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The flight went basically without incident, and we arrived in Madrid successfully. We had a bizarre experience with the metro because they were renovating part of the line going from the airport. We thought we had 5 stops to go on the metro line from the airport, but we noticed that after 3 stops, we would stop again at the 2nd station from the airport! The train was just travelling back and forth between the airport and the 3rd station, when we thought it would be travelling on towards town. It felt really bizarre and twilight-zoney because neither of us noticed that the metro was changing direction. We travelled that length of track 3 times until we figured out we needed to calculate a new route to our hotel.
We stayed at Hostal Helena, which was really great. It was a little older feeling (i.e. slightly run down), but it was really clean and the Señora was really friendly and kind. She was very sweet to the children. There were two beautiful balconies, too. There was also a communal kitchen, which was not advertised on the website, but was a great perk especially with children. We had some communication difficulties because my Spanish is not great, but her English was worse! It was fun to try, though, and we got everything worked out.
After we got all settled into the hotel, we took a walk down to Puerta del Sol. The children loved running free in the pedestrian streets between Gran Via and Puerta del Sol. It was very hot. We walked over to Plaza Santa Ana, but decided we were too tired to deal with the whole tapas/restaurant experience (translating everything, and dealing with the children’s needs in an unfamiliar environment) so we walked back up to El Corte Ingles and got a picnic. A feast of kings! Olives, wonderful cheese assortments, fine bread, orange juice. We even found chips and good salsa (a little rare in Norway). We enjoyed our picnic lunch on the balcony.
After naptime, we supplimented our picnic supplies with a bottle of sidra and ventured over to the Retiro park. We enjoyed another lovely picnic and then found the playground. C made some Spanish friends and had a really great time. The language barrier does not exist when you are 3 years old, I guess!
Katy(posted on Jun 21, 2006 at 9:25 pm)
Ruby and C are running down one of the streets between Gran Via and Puerta del Sol. There are two big pedestrian streets between these two where we spent a lot of time, just strolling and having fun.
Katy(posted on Jun 21, 2006 at 9:29 pm)
Back “home” with our picnic, we relaxed on the balcony and attempted to wait out the heat. It was very hot, about 33 (C) today!
Katy(posted on Jun 21, 2006 at 9:30 pm)
Chris is enjoying the picnic, particularly that bottle of cava off to the left. And he’s holding a bottle of the best fresh-squeezed orange juice I’ve had since we left Portland.
This is a slice-of-life Sunday Picture (fudged by a day) of our first day in Madrid. What a lovely picnic. It was a slighlty hectic week leading up to our departure for Spain, and I only took a few pictures of the kids. It’s nice to get Chris in a Sunday Picture now and then!
Katy(posted on Jun 21, 2006 at 9:34 pm)
Notice the portable booster seat that Ruby is sitting in. It folds up into a little package about 10 inches square, and 3 or 4 inches deep. It can expand to be a bit taller, too. It was an extremely useful item to have. Only a couple of restaurants that we ate in had booster seats, and only one had a high chair.
Katy(posted on Jun 21, 2006 at 9:57 pm)
I love this picture, with the sun shining everywhere. Such a sweet face!
Timbekah(posted on Jun 28, 2006 at 1:28 pm)
When we got to the playground, C immediately ran over to this group of children. He was not shy at all, just jumped right in.
Katy(posted on Jun 21, 2006 at 9:52 pm)
Maybe one would have to be very familiar with C’s body language to tell it from this picture, but C is laughing his head off at these kids. We could barely hear what they were saying to him (and he certainly didn’t understand them, though I could mostly understand). They had discussed among themselves and decided that C was not speaking Spanish, and that it was probably English. They tried asking him his name, but he didn’t understand. Then one of them tried yelling his own name at C (Guillermo, I believe), over and over. C thought that was really funny.
Katy(posted on Jun 21, 2006 at 9:54 pm)
After they got over the novelty of C, the children went back to playing on this equipment, which just goes around and around with a slightly roller-coastery up and down track.
Katy(posted on Jun 21, 2006 at 9:56 pm)
This little boy (on the right) followed C away from the other group of children, and continued trying to talk and play with him. It was very cute. C liked this piece of euipment, with a seat the slides back and forth on these rails.
Katy(posted on Jun 21, 2006 at 10:01 pm)