Oct 1st 2005
Departed Tampa International Airport at 10:00am. Arrived at Miami International Airport an hour later at 11:00am. Had a 7 hour layover in Miami. Met with Dave and Wendy Levy at 4:30pm. Found out that we were the only participants in the group! An up-close and personal tour to Spain with famed Comet Hunter Dave Levy. Departed for Madrid at Gate 44 American Airlines at 6:15pm. However the plane flight was delayed for an hour. Airborne at 7:30pm. Flight time was 8h 30m to Madrid.
Oct 2nd, 2005
Arrived in Madrid at 10:00am local time. The Levy's baggage was lost in transit. Arrived at the Hotel Urban a five star ultra-modern hotel in downtown Madrid. Klipsi was at the hotel lobby at noon to greet us. See www.klipsi.com for more info on this incredible man. Klipsi had his own crew of eclipse chasers. Approx 15 individuals from France, Germany and the States. We then proceeded by foot to locate an observing site. Walking through the city of Madrid was a wonderful experience. The architecture of the buildings were incredible. Ate lunch at a square called Calle Mayor. The food was excellent at this outdoor cafe. We then continued our quest for an observing site. We found one however there were many high buildings in the southeast so this was a scratch. Jet lag was setting in so we attempted to flag a taxi. No taxi ever stopped thus we slowly headed back by foot to the hotel. With map in hand we eventually made it back to the hotel. We decided to use Klipsi's alternate site. The taxi would take us there tomorrow. We slept at 8pm local time. Had a restful sleep this evening.
Oct 3 2005: ECLIPSE DAY!
Woke up at 6:30am. The weather conditions were perfect clear and cool not a cloud in the sky! Went downstairs for breakfast. Dave Levy informed me that he found a new observing site. The top floor of the hotel! This was suggested by the hotel staff. I therefore took the elevator to the top floor and wow what a wonderful observing site. Dave took a taxi to inform Klipsi that we will be observing from the roof of the hotel. Klipsi was no where to be found at this alternate site. Dave made it back 10 minutes before first contact. First contact occurred at 9:40:42am local time (7h 40m 42s UT). The sight of first notch is always a good sign that you are at the right location. The notch started due north on the sun and proceeded downwards. The Annular Ring started to form at 10:56:50am (8h 56m 50s UT) and the ring closed at 10:59:50 am (8h 59m 50s UT) By this time we had the entire guest list from the hotel up on the roof. It was getting very crowded. Many of the hotel guests were British and French. The eclipse ended at 12:23:34 pm local time or (10h 23m 34s UT). Dave Levy then interviewed my wife and I for the Lets Talk Stars Internet Radio Show. Overall this was an incredible experience. We then walked back to the Calle Mayor for a wonderful lunch. Did some souvenir shopping on the way back. Headed back to the hotel at 6:00pm. The Levy's baggage was now at the hotel. Found out I had free Internet access. Read my AOL email for kicks. Asleep at 9:00pm. I did not have a restful sleep this evening.
OCT 4, 2005
Woke up at 7:30pm. A short walk to our bus stop site for a half day tour of Madrid. First stop was the Palace of Charles III. The palace was magnificent. This palace was used only to entertain guests not as living quarters. Each room was large and magnificent. Second stop was the Museum del Prado. This was a very large art museum with original paintings from 16 th & 17th century European artists. Most of the paintings were of a religious nature. You could take photos of the paintings with no flash. I took several photos of my favorite paintings with my Nikon D70 digital camera. The tour completed at 1:00pm. We stopped at Mc Donald’s for lunch. Surprisingly the food was delicious. Returned to the hotel. Dave Levy downloaded my best digital photographs into his computer. He then burned a CD of his best eclipse photos. We then rested up for a Flamingo dinner show at 8:30pm. I slept for a couple of hours and then prepared for our exciting night out. We boarded the bus and had a wonderful evening tour of the city. We arrived at the show -The club was named Florida Park, ironic since I now live in Florida. The show was fantastic. There was traditional Spanish music and dancing. The dancing was incredible. You were not allowed to videotape however I was able to obtain some video footage of the dancers. The show concluded at 11:30pm. Arrived back at the Hotel Urban at 1:00am. Fell asleep at 1:30am.
Oct 5, 2005
Woke up at 5:30am. Checked out of the hotel and took a taxi to the airport at 6:30am. Arrived at the airport at 7:00am. After a two hour layover, the airplane took off for Barcelona. I was fortunate to have a window seat. I therefore videotaped the terrain of Spain during the hour long flight. Arrived at Barcelona at 9:00am. The weather was completely overcast. A taxi cab drove us to the Hotel Fira Palace, a four star hotel. This hotel was excellent however it was far from the center of town. Ate at the Canota Restaurant- had lamb chops. Absolutely delicious. Walked the Streets of Barcelona. Retired to the hotel for the night. Slept well this evening.
Oct 6, 2005
Arrived at Pullmantur Travel for a bus tour of the City of Barcelona. Our first stop was a famous Cathedral. The name escapes me at the moment. The Cathedral was being restored due to the effects of city pollution on the stone of the church. The inside was incredible. The architecture and stone religious figurines were of impeccable design. Our next stop was the Olympic Stadium where the 1992 Olympics were held. We spent the most time at a place called the Spanish Village. This is the “Universal Studio’s” of Spain. This Spanish Village is a reproduction of all the various towns of Spain in one open area. It was built in 1929 for an International Exhibition. Now the Spaniards use it as a disco, for weddings, conferences and other social engagements. Most of the buildings have no inside to them. Just the outside to show the architecture of the time. We had a nice lunch at the Spanish Village. We then visited a UNESCO site called the Park Guell. This is a park that was designed by the famous architect Antonio Gaudi. Check out UNESCO for a complete description of this incredible place. Then we proceeded to another church called the Sangrata Familia. This church is currently being built and was an original design of Gaudi himself. The church mimics the old time cathedrals with some very modern twists. The church is set to be completed in 2010. We then proceeded to the Picasso Museum. I was unable to photograph or video anything in this museum. I was impressed with the shear volume of paintings Picasso did in his lifetime. This was our last stop and now back to the hotel. Denise was not very hungary, so I went to Dinner with the Levy’s at our now favorite Restaurant. During the Dinner Dave Levy asked if he could interview me for the Lets Talk Stars internet radio show. I was honored. After dinner, Dave interviewed me regarding my experiences in Astronomy. I stated how it all began with Halley’s Comet, Skyscrapers Inc, etc. Listen to the broadcast at www.LetsTalkStars.com for the complete presentation. After the interview, went back to my room for some much needed sleep. Another day awaits tomorrow…
Oct 7, 2005
Arrived at Pullmantur Travel for a day tour of the Mountains of Montserrat. Montserrat means serrated mountain since the mountain resembles a serrated knife blade. At the base of the mountain was a magnificent church. The area is also a major religious center. We hiked the mountain on a rather easy to walk trail. The view of these mountains was spectacular-breathtaking. We then returned to the base of the mountain to hear a boy’s choir at the church. The church was incredibly crowded. We were not allowed to videotape however I was able to obtain some precious footage through the crowds. Returned back to the bus by 1:30pm. Returned to Barcelona. Heard that the Hard Rock Cafe was only 4 blocks from Pullmantur, thus we decided to find the Hard Rock. I love collecting Polo (Gulf) shirts from various cities from around the world. After getting lost and asking directions from some locals, we eventually found The Hard Rock Café. Purchased the much needed Polo shirts then ate at a nearby Mc Donald’s. We next took a cab back to our hotel the Fira Palace. Reviewed my videos and packed for our departure to the States tomorrow.
Oct 8, 2005
Slept at midnight and woke up at 4:00am for a 4:45am pickup to the airport. Plane leaves Barcelona to Madrid at 7:00am. Slept the entire one hour trip. Customs check then to our gate. Departed Madrid at 11:00 am local time. A seven hour trans continental flight across the Atlantic Ocean lay ahead. Arrived at Miami, Florida at 3:50pm local time. Had to recheck our baggage since the flight number was wrong. Departed for Tampa at 6:00pm. Arrived in Tampa at 7:05pm. Finally arrived home at 9:30pm. This concludes our Annular Eclipse Excursion to Spain.