Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18

The ECC travelers embarked on an exciting experience with a city tour of Madrid, Spain, on Sunday. Leaving Catalonia Goya Hotel at 9 a.m., we visited the Memorial to Cervantes--a statue of Don Quixote on horseback, from Don Quixote, the most celebrated book in Spain. The memorial was surrounded by olive trees, symbolic of La Mancha, a region in Spain. We also visited the Museo Cathedral, Plaza de la Villa, and Plaza Mayor and toured the Museo National Del Prado, The Royal Monastery of St. Lawrence of Escorial, and the Valley of the Fallen Soldiers.

Rising above the history of Spain and the most noted landmarks were the people and the landscape of the city. Madrid is home to 4 million people, with thousands more walking the streets and visiting the sights. Eighty-two percent of the people own their homes or apartments; however, with the weakened economy, many more are renting. The city is considered one of the greenest cities in Europe with 1 million trees. Trees like oak, umbrella pines, and olive trees consume the landscape. Just as the people and landscape differ from Eastern North Carolina, so does the food. One Spanish treat is the tapas, a kind of hors d'oeuvre or bite sized food that is served with a drink. The term comes from pieces of ham or cheese laid across glasses of wine to keep flies out and to keep stagecoach drivers sober, stemming from the presence of the 7th century Moors on the Iberian Peninsula. Various kinds of Tapas are made with olives, roasted potatoes, chicken, seafood, just to name a few.

Tomorrow brings more new experiences...I'm ready.

Deborah Lamm