Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Spain, Finally!!!

 This past February I finally traveled to Spain.  It has been on my travel list for about 18 years.  What happens to a dream deferred?  Does it shrivel up or does it explode?  This dream ripened and resulted in a week of city life and beach living.  Do I have Spain out of my system?  Not hardly!  I feel like I just scraped the surface and can't wait to go back and explore region by region.

I love the city streets in Madrid.  Green leafy trees, even in winter, and meandering sidewalks were welcoming to my eyes.  It was a particularly cold and snowy winter in Kyiv, which meant I was happy to be free from snow boots.  I could have skipped down these streets.

Wine and strawberries!  It's like home.

I went on a bike tour through the city.  Madrid isn't exactly the best town for biking, but the parks were lovely.  I nearly ran over one football playing youth and the group was caught up in a political rally.  This has been the year for them!

Tapas!  We shared these with new friends from the bike tour; our bike tour guide had recommended this place.  The restaurant was rustic and almost entirely filled with locals.  A traveler's dream.
Snow in Spain...
Third largest palace in Europe.  You've seen one, you've seen them all.  Just kidding!  I was struck by the chapel area and the gigantic statue of Queen Isabella.  The chapel layout reminded me of the California missions, which of course come directly from the Spaniards.
More tapas!  This one represents a sample of many of my favorite flavors: cheese, sundried tomatoes, onion and stuffed olives.  Heaven!
And then it was off to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands!  I needed the ocean.  I craved it all winter.  Sun and salt air for three days put me in good spirits for the rest of the miserable winter.

The island was a mix a city beach resort, historic and natural beauty.  This library is old.  How old?  I don't remember.  But, I love libraries and old arches so I was a happy camper.
I remember this picture!  It is the small chapel that Christopher Columbus prayed in before his great trip across the ocean.
Overlooking the courtyard in the Columbus Museum.

One very friendly Islander insisted on taking our picture.  He was a kindly gentleman.

Rachel and I hopped on a local bus and went for a hike.  Only, I thought it was a walk and didn't wear proper shoes.  It was beautiful and definitely something off the beaten path!

Our last day was a beach day.  I did nothing but read, swim and sunburn.  I always forget what happens to winter-white skin.  Major pain.  But, to swim in the Atlantic in February... that was a dream come true.  The open water was warm enough for me to swim for over an hour.  Bliss.  Pure bliss.