Spain: Day 1
This entry will be brief, as most of us have only had about 2 hrs of sleep over the last two days. However, this group has been real troopers. We arrived to Toronto without incident well ahead of our flight, which was a good feeling. The flight left about 45 minutes late on a full flight. Overall the flight was uneventful- also a good feeling- but there was some turbulence at the end that made it sometimes difficult to sleep. We arrived a bit early, and it does take some time to get through customs, and pick up the luggage. Luckily everyone's luggage made it! We met our guide "MariaJose" and hopped on our tour bus with our driver, Ivan. We were supposed to have a panoramic tour, but there was a half-marathon going on right through the heart of downtown Madrid, causing all the central roads to be closed. We changed our plans, got off near the Palacio Real, "Royal Palace" to be sure we made our group tour. They are very strict there about arriving on time. We met our Madrid guide, Blanca, who is taking us through the monuments around Madrid. The students loved the Palacio Real, but were so tired, they could barely stand up. There is so much to see and appreciate in there, but it is hard to take it all in when you're so tired. After our tour, we finally headed to our hotel to have some time to relax and freshen up. About 1/2 the group decided to try a bullfight, and we left to make our way to the bullring, "Las Ventas." The only show that was going on was the Novilladas or "newbie" bullfighters. We saw two bullfights. There are normally six but we arrived a bit late, and had to leave early. The novilladas certainly were interesting. The first bull we saw was very, very frisky and nearly trampled one of the novillados. Eventually, we saw the process run its course, but the ending phase was difficult to watch, as they weren't that skilled at finishing off the bulls so quickly. We then made our way by subway to our first dinner together at the Hard Rock cafe. We filled up, and as I looked around I saw lots of tired faces. It was time to end our first day in Madrid. I don't think we could have picked a more action-packed day. We will certainly sleep well tonight. I will add the pictures to this post tomorrow. Buenas noches!! Sra.