(This one was written on Thursday.)

We were up before dawn yesterday to catch our flight to Madrid.  After an insane cab ride to the airport (our driver sang to us in Portuguese while driving so fast that his speedometer needle had no place else to go), a short plane ride via RyanAir, and about an hour in the underground maze of Madrid’s Metro, we popped up on Paseo de Delicias and arrived at our hotel.  We were tired, but eager to drop off our things and begin our exploration of Spain.  And so the four of us headed to the train station down the street to purchase tickets to nearby Toledo, an old, beautiful city about 30 minutes south of Madrid by train.  Success was had, and by early afternoon, we were winding up the narrow cobblestone streets of Toledo on our way to the city’s cathedral, which has been termed “the best in Spain”.  The cathedral was impressive, in all its intricacy and elaborateness – it seemed that every surface of its interior was covered in fine carvings or beautiful paintings.  After our healthy dose of religious finery, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the town, just soaking in all that Toledo had to offer.  Sampled some local marzipan, peeked into the El Greco museum, and spent some time just hanging out on a bench in the town’s main plaza.  By the end of the afternoon, I was ready to escape the crowds of tourists and find out where Spain’s locals like to hang out, but it was a very pleasant day, all in all.







After a couple of hours back at the hotel to regain our strength and build up our appetites, we headed to Madrid’s city center to begin our much-anticipated tapas crawl.  I have come to believe that tapas may be one of my absolutely most favorite things about Spain.  You walk down nearly any street in Madrid at 10 pm and you will find at least one little hole in the wall where people whittle away the hours at the bar, snacking on small plates of local fare and throwing back impressive quantities of cerveza (beer) or vino (wine).  The look on every one’s faces seems to say, “I’ve got no place I need to be except right here”.  And so we sampled small plates of thinly sliced ham, spicy chorizo, sharp cheese, fresh clams, vinegar-soaked sardines, grilled prawns, and potatoes topped with a creamy, spicy sauce.  Five tapas bars later, we were full, satisfied with a night spent in true Spanish style.  I could so get used to this…