Here are a couple of pictures:
We went to La Granja de San Ildefonso near Segovia, Spain. This palace was modeled after Versailles near Paris, France. Although the tour through the palaces was ok, what we loved was walking through their impressive gardens. These gardens would have been more impressive during a different time of year, but we still enjoyed them. Thomas spent about 20 minutes taking pictures of various pheasants that were wandering through.
We also saw a lot of these large, white birds. You can see this guy on his nest. At one point, our bus passed a tree that had at least 15 of these birds on separate nests. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a good picture. The tree pictured here was located by the La Granja bus stop, and as we just missed the bus (and therefore had an hour to wait until the next one), we were able to observe these birds.
In the town of Segovia, there is a ruin of a Roman aqueduct. This aqueduct actually carried water to the city until a couple of centuries ago. This was quite exciting for me as I have been doing a lot of reading on Ancient Rome lately, and seeing this brought some of what I had read home to me.
We also went to Toledo, which is a wonderfully preserved walled city near Madrid.
We had a wonderful time on our trip, and can't believe how quickly that week went by! Madrid is a treasure trove for art lovers -- the Prado is filled with pictures by Titian, Rubens, Goya, and many others. During our visit, we also saw works by Van Gogh, Caravaggio, Picasso, Rembrandt, Rafael, etc. It was almost overwhelming! There were a couple of paintings that had birds in them. I remember one with an african grey (congo, not timneh!) and one with a scarlet macaw.
The weather was not fantastic the entire week (lots of rain and overcast skies), but there were a few beautiful days. In any case, it was better than the sub-freezing temperature we would have faced had we stayed home! The food was delicious, and everyone was quite friendly.
And, although we missed the parrots, knowing they were in good hands made it easy for us to enjoy ourselves and not spend the whole time worried about them! Besides, Max's reaction when she sees us again is almost enough to make us want to leave again! She has been quite clingy, but absolutely wonderful since our return.