Subject: Re: Spain
Hi Sandy,

A couple of suggestions for Madrid:

About an hour's drive away is El Escorial, a fantastically large monastery that dominates the tiny village in which it is found.

I was there in March last year for a 3-day training course, and we had a chance to look round quite a bit. To whet your appetite here are some websites:

http://www.patrimonionacional.es/escorial/escorial.htm http://www.tourspain.es/turespai/arte/patmad1.htm http://www.sitesatlas.com/Places/spaElEscorial.htm

Most of us on the course then chose to stay the weekend in Madrid itself and two of us got the train out to Toledo, which is also worth visiting. It is quite touristy, with every other shop selling swords - yes, swords - which are traditionally made in these parts. However, there are plenty of things to see and do in Toledo, El Greco's house being one of the most popular. We happily spent the best part of a day there before haring back to Madrid to catch an evening flight out.

Personally, I much prefer Barcelona as a city. Loads going on, more accessible than Madrid culturally, and not expensive (as I had expected). Montserrat is certainly worth visiting, and you should take the cable car up there rather than drive.

I am sure you will have a blast, especially if you can speak some Spanish. In Barcelona it is not a big problem, although even a little helps smooth the way, but in Madrid we found it invaluable having just the basics.

Jonathan

Jonathan Turton http://www.travelinsights.org/