Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Walking, trains, buses, trams .... it must be Lisbon today

And did I mention tiles. 

Portugal - a city spread over hills with furniculars, trams and elevators to help cross town.  New and old and very old.  Much destroyed in 1754 earthquake and tsunami in the central area - rebuilt with much glamor. 

Many homes covered with painted ceramic tile - azulejos inside and out.

Has had many glory days - today still hurting from global recession. 

We experienced summer heat, garbage strike, and being offered a multitude of drugs on the street - but as the weather cooled off - the Lisbon charm took over as we wandered from neighborhood to neighberhood.

Tonight we head to hear Fado - bluesy type music specific to Portugal and central to Lisbon.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Finding El Ricio Pilgrimage Part 2

So it wasn't until we reached Sevilla - and took the Rick Steves recommended walking tour that we learned what we had seen.

Every year there is a pilgrimage to El Ricio in the Andulician part of Spain for religious purposes.  And we now had the opportunity to see the Sevilla group return - 10 days later.

So here they are with many more bulls than the Granada group.

From Granada to Sevilla - Finding the El Rocio Pilgrimage

Wandering thru the small cobblestoned streets of Granada, we spotted women dressed up in flamenco dresses with flowers in their hair.  In the local bars, strolling thru the streets -  alone, in groups, with children also all dressed up - and all together.

So what was all the fancy dresses about?

A bit further, we find a church yard full of flamenco dresses, children dressed up, and men in their fancy flamenco outfits with broad brimmed hats.

We hung around for a while, taking pictures, gawking, walking into the church.  In the yard there was a fancy silver decoration on a cart, and two bulls nearby.  

What had we wandered into?  our limited Spanish was not getting us any info.

We walked on to Plaza Nuevo to discover the gathering of more fancily dressed women, men and children.  Some on horseback, some on foot, some carts.  Horses and riders kept coming.  

Eventually a parade of the horses, fancy walkers, the bull pulled cart and caravans pulled by tractors marched by us.

It wasn't for another 10 days and two cities later that we learned what was happening.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ronda, The City On A Hill

Driving north from Marbella its a climb uphill and then down into an interior farming valley, once, twice, maybe three times. Broad ranging hillsides, some forested,  some bare, lead the way forward. Off in search of the city on a hill, Ronda.  

Further on sights of a village, perhaps a city, appears. Hard to tell as we're approaching from a lower altitude. No major highway arteries ahead, no highways to speak of, not much but a turnoff onto a dirt road, GPS at the helm. Not seeming to be the approach to a major tourist destination we sally forth, dirt road continuing ahead. Turn right in 300m, then prepare to turn sharp left. Go straight for 300m. No wait, I can't drive straight for 300m, the road narrows and I doubt this car will fit between the walls of the buildings on either side.

Well, I guess we fit. No scraping sounds heard from either side of the car. But what are we doing here. I don't see any other cars, besides the combi van now encroaching behind me. And there's certainly no parking in sight.

'Limited road access in Old City. No parking without Resident Permit'. I guess we shouldn't cross that bridge. Time to back up.

A ways down the road there appears to be a parking spot in a small intersection of four roads. Let's leave the car here and walk......

Marbella - Spanish Meditarranean Town

A little beach rest for the weary travellors.  Yes at time's we need to rest our legs and favor our feet.   And a great jumping off point for day drives to Ronda, a town literally on a mountain top, and Gibraltar, a foray into the UK.

Marbella is a pretty beach resort town full of holiday vacationers.  Lots of condos, a nice beach road - Paseo Maritime for walking and biking.  We had a lovely condo with a patio overlooking the Meditarranean Sea and the Rock of Gibraltar.   Great place to enjoy our evening wine and tapas.  There is an old city centre to wander, with windy streets and artists;  An open patio with Dali statues, and a multitude of restaurants and bars to choose from.

We had an opportunity to attend our third Ralli Museum (first two in South America - one Punte del Este, Uraguay & the other in Santiago, Chile).   There are two others in Cesaria Israel.   It is one family's collection of art - opened to the public, and a wonderful collection of South American artists - and includes Spanish artists such as Miro, Dali & Picasso.  The three we have seen have all had wonderful layouts, and worth the visits.  Might send us back to Israel to see the other two museums.

Gibraltar was a side trip - a walk back into the UK.  Literally a walk since we parked our car in Spain, and walked thru passport control and over the airport runway to get there.  We had to wait for the jet to take off first - and once there two things dominated - the Rock of Gibraltar and the overwhelming feeling of being back in England - pubs, High street, red double-decker busses, and red-phone booths.  Not to mention the sound of English being spoken everywhere. 

The monkeys were not so English.  On the rock, Barbary macaque monkeys, tailless and everywhere.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Things we have Learned While Traveling

- Gypsies are from Northern India, not Romania.

- Castillian Spanish is not the same as what we hear from the Carribean, Latin America or South America.

- If you want the toilet, ask for the aseo.

- Square blue signs with large numbers mean Minimum speed limit not Maximum.

- Learning to eat lunch at 3:30 pm and dinner at 9 pm is doable.

- Staying awake unit midnight or 2AM is preferable to being kept awake by the parties.

- Enjoying Siestas are a good way to live.

- Spanish olive oil is GOOD!

- Spanish wine is Very GOOD!