Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving in Madrid

Flying back to the US from Cyprus for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend wasn't practical, so we spent four days in Spain instead. But we didn't spend it alone: We met up with some friends to explore Madrid.
Puerta de Alcalá at Night
En Route to Madrid
Now, if you recall from the Nicosia Green Line tour, the Nicosia airport sits abandoned inside the UN-administered no-man's land that divides the island of Cyprus into two parts. So the nearest operational international airport to Nicosia (that we're allowed to use) is in Larnaca, about 40 km away. Of course, we're trying to catch one of the flights that puts us into Madrid in the early afternoon...so we had a 5:40 am departure. But to get to the airport two hours prior, after a 40 minute drive, we had to leave the house at 3 am. I'm thankful that I get more sleep most other days.

At the Larnaca airport, we ran into our younger daughter's Kindergarten teacher who was on her way to Berlin. Back when we lived in Jeddah, we often ran into our older daughter's teacher. I'm thankful that our kids get to go to schools that instill an appreciation of international citizenry. Case in point, yesterday was International Day at school, and there was food from around the globe.
The International Day Buffet
Both the connecting flight to Athens and the onward flight to Madrid were uneventful but crowded. Everyone in our group drifted in and out of consciousness. I realized on our descent into Madrid that our flight will be arriving right around siesta (is that still a thing?), so we'll probably all be awake and looking for a place to eat right about the time many of the restaurants close for folks to take a nap. I'm thankful for 24-7 convenience, when it's available.

An Afternoon Exploring Madrid
Since we didn't check any bags and had already cleared customs in Greece thanks to the Schengen  Agreement, we hopped on the Metro and made our way to the hotel minutes after landing. We checked in and met up with our daughter's friend that she first met on our Nile Cruise. We chatted in the hotel lobby until 3:30, then went to lunch at Restaurante La Cocina de la Abuela before all the restaurants would close between lunch and dinner. I had a grilled meat platter and found it using Google's instant translate feature. The meat was unexpectedly salty, but incredibly delicious. The colorful decor added to the enjoyment of the experience.

From the restaurant, we waled down Calle de Serrano towards the Parque de El Retiro, stopping at playground that had a carousel. That seems to be a thing these girls like to do together, like this summer in NYC (link needed).
Further down the street, we found the Sorting Hat at Plaza de Colón (Columbus Square).
Consider yourself sorted!
When I told the girls that the inscription on the monument said that it was dedicated in the same year I was born, the kids said "Whoa! That's as old as you are!" in a way that was equal parts awe and appreciation of "ancient" relics.
Continuing our stroll to the park, we arrived at dusk. The kids played into the night. they particularly loved playing in the fallen leaves (leaves are fairly uncommon for them where they've been living) and sand (very familiar, I think we discovered this interest in Luxor). We caught the Metro back to the hotel,  for snacks & pizza at the club room. I've almost figured out the Nespresso machine there, after several "trial" cups of only foam. We called it a night around 9:30pm, only to discover our older daughter somehow smuggled enough sand home to turn the bed into an exfoliating device.
Our sand-child

Tomorrow: Plaza Mayor »

All Trips From Our Assignment to Nicosia, Cyprus

All Trip Summaries

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