Happy New Year 2015


Excellent instruction from our lodging host got us through the Madrid subway system without a hitch.  Transferring between 3 different lines (pink, navy blue, light green) was easy, and this “first time” was made easier by the lack of crowds on this holiday a.m.  From our subway exit it was a 10-ish minute walk through a neighborhood to the apartment we’re staying at.  Having extra time,  we would have loved to find an open coffee shop – but no-go (none open on New Years Day).   Cold morning (30 deg) with clear skies.  Norberto showed up on time to let us into our new “home” for the next 10 days.  A small but efficient newer 4th floor apartment, windows to the street.  The street level is peppered with small bars, restaurants, grocery and produce stores, and various other service stores.  Very handy.  Apartment dwellers compete for parking spots on the street, and on the sidewalks on the “no parking” side of the street.  Most of the apartment buildings in this area are not big – 4-5 stories with 3-5 places on each floor.

Caution: Watch for lit cigarette butts flicked from upper balconies, salt disguised as sugar in a canister (‘this tea sure tastes funny’), and dog poo on the sidewalks.

Travel days

Dec 31 & Jan 1

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Madrid Airport

Flight from Seatac to JFK uneventful.  Travel note for JFK: if you’re traveling on more than 1 airline & they’re in different terminals   (there are 8 terminals), allow extra time to go through security – again.  We had plenty (4 hrs) but wouldn’t have guessed it would have taken us as long as it did.

The travel gods were with us:

1) Everyone we asked for help (and there were several of them!) was kind and helpful.

2) “TSA Pre-check” was stamped on our boarding passes (don’t know the criteria that allowed this) so we were directed to a line where removing shoes and liquid contents of luggage is not required.  Often this isn’t a time-saver, but on this occasion it was huge.

3) Our boarding passes also noted “priority”.   Again, not sure of the criteria.  Good looking couple?  They were almost- free tickets (Frequent flier miles + $35),  so it wasn’t because we were big spenders.  Regardless, it got us to the front of the line – again.

4)  Scrunched back in 767 economy seat to Madrid, but not complaining, a flight attendant asked if we’d like the emergency exit row seats.   “Hell yes!” I whooped, as I gathered belongings and bolted to the new seats before he changed his mind.  Once again, not sure why he chose to offer them to us.  Didn’t care, just enjoyed the extra leg room – Dave especially.

The flight time was reduced by 1 hour to  6.5 hours with the 100 mph tail wind.   This got us into Madrid at 7:30 a.m, through immigration with narry a glance or question,  no customs (day off?) and no luggage to collect (just a carry-on bag for each of us).  And we’re off!! – Laura

Goodbye Artist’s Loft and Tacoma

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Dec. 30, 2014 Finds us handing back the keys to the loft, running a few last minute errands and heading to Kent for an awesome dinner with Tom, Lori & family.  Living in downtown  Tacoma for 4 1/2 years  was good times, and we will miss our neighbors in the Artists Loft and the local haunts we’ve become regulars at.