Updated: Oct 19, 2018
by Nina Sabin - Travel
In our last blog, we shared with you about our Wondrous Western World Journey. We had 36 days for this repat. On our last blog, you joined us as we visited family in the South East part of the US. Florida and Georgia. We went into details of our opportunity to explore Haiti and see the poverty of this country. If you have been following us, you know that our repat was not quite over with only two countries. Our first repat we traveled through six countries – Infamous Asian Tour. This repat we had one more country to visit on our itinerary; for a total of only four countries.
As the title says, we are in the air again. This time, we flew from Florida to Spain. As with most flights we had a layover in London. John includes in our itinerary the flags of the countries, which increases the excitement about the countries we are going to explore.
Arriving in Spain, is much more civilized than the airports in Haiti and Egypt. It is always nice to see our luggage come out on the conveyor belt.
We took the metro bus from the Madrid airport to our hotel. The metro bus or public transportation system is always the most reasonable way to travel around cities. This was a first experience to stay in a hostel. Most people when they think of hostel, they think of inexpensive and not luxurious. Well, this hostel was awesome. They were under renovation but the rooms that were completed were new. Everything looked clean and fresh. There was crown moldings in the rooms and the bathrooms had what looked like marble. Needless to stay, we realized later in our travels that is not the norm for hostels. The staff was very friendly, they were so nice, that I admired a magnified mirror they had in the bathrooms and they gave me one. Talk about nice…
As you have guessed by now, we love to travel by foot as much as possible. Our hostel was centrally located which made it very convenient to travel around the city. We were only minutes away from Plaza Mayor – the main square. There are shops galore. If you were looking for something I am sure you could find it and more. There are also monuments and statues everywhere. The artwork through the city was absolutely beautiful. Everything was so clean and modern. So different from where we were living in Saudi.
We had a little trouble with the language. Even though I had learned Spanish through high school and college; many words I didn’t know, especially the food. We order often by pictures. Even McDonald's menu was in Spanish; we were grateful they had pictures. We mainly ate at two places during our eight days in Spain. McDonald's was one and the other was a Chinese restaurant around the corner from the hostel. It was the only restaurant we could order off the menu in English. We did try to eat at another restaurant but when we realized the meat was pig intestines we lost our appetite. The one thing we did try was Tapas – but as John puts it – it is expensive meat and cheese on a plate. We are not a fan of Tapas.
There are two popular events to see in Spain. One is a bull fight and the other is Flamenco dancing. We watched a bull fight on TV and decided it was pretty violent for our children to see in person and a little costly for a family of four. Instead we went to see Flamenco Dancing. The costumes were incredible. I used to have two Flamenco Dancing dolls that my grandmother gave me when I was growing up. I always wanted to see them in person and I felt so blessed that I finally had the chance. Who knew when I was a little girl, that I would travel the world with my family and see so many places one only dreams of.
During the Flamenco Dance, we saw many people covering their drinks. We didn’t know why, but we decided to follow suit. So glad we did; since we had front row tables. It turned out that as they dancers danced they would sweat which then would end up landing in your drink if you didn’t cover them.
We took some day trips from Madrid on the train. One place in particular we really enjoyed was Toledo. It is only an hour ride from Madrid. Toledo is known as a Museum City of great artistic beauty and was the capital of Spain. It is also considered as the oldest city of Europe and declared by UNESCO as Heritage of Mankind.
In the Middle Ages, this wonderful city was the melting pot of Christian, Muslim & Jewish cultures. Toledo is best explored on foot and walking around the medieval buildings & Jewish quarters gave me a very good idea about what's it like in the medieval times.
Another day trip was to Segovia. It is only an hour and a half from Madrid. he city is famous for its historical buildings and for three main landmarks: its midtown Roman aqueduct, its cathedral (one of the last Gothic to be built in Europe), and the castle, which was an influence for Walt Disney's Cinderella Castle. We could definitely see the resemblance.
There are so many things to do for children in Madrid. Unfortunately, we could not do them all. Some day when our daughters have children maybe we can go back to Spain with the grandchildren. However, that won’t be any time soon; and we are grateful for that, as we believe, at 48, we are too young to be grandparents.
We did enjoy Retiro Park (Parque del Retiro) where you can see a puppet show in an open air theater and take a boat ride. I think that is one of our fondest memories of our trip to Spain.
We always like to see animals and could not miss the opportunity to see all the animals at the Zoo-Aquarium de la Casa de Campo. They have lots of amazing animals to see. They take good care of the animals and you have great views of seeing the animals in their natural habitat. The dolphin show was fascinating as well.
We praise God for each and every country we can visit. Each time we take a trip we see our dreams come true. Well now, that our Wondrous Western World journey is over, what’s next? Stay tuned for our next blog to see where our adventures take us.