We’ve finally made it! It was a less then ideal flight, but it got us here. We took what we could get, which meant not flying with Lufthansa as we had been booked, but with Air Canada instead. Which is fine! But not as amazing as Lufthansa- we had the perfect seats picked out for our original flights, but ended up instead in the middle section of the plane for Gary Nicole and I, and as isle for Chris. But in the end it worked out- I usually take Ativan to calm myself-which totally wipes me out for the next 24 hours. But sitting next to Nicole I knew somehow I’d be entertained enough to skip the drugs. I’m not sure how everyone else on the plane felt about it though…..
It started with a threesome viewing of Ferdinand-a cartoon about a bull in Spain. and Nicole was right again. It was the perfect movie to watch. There was a “calming goat” in the movie-and now I’m obsessed. Apparently calming goats are used for horses and bulls to calm then down when they are stressed. I have decided i need one. I will name him Lambert. And he will have his work cut out for him.
SO that starts the laughter. And it continues. Through out the first 4 hours of the flight.
We talk about many things. The running thing in our family is that Nicole and I should try out for Amazing Race-we are pretty confident we could pull it off. But then we always remember that I would end up doing all the challenges. And we decide to wait until I’m in full washer toss training to apply-so I’ll be ready to literally do EVERYTHING that represents physical challenge. Nicole’s job will be to get us upgrades at all the hotels, the biggest of the contestant tents, beer instead of water at all rest stops, and her favorite challenge of all-finding ways to keep the money they give you at the start of a leg by sourcing the cheapest taxis and meals. We may not even need to win.
The thing is….we’re getting old. 10 years ago we’d be carrying much lighter bags. They wouldn’t be full of Advil, muscle relaxants and fiber bars- arthritis cream and compression socks. So we have decided that, instead of Amazing Race, we need to find “Slightly Overwhelming Race” and apply for that. And all we can picture is reaching the mat at the end of a leg, and that host guy saying, “I’m sorry to tell you team calming goat-but you are the last to arrive”……to which we would smile and say, “yeah. But did you see the room we stayed in last night?”.
This cracks us to to the point where we can hardly breathe. This and many other things. I’m quite sure that the people in front of us are plotting our deaths……
Anyway. We get there. The flight is just okay- not sure if its a lack of Ativan, the fact that we had the worlds worst landing on Friday, or just the usual-but it gets quite bumpy about 1/2 way. In any case, we get in-one less flight then we were expecting (we were originally flying to Frankfurt and then from there to Madrid-but got a direct flight when we had to wait an extra day to leave Toronto).
We get all our luggage, go through customs, get our rental car hook up the GPS app on the phone. And away we go! It feels like about 2am to us-so we are all snack-y, not necessarily hungry for breakfast…so we pass around Snickers (now with 60% less panty Flavor!!! -see Italy blog) and get going.
Spain is very wide open and flat as we start out! LOTS of olive trees and fields. As we move along we can spot mountains in the distance And we can see a storm brewing in them. Its so beautiful with the sun streaming in our car windows and the black clouds over the mountains in the distance. Lightening rods and rain-and I’m sure if we were closer-thunder.
We Drive to what would have been our first stop and our hotel last night if we’d gotten here on time. Toledo. Nicole had insisted on staying here for the night. Its part of her “Holy” tour. Next we plan to visit Schmoly and the lesser known Moly (ba dum bum).
The term Holy Toledo comes from the fact that Toledo was the Kingdom of Toledo bank in the day. It was considered the Holiest city by the Jewish in Europe and was once the Center of worship. And I can see why. It is about as close to heavenly as I have seen in Spain so far with its Italian like concentration of stucco buildings and Spanish mountains. We take some pics, see the beautiful Parador we were supposed to stay in (sigh it was amazing) and off we go. We head to the old windmills of La Mancha. They were the setting for the adventures of Don Quixote-and breathtaking! They are as unexpected as the windmills in Mykonos Greece. It makes sense that they would need them—I just didn’t think of the as being such a staple in the landscape. We see a number of others on mountain tops during our drive. They are so beautiful and simple and really make you fee like you are in another time.
Existing on 3-4 hours sleep in the last 48 is catching up with us for sure. We stop along the way for a few minutes and Nicole, Chris and I enjoy watching the storm in the mountains from the heat of the valley while Gary has a quick cat nap. We grab bottles of wine, cheese, meats and bread for tonight, And off we go again.
We are staying in Juen in a castle tonight!!! The Spanish government took over most of the old medieval castles and now rents them out as “Paradors”, and I can’t explain how excited I am!!!
As we begin to see Juen signs, and we start to get closer to the mountains we are all buzzing with talk about how this might just work. …. we might just get to sleep in Spain tonight- its been a long journey to get here….although we are all in pretty good spirits-and all still awake….sort of.
Gary drives us up the crazy roads into the mountains and we see our castle appear in the distance. Its. Beautiful. We pull in, get out and are struck by how we half expect to see Dracula step out to bring us to our rooms.
We are given our room assignments, and as usual, Nicole has made sure we have the nicest rooms offered in the entire castle. Huge and with a view of the valley like nothing I’ve ever seen. Four poster bed, peaked windows, stone and dark wood. A FREAKIN’ CASTLE. We settle in a little and meet in Nicole and Gary’s room for the wine and snacks we bought earlier and the storm finally catches up with us. In the distance, while we sit cozy on our deck, we see lightening, hear thunder and watch the sheet of rain and HAIL descend on the valley. Everyone is happy for me. I got my show. You may think its weird, but on every vacation, I pray for a storm. I don’t want rain every day-or rain while we drive or sight see. But to see a place in the rain? I think it feels so- intimate? Is that the right word? I love seeing a landscape in all its forms, and the romantic nature of a good rain storm makes me feel more cozy, and more like i really know what a place is all about. Thunder and lightening? Well that’s just a crazy stoke of good fortune. And I’m in my glory. We sit and drink great wine and talk about the adventure getting here and we are finally on vacation. I can see Keddy’s shoulders going down, work washing away, and my husband is mine again. I can see Nicole, all the stress of “will this work? Will the hotel be nice??” fade, smiling and content and comfy with those slightly red cheeks from wine. Gary is smiling too-contented and finally here.
Then the wall hits. I do this thing, where I punk out about 2 hours after we reach our first stop on a trip. I. Mean. PUNK OUT. Like, I basically self evict from any logical thinking, and just glaze over. Its not the wine. Its the tired. And Nicole saw the very second it happened. She looked at me and said “oh boy. She’s goin down”. That’s our cue. Storm is over and wine is gone-and we retreat to our room-I assume. That’s were I wake up a few hours later and panic that its 10am but look at my phone and find out its 10:35 PM and I still have a whole night to sleep. The general rule of let lag fighting is to stay up as late as you can that first night and that will help get you back on track. Apparently as late as I can is approximately 6:22pm.
I go to bed. In a castle. And dream of dragons, knights in shining armour, and breakfast……