On to Madrid (Mar. 31, 2012)

After an emotional ‘goodbye’ to Paco, our wonderful tour guide from Costa del Sol, on our way back from Morocco on March 30, everyone drifted off to our rooms to pack up our belongings.  We would all be leaving in the morning, though not all heading in the same direction.  Those who chose not to go on to Madrid would be flying out of Malaga and back home, while the rest of us would be boarding an AVE ‘bullet train’ for Madrid.

Following our last buffet dinner at the hotel, we walked back up to the lobby to find a small group of Flamenco dancers (2 ladies and 2 guys) performing.  It was a welcome sight, as I was really hoping to see some Flamenco dancers while we were in Spain.  By the time we arrived, however, there were no available seats, so we just stood at the back and watched.  This group used recorded music, but I could imagine how beautiful and entertaining it would be to see one of the top groups accompanied by their full band.  We lingered and watched for several numbers and then climbed the stairs to spend the last night in our room at the Hotel Triton.

The next morning, Karin met our–now smaller–group in the lobby and we rode the bus over to the train station.

The train was very comfortable and clean, unlike most of those we had encountered on our trip to Italy in 2010.  The scenery was very pretty as we rode along.  There were lots of Spanish oak trees scattered everywhere, also more windmills and olive orchards.  We also saw another solar panel power plant and a nuclear energy plant.

Once we arrived at the Madrid station, it took awhile for her to find us, but our new tour coordinator, Begonia, greeted us and showed us to a waiting bus.  Pointing out the sites as we drove along, she took us to our new hotel, the Hotel Gran Atlanta.  The hotel was just a few blocks from one of the major streets, so it would be pretty easy for us to get ourselves around by walking and/or taking another bus.

We had the remainder of the afternoon to ourselves.  So after checking into our room, Bill and I set out to investigate the city for a few hours.  Later on, we met up with Joe for dinner.  After looking at several restaurants (most of which were televising a very noisy soccer game), we finally found one that turned out to be just perfect.  I think it was called the Lilo.  Anyway, we all enjoyed eating something other than buffet food for a change.

Bullet train bound for Madrid

Bill and John waiting to board the train