Earl and I spent 12 wonderful days in Spain! It was such a great experience to go to Europe for the first time (for me!) and for Earl to go back to his old missionary stomping grounds. It may take a few minutes, but here are some of my favorites:

Layover in Atlanta (Ann & Clay Gillming, Mike Richins)

Past border control in Madrid... We made it!

After being up and traveling for about 20 hours, we finally made it to Madrid. Quick stop at the hotel and then we were off on a walking tour. We took a gondola ride across part of the city ... such a beautiful view!

Palacio Real from the gondola...over 2800 rooms inside! We went on the tour in our free time that afternoon and it is so beautiful! Funny thing... the royal family doesn't live there anymore. They have a different palace about 30 min. away.
Egyptian temple in Madrid ...

Statue of Don Quixote outside the Palacio Real - whoever took the picture cut his head off. Oh well!

Inside the Plaza Mayor... I was so excited to see this. I've seen this so many times in movies and on TV... I WAS THERE!

One of the many crazy people that dress up in the Plaza Mayor.

Beautiful Madrid... fountains and plazas everywhere!

View of Toledo in the background

Yuba City group... we were combined with a group from Arbuckle and another group from Ohio (about 30 people total).

Famous Spanish dish Paella flavored with Saffron and has lots of shell fish and shrimp and vegitables. Yum... you know how much I love fish (insert sarcasm!). But I ate it, and even pealed and deveined my own shrimp! :)

Align Center
Cathedral in Toledo.. took 300 years to build!

Bridge over Rio Tajo in Toledo.

Sword and jewelry factory in Toledo. Had a demonstration on how to make swords and jewelry. We bought a cool sword and hunting knife in a sheeth and also some handcrafted jewelry.

Spent the evening as dinner guests of an old coworker of Earl's from Arthur Andersen, Christina and her husband Pablo. They served us a very nice 3 course meal and we chatted till the wee hours of the morning! They traditionaly eat dinner about 10 pm or so in Spain.... very different from here in States!

Monastery in El Escorial (about 1 hour from Madrid). Although we were unable to take pictures inside, here are a few of the outside. Built in the 1500's in only 27 years, it was a religious retreat for many royal families. It is an active Monastery and school now.

Inside are the crypts of famous kings and queens of Spain (Felipe II and his wives, their children that had died, Don Juan and many more famous Spaniards). They were amazing! Elaborate gold and marble rooms with coffins embedded in the walls.

The Valley of the Fallen - monument and tribute to the fallen soldiers of the Spanish Civil War built in 1941-1959. A beautiful Church was built inside the mountain and the bodies of fallen soldiers, who were Catholic, are buried inside the walls. Also buried inside was the dictator Franco. It was amazing, but again, no pictures allowed inside. The cross on top of the mountain is 35 stories tall and is an amazing site from miles away!

The Roman Aquaduct in Segovia, Spain. What a site!

Yuba City group again. Segovia is a very picturesque town... and very hot that day!

Patronato del Alcazar de Segovia... a real castle!

Jousting armor inside the castle.

Gardens of the castle.

View from the top of the tower of the castle. It was the steepest, narrowest winding staircase to get to the top... major workout for my thighs!

Kimmey, Ann and Me!
No DIET Coke... only Coca Cola Light!

Bridge and river in Cordoba. The water looked so muddy!

Mosque and Cathedral in Cordoba. Orginally built as a mosque by the Arabs, but when the Christians conquered the Arabs they turned the mosque into a cathedral.

Candy cane arches of the mosque portion of the church. It is huge inside!

High alter of the cathedral.

Choir loft of the cathedral. Very beautiful and intricately carved woodwork! And the ceilings... amazing!

A view of the bell tower on the cathedral.... so typical of the streets of Spain!

Seville, Spain
Torre del Oro...the place where Christopher Columbus and explorers had to pay taxes on their bounty.

Ann and I patiently waiting for Earl and Clay to finish playing with their cameras on the river banks in Seville. It was about 12 am and we really wanted to go eat Churros con Chocolate and frozen lemonade! YUMMY!!!

Feeding the doves outside the Plaza de Espana in Seville. They were pecking in my hand!

I love this picture!

Plaza de Espana - built for the 1929 World Exposition. Also in a more recent Star Wars movie.

Each province of Spain represented at the Plaza de Espana - this is the one for Barcelona. Beautiful painted tile work!

Seville Cathedral
So many of these cathedrals are built in the middle of the towns and it is very hard to get a picture of the whole thing. This was my favorite out of all of the cathedrals we toured!

High Alter - all gold!

Tomb of Christopher Columbus - parts of him are buried in 5 different locations! Everybody wants a piece of him!

Top of the bell tower in the cathedral. You had to walk up 35 winding ramps to get to the top! They built the ramps so horses could carry the men to the top to ring the bells... smart! Walking was not fun! Especially in the 108 degree heat! But the view of Seville and the rest of the cathedral was wonderful, so it was worth it! Earl has a picture a lot like this in his missionary scrapbook.

Went to a flamenco dancing show... very fun!

The temple in Alhambra, Granada.
I didn't learn as much about this temple in our tour because 1) it was so flippin' hot! and I couldn't concentrate and 2) our tour guide had the weirdest accent... too hard to understand sometimes. I did learn that it only took 13 years? to build this gigantic temple and it felt like it went on forever! It was huge! The grounds were so beautifully landscaped!

Awww... such a cute couple! View of Alhambra in the background.

Our tour guide explained to us that the Spanish women, many years ago, used to talk to their men with their fan covering their face like this. They would say (and I quote the tour guide) "I love you. I hate you. You were too quick." HAHAHAHA! I'm still laughing about this ...

Gibraltar, England! Yes, we went to England!
The rock of Gibraltar is located at the most southern tip of Spain and is owned by England, hence you have to pass through boarder control and then cross an airplane strip (we were stopped because airplanes were landing and taking off at this time) to get to the city on the rock. About 30,000 people live there.

At this point on the rock you can barely see the coast of Africa and it is also where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. A very significant point of geography! I was loving it! I have a phetish for maps! Also significant because many countries and groups of people throughout history have fought for control of "The Rock".

Wild monkeys live on the top of the rock and are protected and fed by the government there. Earl got this cool picture of some monkeys fighting!

Saint Michael's Cave inside the rock. We hired a tour guide with a van and he took us to 6 major points of interest on the rock! This was by far my favorite! It was so amazing inside! Hard to take pictures because of the lighting.

Yep, that's me standing next to a monkey!

Playing at the beach outside our hotel on the Mediterranean.

Earl was the photographer most of the trip and was playing around during our visit to Mijas.

View of Mijas Pueblo.

Barcelona, Spain
We took a train and traveled overnight to Barcelona - the last stop on our trip. What a cool train... no pictures (we took video) but it was 1st class! This picture is at the Park Guell designed by Antonio Gaudi - a very famous architect who designed many buildings in Barcelona.

Only 11 of us (all from Yuba City) decided to extend our stay in Spain and go to Barcelona. Our courier and tour guide, Thomas, is in the middle in the black shirt. He went above and beyond what he was employed to do to help us all enjoy our vacation... planned side trips for us, helped us figure out what to do in our spare time. He became a great friend by the end of the trip and we were so grateful to have him with us!

The Sagrada Familia Temple - a cathedral designed by Antonio Gaudi. Work began in the 1880's and is still going on today... at a cost of about 20 million per year! Earl calls it the "melting" cathedral because of the facade. It was so amazing! And so TALL!

A side portion of the cathedral that is being built.

La Pedrera - also designed by Gaudi.

Battlo House - designed by Gaudi (kind of looks like a dragon)

Our last night in Barcelona - we went to a great fountain show!

View from the fountain show and all of the fountains that lined the streets.

This was the most memorable vacation Earl and I have been on so far. And to think I had to choose from the 1100+ pictures we took to share with all of you! We had the time of our lives together! Spain is a gorgeous country, rich in history. I hope some day to go back and explore more of the country! 12 days was not enough!