Sunday, June 25, 2017
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Day 2: Choir 2017 Spain/Portugal Tour

After an exhausting Day 1 in Madrid, we had a much simpler Day 2. We have been fortunate to have a rain-free forecast while in Madrid, the capital city in the center of Spain. The temperatures in Madrid have been at least ten degrees warmer than is typical for this time of year. Madrid is surprisingly near New York City in latitude. We also found it interesting that the peak temperatures of the day were not near early afternoon, but near 5 or 6 PM in the evening. With he warmer than normal temperatures, most did not sleep well due to our entire hotel being at a fixed 25 degrees C. (77 degrees F.)

Madrid has a metropolitan population of approximately six million people out of a country population of forty-six million. Given that Morgan’s mascot is the bear, we were intrigued with the official symbol of Madrid – a bear climbing a strawberry tree called El Oso y El Madrono found in the square El Puerta del Sol.  The bear represented the monarchy and the tree represented the people.

We also were fascinated with the country’s obsession with pork! Our guide mentioned that historically, when the country was divided between Christian and Muslim religions, pork was a way of separating those who were Muslim, who did not eat pork, from Christians, who did.  Spaniards would serve guests pork discovering their religious affiliation, possibly for religious persecution. Even today, as a result of this practice, Spaniards will still offer pork to their guests for most occasions.

We left our hotel to visit Segovia, an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Madrid.  This Spanish city is best known for its amazing aqueduct system erected around the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D.  This aqueduct is acknowledged as the most important Roman civil engineering project in Spain. We then visited the Alcazar of Segovia, which was a favored royal palace of the monarchs of Spain. We also saw the beautiful Segovia cathedral, which is the last Gothic cathedral built in Spain.  After a group lunch and time on our own to explore the city, we returned to our Madrid hotel for an evening on our own to further recover from our long travel on Day 1.

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