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July 21, 2011

Back from Vacay!

I'm baaaack! I haven't posted in the last few days because of Internet access, but now I'm home and trapped in the heat! I thought Madrid was bad at 36! Nothing compared to Toronto and area! Yikes!

Here's a recap of what we did on the last leg of our trip:


Sevilla is a beautiful city with many, tiny, weaving roads and cobblestone paths. We spent our two days exploring the city: the parks, cathedral and castle.

We stayed at the most beautiful boutique hotel called Fontecruz Sevilla. Its nestled in the middle of the old town, literally at the base of the famous Giralda. It was a wonderful mix of modern and rustic (see the original wood beam at the top of the photo).

To the right, the main lobby. Tres chic.

Here's a photo of the Alcazar, which is the castle in Sevilla. It was originally an Arab castle, which was then inhabited by a Catholic king. As a result, the decor an interesting mix of Arab and Catholic designs and motifs.

Alcazar in Sevilla

At night, we did the tourist thing and booked tickets to see the popular Los Gallos Flamenco Show. It was fabulous. 2 hours of dancing, traditional singing and guitar. Earlier in the day we had gone to the Museum of Flamenco, which really helped us understand the history and style of the dance. Today, flamenco is danced all over the world and the style varies depending on where you go.
Here's me, playing with my fan before the show.

After two nights in Sevilla, we took the train to Madrid. Firstly, what a service. The modern train station is no comparison to our GO Train stations here. The two and a half hour ride was smooth and quick; we were in Madrid before we knew it.

In Madrid, we stayed at the glorious Madrid Palace Hotel, which was made into a hotel in the early 1900s. It was fairly central to the city's financial district and made travelling fairly simple. Madrid is a clean, quiet city. We felt safe walking the streets and on the subway. On Saturday night, all the plazas were filled with people having drinks, enjoying the music and tasting some wonderful tapas.

In our exploring, we came across the San Miguel market, which was literally a food lover's dream come true. Inside, exquisite jamon, an olive station, fresh homemade croquettes, a vodka and martini bar and so much more. We spent some time walking along the vendors and buying bits of food along the way.

The San Miguel Market in Madrid
To cap off our 2011 summer vacation, we decided to spend two nights in Paris. We had been to Paris once before, in 2005, but spent our days running from museum to church and barely saw the city. This time, we focused on Paris: the food, the people, the shops and really felt like we took it all in. We had Macarons on the Champs D'Elysees, a Croque Monsieur at a local Boulangerie, we took in Versailles and spent two hours watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle.

Our hotel, the Hotel du Londres Eiffel, was located in a fairly residential area, at the base of the Eiffel Tower. The service was very nice, and the view - spectacular. Have a look see.

This is the view from our hotel room
And so ends another vacation and another culture experience in Europe. I will always remember our jaunts in Spain, having learned so much about the people, the food, and the lifestyle of the beautiful country. I hope to return one day, definitely to sunny Marbella and beautiful Barcelona. As for Paris, it will always remain one of my most favourite cities in the world.


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