Bright and early Monday morning we get picked up by Loli and Paulina and take a short road trip out to San Lorenzo. It only took us about 1-1.5 hrs to get out there and from the freeway in the distance you can see the cross, said to be one of the tallest in the world. Driving through the green woods to get up to the Basílica de la Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos
is most impressive. Jutting up from the top of this mountain, exquisitely carved in granite are Saint's Luke, John, Mark and Matthew at the base of the cross. Made me wish I had a telephoto lense (note to self, really gotta invest in a good SLR camera). Sadly the funicular up to the base of the cross was closed that day and unfortunately you can't take any pictures inside of the monument :-( talk about bad luck. Oh well.
The Basilica built into the mountain, you pass through security then walk inside this cool cavern. Giant carved statues of soldiers line the walkway down to the main dome. Buried at the site is Francisco Franco along with thousands of soldiers. I highly recommend checking it out. After spending about an hour or 2 up there we head down to San Lorenzo for some lunch. San Lorenzo is a picturesque town at its center. Along one of its tree lined streets we sit outside a restaurant and prepare to feast. Lol, I swear every meal feels like a feast in Spain no matter its size. I guess part of that come with the feeling of being on vacation and indulging. For some reason I also seemed to like coke more while in Spain. Don't ask me what that is. I think I had about 3 of those little bottles during lunch, which was not cheap by the way.
But totally worth it. I think I had a baked fish and some sides of artichokes and calamari. Random yes, good always!
After a leisurely meal we head over to El Escorial
which is the mausoleum of the Spanish monarchs. The palace and monastary can be seen for miles. Felipe the II is said to have sat in his "chair", a stone chair 2 miles south of El Escorial, to pick out the site of the future palace. After sitting in the chair myself I can see why he picked that location. We spent the afternoon touring the palace, then going outside to get ice cream and explore the grounds. Thanks Loli & Paulina for a great excursion!