Last time we visited Anicia in Berlin, she lived on the ground floor. Her current digs are a significant improvement over the previous place, allowing us a new perspective on the city. After two puddle jumps and a transatlantic red-eye, a sunny breakfast on the roof was most welcome!

The players for Leg 1 of the trip: Team Shenanigang

(L to R: Anicia "Ol' Eggy Shoes" Timberlake, Andre "Flippy Floppy" Mount, Sarah "Ol' Preggy Shoes" Carsman)

Poor Sarah. Four months pregnant on a trip to Germany, land of beer so good people carry it across oceans to sell at a 300% markup. "Screw it!" she figured, grabbing a bottle of gin out on friend Anicia's rooftop balcony, "I'm not gonna be left out!" But all she did was pretend for the sake of a funny picture.

We spent our first day in Berlin traipsing around, meeting up with old friends and new, drinking Bier (and alkoholfreies Bier), buying food for a rooftop BBQ dinner, and generally getting up to tame no good. But then, after a proper night's sleep, we were off to the quiet German countryside. With several bags full of grub and grog, we sped out of the city on a series of increasingly larger and faster trains.

Andre practiced his diction with scrap of a map that Anicia had in her possession, but was mostly excited by finding the name of a group of beloved German techno pioneers.

And then, mere hours from the hubbub of the big city... orderly German tranquility.

Since our last trip to Deutschland was a non-stop power tour of Berlin (and because of Sarah's increasingly pregnant condition) we opted for something a bit more low key. Anicia rented a vacation apartment up in Blankenberg in the Brandenberg region of northeast Germany. It was perfect. The owners didn't speak a lick of English (and, aside from Neesh-Nosh, we spoke a comparable amount of German), but they had a fridge-full of Pilsners and malt sodas waiting when we got there.

Before heading to the grill to roast up some snags, we thought it would be best to check out the lake. As expected, it was lovely. Good temperature too, which Sarah almost found out the hard way.

Up around Potsdam (NY, that is), all anyone grows is feed corn. There was a bit more variety around Blankenburg including wheat--the chafe of which, it turns out, can be removed to reveal tasty whole grain snacks!

One of the most frustrating things about living in Potsdam, NY is that its German namesake always comes up first in any Google search. Pretty much every time we try to find out what movies are playing in town, we're surprised by the number of theaters we didn't know about (there's actually only one in P'dam, NY) showing lots of German-language foreign films (this never happens).

Standard issue for every town, village, or group of two or more houses in the German countryside: 1) monument commemorating the war, 2) a number of healthy looking apple trees, 3) at least two cats sprawled out in the middle of the main road, and 4) a beautiful, centuries old church, usually damaged at least in part by the war.

Post walk it was straight to the grill, to roast up a pile of snags. (The slugs, on the other hand, were not roasted.)

For an extra €15 a day, we rented some bikes and headed out into the quietly reserved wilderness. Our hostess told us it was an easy ride up north to Prenzlau ("Only 20km round-trip!") and with Anicia assuring Sarah that it was completely flat in northern Germany we were off. The ride turned out to be a little longer than Sarah had anticipated, but she and the baby handled it like champs.

It was windy too. But unlike this flock of birds, we pressed on unphased.

"Hey!" Andre exclaimed, repeating one of his favorite non-jokes for the umpteenth time, "Hay!"

The plan was to recreate our van trips of yore wherein the three of us rode from swimming hole to swimming hole, indulging in refreshing dips at every opportunity. After our bike route became a dirt bike path, we spied a turnoff to the left and walked our wheels down a small path to a lake. Of course, the sun disappeared and the wind velocity grew as soon as we got there, but we partook of the lake in the grand German FKK tradition, as instructed by our hostess.

Note Anicia's perfect FOB-squat form. (Her marginally offensive term, not mine.)

Arriving in Prenzlau, it was time to feed the baby schnitzel. The local butcher was decided to be the place to go, though Anicia seemed strangely hesitant. Afterward, she explained that she'd always wanted to eat country-folk food direct from the butcher but that most of her friends in Berlin would've pooh-poohed the idea. She should've known better that we would want nothing more.

It was delicious. (Not pictured: huge plateful of sauerkraut.)

Oh, also, there was this huge cathedral. I hadn't been up one of these since 1992, so the Marienkierche in Prenzlau was a welcome addition to the trip. I'd never seen such tall narrow windows!

It was a frustrating experience, though, for one small reason. I used to know all the names for the different parts of a church, a skill I'd learned in a course back at BU on medieval art and architecture. I could tell an apse from a cloister! But all that's gone now...

For a paltry handful of euros, you could poke around inside the church and climb up the towers. Sarah wasted no time and blurred up the nearest terrifying staircase.

And what did we find at the top of the towers? Huge fucking bells is what.

We had a friend named Amadeus back in Berkeley. Turned out this "old" church wasn't as old as the informative placards down below were claiming.

These motherfuckers rang every fifteen minutes. Seeing as how it was 1:42, I stuck around to see how the whole (automated) operation worked. Most of the bells looked like they were rung by a system of chains and pulleys. I figured I'd have enough time to cover my ears when I saw the mechanism start winding up. Turned out, the 1:45 toll was rung by a hidden clapper inside a smaller, but still plenty loud, bell.

Wisely, Sarah and Anicia waited outside on the catwalk between the two towers. (I don't know what Anicia's pouting about. She still had her hearing.)

As if climbing up to the top of one ridiculously tall tower wasn't enough, you could cross over to the other and climb another (even narrower) spiral staircase to a higher and weirdly empty room. Sarah and Anicia scoped the landscape, Andre contemplated hocking a loogie but took artsy pictures instead.

Back on Earth, our trio continued their exploration of the city. Near a section of the old city wall, they heard an interesting sound: a small girl laughing uproariously amidst a cacophony of bells. Coming around the corner they saw the source: a municipal instrument, embedded in the cobblestone sidewalk. You stomp on a square and it rings a subterranean bell.

The girl playing it sucked. When she and her family left, we took over and music-nerded all over it. The notes formed a pentatonic scale, so we played the Westminster Quarters.

All while we were putzing around Prenzlau, a storm could be seen approaching from the south. It was decided that ice cream should be procured and eaten until the inclement weather had passed. This was a good move, particularly since it meant that our ride home would be bathed in post-rain sunlight.

After we saw a "No NAZIs sticker" on a sign post in a little town, Anicia explained that they're still a pretty constant presence. It seemed too peaceful out here for that kind of nonsense. We didn't see anyone with the telltale black boots and white laces, but we kept an eye out just the same.

Even in the US of A, bock beers frequently have some kind of billy goat theme or motif on the label. A couple of months ago I Googled "Why?" The answer makes sense (and, to a German speaker, would be an obvious pun). The style was first brewed in the town of Einbeck in the 14th century. When the style was later adopted in Munich, the local Bavarian accent made "Einbeck" sound like "ein Bock" (in English: "a billy goat").

Somebody put a green onion on Anicia's shoulder. It took her several minutes to realize.

An egg on Old Eggy Shoes's shoes.

Included in the cost of our apartment rental was the use of the owners' little rowboat. In typical Shenanigang form, we headed out into the Blankenburg See with a large rainstorm billowing in from the south. As the winds picked up to Victory at Sea conditions, we just barely avoided the brunt of the wind and rain, sheltering under a tree on an island. Anicia took advantage of an opportunity to document the many plaids of her co-passengers' shorts.

A sign near the lake described how in relatively recent history the above-mentioned island had been formed when a particularly violent storm pushed up a pile of mud and sand. The very idea of an island-building storm seemed a little dubious. The sign also mentioned ein Findling (a boulder) in the lake that was capable of supporting an average sized person. We looked for it, but found nary a findling. We found out later from a local that the boulder was underwater. The sign, we concluded, was not a particularly trustworthy sign.

Post-maritime-hijinks, we convinced Sarah to head out on another (shorter) bike ride to nearby Seehausen. (Note the impending storm on the southern horizon.)

A visual summary of our meteorological experience in northeastern Germany. When it was sunny, it was warm and lovely. When it rained, it was cold and windy. The shifting between the two was rapid and dramatic.

We viewed the view above from atop this viewing platform...

...and when the rain came, we sheltered underneath it and made a new friend: this happy cat!

The first time I touched an electric fence, I didn't know what happened. My arm shot up in the air and it took a second before I realized it wasn't where I put it. Since that day (I was probably ten years old) I've touched several others. It always feels like a sharp little tap.

On this day, however, I discovered that not everyone receives the same sensation. Feeling that electric fences are misunderstood and have a bad rep, I asked Sarah and Anicia to come share the experience. Sarah gave a flat out "no way, Jose," but Anicia was game. This was a bad move on both of our parts. It hurt her a lot more than it hurt me and in one short second I lost all the trust that five years of friendship had fostered. We're still friends, but not so much around electrified barriers.

Having had our fill of electrocuting each other, we biked over to a dock on the lake and killed time until it was an appropriate hour for beer gardening.

I'm no historian, but it doesn't seem like Germany was ever a naval power to rival England or Spain. You might think it would have something to do with the scarcity of saltwater coastline or the lack of direct access to a proper ocean, but I think the relative incompetence at sea stems from issues closer to the heart of the country.

Another little squall arrived just as we were settling into a little biergarten snack. The wind picked up and it started to rain. We relocated to the indoors where, as the flame on this candle indicates, the wind was far less severe. A number of cute older bike-tripping German couples arrived soon after.

Most of the towns around where we were have at least one or two little signs pointing out landmarks and explaining the history. In Blankenburg, the signs recommended that walking up the nearby Wallberg would be the only way to truly understand the area. A series of signs featuring this bindle-totin' (Anicia heard this as "Windle-töten," or in English: "diaper killing") hedgehog pointed the way.

Oh shit... Mini plums...

How appropriate that the three of us, having met in Berkeley, should find ourselves wandering the German countryside and happening upon a grove of miniature plum trees. The same type of plums that could be found all over Berkeley! (I ate a lot of them very quickly.)

The Blankenburg Wallberg wasn't much of a berg, but it did have a nice view. (Not that you'd know it from this overly fartsy picture of some silhouetted weeds...)

The old Blankenberg church, now from a slightly higher perspective.

Old Eggy Shoes and Old Preggy Shoes.

Despite the abundance of informative plaquery nearby, there was no information regarding the provenance or purpose of this trailer.

After three lovely, restful days in the German countryside, we returned reluctantly to Berlin. Had I brought my camera along on the ensuing mischief, you would most certainly be looking at a bunch of pictures of us commandeering public trampolines from five-year-olds at the Park am Gleisdreieck , dining (and, naturally, drinking) at a thoroughly decorated bar dedicated to the author/poet Joseph Roth, and closing the alley at Neue City Bowling Hasenheide. But I didn't and so here instead is a picture of what Anicia claims is a jeweler's shop.

One last night in Anicia's fabulous German loft. The mood was right for taking pictures of her lamp.

Nice weave.

Alright, that's enough.

Besides, it's time Andre and Sarah were off to Portugal for Leg 2!

And so Sarah and Andre bid adieu to their old, trusted friend and her Cherman cohort, setting the compass for warmer, Iberian environs.

The airport in Lisbon, at least, was scorching. But soon after arriving at their first Portuguese destination, the hillside town of Sintra, a cool fog rolled in from the coast, shrouding the eucalypts in an eerily California-like mist.

With only occasional access to the Internet, and too many Brandenburgian distractions, plans for Portugal were last-minute and piecemeal at best. Sarah settled on Sintra when she found a hostel vacancy and a couple good reviews.

It couldn't have turned out better. After the stressful realization that the roads mentioned in our Google directions (roads like "Avenida Movimento das Forças Armadas") didn't have street signs, we found the place and poked around a bit.

The town of Sintra sits below a small but steep mountain. Gardens line the cliffs and small paths weave in and around them. At the top of the mountain sits an 8th-century Moorish castle.

We didn't make it up the hill in time to go inside the castle. But we did climb around on some old walls!

The neighborhoods surrounding the castle were just as spectacular. Not too many people, given the fog and siesta-ish hour, which made for the more spooky pokings around.

Heading down, looking for a bite, our heroes encountered a few more people...

...and no shortage of terracotta roofing.

After a bit of waffling about whether or not to dine in the touristy part of town, we caved and got a table at a crowded little cafe. Good move. Delicious Portuguese seafood of all varieties. And Sarah managed to get a full meal in despite all the limitations imposed by our handy What to Expect When You're Expecting.

After a lovely slumber in our modest hotel room: more adventures. First stop? The westernmost point of continental Europe, Cabo da Roca, a destination chosen for its dramatic pointiness and proximity to where we were staying.

The Russians beat us there.

As with any proper European waypoint, a large cross had been erected to legitimize the spot. God forbid a ship pass and witness a smooth horizon!

Looking out to sea, we spied some Portugal that was clearly further west.

Most of the other tourists busied themselves taking pictures of one another atop the dramatic bluffs. We ventured down the cliff a little ways and did the same.

Zemut and his girlfriend were here back in '98.

It took us a little while to arrive at the realization. The eucalyptus we saw the day before set it up, but the Aizoaceae-covered cliffs drove it home: the west coast of Europe is the same as the west coast of the United States. This, in other words, could easily be a view in Big Sur or Point Reyes!

Having had our fill of growing crowds at Cabo da Roca, we backtracked a bit down the appropriately named Estrada do Cabo da Roca to follow an Internet lead. We'd read that the best beach in Portugal was just a little up the coast and decided it'd be worth a peeky-poo.

The hike down, however, was pretty... unofficial. I don't know who that is on the trail up ahead, but they were definitely lost. Our only real directions were "Of the possible ways down, choose the one on the left (the one on the right means mountaineering, but its also fun)." With an unborn baby in tow, we figured we'd avoid "mountaineering" if possible. Problem was, there were lots of potential left (and right) turns. (Check it out.) We followed a series of pink painted dots that we figured were too friendly to lead us astray....

But they did.

Fortunately, the cliff wasn't too bad and Sarah made it down the beach quickly and safely.

So much for a nice beach day. Given that everything else was so California-esque, it was fitting that coastal Portugal was socked in with a thick marine layer.

We ate our lunch of bread, cheese, and carrots and didn't complain.

But then... Just as we were leaving... Sun!

(We stuck around for a little longer.)

Ursa Beach and its pointy spires!

(There is at least one naked European in this picture.)

Having hardly had our fill of the Californian... I mean Portuguese coast, we about-faced and drove up into the mountains. Our original plan was to visit the country's only national park, up on the northern border with Spain, but some frustratingly vague Internet research seemed to indicate that the Serra da Estrela was equally cool. Fine by us. We wrote down another set of overly detailed Google maps directions and headed east.

Along the way, we found out that it's OK to smoke in a no-smoking area, provided it's only your hand that's in the area. (Spotted at a gas station no less!)

By the time our Google directions had led us through no less than a dozen unnamed roundabouts, we were hopelessly lost in Covilhã. Fortunately, we managed to find a tourism office and, after some substantial milling about in the lobby, attracted the attention of the attendant.

She gave us a map!

To celebrate our good fortune, we bought a beer and a coffee at a lonely little cafe by the Igreja da Misericórdia (pictured above) and a bit more cheese and bread at a little shop around the corner.

More roof tiles... Slightly less kept-up than in Sintra, but far more interesting to look at!

Our plan was to head into the Serra da Estrela, a pretty-much-but-not-quite-national park in the middle of the country. Officially, there's no camping allowed outside of campgrounds. But several websites had instructed us: "Fuck that."

We'd found a trip report for a hike to Poios Brancos, a pile of huge granite boulders up on a mountain, and figured nobody'd bother us if we set up a tent there. Plus, the trip report said, "The chance of coming across any other people during an ascent on Polos Brancos is very small, which in my opinion, is a great plus."

The plan seemed good. We even found a trail marker where the trail was supposed to start! In Portugal, a yellow bar over a red bar means, "caminho certo" ("right road"). I don't know what the yellow bar by itself means. Probably: "Don't believe the trail marker to the left. Everything from here on is a nasty vertical bushwhack."

Across the large glacial valley to the west, we could see some of the rock formations surrounding the Torre, the highest point in mainland Portugal. (Surprisingly, Mt. Pico in the Azores is over a thousand feet taller! Lousy islands... Thinkin' they're so great...)

Judging from all the charred wood and dead trees, it seemed a wildfire had ravaged the slope in the recent past. Or, perhaps, judging from all the lateral lines carved out of the shrubbery, a controlled burn.

In keeping with the nature of a true Sarah-and-Andre adventure, the sun had set and the trail (or, rather, lack thereof) turned out to be a lot harder than expected. Our destination was the pile of huge granite boulders up on top of the hill, but getting there turned out to be quite a task. We opted to bushwhack at an angle and eventually came across an old road. It (shown above) wasn't much, but it was a helluva lot easier.

We aimed for the flat looking spot between the two big piles.

Hey-o! Boulders!

Just in time, too! Startin' to get dark.

In the dwindling light, a spot was found and cleared of rocks and twigs.

In retrospect, maybe we shouldn't have pitched the tent so close to a bunch of bigger-than-the-tent boulders that obviously rolled right off of that pile.

Down at the bottom of the valley from where we were camping: Manteigas. It made for some nice night pictures!

As we ate our bread and cheese dinner, enjoying the still night air, a sound came over the peaks on the other side of the valley. Salsa. Loud salsa.

We didn't know what it was at first and feared an all-nite Portuguese dance party out in the wilderness, but it didn't last very long. A caravan wound its way down the mountain and out of earshot.

Some after-the-fact Internet sleuthing (and recollections of lots of bike racks on cars as we entered the park) revealed that the party was for Gustavo César Veloso, a Spanish cyclist who had, earlier in the day, won the eighth stage of the 75th running of the Volta a Portugal.

(The leg in question ended at the top of the aforementioned "highest point in mainland Portugal." Yeesh.)

We saw a big wildfire up in the hills about an hour before we entered the park. It wasn't at all close to where we were camping, but it did make for some nice colors at night.

Sarah emerges, bathed in golden dawn.

The valley. (About to be bathed in the same.)

Lingering smoke with lingering contrails.

As with Sintra, this part of the trip was planned very hastily, mostly out of laziness (and German distractions). But it turned out so well that we're having a hard time justifying ever planning things in advance.

Fresh out of the tent and still a little bleary, Sarah readies her hair for a dramatic boulder jaunting session.

And then she was off! Despite the near total lack of trail, the weight of an unborn child, and the countless sun-bleached rib cages of perished livestock (just kidding, they're sticks), Sarah charged right to the top.

On the hike up, we kept on catching glimpses of this eerie sentinel perched high on a pile of granite. In the dusk, as here at dawn, the thing really looked like a person.

Creeped us out.

Getting a little closer... Less like a person, more like a lighthouse.

As the day warmed up, layers were peeled.

The one thing Andre really wanted to see up in the Portuguese mountains was some serious boulders. Accomplished.

Ready for a ton (get it?!) of boulder pictures?

Looking east toward Spain.

We had pitched our tent in a long, narrow clearing that looked almost like an old road. As we climbed up higher, we noticed that most of the mountainside vegetation had been similarly scored. From the top, it almost looked agricultural but we suspected that part of the scrub had been cleared for fire control.


Sarah and the sentinel...

...and the valley below.

The bushwhack up was a pain. From the top of the mountain, we strategized as to how to make the best use of the roads below and minimize our time spent dancing through the bushes.

Unfortunately, the angle of the slope was such that we couldn't tell how far down any of these old roads were!

A contemplative Sarah, sans sentinel.

After us, these were the only flowers left that weren't stuck to Sarah's stockings or Andre's socks.

More precariously arranged boulders.

Chub! Dontcha just want to pinch it?!

Group portrait with shadows, twigs, and Portuguese shrubbery.

After the top, our campsite (just past that pile in the middle) seemed a little less impressive.

Winding her way down a dry creek bed, Sarah collects a few more specimens on her stockings. (Good thing we weren't going right back through US customs!)

When we made the reservation, we went cheap. Ford Focus cheap. The desk agent at the airport, however, had loftier plans for us and upgraded our rental to a brand new BMW. That would've been fine, except I knew we were planning on hitting a few bumpy dirt roads. The agent informed us to be "very very careful" and sent us on our way.

I inched down the dirt roads, and the car was fine. (I have to admit it was pretty sweet to have a bimmer to swerve around on windy mountain roads.) In the end, the only damage the poor car sustained was a wet floor mat resulting from an inverted carton of pineapple juice.

We'd planned to spend some time in Manteigas on our way out, but it soon became clear that slow going on impossibly windy roads was going to make us close to missing our flight.

As a concession, we made one quick stop to wash our dusty feet in a preposterously clear mountain stream.

A couple of dime-sized frogs looked on.

With minutes to spare after a series of wrong turns and how-the-fuck-do-we-get-back-on-that-roads, we washed the pineapple out of the mat, screamed into Porto, left our car with an unsuspecting Enterprise branch office, and breezed through security.

One overpriced turkey sandwich after that, and we were on our flight to Madrid.

I always feel like I'm about to get in trouble when I take pictures out the plane window, but I never do.

Tilt-shift effect courtesy of the hot air coming out of the engine.

Spain was noticeably drier than Portugal.

Had we been flying a little higher, we probably would have been able to see the big newspaper-graphics-style image displayed in this field.

Coming in for a landing!!

Leg 3: España

I hadn't seen Maria in over a decade. Not since she'd lived with us as an exchange student with AFS back in the early 2000s. Jeremy'd been out to see her earlier in the summer for her wedding, but we'd been unable to make it.

We found her in the airport, waiting with open arms!

Having landed in Madrid, we were immediately whisked away, back to the countryside. The plan was to spend a night at her husband's Rodrigo's parents' house in Albalate de las Nogueras, spend a day poking around the Spanish mountains and visiting Maria's dental practice in Priego before driving back to the big city.

That night we stopped by the going away party for a cousin who was leaving to spend an AFS year in Minnesota. Andre's Spanish is pretty abysmal, but there was plenty of beer, song, and mirth.

The next morning we woke up to this view.

The colors of Albalate de las Nogueras (viewed through the textured glass of the upstairs bathroom).

We didn't know how jam-packed this day was going to be!

First stop: a dried up waterfall where Rodrigo used to swim.

It was hot. And had we not had an air-conditioned car nearby, this vulture's afternoon would've been a lot less hungry.

Second stop, an old monastery up on a mountain. And, of course, a cross on a pole.

From here it was a quick drive to Priego, where we were taken down into a wine cave, the traditional location for brewing regional wines.

Siestas back at the parents house, followed by a spectacular paella for lunch.

At the party the night before, an English-speaking aunt had discovered that Sarah and Andre considered themselves swimming-hole aficionados. It was decided then and there that the following day would simply have to include a visit to the family's favorite secret spot.

Maria and Rodrigo, though less enthusiastic about the activity, graciously complied and drove us out to the hole.

It was incredible.

This picture barely does it justice. A crystal clear, emerald green pool, wedged between a pair of narrow cliffs. Perfect temperature and everything.

But oh, there was so much more to do!

Our next stop was the Ciudad Encantada, a geological anomaly near Cuenca where weather and river carved out a series of huge and improbable karst formations.

Most of them had cute names.

Sarah could barely handle it!

Looking up out of a narrow slot canyon between two large walls.

Already nearing the end of daylight, we were barely allowed entry into the much lauded Enchanted City. But smooth-talking Maria and her charming husband managed to finagle our way in.

Sarah, still awestruck, courses through a karst tunnel.

Our last stop (before the two-hour drive back to Madrid, that is): Cuenca.

Holy shit.

Of all our stops, this was perhaps the most important. The old part of the city holds a special place in Rodrigo's heart and he was very excited to show it to us.

A familiar view, though this time more man-made.


No matter which way you turn, a stroll through old Cuenca is incredible. We ventured halfway out on this bouncy bridge, before deciding dinnertime was fast approaching.

Maria, seeing Andre's camera braced for a night shot, scoots out of the way of the famous Casas Colgadas of Cuenca. An affectionate couple nearby expresses no such concern.

Mopeds! In Europe!

We sat for a minute while Rodrigo scoped out the restaurant sitch. A photo subject presented itself and a photo was taken.

After an exhaustingly wonderful Sunday in the Spanish countryside, Monday was spent putzing around Madrid.

The only problem with such putzing is that nothing is open on Mondays! Particularly in the early afternoon, and particularly when it's ridiculously hot out. (This awesome city park should've been packed. It was, as you can see, not.)

Our contingency plan worked out nicely nonetheless: meander from cafe to cafe, stopping for cervezas and other libations as we made our way across the city.

Madrid is one of those upsetting European cities where you can't not see some amazing architecture.

At cafe (for Andre cerveza) numero quatro, our party paused to wait for Rodrigo, who had left us for a couple hours to tutor. Perhaps inspired by the sultry Spanish heat, Maria constructed an intricate paper collage on the table.

It was Maria that noticed the most well-worn part of this bronze statue.

(And I don't know what's going on with that blue thing...)

After a stroll through Plaza Mayor (where we saw this magnificent beast ), it was off to one more cafe before dinner!

A debate then ensued regarding where to dine. The preferred choice, a highly regarded Mexican establishment, was found to be closed. We settled for a not-so-good Mexican alternative that turned out to be delicious and a lot of fun. (Not to mention it had a signed photo of Antonio Bandaras outside the bathroom, saying "gracias por la comida" or something like that.)

Another full and satisfying day in Spain!

Back at Maria and Rodrigo's new apartment, games with the cat (who would actually fetch wadded-up balls of tape!!) were a prelude to a good night's sleep, itself a prelude to a long flight home, back to the US of A.

(Rollover the picture to see the cat take off!)

With a pocketful of Euros, we browsed the airport newsstands in search of desirable sundries. Andre almost bought this poorly-placed issue of Scooter Life magazine, but then it was decided that the money would be better spent on a Spanish-language National Geographic.

As they flew back to Potsdam (the New York one), Andre and Sarah reflected on their adventures. A finer trip, they agreed, could not have been imagined.