This adventure marks our first time traveling international in exactly two years. (Click for Dijbouti Adventure). All the angst leading up to the date of departure multiplies by ten times with yet the latest known mutation of Covid-19. Thousands of cancelled flights due to crew shortages, new travel restrictions and requirements daily, along with newscasts from all networks over-exaggerating every headline add to the battle within the inner mind. The struggle between thinking this is not a suitable time to travel, versus the positive energy and enlightenment we know and crave that comes with exposure to diverse cultures around the world. Departure date finally arrives.
Our flights from Phoenix, AZ to Madrid, Spain all depart on time. We have worn face masks for approximately fifteen-hours straight, with minor exceptions of brief eating and drinking. During the long, eight and one-half-hour overnight flight, one short, skinny dude sitting next to me acted out on the plane, barking, and whining like a shaky chihuahua. He wants to sit next to his wife and child, but an obese woman was sitting there, in her correct assigned seat. He kept calling her names aloud, yapping, and I was close to…, but Marilynn kept telling me to stay out of it. The woman relented to him. Considering that this was the only incident on an entirely booked long flight during pandemic goes down as not so bad, I suppose.
So, she moves into the aisle seat next to me. I always wondered how large people fit in airplane seats, so I watched as she sat first on top of both arm rests, and in a slow manner eventually sunk down into the seat, gracefully I might add. My entire side touched plum against hers. Ever try sleeping in the middle seat while wearing a face mask on a plane with a huge person sitting next to you? Lucky for me, she smelled excellent, exceptionally clean. “I’m sorry,” she said to me. I responded, “No worries. At least I don’t have to listen to his crying anymore.” Then, it occurred to me that I should have peed long before she sat down. I shall hold it for now, but certainly cannot for the next eight something hours. Marilynn trades her window seat with me, as she has a much smaller body frame making it easier to sit next to the large person.
Voila! Enter the grand city of Madrid. Also enter this aging couple, who speak Spanish like Tarzan, into a different environment and culture. At least it is a culture that has not built more hate than love over the past five or so years. Refreshing.
Our hotel, the “Petit Palace Chueca” serves a tremendous breakfast, has a balcony, and the rooms portray a fine sense of humor, from the welcome card to all the marked items in the bathroom.
Even in this crowded city full of walkers, despite face mask mandates whenever outside of your habitation, folks treat each other with politeness, dignity, and respect. Madrid is an easy place to enjoy travel, even for an aging couple who speak Tarzan Spanish.
We stand in line at a twenty-four-hour Iberian ham sandwich shop, when the woman behind the counter asks if we are together with the man standing next to us. “No,” he responds, and then looks at us. “I’m from Luxembourg. Where are you from?” I say, “The United States.” He lights up. “Welcome! It’s great to start seeing more Americans coming to Europe again!” This is the refreshing stuff about which I am talking. Plus, this is no White Castle all night joint. All places serve the finest, thin sliced Iberian ham you will ever find. They would get run out of town if not. Nothing against those thick slices of salty ham that we all love back in the states, but these thin, prosciutto-like strips of ham come from pigs raised special, like acorn fed, or truffle fed highbrow sophisticated oinkers who understand more Spanish than I.
All we want to do during our four nights in Madrid entails walking and stopping at the plethora of places that serve drinks and a variety of tapas. Every round of beers comes with bowls of olives, chips, salty snacks, and you can purchase a variety of plate sizes of ham, anchovies, shrimp, more ham, mussels, and then wine, and well, let you mouths water along with ours, courtesy of Marilynn’s photos.
Our future travel plan includes renting a cliff house in Spain’s Canary Islands, on the island of Tenerife. As we look forward to that adventure, we have also booked a strenuous trek to spot gorilla families in Uganda and Rwanda, where this aging couple speak Swahili worse than Cheeta. The itinerary remains fluid, changing daily. We also remain flexible and will see where the world condition allows us to explore.
Thank you, Abundant Universe!
EXCELLENT…. So glad that we get to travel once again. Jackie and I are doing a Holland/Germany trip in May/June, hopefully. Totally enjoy your travel stories!
We all got to get out moving cause time is running out!
Keri & I were in Portugal/Spain a few years ago — had a good time. Fortunately Keri speaks Spanish. I on the other hand was left clueless a lot of the time until I asked her what was said. Loved Madrid and Barcelona. We also went to Italy for 3 weeks a couple of years ago. Maybe someday Chuck and I will go to Germany where he would like to buy a Porsche (he can always dream). He says to tell you he has now gained 5 pounds just looking at the pictures of your food. Feliz Viaje — su amigos Judy & Chuck
Great to hear from you guys! The food, love eating hoards of small portions.
Tell Chuck he would have gained 20 pounds if I posted the pizza photos! 😳
Sounds like another great adventure. Enjoy and stay safe.
Currently sitting on a cliff listening to waves, drinking adult beverages, with some strange cat curled on my lap. Enjoy while we all can.
Ron and Marilynn, thank you thank you thank you! This story is so refreshing, after the barrage of bad news over the past several years. You two are such wonderful representatives of the U.S.with your curious and adventurous spirits! I love the kitty comment, of course! And the tapas! OMG–I need some of those mussels. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.
Hi Kim, it feels so good to get out and about. Such a pleasure to share. The cat is one of two who belong to the owner. It slept with us last night while we had to door open, sleeping to the sound of waves.
Glad you were able to get a flight. The airports are a zoo. Have a great trip and be safe. Dom
It was pretty strange, and we heard some horror re-routing stories in the bar! All went smoothly for us though.
Bro, on an airplane, you never know who’s going to occupy the next seat. Just prepare for the worst, then if you don’t get a bad seat companion, you’re pleasantly surprised.
True, and on one flight we had the middle seat empty in the row!
Spain is so great… amazing food and wine! Last time I was there was with Marilyn and Pat. Enjoy the rest of your trip.
Thank you, Jason. So glad that you finally get to spend time with John. I know the feeling of worry, when you are so many millions of miles away all too well. I have not yet been to Barcelona, but hope to rectify that!
Ah yes! Barcelona. We drank Cava and had tapas. Of course 🙂
Thank you for this delightful new travel story and the lovely pictures! If I can’t travel myself, there is nothing better than seeing the world through yours and Marilynn’s adventurous spirits!
Great to hear from you, Christi. We are more than pleased to share travel experiences. It’s been way too long!
So good to see all the amazing photos and read the interesting articles of your adventures once again. So many of us ” regular old folks ” envy you guys and the places throughout the world you take us . Madrid looks like an awesome place . If your adventure leads you to Uganda and or Rwanda I can only imagine the sights that await you guys . As always may all your travels be safe and can’t wait to see what’s in store next. Happy travels you two crazy kids 🙂
Thank you so much, Glenn. We’re hoping to share many more before it’s all over.