budget vacation
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madrid, spain to the french riviera

I got too lazy for a few days about blogging. I suppose I am not to be blamed since I have blogged for over six years now, every day, for three different blog sites. I figured I needed a break, some wine, and much touring around. Anyway, after Lisbon we flew to Madrid. This is the first year I decided to fly in between countries to save time, although I hardly call getting to the airport, checking in, waiting around, boarding, waiting on the tarmac, flying, waiting for a gate, being bussed to the gate, getting bags, and leaving the airport saving any time. Madrid was a two-day stop, and only included because my travel partner wanted to visit the Real Madrid Stadium, and I went along for the ride. We stayed in a wonderful brand new five-star property (which I will talk about another time) near the Gran Via – close to everything, even the best of restaurants. On the first day which technically was a half a day since we flew in the morning, we toured the city by walking, getting a glimpse of the palace, a few churches along the way, fountains, and ended up having dinner in  a Thai restaurant a few blocks from the hotel. The weather in Madrid was very cold, surprisingly, or maybe I don’t know better. But we bundled up and braved the high winds, and freezing weather, not to mention the pollen dancing around like snowflakes taunting our allergies to full flare.

Day two: full day we spent in Segovia, since I asked our concierge the night before for the closest place to visit outside of Madrid, and she offered up Toledo – which I’ve seen before and Segovia, which I hadn’t. The only trouble was she sent us to the wrong train station on foot from the hotel, we walked early morning for 45 minutes to get to, only to pick a number and wait to buy our tickets to find out we were at the wrong station, and the 10a.m. train which I was aiming for was sold out. We secured tickets on the 11:30 train, and took the metro to get us to the correct train station, Chamartin, and not Atochia, and took the thirty minutes calming ride to Segovia, where we stepped out of the train in the middle of an open field of grass and cows. We took bus 11, which is better than bus 12 since 11 drops you off right by the main entrance, if you will, the aqueduct. An impressive sight for sure, almost enchanting.

My gut dictated that we climb the stairs just to the right of the ancient marvel to find Alcazar castle, which I had trouble explaining to my travel partner about. On the top of the mountain, we followed a crowd of tourists through the narrow streets, from a map mounted near a tree in a center park, pointing the very direction for the castle. And what a castle it was. The entrance not to impressive, but the inside, (a self guided tour a must) was worth exploring. If only we could see the entire castle perched along the mountain side, than it would have been even more worth while.

We had lunch unfortunately for us at Burger King, since most places were closed by the time we were done touring. I have to figure out how to eat before even if I am not hungry to be able to sample the local cuisine otherwise, I keep ending up at Burger King or McDonald’s. Anyway, exploring the enchanted town of Segovia made the trip all worth while on this short stay in Spain. The Real Madrid stadium was an impressive tour also. For those interested 19 euros gets you a really cool tour inside, learning about the team, seeing uniforms, trophies, experiencing high-end technology bringing the past to the future, and in the end what is in store for the stadium. Pretty cool for all soccer (a.k.a. football) fans. Next stop: Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Gran Prix.

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