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!
Travel Day to Izmir:
This morning we had breakfast in the hotel room before heading to the airport. We had a short one hour flight to Izmir and then met our new guide at the airport. We could not have lucked out more with a more experienced, kind and gracious guide. He is absolutely fantastic! Bulent is an archaeologist and has worked on all the Ephesus sites we visited today and will visit tomorrow. It is so fascinating to hear about all the information from someone who has firsthand worked on the excavation of the areas.
We drove from Izmir for about an hour and first visited the house where The Blessed Virgin Mary has been said to have lived her last years. The foundation of the home was still in tact but they rebuilt a structure on the site. The Vatican recognizes this as her last home and most popes come to visit. There were three faucets you could wash or drink from; one for wealth, one for health and one for happiness. We all took some sips and hoped for the best!
March 2013, NYC to Istanbul
We all met at JFK around 8:00; mom and Pat arrived via dad''s drop off and I came from a shuttle in the city. I first commented that they matched in their all black attire only to later to find out that they met up also wearing the same scarf a few hours earlier! We waited in a decent line but then had the most lovely check-in attendant you could have ever hoped for! She looked through our itinerary and wrote us recommendations of wine and restaurants in both cities! After some dinner and beers, we are now waiting at the gate for our 11:55 departure. We arrive about 3:00 pm on Wednesday afternoon and Dan arrives the following day. We can't wait for our next adventure to begin and are excited to share another journey with all of you!