Following my wonderful travels last year, I got a little blue, thinking about an entire winter in the cold and snow. So I started making travel plans for this year! Definitely lifted my spirits!
First I found a hiking club, with local “lite” hikes of 2-4 miles, that help keep me active.
Next, I planned a visit to Acadia Park in Maine. It is a perfect place to enjoy the wilderness, without going too wild, or too far from civilization. My rental is called The Bird Nest, and it’s away from the more popular areas, close to trails and close to local stores.
Another event I found is called Trek and Sketch, which includes my favorite pastimes, hiking and sketching, and, even better, it will be in the hills/ mountains in the south of France. Ahh, the perfect place to be, and a great way to enjoy it!
These will require an updating of my equipment, okay, maybe just an excuse to get some new stuff. A new Osprey daypack comes with so many attachments that I may require assistance to make the best use of them!
And, for the very short hikes, an Eddie Bauer cross shoulder pack.
As I’m writing this, we are getting yet more snow, which I don’t mind, but…it will be much nicer when spring arrives. I was excited about seeing a cardinal today, until I realized they don’t migrate, so he’s been here all winter. I need to see a robin!
When you can hike? I’ve thought about doing this, and it may soon become a reality – hiking the Appalachian Trail, aka the AT. My old hiking boots have shrunk, or, ok, maybe my feet got a little bigger, so I have a new pair of hiking shoes (not boots!) which are a little bit lighter, therefore more comfortable for longer walks. I mean, hikes!
After seeing both “Wild” and “A Walk in the Woods” and then doing the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi coast, it seems like a good time to try it out.
No worries, sketches and photos will be shared along the way. Meanwhile, before I get started, here’s a sketch of the new footwear…
For my second day in Madrid, Art Safari reserved a guide for me. Julia, a native of Spain, met me at 10am in the hotel lobby.
We started off at a brisk pace, as she knew we had a lot to cover. I had visited the Plaza Major and another main square the day before, so she took me to different areas. Sadly, my usual lack of direction sense means that I am not sure of many of the names of places we walked to. Lesson learned – I am a visual person. If I want to know where we are, I need it pointed out to me on a map! Also, our busy pace meant that I didn’t stop to sketch, so the sketches posted here were all done from my photos.
I saw important buildings and architecture , Julia was a professional through and through and you can tell she loves her city. When we were in a small park, she spotted a couple of guys that were asking other tourists for “donations” to some orphanage scam. She was furious. She didn’t want them to get away with it, first she scolded them, then we marched off to find a police officer. As it happened, there were tons of uniformed men around the corner – some military ceremony was taking place later that day. With much gesturing, she told them what she saw and they sent someone to follow up.
Meanwhile, I ‘needed’ to get my souvenir photo with men in uniform…
Next up, Palacio Real – the royal palace of Madrid. It’s the official residence of the Royal family, but is now only used for ceremonies. It has over 2,000 rooms! No, that’s not an extra zero! Pretty sure we saw less than 100 of those, but it was enough. Very rich, ornate, everything you would expect in a palace.
A statue at the Royal Palace
We stopped for a coffee after, I needed some breathing time.
For me, it was more fun to see the police using scooters! I know, I know, what can I say.
Next – passing Plaza de la Villa and Calle del Coro to see lovely doorways, unique street signs,
Pasadizo de Panecillo – Panecillo= small piece of bread
interesting stores, stop in an old church, then past a very unique restaurant, Sobrino de Botin, with marvelous miniature displays and listed in the Guinness book as the oldest restaurant in the world!
And then, lunch – at the Posada de la Ville, where I tasted several traditional Spanish dishes and received a small pot with a key as a gift! More walking (!), then for a grand finish, the Prado. Julia is an art historian, and was able to share many details about the paintings and the artists, etc., which sadly, I am unable to share specifics because I have a terrible memory. I know, right? Lesson learned, don’t try to fit so much into one trip. Or even one day. Or use your recorder on your phone!
Statue of Goya at the Prado museum
But having said all that, it was totally worth having a private guide, and Julia was great! Maybe if I had done my homework beforehand (tsk, tsk) I might have given some input and used my maps. (So I knew where I was) Madrid is a wonderful city with lots of side streets to lose yourself in (literally, haha). I would definitely go back to Spain, but would save a return visit to Madrid after I’ve visited some other cities.
I’m so glad I stopped here!
Next – I fly to Marrakech…stay tuned!