It’s toast…it’s toasted…

7:30am – Wake up…well Kristin was already up and Justine didn’t actually get up until 7:40, but that’s an approximate average time.
8:45am – Leave hostel and catch the metro to the train station.
9:30am – Train leaves Madrid station. As a side note, train stations in Spain are way more hard core than anywhere else in Europe. They actually check your ticket and make you go through security. Your bags are scanned and everything. Basically, you can feel safe that your train won’t blow up in Spain.
9:41am – In transit movie begins. It is Midnight in Paris, which Justine actually wants to watch. However there is no English language channel to hear it and the subtitles are in Spanish…Justine watches movie and is very confused by it’s time-travel plot and seemingly unfinished ending.
12:48pm – Arrive at Barcelona rail station. We disembark and run to catch our next train. Even with security we still arrive 10 minutes early…
1:00pm – Train leaves Barcelona and we set to work on the various lists and schedules we want to make.
1:06pm – Pull out bread and apples to eat for lunch.
2:07pm – We are too productive and finish all of the things we had to do half an hour early.
2:16pm – Kristin starts writing blog post to have something to do.
2:18pm – Justine comes up with blog post title.
2:40pm – Arrive in Figueres…that’s somewhere in France…
2:41pm – Walk across the platform and board our next train.
3:02pm – Depart from Figueres for a 5+ hour train ride to Paris.
3:15pm – Telus texts us to say we are in France…thanks Telus, we kinda got that when we stopped at a French train station 30 minutes ago…
5:21pm – Broke out the crackers & cheese for supper.
5:22pm – Broke out the Fanta!
6:57pm – Kristin finishes The Other Boleyn Girl.
7:54pm – Justine finishes reading Percy.
8:42pm – Arrive in Paris…finally! And 5 minutes early too!
8:46pm – Join the line to get train reservations for tomorrow.
8:58pm – Find out we can’t get our train reservations for tomorrow.
9:09pm – Board the metro to head towards our hostel. Kristin still had her handy metro map from the last time we were in Paris so it was easy to plan out the easiest route to our stop.
9:17pm – Change metro lines because, even though we planned out the easiest route, the lines from the station we arrived at do not run in the direction of our hostel.
9:36pm – Finally get to the hostel! We are staying at the same place that we were at on our previous Paris visit, which means we found it really easily. If you want a description of it go back three months and read it there…sorry, it’s late and traveling makes us sleepy!
9:47pm – Get upstairs to our room.
10:03pm – Post this blog post 🙂

What We Miss:
Having our own room! The privacy of not having anyone else around, not even each other. Also not having to listen to anyone else sleep and getting to have the room the temperature we like while we sleep (aka cold & crisp for Kristin and stiflingly hot for Justine).

Love, Luck & Lists,

*Sigh* or in French: *le sigh*…Spanish:*el sigho*…or Hungarian: *kjhroiahefr*

Hello loyal followers (and new readers too)! We know you have been patiently waiting for posts on our days in Madrid, and here it is. Much like in Budapest, we have decided to combine our three days into one post…but opposed to there, where we were distracted by fun & friends, here we are doing it to balance out the boring. You see, we have had a touch of a stomach issue for the past two days. We have gotten out to see all of the sites of the city, but have also spent a lot of time laying in our beds feeling nauseous. It first hit us in the afternoon of day 1, after our mid-afternoon siesta…it has really become a habit for us here in Spain (we’ll see how we readjust to being out all day when we get back to Paris). After a lay-down we attempted to do a bit of shopping on the store-lined streets surrounding our hostel. We say attempted because we only lasted about an hour before we were back in our beds. We both had an upset stomach. Maybe something we had for lunch didn’t agree with us, maybe we’d caught a touch of stomach flu. We may never know, but either way something had made us feel like we were going to throw up (although neither of us did…Yay! Small victories!). We only left home one more time that day and that was to go down the block to Starbucks for a hot drink and bread product…we managed to keep these simple foods down. Mostly we laid in bed watching Glee videos and episodes of Wizards of Waverly Place on YouTube. Not the most exciting evening, but if you know us you would know we do love our Family Channel shows. This trend continued through the next two days (Disney shows & bed). But, like we said before, we still managed to see all of the exciting sights of Madrid…so here’s a few of them:

Madrid is one of the wonderous cities that features our favorite Sandeman’s New Europe walking tours. We hit up the free tour our first morning as a way to get oriented and seeing the majority of major sites. Our Irish guide was very informative and we learned some fun facts about Spanish history. The most interesting parts were definitely the civil war and the monarchy. As a way of getting us all more involved he had volunteers come up to be the Habsburg Kings of Spain (remember that name from Austria? they were a very powerful family). Justine was excited because this was the period of Spanish history she had learned about in school. Never passing up an oppurtunity to be center of attention, Kristin volunteered and ended up as Phillipe IV, aka Phillipe the Loser. Clue the “well isn’t that fitting” jokes… She found out she’d come into power during the 30 years war and ended up losing much of Spain’s empire during her rule…but she did have an awesome statue made of her:
Interesting Fact: This was the first ever equestrian statue made with the horse rearing up on it’s hind legs. Sculpters had never known how to balance a so off-balance position. It took bringing in Galileo Galalei (the guy who discovered the world revolved around the sun…aka a super smart guy) to figure out that if part of the statue is hollow & part is filled with bronze the whole thing can be made to stand.

The Palacio Real is the grand palace of the Spanish monarchy built in 1738. Because it has been built into a cliffside the palace is larger than it appears. It is actually the largest in western Europe. The current Spanish king (yes Spain still has a king) doesn’t live here though. He found it’s 2800 rooms a little to extravagent, especially when there are people in poverty in his country. Instead he lives in a palace of a mere 100 rooms…how selfless 😉 The Palacios Real now holds large, international conferences and other important national functions, as well as being open to tourists.

Our tour took us through the Literary District, where the homes of many famous Spanish writers had once been. One was Miguel Cervantes. You may know him as the man who wrote Don Quixote. Did you know that this was the most read work of fiction ever? It was only surpassed when Harry Potter came out and all the people of the world realized it’s greatness 🙂

To see the Puerta de Alcalá we walked down some of the lovely wide roads. This gave us a chance to check out a few shops. The Puerta de Alcalá is a large series of arches that replaced the older, smaller gate which stood as entrance into the walled city in 1774. They were very nice, but probably would have been more impressive if we hadn’t seen many other large triumphal arches on this trip…especially the Arch de Triomphe.

Templo de Debod is a real Egyptian temple right in the middle of the city. The Egyptians gave the people of Madrid the temple because of their help in saving the ruins of Abu Simbel during the construction of the Great Dam of Aswan in 1960. It’s a very random sight, but really neat.
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It also involved a nice walk through the park to get to the temple and had a nice viewpoint next to it. That view below shows the palace on the far left and and cathedral next to it…oh and then there’s one of us 🙂
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In the center of Puerta del Sol we found the Bear Statue. This statue is the symbol of Madrid, although no one really knows why…there are no bears in the Madrid area, nor have there ever been. There is simply not enough vegetation in the area to support a bear’s diet. It’s thought that the bear and the madroño tree represent the battle between church & state that has been a large part of Spanish history. In fact, the capital of Spain was moved to Madrid by King Phillipe II in 1561 not because it was a great location, but because it was a bad one. This meant there was no bishop in the area and the King was able to rule with less church interference. We posed for a photo because we were told “No one will believe you’ve actually been to Madrid unless you have a picture with the bear statue. Every tourist gets their photo with the bear statue.”
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For food we’ve done a lot of fake meals (because we’ve felt so sick). We did eat out a couple of times though…

The first would be lunch on Day 1. The tour is long enough that we stopped for a lunch break. The place our guide recommended we all go to was a small cafe-looking place that served drinks and little sandwiches. The food was small, but only a euro each. We split 4 finger sandwiches, the chips they came with, Justine had a coffee and Kristin had a bottle of water and it only cost 6 euros 🙂 Good deal!

On Day 2 we were feeling better, that was until we had lunch. We won’t point any fingers though because it was delightfully delicious. We took part in the Spanish tradition of churros and chocolate at the famous Chocolateria San Gines. The chocolate is a bit rich, so neither of us even finished half a cup, but it tasted sooo good.
Food didn’t sit well though so for supper we decided comfort food for supper was best. We took a trip to the nearby grocery store and bought some tomato soup and the materials needed for grilled cheese. It was a delicious meal like we’d have if we were sick at home.

We ventured out for a small meal one day. We hit up the same restaurant (different location) from the day before and this time split a paella, just a chicken one this time. Seafood was still making us feel kinda queasy.

Feeling much better we set out for our favorite Spanish restaurant (yet another different location) for our final meal in Spain. Crazy enough, it turned out much more Italian. We split a 4 cheese pizza and some tagliatelle carbonara. To celebrate no longer feeling sick, we had some sangria. 🙂
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What We Miss (let’s do 3 things, for the 3 days):
– Milk…big, cold, glasses of milk…mmmmmmmmm….
– An actual computer…with an actual keyboard…IgPat is great, but it’s just not the same.
– Our Daddies!

Love, Luck & Lattes,

I really want to walk into that big room up there and find a rocket ship in the middle of it.

Today we left beautiful Barcelona to explore our next Spanish location: Madrid. We hoped on the train in the am and arrived in our last new city. For the last time we made the ‘we-are-tourists-and-have-no-idea-where-we-are-going’ walk to our hostel. This walk is always a good time seeing as you don’t yet have a map and hostel directions seem to be some sort of international joke…”You got lost on your way here, haha!” This one was easy though…Justine could see the sign from the metro exit. The hostel is nice. Our room is big, only has 5 beds and doesn’t have bunks. Yay for a couple of days where Kristin doesn’t need to climb up & Justine doesn’t need to duck down to get into bed! The hostel also has a good social atmosphere and plans fun activities…or so we’re told… We met up with our friend Katie in Barcelona and she just came from this exact hostel. She had nothing but great reviews for it.

After a bit of a lay-down and the complete reorganization of all of our bags, we went for a walk. From what we’ve seen so far the city looks great. It’s nice and clean and full of Christmas decorations that are actually lit up.
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At one point during our wanders we picked a supper place. The restaurant was a bit of a break from the Spanishness we’ve been consuming lately…Kristin was craving something home-y. She fulfilled this urge with a burger complete with all of the fixins, including an egg. Justine had a Texas pizza that had lots of yummy things piled on it, but no corn…corn would have been a good addition. We still stick to our positive opinion about corn on pizza, even if we got a lot of “that would be gross” comments last time we ate it. To drink we ordered hot chocolate. We love hot beverages. This was a great decision as it turned out to basically be a mug of melted chocolate. So creamy & chocolatey & delicious.
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What We Miss:
Singing in our cars…we love to just belt it out when we’re driving alone. Does that count as distracted driving?

Love, Luck & Liquid Chocolate,