Toronto and Madrid

February 7, 2024 10:21 am

Toronto: January 31-February 2

And we’re off!

Our stop in Toronto for two nights went as planned and we quickly adapted to the first time change of three hours. Both days we hopped on the hotel shuttle back to the airport, where we caught the express train into downtown. This saved us about $50 per day, compared to taking an Uber back and forth.

It was chilly for us but apparently pretty mild for this time of year. We roamed around the Distillery District. This 13 acre district east of downtown contains numerous cafés, restaurants, and shops in the heritage buildings of a former distillery. It is the largest collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America. It was very cool!

We went up the CN Tower and marvelled at the impressive views of Toronto. The CN Tower was completed in 1976 and is 1,815.3 ft high. After 32 years of holding the record of being the world’s tallest free-standing structure , it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in 2007. In 2009 the Canton Tower surpassed it as the world’s tallest tower. The CN Tower still remains the tallest free-standing structure on land in the Western Hemisphere and is one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World!

Kensington Market is a trendy multicultural neighbourhood in Downtown Toronto and one of the city’s most well-known. It is also a designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The neighbourhood is full of eclectic shops, cafes, and many Victorian homes. We would love to see Kensington Market again during the warmer months!

We sure enjoyed exploring Toronto!

Madrid: February 3 – 6

Hola! Madrid is the capital and most populous city of Spain; the city has almost 3.4 million people – the metropolitan area 7 million. It is the second-largest city in the European Union (EU). We started the European portion of our one year travel adventure in 2014 in Madrid, and we were excited to return here.

On the evening of February 2 we flew into Madrid. The flight was 7.5 hours and we arrived in Madrid the morning of February 3. Joe managed a few naps on the plane but I could not get comfortable enough to sleep. This made for a groggy first day but nothing a siesta and shower couldn’t fix!

One of Joe’s titles for this trip is ‘Minister of Mapping’ and he did an amazing job of getting us from the airport to our neighbourhood by bus. He miraculously knew the exact streets to take on our 20 minute hike (up hill) to our hotel. I was amazed!

As the ‘Minister of Accommodation’, I booked us into the old town again and even on the same street is in 2014. Calle de las Huertas is a bustling street and on this Saturday it had been transformed into a street market! Small vendors and artists lined the long street with their wares and we loved the welcoming party lol. Spain is also experiencing higher than normal temperatures and the residents were out in full force to enjoy the celebrations. We could still hear the muffled sounds of the crowds at 3:00am when jet lag woke us up for a few hours, but things shut down promptly at 4am.

San Miguel Market is located in the centre of Madrid, and is a gourmet tapas market. Over 30 vendors sell a variety of freshly prepared tapas, hams, olives, baked goods plus beer, wine and champagne are also available. We went to the market several times!

Paella was a must and these two made for a delicious lunch. We will try paella in other stops as well!

Last time we were in the south of Spain, we missed out on a Flamenco show; my one regret! So we made a point of taking in a show this time. ‘Flamenco 1911’ was not far from us and is the oldest flamenco tablao in the world! The performance was filled with such emotional intensity, by the vocalists, dancers, guitarists and other musicians. The haunting singing, guitar music, clapping and of course the dancing, were entrancing!

The Almudena Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Madrid, and is fairly young by Spanish standards. Its construction began in 1883 and finished over a century later, when it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993. It is located opposite the Royal Palace and much of its final appearance was defined considering this regal surrounding. This was a massive site! The cathedral was one of the more beautiful we have seen and we loved to walk around the perimeter walls of the dome and see the statues so closeup!

We loved our visit to Madrid and what a perfect location to prepare us for the incredible culture, people and food we will immerse ourselves in during our tour of south Spain.

We have arrived via high speed in Valencia now. Adios for now!


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