Last time we were in Santiago was back in 2014 and we were not too clear on what was to happen next. But this time, we had a pretty good idea. The plan was to train from Santiago to Segovia. Spend a few days. Then train to Madrid/Barcelona/Lyon (France)/Macon and then back to Madrid after visiting Linda's cousin in her country house. So off we go.
May 7th to 8th One of the last things in Santiago in the Cathedral was the time scape, where they had the history of Spain and Christianity.
May 9th We woke up a bit sad, as we now think this might be our last time here - 6am but it was still dark and set off early for the train and wound our way through deserted streets. The train trip was uneventful except for two things. Linda saw her field of poppies and a passenger had a health issue which saw the train stopped at Medina for about an hour while an ambulance came and collected her. Finally reached Segovia around 1 to 2 hours late but no matter. It was fine for most of the day and after checking into the Hotel Condes de Castille (which was enchanting, old and super comfortable) we had a walk and late lunch. We went down to the aqueduct. If we thought Vila de Conde was amazing then this one is spectacular. Originally running 14 kms from the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains to eventually run underground through the old city. Quite a bit still remains- over several kilometers. It is over 20m high. Whilst having lunch we looked out the window. Saw snow on the same mountains and then saw some clouds coming that looked very much like snow. There was a distinct chill in the air. Tomorrow we will walk down to the old fort. so far we were not disappointed with our decision. We are both getting pretty tired so we retired early.
May 10th it was a great sleep and we woke up late and went down for breakfast in the most amazing setting. it was either the atrium, portico or patio covered by a clear sky roof. We found out the hotel was a combination of older places and still had the well that went down to the underground aqueduct. Later, we had a walk down to the Palace/fortress - Alcalzar. Isabel, Queen of Castille was crowned in the Segovia - Plaza Mayor and then resided in the palace for many years. After that it became a Spanish Military Academy, the oldest one in the world. The sweet shops are to die for and we walked down to the Jewish area. Then Linda got to see her poppies. We have had another great day. Finally, before the day ended we got into the Museum of the Sun. This was again amazing, as it showcased the ages , the people and the level of technology from crude sticks, to weaving machines and mills etc. Once again we were only half way through when they all ushered us out for closing time. No ifs no buts.
Dinner that night was in the Restaurante Hidalgo - which means nobleman. Linda would not have any suckling pig tonight for dinner. And I have to say, it was amazing and Well worth its reputation.
Also touch wood - I am in email communication with CCT Expresso the couriers that lost some of our luggage Well off for the next leg of our trip. Up to France.
The Military Academy
May 11th Up early to bid farewell. We we set off from Segovia by various trains to Madrid, Barcelona, Nimes in France and finally Lyon. Plenty of time to hop across to Atocha to board the train to Barcelona Sants. When we left from there we were not sure where we would end up tonight. Nimes on the border, Lyon or Macon. Highlights. 1. The snow on the Guardarama mountains as we left Segovia 2. The tunnel going under the mountain to Madrid on the other side 3. Cracking 300kms per hour on the fast train to Barcelona 4. Seeing fields of poppies 5. Crossing the desert from Zaragoza to Barcelona. We had traveled this way on our bus trip reunion but going the other way and a lot slower 6. Getting to Barcelona and finding they would only book a ticket to Nimes. We had 14 minutes at Nimes to buy the ticket to Lyon 7. Getting out of the train at Nimes and finding the station was closed but luckily the guard said to wait here on the station and buy the ticket on the train. 15 minutes later we were on yet another fast train to Lyon. 8. Had dinner tonight at 11.30pm. Good for the digestion in a hotel right across from the station. So all up we got on the train at 8am and got off in Lyon some 15 hours later.
The Train Station and snow
May 12th So much in one day. First we changed our hotels the Campanile from the one last night near the railway station to the Campanile closer to the old city. It is also larger and €50 cheaper. It resides between the Rhone and Soan rivers. Went over and sorted out train travel. Linda was able to help some older locals with how the system works. I said you need 2 things here. Train station knowledge and language understanding. By a far margin, station workings are far more important. After we checked into the new hotel and went for a walk through the old city. I wanted to see a statue that I remembered from our 1982 Contiki trip. Linda remembered the red square (The Bellcore). We were both disappointed. The Louis IVth statue was not how we remembered it.
Coming back along the river we passed through the fresh produce market . 3 other stories from today. 1. We met up with some folk from the Netherlands who never go anywhere without there three amigos - wire haired dachshunds. Pin who was 11 and still hunted foxes , Itzel 7 and Gus also 7. 2. The other story was my statue. After finding the red square and walking over it, after lunch we headed off and by chance we found another plaza where we found my fountain with the galloping horses, completely encased in scaffolding. The photos you see are from the marketing posters of what it actually looks like when finished. 3. Some of the old shops in the old part of town had some amazing artifacts like an old Punch and Judy puppet box. And you are never to far away from that familiar shell.
May 13th to May 19th We left a very wet Lyon this morning for a short train ride to Macon. We are staying in the Hotel de Bourgogne. It is super nice and reminds us of Caves House with that old world charm. it played a major role in WWII. The fountain you see is dedicated to the resistance fighters. Had a walk through town and down to the River Saone which also runs through Lyon. Later, the sun came out for own whole walk around town and just started to shower as we walked back into our hotel. Back at the hotel they informed us we could have dinner in our room. Pumpkin Soup and Beef Bourgogne (of course and with a bottle of red wine) It was very tasty.
The next morning Tina came and picked us up and we went back to their house in Seugne. It was an amazing visit with cousin Tina as was our time in Seugne. France was terrific and hard to put into words. On the way home, we stopped off at Cluny at the fresh food markets where we purchased produce, cheeses, meat and wine. 1. We went to Malay down the road for their local art competition which featured some great entries and wonderful people. We also dropped into the wine cellars 2. On Sunday we visited the Taize ecumenical center to see the service. Sometimes there are as many as 5,000 people there. The service is only songs and prayer. 3. On Monday we helped Tina, Josephine and Phillipe with a bit of gardening . Phillipe and Tina were great hosts and we ate well and it was great to see Linda and Tina relive so many memories. 4. On Monday we also went for a walk over the hill to another close village. 5. This morning walked around Cluny and had lunch, caught the train with 2 highlights- the village of Belleville (no Triplets though) and the famous restaurant Paul Bocuse all seen from the train. 8 hours later we were back in Madrid for a few final days.
Or last lunch with Tina in Cluny
The Train trip back to Madrid
May 19th Well we are now back in Madrid in the Atoche Suites which overlook the Puerto del Sol after 2 months of Spain, Portugal and France by walking, busing and 6 days of train travel. What an epic trip which started with our anniversary friends and then the icing on the cake - 4 days of relaxing in rural France with cousin Tina.
Today we spent an amazing 8 hours in Prado Gallery. We have done 1 of 2 floors and saw Velasquez, Rubens, Rembrandt, Rafael, Goya, Gainsborough, El Greco, just to name a few . Had a bit of lunch. Coke and patata fritata. Linda had a salad roll and tea. Then back into the gallery until the bell started at 8pm to leave which was harder than it sounds. What a great collection with some incredible pieces. One of my favorites was a copy of the Mona Lisa painted by a first apprentice of Da Vinci. It was hard to see any difference, but the original would have had 50 to 100 people trying to see it. Here I was looking at it with Linda and one other person. Great day. No photos were allowed in the gallery.
Today we did the Plaza Mayor, the Almudena Crypt and then into the Neo Romanica Crypt of the Almuneda then finally into the Royal Palace. So glad we did. The palace armory was unexpected and really interesting. If we thought Alcazar in Segovia was great, this was greater. The splendor of the palace rooms with the oriental room, the ceramic room etc. We saw the crown of Spain and the ancient scepter of the kings. Oh and the tapestries, rugs and priceless books. The tapestries series of the book of Don Quixote was there. In reflection our trip back to Madrid provided more than we expected.
Now its time to say goodbye - To all our Spanish, Portuguese and French family.... Had a great stay back in Madrid. Finally had a busy taxi to our airport hotel late in the afternoon, where we saw our last poppies, We are now back where we started some 2 months ago. Last post. It is a hot day here in Madrid and it was a shame the pool is still coping with the winter trees leaf drop.
Had last drinks at the Madrid departure before we left though.