We were one of the last groups to disembark the ship, because we had purchased the post-cruise extension tour to Madrid (and why not?).
|Spanish landscaspe outside Madrid|
|Really moving it|
|Spain's National Library|
The train left the station 2 minutes past its scheduled time for our 3-hour ride to Madrid. The Renfe train is capable of speeds up to 300 km/hr (187 mph/hr), and we were barely out of the station when we were hitting speeds in excess of 150 mph.
|The fresh seafood market|
|Anyone want some ham?|
|View from our balcony|
We were delivered to our hotel and checked into a room on the top floor with a balcony overlooking the boulevard below.
|One of the gates to the city|
|At the palace|
After breakfast the next morning we boarded a bus with Claudia and proceeded on a guided tour of Madrid. Our first stop was at a monument commemorating Cervantes’s character, Don Quixote where we stopped and took some photos.
|Don Quixote monumente|
|Bakery House frescoes|
The city is Spain’s capital and the third largest city in the European Union with a population of around 3.2 million and a metropolitan population of 6.5 million.
Leaving the palace and cathedral, we walked a route that would take us to the Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s central plaza, a popular place with locals and tourists. Along the way we passed by some very old Roman buildings that had been diligently restored and preserved.
|At the palace|
|Mercado de San Miguel|
|Bear in berry tree-symbol of Madrid|
We were in for a treat as our next stop and final stop was the Prado Museum, famous for its spectacular collection of paintings and sculptures. While the museum is home to many Italian, French, and Flemish paintings, it is most noted for its collection of Spanish masterpieces ranging from 12th century Romanesque murals to 19th century works by Goya.
|The Prado Museum|
|San Jeronimo el Real church next to Prado|
We returned to our hotel and rested for a while before we went out to get some dinner. We found a tapas bar and had a selection of olives, meats, and cheeses with some beer and wine. It was just enough as we weren’t really very hungry. Back at the hotel we turned in early for a 0315 wake up alarm. We met our driver and rode to the airport with two other couples in about 20 minutes (not much traffic in Madrid at 0430!). Our flights would take us from Madrid to Munich, then from Munich to Miami. It was a long flight back to Miami and we arrived around 1700. We found our van and drove to a motel in Florida City, not too far from our Key’s rental, where we would spend the next 3 nights before we could check in, and crashed about 2 hours after we arrived. It was a great trip, but as usual, it was great to be back home.