By Neil Melançon, Louisiana Farm Bureau Information & Public Relations Assistant Director
Neil here. I'm blogging on Tuesday morning at breakfast, where it's still dark at almost 8 am. The Spanish don't observe Daylight Saving Time and it's as far north as New York, so it's darker longer, throwing off my already wacky sense of time.
The rest of the Ag Leadership class is feeling it too. Sunday to Monday was a 36-hour day for most with little sleep. That's the price of traveling! Everyone does seem in good spirits and our arrival in Madrid revealed a beautiful city full of old architecture, art and history.
The group took a walking tour of the city Monday afternoon and saw a cathedral that was completed in 1993 after more than 100 years of construction. A smaller group went later to the Museo del Prado. This museum was a work of art in itself, with high ceilings and gargoyles. Inside were the works of European masters such as Rembrandt, Goya, Velazquez, Titian, Botticelli and Bosch. While pictures weren't allowed, we managed to sneak a few! Suffice it to say, when the museum closed at 8, most opted for a quick meal and bed.
We're getting ready to begin the ag tours today, winding up in Toledo later. Yesterday was a wonderful introduction to Spain, though, even sleep deprived!
Ag Leadership Director Bobby Soileau shared his thoughts with us for the blog as well:
"Day one is often the most difficult for our trips. You go from the excitement of traveling to another country followed by the reality of sitting on an airplane, and in an airport, for much of the day. Fortunately for Class XV it was uneventful.
While all of us could use some more sleep, we were able to push through the day. We ended our afternoon with a very nice city tour of Madrid. It is a city of many statues, gardens, tree lined streets and beautiful architecture.
We stopped to walk around the Palacio Real De Madrid, which is the official residence of the Spanish Royal family. We also visited the Cathedral de Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena, Plaza Mayor and a typical Spanish market where the espresso was terrific.
Tuesday, we will visit with the International Olive Council, and members of the U.S. and British embassy’s to discuss trade issues. We will also tour a John Deere facility in Madrid and spend the night in Toledo.
Finally, I would like to mention my dear departed friend, Mike Danna. As many of you know, he loved going on our trips and did an amazing job of telling everyone’s story. While Mike is not with us physically, his spirit remains. Jim Monroe and Neil Melancon and all of Class XV will continue that tradition. You will see a number of class members writing their perspectives of the trip. I’m looking forward to hearing about their experiences."