France, Spain, and Portugal 2017

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November 10th 2017
Published: November 12th 2017
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November 6th Madrid
We took an Uber from our Nantes hotel to the airport at about 12 noon. We were flying Volotea Air to Madrid, departing at 3pm and had paid for first row seating which got us on and off quickly. The flight still only cost us $75 each. We had prebooked a shuttle and our driver knew some English so we learned a few things about Madrid along the way. There is an amazing underground road system that runs under the city and it got us to our rental property by 6pm.
We were greeted at the door by our host, Jose Manuel, and welcomed into his beautiful apartment on the 7th floor with a large penthouse terrace overlooking the city. The grocery store across the street furnished us well with food and drink for our three night stay. To our surprise it was really inexpensive. A bottle of Ballantines Scotch was only 12 EUR.
November 7th Madrid
About 10am we headed up our Calle Toledo street to two lovely main squares, Plaza Major and Plaza Puerta del Sol where we got on the Hop On Hop Off tour bus for a pleasant ride through this amazing city. Madrid has beautiful architecture and more green space than any other city in Europe. We hopped off at the huge Royal Palace area...gardens, cafes, statues, the incredible palace itself...and had beers and Cafe con Leches at a sunny restaurant patio. There were even a couple of guitarists playing. We meandered through lovely small streets and squares for a while, laughing and taking photos, and had a late lunch at a restaurant called the El Cosaco, with good Russian beer and food 🇷🇺. Ya. Back at the apartment we relaxed over wine, more beer and scotch.
November 8th Madrid
Dawn and I were excited to visit the world renowned Prado museum. (On the way there we had interesting Spanish finger food... too interesting for Dawn...called tapas at the amazing Mercado de San Miguel.) Barry and Lynda read books on a bench in the Botanical Garden while we toured the huge Prado. I've never heard Dawn say "wow" so many times. Back on the HOHO bus we rode through modern Madrid now, passing many sites including the Real Madrid Soccer stadium. We got off to walk down a beautiful shopping street, Calle de Serrano, and eat lunch at a Madrid institution, the Mallorca pastry shop. The waiter accompanies you to all the different food "displays" and you point to all the things you want and sit in a unique atmosphere of wine bottles, chocolates and pastries.
We really enjoyed Madrid, finding it to be a busy, friendly city, full of life.

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