. We discovered breathtaking views both inside and out (albeit a little frightening for me at times!).

Yesterday brought my favorite event of all – the running of the bulls here in San Sebastian de los Reyes. It happens all week this week (which is especially fortuitous since I have another friend coming on Thursday). We headed out early to reserve our spots to view the run. It didn’t disappoint! While short, it is exhilarating to watch nonetheless. Be sure to visit the movies page to see a clip of the race.

After the running of the bulls, Kim and I made the long trip to and from Toledo. Toledo is always a charming destination – although taking public transportation for virtually the entire expedition was exhausting for sure! In the future I think it should be best left to those with cars. We made up for the journey though by capping off the day, and her trip, with dinner in the caves of a local village – yes caves (they are natural caves used in old times for wine)! Each table had its own little cave, like a cubby hole. It was a unique and distinctly Spanish way to finish off her trip.

Now we have sent Kim off and fortunately I have another guest right around the corner. My friend Robin will be out on Thursday, at which time I will begin the tour of Spain again! Good thing I love this place! More to come next week…