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Hola Espana!

We have arrived!  Although not without a few bumps in the road...

When we arrived at Logan for our departure we learned of our 3+ hour delay.  But, they gave us a voucher and many of us shared our first meals/snacks/drinks in Terminal E.

A wonderful group of 25 - everyone hit it off well and we're sure to have a great time!

We finally departed around 11pm and arrived in Madrid just before noon.  (Everyone's luggage also made it safely.)  We met our tour manager Antonio, a native of Madrid who will lead us through our entire Spanish journey.  He is very nice and seems very knowledgable.  Our bus driver Oscar loaded our luggage and then off we headed for downtown Madrid.

Spain's capital city - named the capital by Philip II - it is also the country's most populous city - approximately 3 million residents.  We drove by one of the five gates (and many noted the main shopping areas of the city!).  Our hotel is located in an area of the city adorned with 18th century architecture.  We also learned that Spain has 51 provinces and each has its own capital as well.

Preparations are already underway for next week's national hoilday - risers to view parades and blockades for added security.  Now we can't wait to see what the 12th brings us in terms of a Spanish celebration!

Everyone had about 90 minutes of free time in the heart of the city to grab a snack or lunch - and definitely some caffeine.  Some already have begun their shopping too!

Then we took a short stroll to the Prado Museum.  A wonderful way to start the trip!!!  A vast collection of art by some of the greats.... the Royal collection features hundreds of Italian works.  El Grecco's work is featured in several rooms, as is Velasquez (who was born in Seville) and Goya.  So many pieces we have seen in artbooks on display in one place.  So impressive to see.

We then strolled back to the bus - in a day that saw perfect weather - bright sunshine and 80-85 degree temperatures!

We arrived at hotel to find our second glitch... their computers were down, which slowed the process - but more importantly, they gave away most of our reserved rooms with two twin beds - forcing some field work by Antonio and some compromise by some of us - but everyone has a bed and a pillow for the night.  While very disappointing that the hotel would not honor our reservations; it is reassuring to see our travelers handle the situation well and try their best to make the best of unexpected conditions.

Now that we have a few bumps down - we expect nothing but smooth travels for the duration of the trip!!

Tonight we gather for welcome cocktails and dinner.  And we will hopefully be joined by Fatima Velez '90, who lives in Madrid.  We look forward to hearing her stories and learning some insider tips!


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