After our goodbye to the Dominican republic, we arrived in the States on June 7th. We dropped off our 6 suitcases and a week later we were on the plane to Madrid.
We arrived in Madrid on the 15th of June,a little confused by all the different time zones we had been in in one weeks time. Plus we had taken the redeye and skipped a night of sleep. The first part of our stay one in a studio apartment downtown Madrid just of Grand Via, the major shopping street, so cool!
A view from our tiny rooftop window of the studio in downtown Madrid
The first few days we spend as tourist and saw a lot of Madrid. It is a beautiful city, very clean and very friendly. The architecture is amazing and there are beautiful parks everywhere, very special for such a big city.
Of course we visited and toured the Royal Palace and we went to the Prado museum with beautiful art dating back centuries.
The Royal Palace in Madrid
In the late afternoons you could often find us in Retiro park with a book, relaxing and soaking up some sunshine. One of the other parks that is only open on Sundays is El Capricho, so beautiful and it gives you the feeling you’re in the woods.
The second week we moved apartments and rented a room in a house of a couple.The house was located around the corner of the Kingdom Hall, so it made meeting attendance and service so much easier.
Although we loved Madrid and all it’s sights, the best part was spend with the local brothers and sisters. The congregation is so warm and hospitable. The first time we made in it service however, there was a little misunderstanding and the brother conducting thought we were just there to verify where the Hall was. he didn’t understand we were there to preach. So he made arrangements for everyone but us. Afterwards we asked with whom we could go? Well, everyone had arrangements but he had a very special territory for us, a park around the corner where we could do street work. So here we went, just the two of us in Spanish service. But we did it and spoke to a few people in backward Spanish. Later we were able to go out on several occasions and work with different ones in the Hall. One couple, Eduardo and Ana, are appointed as special pioneers after they spend years working at bethel. But a lot of the work at the Madrid bethel has been transferred to England.
In service with the local congregation in Madrid
Many invited us to their homes and shared delicious meals with us, Paella, Gazpacho, Spanish tortilla’s, all so good!
Dinner at Eduardo(standing) and Ana’s (sitting on the left in blue
Lunch at sister’s Sagrario.(in bleu, standing)
One day a very kind brother, Manuel, took us to Bethel. It’s not very big but everyone is so nice and friendly, just what you expect from Jehovah’s people. We had the privilege to stay for lunch and were seated at the table with David, who serves in the English congregation with his wife and started to try to recruit us. We also shared the table with a family from Barcelona, also from an English congregation, and who where there for the convention. They had with them to young children for Nigeria and specially the young boy was very focused on his food. We like this Bethel, they serve a nice Rioja with lunch!
Lunch at Bethel in Madrid with Emanuel and David.
On one day we made a side trip to Toledo, south of Madrid. It’s a beautiful village with a Roman catholic influence. A lot of up hill walking was involved but it was a great excuse for a good lunch.
One of the many tiny but pretty streets in Toledo
Distant view of the Cathedral in Toledo
Old Fort in Toledo
Madrid is definitely a city we would like to come back to, especially to visit the new friends we have made in the congregation!
On the train to Barcelona
The 29th of June we took the train from Madrid to Barcelona. I just love taking the train, such a relaxed way of traveling and since we are traveling only with carry on, it’s a piece of cake and stops me every time from wanting to buy more clothes because I really have no room for it.
Now here in Barcelona we have to deal with two languages, quite a bit of Spanish (Castellano) but a lot of Catalan. Oh no, not another language to add to our trying to learn Spanish and French. That is not going to happen. We are sticking with Spanish. Although when we went into a little neighborhood store and the young girl helping us is from China, even our Spanish is useless because after living here three years she only speaks a few words of Spanish, kind of funny.
We had a little bit of afternoon left after we arrived and since the apartment where we rented a room was close to’ la Sagrada Familia’, we went there first. It is an enormous church: unique, really spectacular, definitely impressive….but I’m not sure if it’s truly beautiful. It’s started being built around 1852 and it is not finished yet. A very famous architect here in Barcelona by the name of Gaudi became involved with this project in 1883. He combined Gothic style with Art Nouveau and his unique style. After his death and the Spanish civil war, the work was picked up again in the 1950’s. They hope it will be done by 2030. We just sat on a terrace with a great view of this church and had tapas and wine and debated whether we thought it beautiful or just impressive.
La Segrada Familia (The sacred family)
The next day we moved to a different apartment that we shared with a young guy and his two sisters from the North of Spain. The apartments we have been staying at here in Europe are in itself amazing buildings, with huge ceilings and old world charm.
On Sunday we went to the meeting, also right around the corner. It was a very warm congregation and we sat next to a student from Nepal. She was so sweet. She studies the Bible in English but goes to the meetings on Saturday in Hindi because she speaks that better then Spanish. She also goes to the Spanish meeting on Sunday to help her learn the language. Her family is not thrilled she is studying the bible since they are Buddhist or Hindu. But she persists with her Bible study and is full of questions. It was really encouraging to meet her.
With a bible study from Nepal.
When in Barcelona you have to go to the Picasso museum and since it is free on Sundays, we found that many had the same idea. So we stood in line for about 40 minutes, but you have to do what cheap pioneers have to do. It was so worth it because it was mostly his early works, very beautiful.
Standing in line for the Picasso Museum in the beautiful Gothic neighborhood.
Of course we walked ‘ Las Ramblas’ with all the tourist traps and a colorful covered market.
Delicious and colorful fruit and peppers at the market just off ‘Las Ramblas’
At the end of an afternoon we sat on a terrace and spent way too much on a beer, but it was great people watching, I loved it!
Cathedral in Barcelona
One of the many tiny streets in Barcelona
Gaudi’s designs are very present in Barcelona and we walked passed a house he built and through a park he designed and thought we were in the world of ‘Alice in Wonderland’
House designed by Gaudi.
Beautiful Barcelona with ‘La Segrada Familia’ and ‘The Bullet’, the old and the new.
Beautiful Gaudi park
The last museum we visited in Spain was the National Museum of Catalan Art, very large but so well organized. We walked through the history of art starting at around the 11th century. My favorite is still going to be the impressionist era.
The National museum of Catalan Art
The last few days in Spain were spend in this small coastal town, very picturesque.Here also we rented a room in a lovely apartment with a great terrace where we enjoyed morning coffee and early evening wine. We bonded with the two kitties, Bola and Koko who were fascinated by our luggage and sometimes even slept with us. We spend most days on the beach, relaxing, doing not much of anything. Sunday we went to the meeting and met many of the friends, one of them a Dutch sister, also tall and blond.
Great terrace for morning coffee!
Lovely Balcony with pretty flowers
Beautiful street in Sitges with ocean view!
Koko and Bola
Spain was great and we hope to return one day and explore more!