Thursday, November 29, 2018


Nov 12-13 Toronto to London to Madrid
Nov 14 Madrid
Nov 15 Madrid

Week 1 Recap

Italics are Gate 1 tour descriptions

FRIDAY Nov 16 - Madrid Spain

Breakfast included

We have most of the day to ourselves before the official tour begins with a welcome dinner.

Every trip has a day like this. We wanted to go to the La Latina district and decided to use our phone GPS, I don't know what she was smokin' but she ended up costing us 10 euros to get from our hopelessly out of the way place to the market in La Latina.

We didn't take many photos as we wandered in vain but we did like this fountain.

Finally we are where we wanted to be, a few hours later and we haven't killed each other yet.
The taxi drops us at the market.

The Cebada Market has street art both outside and inside its walls, featuring the work of several different artists. The market exterior is quickly becoming one of the world’s biggest street art murals.

Teatro La Latina is a theatrical venue located in the Plaza de la Cebada of La Latina, designed by architect Pedro Muguruza. It has been one of the most important venues for comedy and plays about the history of theater in Spain throughout the twentieth century.

Built on a medieval Islamic fort, Madrid's La Latina neighborhood is the city's oldest—and one of its liveliest. While La Latina is picturesque, with narrow streets lined with tapas bars and plazas punctuated by beautiful churches, this central Madrid neighborhood is modern and bustling, with no shortage of things to do.

Our first stop and our first market in Spain was the Mercado de la Cebadaone of the biggest markets in Madrid, is the perfect fusion of all things traditional and modern that characterise this barrio.

Inspired by the Les Halles de París market in the French capital, and built in 1875, La Cebada – thanks to its proximity to the Puerta de Toledo, one of Madrid's main access points – has been one of the most popular meeting points for Madrid's business- and tradespeople for years. While waiting for a municipal plan to revitalise its business activity, the market has revamped its exterior, covering it in colours and turning it into one of the world's biggest works of street art.

I can attest that the ham in Spain is the best ever.

In the world of Spanish ham, there are two premium classifications: Iberico pigs and acorn-fed pigs. Unlike white pig breeds like Serrano, black-skinned Iberico pigs are descendants of the Mediterranean wild boar, and are colloquially called pata negra ("black foot") for the hoof that accompanies each ham. They're athletic animals, runners and rooters, and thanks to the structure of their intramuscular fat, their meat is more flavorful, juicy, and distinctive.

John is loving the olives!!

San Andres is one of the oldest churches in Madrid. Legend tells that it was regularly visited by saints Isidro Labrador and María de la Cabeza, parishioners of the church, where the former was buried. The home of its patron Iván de Vargas, was constructed next to it, on which the palace of the Marquises of Paredes was built, which has now been reconstructed and converted into a municipal museum.

Unfortunately neither church was open while we were there.

The church sat in this wonderful square.

It stands on the site of a Franciscan convent, which is claimed to have been founded by St. Francis himself in 1217.

The current version was designed by Francesco Sabatini, who also designed the Puerta de Alcalá and finished off the Palacio Real.


The main facade faces the Plaza of San Francisco. It was built in 1760 by King Carlos III.  This is one of five Royal Basilicas of Madrid.


Time to find a restaurant for lunch.

We settled on El Camarote. We were ready to sit downstairs but the server insisted we go upstairs to a more formal area. It was quiet but it soon got busy.

We asked for half ham and half cheese. I've shown the bready things in the middle before. John found the name for them, camperos, classic picos breadsticks.

As usual, John finished the olives!

Time to explore some more.

Bronze monument of a famous Mexican singer and songwriter Agustín Lara at 15 Calle (Street) del Sombrerete.

Agustin Lara is considered to be one Mexico's greatest poet and composer of the 20th century. He was so adored in Spain, that the Spanish government built a statue in his honor. The statue was made by Mexican sculptor Humberto Peraza and unveiled on May 13th, 1975.


Agustín Lara's career spanned nearly 70 years. In that time, he penned over 600 compositions and gained himself an international reputation as one of Mexico's most prolific and dearly loved musicians. The skinny, unattractive scar-faced man, affectionately known to his fans as "Flaco de Oro", had women swooning at his feet and national leaders offering him accolades only reserved for " living national treasures". Such was the power of this musician-poet who wrote such timeless, moving compositions as "Granada" and "Veracruz".

Look at the ceramice tiles on this hair salon.

This is just a sampling of the murals in the area. Come back on Monday for more.

The Tabacalera Area in Embajadores is vibrant with street art.

Suckers for punishment we again get lost and take a cab back to the hotel.

In the evening there is a Welcome Cocktail and orientation meeting with your Tour Manager on the fascinating discovery of Spain that awaits you, followed by a Welcome Dinner.

Oh joy! We join the welcome meeting and sit with the "Southern Belle Sisters".
Andrea (guy Italian) is our tour guide and gives us the usual speech about being prompt, keeping safe. He has a 3 seat clockwise daily seat change on the bus.
The 26 currently in the room then introduce themselves.
The group is supposed to be 39 (way too big) but most are delayed due to the storm on the east coast affecting JFK.

Dinner was soup, a roast chicken leg and dessert. They had no problem catering to a gluten free meal for John.
Dinner wasn't awful but why don't they serve something Spanish??? We could have been having rubber chicken in any generic hotel anywhere in the world.

Overnight: Madrid
Meals: Dinner


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