My Europe vacation

My Europe Vacation:

I kind of mixed some work and vacation on this trip. I had to attend an IT conference on open source software in Madrid, Spain. So we initially flew down to Madrid and attended the three day conference. The conference itself was insightful. I should do one post just dedicated to the conference proceedings and the various speakers, the interesting IT systems and solutions that grabbed my attention. I will post it soon. Spain is beautiful, it has that historical flair, which you don’t quite see in living in US. To experience this you have to go outside of US, where there has been civilization since a long time and Europe is a perfect fit for those wanting to get this experience.

We covered some standard sight-seeing places in Madrid and then we went to Pampalona to see the Bull Run. Luckily our timing was good, we were able to go in July right during the San Fermin festival, where people run to avoid the bulls as described in Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises”. It is something worth seeing, just the rush you feel, even if you are not participating just seeing the crowd and the bulls running, something to experience once.
bull run
Our next stop was Portugal, we took the train. It was comfortable, although we had a rental car and car insurance; we decided to just return the car at the end of the IT conference and started enjoying the trip on the trains wherever possible.
We covered Gibraltor, to experience what Darwin may have experienced. And then we visited the Algrave, a lot of people recommended us to go there. More than Lisbon city, we loved the beaches in Algrave, it was truly magnificent with clear water with even an option of seclude beaches. From Portugal we went back to Spain.
Well of course you need to have a very good camera for pictures during the trip. There are so many awesome sights you can take pictures with your camera. After all you are not going to visit Spain and Portugal every day.
After we got back to Spain, we went to Barcelona, as we were flying out of there. Barcelona has a lot of interesting architectural monuments. This is a worth seeing place if you are an architecture student. So many unique designs, some eastern influences can be seen; perhaps from the trade they had with India and China. Some of the important sites in Barcelona that are worth watching include, Park Guell, Casa Mila, Sagarda Familia, Casa Batlo and of course Barcelona’s famous beaches are worth visiting as well.
On the whole it was a hectic busy trip, but was well worth it. Not a lot of people can mix the day time IT consultant job with an exotic vacation as spending time in Europe. However the open source software conference provided this neat option, which otherwise would not have been possible. We flew out of Barcelona back home, home sweet home.

Conference Trip Experiences

My experiences in Madrid, Spain

I had an opportunity to go to Spain to attend a conference on open source software and IT solutions. I had never been to Spain before this was the first time going to Europe. The conference was in Madrid, after the conference we hit the road to visit the main attractions Madrid had to offer.

At the IT conference most of the locals recommended two spots to go for sure, Royal Palace of Madrid (Palacio Real) and Plaza Mayor. It seemed like everyone we talked to mentioned about these two places. Well heeding the advice from locals, we first went to Palacio Real, we had a rental car so we drove from the conference location to the hotel first which was not too far from the Royal Palace of Madrid. Of course we had all the needed insurance coverage, the last thing you want is a head ache in a foreign country if you happened to get into an accident. I really loved the Royal Place, it is supposedly the largest palace in Western Europe, I can see why.
royal-palace
One can easily spend good 3-4 hrs seeing it, depending how much interest you have in architecture and history. The place itself is huge, about 3000 rooms, but we were told we could only see about 50. We visited the Reception Room, Armory, Library and Pharmacy and few others.

You see the opulence of Spanish rulers and luxurious life they must have led. Hey, after all they sponsored Columbus, trip to US. The palace has exquisite furniture, paintings, ceramics, frescos, and art work. Cost per ticket was not a lot either, I think about 10 euro’s. But it was worth the price though. Your best bet is to take Metro. One more thing you must check out is the garden.

After the Royal Palace, our next stop was Plaza Mayor. This is the main square in the Madrid city. You can also walk down to La Puerta del Sol, it’s pretty close by to this place. You can just sit out and try some tapas, coffee and just see people go by.  The thing that I didn’t like though was the price, it was a bit on the high side, I didn’t think it was worth the price. But as a tourist you have to try it though. There are some souvenir shops around as well.

La Puerta del Sol, was our next destination, which is the center of Madrid. It has a lot of people, shops, fountains, restaurants. This has the feel of New York Time square, just humming and bustling with activity. Seems like a lot of people in the night time. Here you can see the statue of “Big Bear standing next to a tree”.

Weather wise it was a pleasant night, not too warm, very comfortable. We back to our hotel pretty tired but had a good pleasant day with some work accomplished at the software conference and some sight-seeing on top of it. I’ll do one more posting on my other travels within Spain.