Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chillin’ out at San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Although for the most part, we locked in our travel plans for the remainder of our adventure year, we did have this open question of what to do with our 5 days before Salamanca. For a while, I’ve had my sites set on Segovia, about an hour north of Madrid. Coming out of Morocco, we were tired, dusty and suffering from a lingering GI distress. We were desperately in need of clean clothes and a good night’s sleep (2 hr. time difference meant sunrise at 5:30 am!). Unfortunately, we would be traveling during a two day Spanish national/provincial holiday weekend, so our housing options were limited. Plus, with a car packed to the gills, the thought of dealing with the logistics of a crowded city center was a non-starter. After a bit of on-line wrestling with an Arabic keyboard at an internet cafĂ©, I was able to book a townhouse in San Lorenzo de Escorial, site of the royal monastery built by King Philip V. It seemed close enough and at least gave us a place to unpack and regroup. When we got there, it was perfect on many levels - a huge place by European standards, and bright, roomy and comfortable. It sat at the base of a national park, with a great terrace view of the plateau and Madrid below. We were all wiped out from the rapid-fire itinerary and chaos of the last 9 days and it was a treat to chill out for a bit and just relax for a while. Plus, by this point, the kids were on the verge of mutiny from being dragged any more historical monuments. I officially resigned for a few days as family tour guide – which was received quite well by my family! We took a few days off and broke several rules in the spirit of recovery (e.g. Burger King for lunch, and plenty of movies/cartoons for the kids). Suzanne came down with the flu, so the kids and I toured the area around the monastary, went out to the local parks for a picnic, some fresh air, hikes, and good old fasion hide n’ seek. The surrounding area was beautiful and green this time of year and it reminded me of Chataqua Park in Boulder, CO.

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