White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Winter Escape, Andalusia, Madrid, Spain

It is time for our winter escape - this year to the Andusian region of southern Spain. Every trip begins with the internal mental battle - what can I take with me and not exceed the weight limit. My bag is the black one, I like to say it's bigger than my wife's because I'm bigger and taller.  Of course the truth is, I take too much stuff - including my pillow (I'm embarrassed to share that).

It was a cold (+10F) morning at Boston's Logan International Airport, snow was forecast for later in the day - long after we are gone.

Parts of Miami airport are not crowded.......(more about why we're in Miami later)...........

.... and other parts are filled with travelers - many of them families since this is a common vacation week in the United States. But now, skipping ahead many hours..........

.... after the all-night flight, we are over Spain. Although I thought I was leaving the cold and snow of New England winter behind, the snow covered mountains west of Madrid, Spain, provided a spectacular visual as we approached the airport. Madrid is Europe's highest elevation capital city at 2100 feet.

I had a momentary unpleasant thought as we descended to land. Earlier in the trip, after flying from Boston to Miami, we had a two-hour mechanical delay in Miami as they repaired a thrust reverser.  I don't like having mechanical delays just before we fly over the ocean for seven hours in the dark. Regardless, the repair was successful as we stopped without rolling off the end of the runway.

So, after a four-hour flight from Boston to Miami and the eight-hour flight from Miami to Madrid, we are walking to customs and passport control in the beautiful and expansive Madrid Airport.

Pretty much looks like baggage claim anywhere.

The highways from Madrid to Seville, our final destination, were spectacular as we descended via highway from the central plateau to the coastal region. I could have spent a couple days making the 530 km (320 miles), five-hour journey as the countryside was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. These mountains, the Sierra de Gredos range west of Madrid, reach up to 7500 feet.

Green fields abound and this shrub is sporting the first few blossoms of spring. I wish I could have stopped at least fifty times to record the surrounding beauty but, we only stopped twice.

Here, we stopped to change drivers as the late afternoon shadows lengthened. I'm glad we stopped on this side of the stone wall - that bull lurking in the shadows of the cork oaks looked at me with way too much interest.

So, after 26 total hours since leaving home, we finally arrived at our destination in Seville. *See note below.

We'll be here to experience a different life for a month or so. To be figuratively dropped from the sky into a new and strange place where they speak a different language, have different customs, culture, and history.  We will have to learn how to live here. Where to go to buy produce and supplies - to address the basics of food, water, and shelter. It is stimulating and frustrating and life affirming.  I hope you can follow along.........

*Note: a trip from Boston to Seville should have been less complicated and time-consuming. It should be one leg from Boston to Madrid, then Madrid to Seville.  At this time of the year though, American Airlines doesn't fly non-stop from Boston.  And, thrifty as we are, we used accumulated miles to buy the tickets. That introduces other obstacles. As is common nowadays, it is difficult to get seats with miles. We had to either go through New York, Miami, Chicago, or Dallas to get to Madrid and to get to Seville we would have had to go to other out of the way stops also.  All things considered, it made most sense for us to fly to Miami, fly to Madrid, and drive to Seville.  All's well that end's well - we made it.