Toledo to Madrid

Driving into a city like Madrid to return a rental car is always a bit stressful. The rental car we have been driving for the last week or so is from a new company, OK Rental Cars. When we picked up the car they couldn’t really tell us where to return the car in Madrid. First we drove by their office near the Atocha train station. We saw nowhere to return the car there. Then we went to the place near the train station where we have returned every other car we have returned to Madrid, but OK Rental Car was nowhere to be seen. Then drove back to the office and Duke pulled into a handicapped space while I ran in to ask where to return the car. They gave me a paper with the address of a parking garage a few blocks away. We managed to find the garage, go down three levels in the garage and finally deliver the car. All of this was done through heavy Madrid traffic!! We survived!

We walked to our hotel and left our bags since the rooms wouldn’t be ready for a while. Then we found a lab that was doing Covid test and walked there. Roger and Gayle got there preflight Covid tests. We found a cafe to have beers and toast the fact that we had successfully completed all today’s must do tasks.

We made it to Madrid.

We decided to check out the Museum of Money but it wasn’t until we had walked another mile or so to get there and had been told that they were closed that we realized that today is Monday and most museums are closed on Mondays!

We stopped to rest and have coffee and then headed to the hotel because it was after two and the rooms should be ready.


On the way back to the hotel we walked through Retiro Park. Today was the first really nice day we have had for a long time and the park was peaceful and beautiful.

Retiro Park

When we got back to the hotel, and got to our rooms, we had walked almost seven miles and we were ready for a rest. We played some cards and then about eight went out to find tapas for dinner. We started out with roasted peppers.

Tapas places
Roasted peppers

The next place we stopped was just perfect. It had a friendly Madrid tapas feel and our waitress was very friendly and helpful. We had the fried shark and it was fantastic.

Alhambra Tapas Bar
Fried fish
Alhambra, a wonderful Tapas bar to end this portion of our trip.

Roger and Gail fly home to tomorrow. We have had a wonderful couple of weeks with them.

Toledo Day 2

Toledo tuned out to be a wonderful place to spend two nights. The Parador here is great and Toledo itself is a fantastic place to explore. Sunday at 2am the clocks were turned forward an hour here. That meant we slept a bit later. We had an 8:30 breakfast reservation and had to rush a bit to make it.

Saturday when we walked into Toledo the first part of the walk was on a road with no sidewalks. It seemed a bit dangerous so Sunday we drove down to a vista point below the Parador, parked the car, and walked into Toledo from there.

The dangerous part of the walk yesterday
The path we took into Toledo today.

First we visited the Santa Cruz Museum. They had an excellent exhibit celebrating eight centuries since the birth of King Alfonso X. He reigned from 1252 until 1284 and was known as Alfonso the Wise.

The Santa Cruz museum
Alfonso X with scientists

Next we went to the Alcazar which houses the Army Museum. It in the enormous building you can see on the Toledo skyline. The museum gave a interesting overview of Spanish history. It is like the Smithsonian or the British Museum in that it isn’t possible to take it all in in one visit.

The Army Museum is the big building in the middle
Armor in the Army Museum

When I visit museums in European countries I often get a new perspective on US history. The museum had a series of displays about Spain’s contribution to the American war of independence. They highlighted the battle of Pensacola.

Battle of Pensacola
Description of the siege of Pensacola

After visiting the museums and getting lost in the labyrinthine streets of Toledo we walked back to the Parador. I think gin and tonic is the national drink of Spain. We had to have some before Roger and Gayle go home!

Pouring our gintonics

Later I made a video Duke’s review of our rental car. You can see it on YouTube here.

Monday we will drive to Madrid and turn in the rental car. Roger and Gayle fly home on Tuesday.

Guadalupe to Madrid

Duke and I got an early start this morning. We packed up, had breakfast and headed to Madrid to pick up our friends Roger and Gayle at the Madrid airport. We assumed they would be arriving at terminal 4, the international terminal. Which is a couple of miles from terminals 1, 2 and 3.

We followed the signs for arrivals, pulled in and found ourselves by the terminal 4 parking garages. The signs said if you don’t want to park keep going. We did and found ourselves back on the freeway leaving the airport! That was not the plan! I texted Roger; “We are going in circles but we will find you!” Maps on my phone said it was 15 kilometers back to the airport!

Apparently we were on a toll road because the next thing you know we were at a toll booth. Duke pulled up and said to the toll taker “Estamos perdidos! (We are lost!). Luckily there was almost no traffic and she was very helpful.

As we were making our way back to the airport we got a text from Roger saying “we are at T1 number 12”. Terminal 1! That was unexpected! I quickly changed the Maps destination and we managed to get to terminal 1.

It looked like we were on the rental car pick up area but miraculously we saw Roger and Gayle up ahead. It was one lane road with no where to pull over but the bus in front of us stopped. Roger and Gayle jumped in, and mission accomplished, we were on our way to our hotel in downtown Madrid.

We made it to the hotel without getting lost and checked in.

Checking in at our hotel in Madrid

Duke and I took the car to the rental car return place and walked back to the hotel.

Returning our rental car.

This afternoon we went to the Madrid Archaeological Museum (MUSEO Arqueológico Nacional – MAN).

Display of a woman’s tomb
Visigothic Guarrazar Hoard

It was a lovely day for a walk so we walked to and from the museum

Plaza Cibeles

After resting for a while back at the hotel we went out and had tapas for dinner. They were wonderful and a great end to a busy day.

Patatas Bravas
Taverna Los Chanquetes

Trujillo to Guadalupe

Today we had a fairly short drive further northeast towards the Parador of Guadalupe, another new Parador for us. We drove through the mountains.

The view on our drive to Guadalupe

Guadalupe is the site of the Royal Monastery of Guadalupe. It has been a pilgrimage destination since the fourteenth century. At the location where pilgrims first crested a hill and looked down on Guadalupe there is a Hermitage.

Hermitage of the Humilladero

The Parador of Guadalupe is right next to the cathedral.

Parador de Guadalupe

The view of the Parador and the Cathedral from the balcony of our room blew me away when we walked in.

We have to leave here fairly early tomorrow to meet Roger and Gail at the airport in Madrid. So this afternoon we drove back up to the Hermitage and recoded Duke’s second car review of this trip.

Duke’s Review of our rental car.

When we got back to Guadalupe we went exploring.

Cathedral of Guadalupe
One of the old gates of Guadalupe

We had a picnic in our room for dinner.


The view from our room is pretty at night too.


Badajoz to Trujillo

Tuesday morning in Badajoz, after breakfast Duke and I walked to the rental car office and picked up a new rental car. Then we went to a Corte Inglés outlet store and bought a new jacket for Duke because he left his jacket somewhere n Lisbon.

Walking to the rental car office in Badajoz

After we checked out of our hotel we stopped at a laundromat to do our laundry.

Finally we left Bandjoz and headed northeast to Trujillo. We are on our way to Madrid where are will meet our friends Roger and Gayle on Thursday. Tonight (Tuesday) night we are staying in the Parador of Trujillo.

Trujillo Parador

This is the 72nd Parador we have stayed in. Paradors are hotels owned and run by the Spanish government. They are usually in historic buildings like monasteries’ convents or castles. Some Paradors are in modern buildings in exceptionally beautiful locations. There are currently 98 Paradors in Spain and one in Portugal.

The Parador of Trujillo where we are tonight is in the former convent of Santa Clara. We wandered around Trujillo exploring a bit after we arrived. The Plaza Mayor is the impressive central square. There is a large statue of the conquistador Francisco Pizarro on horseback in the square. He was born in Trujillo.

Trujillo Plaza Mayor
Trujillo Plaza Mayor

We are dinner in the Parador Bar. We shared a cheese plate and fresh hot croquettes. The left over cheese will be for lunch tomorrow.