Valencia, Spain (1) – Ciutat les Arts

Due to an early arrival into Valencia, our hotel room was not available for a couple of hours.  To occupy our time, the hotel receptionist recommended we take a walk to Jardines del Turia located a short distance away.

Not only did we find beautiful greenery but four unique buildings located at the bottom end of the park.  A complex devoted to science and culture, these interesting structures was designed by Santiago Calatrava.  I was aware of this place and had planned on seeking it out during our four-day visit.  I didn’t think I would find it accidentally on our first day.

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia – opera house and performing arts center



Pont de Montolivet bridge – allows traffic to flow over without disturbing the waterways and walkways below



Under the Pont de Montolivet bridge









L’Hemisferic –  an IMAX cinema, planetarium and laserium



El Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe






School excursion to the Museum



Interior of Museum



Interior of Museum



Agora – covered plaza for concerts and sporting events

El Pont de L’Assut de l’Or – white cable bridge



L’Umbracle – an open garden landscape over the car park













Spain, Madrid, Valencia & Barcelona – Breakfast Buffets

When travelling, we adhere to the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” philosophy.  I always choose hotels with a breakfast option.  This meal provides us the energy we need for a full day of exploring and keeps us going until supper.

There is something about the European buffet breakfasts that I love and makes this philosophy easy to handle.  Unlike the North American tradition with vats of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage & pan-fried potatoes, we find an incredible variety of items to choose from.  Eggs and specialty coffees are made to order.  I always go with an omelette (3 eggs soft) and a cappuccino.  There is lots of emphasis on energy snack foods with a wide assortment of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, etc.) along with nuts & things I’ve never heard of.  The portions are small enough that we get to sample more varieties.

The breakfast buffets at all three hotels, “Only You Atocha” (Madrid), “Petit Palace” (Valencia) & “Hotel Torre Catalunya” (Barcelona) were great. However, I give the five-star to “Only You Atocha”.  So many options, I didn’t get to try everything over the three mornings we were there.   I could have gotten more photos but didn’t want to interfere with the patrons getting their food.


Made to order eggs – Only You Atocha





Cheese and Cold Cuts – I would have loved to try the cheese but the fear of lactose intolerance kept me away.






Breads and Cereals – Nutella and Churros were one of our favourites



For the Sweet Tooth – The chocolate covered strawberries were a specialty for Valentine’s Day.



Extras – Superfoods and Condiments



Madrid, Spain (8) – On The Streets

Due to a two-day delayed arrival, we only had two and half days to explore Madrid.  We walked about 35 kms keeping ourselves within a 3 km perimeter around our hotel in the neighborhoods of Atocha, Centro, Retiro & Trafalgar.

Spain has an active nightlife with locals claiming they don’t start their evening meal until 9:00 PM.  At first, I was skeptical about this claim.  However, as you can see with the evening photos, the streets are very busy with people.   You can usually spot the locals, they are the ones dressed in winter coats.  While they consider lows of 10C and highs of 24C cool, we consider this summer weather and strip down to T-shirts during the day and summer jackets in the evening.

The following photos gives us a small glimpse of life on the streets.


Madrid, Spain (7) – Wonderful Architecture

Madrid is a city covered with beautiful architecture.  Whether it be a government, commercial or residential building, you can’t help but stand back in admiration and awe.

(For a larger view, click on a photo and use arrows to scroll through)



Madrid, Spain (6) – Mercado De San Miguel

Mercado De San Miguel is a gourmet tapas market.  Good thing I don’t live in Madrid.  I would be constantly coming here, over indulging and be avoiding the scale.  Since we just consumed a large breakfast, we didn’t have the appetite to try anything during our visit.




























Madrid, Spain (5) – The Cathedral & Crypt of Almudena

The Cathedral

The Cathedral of Almudena is the main Church of the Archdiocese of Madrid.  The construction of the church, under the Marquis of Cubas, started in 1879 and was completed in 1993.

Security and controllers diverting traffic away from the incoming Royal Guards



The back of the cathedral



The front of the Cathedral.  Palacio Real is located just to the right of this photo.






The Image of Santa Maria de la Almudena, Patroness of the city














The Crypt

The sudden death of Queen Maria de las Mercedes initiated the creation of the Crypt.  Located under the Cathedral, La Cripta contains more than 400 columns, five naves and 18 chapels.

The image of Our Lady of the Flor de Lis.  It was comissioned by King Alfonso VI in AD 1083, making it one of the oldest images in all Madrid



400 columns, each with a unique capital












Madrid, Spain (4) – Palacio Real de Madrid

The official residence of the Spanish Royal Family is used only for state affairs.  The Family resides at the Palace of Zarzuela located outside of Madrid.  Because there was a state event occurring, the interior of the palace was not open to the public.  We had to keep our distance from the building.

With 3,418 rooms and almost 1.5 million square feet of floor space, this is the largest Palace in Europe.  It would have been cool to take a peek in the inside.







Plaza de Oriente, located across the plaza in front of the palace, displays Statues of the Gothic Kings



Plaza de Oriente



Jardines del Cabo Noval, north of the palace



Sabatini Gardens