Upon arrival back in Sofia, we made our way back to Hostel Mostel, where we again traded portraits for the guests in exchange for two night's stay. We also had the chance to explore Sofia a bit before catching our flight out of Bulgaria, and managed to find some interesting antique shops and cafes while walking the golden streets of the old downtown area. The unique yellow pavers were supposedly a wedding gift to Tsar Ferdinand from the Austro-Hungarian royal family, in the early 20th century.
Our red-eye flight from Sofia to Madrid was exhausting, but made easier by our excitement at meeting Roy's aunt, Bethany, and Catherine's mom, Judy, in the Spanish capital. Bethany had been living in Spain for the last twenty years, while Judy had made the decision to come over and visit us for a week to celebrate the holidays. Our first night in Madrid, the four of us wandered the Barrio de Las Letras - guided by Bethany - and had a delicious, authentic meal at a popular local's place. The following two days were spent wandering the comfortable, cafe-filled neighborhoods adjacent to our hotel, and of course, visiting the Prado and Reina Sofia, where we saw such impressive works as Goya's Black Paintings and Picasso's Guernica. We also unexpectedly chanced upon an incredible (and free) retrospective of Eugene Delacroix's work at the Caixa Forum, an interestingly restored building located directly adjacent to a massive living wall - it turned out to be our favorite exhibition in Madrid.