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21 Days of Spain

Author: Betsy Lubis
Date of Trip: November 2013

Continuing on downhill, we reach the spectacular fountains at Placa de Espana. Some nights, I think mostly in the summer, these are illuminated by a light spectacular. We pass the former bullring/now mall and stop to take a few pictures of the Miro Woman and Bird statue in Parc de Joan Miró.

For dinner, we refer back to our guidebook from which we pluck Biocenter, a vegetarian restaurant located two blocks off Las Ramblas. We’re early. Only one other table is occupied. Later, another couple, a man and woman near our age, are seated at the table behind ours. They speak English so the server is apparently under the impression they’re Americans. But, the woman sets him straight, declaring, “no, never” quite vehemently.

Day 20, Barcelona to Madrid
The high speed train to Madrid’s Atocha Station was unexpectedly quiet. And, if there wasn’t a sign posted at the front of each car telling the train’s speed, you wouldn’t realize how fast you were going.

For lunch, we ventured out of Atocha, back to the nearby picturesque square in front of the Reina Sofia for cocido madrileno, a famous Madrid stew where the broth is served in a bowl with a couple of noodles floating about and the rest of the ingredients arranged on the surrounding plate. These included cabbage, potatoes, garbanzo beans, and blood sausage which I didn't eat. The food was OK but, even after numerous days here, we let ourselves be taken in by adding bread, wine, and espressos to the meal under the mistaken impression that some, if not all, were already included in the price.

From Atocha, we took the subway, transferring once, to the end of the line. And, from there, we walked twenty minutes at the most, up over a highway, and along a sidewalk the entire way to Hotel Nuevo Boston where we’d reserved a reasonably priced room for this business class hotel that came with a free shuttle to the airport, an overpriced food buffet we didn’t eat, since, in addition to being overpriced, more than one on-line review mentioned getting sick from the food, and an expensive continental breakfast we also skipped.

Later, we walked 1.3 kilometers to a shopping mall and bought clothes including a scarf for me as that seemed an appropriate memento. Every chic Spanish woman had been wearing one. For dinner, we chose burgers and chocolate milkshakes (high on the milk, low on the ice cream, plenty of chocolate) at Mel’s Diner in the mall food court.

Day 21,Spain to USA
The 8:00 a.m. shuttle to the airport was full. So, we were glad we’d read the reviews that advised reserving a spot at check-in. Clearing security was a breeze in terms of time despite having to take practically everything out of my backpack to get a jar of marmalade I’d bought back at the Carrefour in Valencia and never opened. Once I’d handed it over, the security screener barely gave it a glance before pitching it in the trash. After that, Starbucks was just beyond putting our shoes back on which meant chocolate muffins and large American coffees for our last breakfast on Spanish soil.

Although a mere 21 days in Spain does not make us experts in independent travel, I refuse to still consider us neophytes. And, we’re already contemplating where to go next. I’d love to ride a bike in Amsterdam. And, we’ve both dreamed of Paris since high school French. My husband asks if I'd be up for a Brussels marathon. Sure, I respond. How does one say "you're an animal," over there?

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