Dear friends and family,

Thanks so much for everyone who wrote Madrid recommendations. We are not as up to date as we would like, so are often writing about places we have just left. It was fun to read and dream about what we might have done, and some things we did do.

One last tapas meal before leaving Madrid. Don just commented that it looks like a lot of food for 2 people. It was, but we managed.

L to R: peppers with garlic and olive oil; eggplant, lighted breaded and fried (yummy), Merluz (or hake) cooked Romana style (battered and fried), grilled asparagus with aioli. At Vina P.

Picked up a rental car at the Madrid airport and headed out. A huge ring road around the city and then the usual ugly industrial sprawl after the blocks of apartments which seem to surround most European cities.

We gained ground and it started to snow. Then a mist came down and the whole world was in gray tones.

The beginning of the oak trees, which later cover the plains of the Extremadura. Oaks, acorns, jamon.

It was beautiful, but eerie. Maybe this wasn't such a great idea. Were we going to get stuck in the snow like all those poor stranded people at the airports?

Arrived in Avila; once headquarters for the Inquisition.

Found a cheerful place, Bar Palomar in Avila. A good meal does wonders towards helping you see the sunny side of life. Don is eating melt-in-your-mouth cheek of cow and some frites. His first course was white beans.

I had chicken and a melange of some different chiles; at least one was pasilla. My appetizer was small squid in salsa verde.

Back on the road. 2 burros. We have seen sheep, cows, horses, burros, but not one pig. Only their hams. We think maybe they are too valuable to be allowed to graze on their own.

A spectacular El Greco sunset, as we descend into the Jerte Valley.

Famous for its cherry orchards.

It's still snowing.


Era and Don