We were introduced to our favorite card game, Five Crowns, several years back at a Rose Parade "tailgate" in Pasadena. Everyone was huddled up around the game and once we had our first experience, we were hooked. I immediately ordered our own deck and it has since traveled with us on every trip around the world as well as around to countless spots in NYC.
Up and at 'em this morning to catch our 8:30 train to Cordoba. Some back and forth lack of decision making led to us not having a scheduled guide for Cordoba today although we spoke to many ahead of time. As I believe everything happens for a reason this led mom to stand in a not so short line at the tourist information desk at the train station. The biggest site to see in Cordoba is the Mosque-Cathedral and one of the main reasons we were going. Our train arrived at 10:30 which was also the time the church closed today because "holy week is very holy in Cordoba" and the only way we could see the inside was if we attended mass at noon and told the guard "we were there to pray".
Toledo is a short, 30 minute ride, on the high speed train from Madrid. After some trials and tribulations with the shower and hot water situation as well as the espresso/keurig type machine in the apartment, we gave up and had some Americanos from Starbucks down the block, how touristy of us (oh well it was necessary) and headed to the train station. The train we intended to take was already sold out so we had some toast and sandwiches and waited it out. The train is much more civilized and logical than Amtrak in that you have to put your bag through a security checkout and you have assigned seats. Before we knew it, we had arrived in Toledo and the weather was heating up and thank goodness for that swanky sunscreen.
Day 1, Madrid:
We took the redeye last night from Newark and landed in Madrid around 11 AM this morning. After a little mixup we made our way to the apartment we are renting and met the landlord who was extremely kind and helpful and even had stocked the fridge with drinks and bought us some groceries for breakfast.
We finally met up with Dan at the apartment around 2 and headed out to start exploring. The apartment we're renting is in the center of the city and close to all the major highlights, including being just around the corner from their version of Times Square (which happens to be beautiful old buildings with no flashy advertising and the only thing that really resemble one another are the CROWDS of people swarming the open space). We found a spot for our first tapas and beer and enjoyed some of the the local fare including a gazpacho shot, croquettes and grilled octopus. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we realized we didn't have any sunscreen for the almost 80° sun. The first pharmacy we went to it was €30 or more for a bottle of sunscreen and Dan thought we'd have better luck at a department store around the corner. When walking to the department store you could've been at Macy's or any other department store in the US with all the same makeup counters and sunglasses brands but then resembled Harrods downstairs with the groceries and food hall. The sunscreen situation wasn't much better here and we still ended up paying a pretty penny to protect our freckly skin. Make sure you bring your own to Madrid!