Traveling over Thanksgiving week is somewhat of a tradition for Dave and me. Dave was a public school teacher and was able to take four days in a row off, and I was a government employee. Although the day after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday) was a work-day for me, it was never busy, and an easy day to take off. Other Thanksgivings have included trips to Copenhagen, Santiago, Reykjavik, Ho Chi Minh City and Rio de Janeiro, to name a few.
This year, even though both Dave and I have both recently retired from our day jobs, we still decided to travel over Thanksgiving. This year we were lucky enough to receive a number of vouchers from American Airlines for flights we’d been voluntarily bumped from, so we paid the $700 per person for the flights without hesitation (leaving plenty towards an Asia trip that we subsequently booked as well).
Our Madrid flights were both non-stop (JFK-MAD and vice versa), in economy, on American Airlines going, and Iberia Airline returning. Our flight was Wednesday night, the night before Thanksgiving, and we were treated to a Thanksgiving meal in the JFK AA Flagship Lounge. It was actually quite good.
Based on my status, we had Main Cabin Extra seats in economy class on the outgoing AA flight, which was quite crowded.
The airline permitted us to move to premium economy seats. I don’t find PE seats to be much better than economy seats, but it was much less crowded, so we were happy for that. The meals were okay.
I like Madrid Airport!
We spent six nights in Madrid, four at the Thompson Madrid and two at the Intercontinental Madrid, using a combination of free night certificates and point award redemptions. (Reviews to be published shortly)
Our arrival coincided with the holiday celebration of lights in Madrid, which was beautiful but also resulted in the center of Madrid being extremely crowded. It was so crowded, especially over the weekend, that it felt dangerous. One night, there were so many street closures, that it took us hours (literally) to walk to our hotel when it should have taken minutes.
We saw one holiday market at the main square of Madrid, Plaza Mayor, but we found it a little disappointing compared to other European markets that we’ve been to.
There were cool lady figurines all over the city! I learned that these are all takes on the masterpiece Las Meninas (The Ladies in Waiting) painting by Diego Velázquez at the Prado Museum. You can read more about this public art installation here.
We walked a lot and ate plenty of great meals – of course, including paella and tapas.
One day we went to Toledo, which we enjoyed a lot and highly recommend. We have some tips in the event you decide to venture there on your own by train without a tour (to be published shortly).
The return flight was on Iberia. At the airport, we went to the Iberia lounge, which we enjoyed (review to be published shortly). We were told that our flight was fully booked and that no upgrades, not even to preferred seating, were possible.
Then, when we were boarding the plane, the agent paused. She took my boarding pass and went to the computer. I worried that there might be a problem or the dreaded SSSS marking. But, lo and behold, I’d been upgraded to business class. Poor Dave wasn’t upgraded, so he went right and I went left.
Although I was happy to be upgraded, I made a bit of a mistake with my meal choices. For the appetizer, I chose the sardine dish, and for the main course, I chose the shrimp dish. I guess I shouldn’t have chosen these exotic dishes as I didn’t like either one. Oh well. the wine and the chocolate ice cream were good.
Oh look, the cute salt and pepper shakers are in the shape of Las Meninas!
A good time was had by all. Stay tuned – we have plenty more trips lined up. Wishing you a safe, healthy and happy new year!