Part 1: Gemma, Gareth, Mum and Dad
Night Location: Madrid, Spain
Mumisode of the Day: Mum's high standard of decorum slipped this evening during dinner when on not one but two occasions she was forced to spit out broccoli onto her plate due to its extreme temperature.
Big sleep in today which was fantastic. When we finally emerged for breakfast we were so surprised to find pretty much the rest of the hotel guests there too. We were actually forced to wait in lines, and someone had wrecked the toaster. We all decided that we preferred having the room to ourselves.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and for once during our visit to Spain, the weather was a little bit more season appropriate. It was grey and cold - far more suited to staying indoors - but we still decided to brave it and explore the city. Given the big walk into the city yesterday, we decided to catch the metro and emerged at Plaza Espana. Very impressive statues here but the Christmas market kind of took away from the overall effect. Short walk to the Royal Palace that is perched on the side of a cliff. You couldn't really appreciate it though as the fog gave us a false sense of security.
Opposite the palace is the central cathedral. This was no where near as old as some we have been in but was still really interesting with a fantastic painted ceiling and modern stained glass. Didn't climb the towers here as they are sneaky and get you to buy tickets to the museum in order to do so.
The streets were very crowded as everyone was out to buy things for Christmas. It definitely had a great feel though. We stood and waited a while with a lot of other tourists for a bride to arrive at her wedding. Quite the public affair. Mum was very interested by this. Finishing our walk at the central Plaza Mayor where we found the crowds were all heading! Fortunately we found a restaurant just at the right time and escaped into the warmth and quiet.
On this our last afternoon in Spain, it was only right that we should have a siesta. The art of the siesta has been mastered in this trip, and even Gemma who initially frowned on the idea has started to sleep! She may have even out slept Gareth. Barcelona was playing Madrid in a local derby tonight so there were quite a few excited fans around on our way to dinner. We weren't very Spanish as we had Thai for dinner tonight. Mum spat out her broccoli, twice! Decorum!
Returning to the hotel, we faced the gruelling task of packing for the plane. Very sad to be leaving Spain as we have really enjoyed ourselves but we are really looking forward to catching up with Amber and David again.
Part 2 - Amber and David
Night location: Zurich, Switzerland
Another lazy start to the day followed by another tram ride into the main part of town. Going off the advice of Tennille Lowrey we had booked lunch at a vegetarian restaurant, and thank goodness we had booked! It was completely full which made it a bit chaotic. The food was lovely though so thanks Tennille!
Another purchase of macarons from 'Laduree' and we headed back to our hotel for our massages which we had booked yesterday. I must say, we have been feeling very relaxed since arriving in Zurich. After our massages we returned to the rooftop pool and spa for yet another swim. Clearly a favourite with us!
Tonight we caught the train into Zurich Hauptbahnhof (the central railway station) that houses some Christmas markets and a massive Christmas tree completely decorated with Swarovski crystal ornaments. As you can imagine, being a Saturday night, the place was packed. Fortunately we were not in a hurry so we just drifted along with the slow moving crowd. Opposite the tree was a Swarovski stall and much to my delight, some Christmas earrings were purchased!
After making it out of the Christmas market, we wandered down the main street, in and out of shops, and eventually stumbled upon 'The Singing Christmas Tree.' This was a large, multi-tiered Christmas tree that had been designed to be filled with children in such a way that they looked like the decorations. A really clever idea and the singing was great even though it was in German. We continued to walk down the main street until we came across an Italian ristorante, where we enjoyed a fantastic meal. When we left the restaurant it was raining so we quickly boarded our favourite Number 11 tram that was conveniently stopped just outside the restaurant and came back to our hotel.