With the exceptions of a six-week “pilgrimage” to India in the early 70s and a couple of Club Med style vacations to Jamaica in the early 90s, I have not left the shores of America to travel in exotic lands. After my experience in India, I made the decision that I was a better “armchair traveler” and contented myself with travel documentaries and fascinating books on the subject. Of course, I dreamed of world travel but I “knew” that, in reality, my desire would probably remain a dream.
Tomas, on the other hand, spent 40 years living abroad, speaking English, Italian and German fluently, along with smatterings of French and Spanish. During that time he visited 20 countries and lived in 7. He became a global citizen decades before I even had that idea pop into my mind.
Ironically, when I met Tomas in June of 2004, I suddenly felt as though I had also traveled the world and wanted only to “settle down” and let some roots grow beneath my feet. Tomas shared this vision and so we did.
Almost 10 years later, we struck out for Morocco and I suddenly became aware of an aspect of my husband (a rather extensive aspect) that I had not encountered before — the international traveler. Tomas was in his element from the moment we left JFK and flew out over the Atlantic. He amazed me and continually surprised me with abilities I had not seen in him before. For example, he had never formally learned French; he had only “picked some up” along the way, while traveling in Europe. I HAD studied French for three years in high school (40 years prior) but I had never really spoken it. Within two weeks of our landing in Morocco, Tomas was fluent enough in French (the second most common language spoken in Morocco) to navigate us through cities, large and small, negotiate with merchants and taxi drivers and make telephone calls in French in the interest of furthering our travels and establishing us in this new country we had chosen to live in. Fast forward nine months to our departure from Morocco, journeying through Tangier and Madrid, Spain on our way to the West Coast of the USA. Suddenly, we realized that the two of us were going to be in Europe — together — for the first time and I saw a special light flicker in my husband’s eyes, as he anticipated returning to the continent and cultures of his youth.
We booked ourselves into a small “pension,” the Hotel Montecarlo which overlooked the Gran Via in downtown Madrid. We took the express bus from the airport and right away, I was impressed with the lovely multi-plex high-rise apartment buildings I saw along the way. However, when we finally arrived at “Centre de Ville,” Madrid and the bus we had just exited pulled away, I found myself facing this:
Don’t ask me what this is — I don’t know — but it was definitely impressive!
We walked the few blocks to our hotel and quickly settled in. We dined at a wonderful restaurant just down the street and I had a full glass of white wine and chocolate ice cream for dessert — my first of both in nearly 10 months. we strolled some of the side streets and back alleys, scouting a good breakfast place for the morrow and I could not stop taking photos of the buildings. I couldn’t get passed the architecture, except for one shot of the gluten-free bakery display window, which has raised cupcakes to an art form. Without further ado, I will leave you with some of the shots I captured to remind us that one night in Madrid was only an appetizer and we will definitely be back for more. Enjoy!