With the completion of my trek through the Dolomites I caught a series of buses and trains, arriving in Milan late at night. After a good nights rest I boarded a bus that took me to the airport. It was time to say ciao to Italy and hola to Spain. Here I spent three days with my sister and her family. I was touched to learn that one of my nephews made sure that my room was neat and tidy for my arrival, going as far to write a sign telling his younger brother not to mess up the bed.
After eight days of demanding hiking it was nice to rest, play in the neighborhood pool and goof off with my nephews. Tanya and I also took the commuter rail into downtown Madrid and visited the the Museo Sorolla. This was the home of the painter Joaquin Sorolla and housing many of his paintings. I was impressed by how well he incorporated light in his landscape and beach paintings. The museum did a nice job showing the different phases of his paintings and had a wonderful garden outside.
Tanya also introduced me to the Parque Europa. This is a park across the street from her home that has replicas of many famous European landmarks. In one afternoon I was able to crane my neck looking up the Eiffel Tower, pass through the Brandenburg Gate and cross London's Tower Bridge.
For my final full day in Spain we had a road trip, braving the heat we checked out the ruins of a castle at Zorita de Canes. Before storming the castle I helped my nephews find crawdads at the picnic area. It is very refreshing to see two young boys so excited about the birds and animals in the natural world.
The plunder from storming the castle was cupcakes, mostly to celebrate the birthday of my nephew. The chance to be present so close to his birthday was a gift to me, rarely do I have that chance.
After the cupcakes were digested and the gifts were opened it was time to rest. For the next morning I returned to the airport, checked in my backpack and started back home.
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