Andalusia cont.

Granada was the Moors’ last stronghold in Spain. The Moors occupied this area for seven centuries building a castle and village in this walled fortress on a hill called the Alhambra.  After the Christian Reconquista, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella held their Royal Court from the Alhambra. In fact, this is where Christopher Columbus received Isabella’s blessing for his expedition which led to the discovery of the Americas.

Because the Moors originally developed the Alhambra, there is still much evidence of Moorish/Muslim architecture. Although at different times Charles I and V laid claim to the Alhambra and ordered a Renasainnce palace constructed in the Mannerist style, the architecture overall is quite a mix.

After destruction from war, for many years the Alhambra was left to decay and was subsequently home to squatters. However, due to the interest of British intellectuals the Alhambra was rediscovered and once again became a sight to see. Author Washington Irving was allowed to live at the Alhambra for a time and wrote a novel entitled, Tales of the Alhambra, which brought even greater interest in the area. Now the Alhambra is one of the most visited tourist sites in Spain.

The fortress was large enough to enclose a town on the hillside. In it’s day, the Alhambra had huge gardens that grew enough to support the people living there. They had developed a unique water supply system with conduits fed by the Darro River off the mountains. The idea was to use the fortress to withstand attacks from invaders and meet all the needs of those inside. These water systems are still in use today.

Little did we know it would be necessary to get reservations weeks in advance to visit this most popular site. Yes, we are now into full-on tourist season. Well, we found a way around that little dilemma by scheduling a night tour with a guide. There were only about twenty guided tours that night in several different languages with at least twenty tourists per group!

At night, with lights strategically placed, The Alhambra was a beautiful sight. It would have been a bit more comfortable and romantic without the rain. Running in the rain to squeeze onto the short bus was kinda fun. Also, I would recommend visiting during the day in addition to night. Ah, just a reason to return.

A few pictures for you to get a glimpse.

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From Granada we visited an olive plantation and learned about the olive oil process. Of course there were some delicious tasting opportunities. Also we stopped along the way for some lovely vistas of the area.

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From Granada we headed to the Costa Del Sol for a bit of beach time. We stayed in the city of Nerja which was lovely. The beach closest to our condo was covered with palapas and loungers. There was a small fee to use the space and no beach waiters. However, restaurants lined the walkway across from the palapas that allowed you to take your drink and food to your loungers.

Swim tops were optional. Of course it was mostly older women who took advantage of this. We added some beach time to get a break from tourist activities. However, there were things to see here including the Balcon de Europa, an ancient aqueduct and the huge caves. It took us 10 minutes to walk downhill to the beach and at least 20 minutes, all uphill, to get home. Ugh! Good for us.

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From Nerja we traveled inland to Córdoba on the bus and train. The knife saga continues. We had to go through security and our luggage through the x-Ray machine to board the train in Malaga. Doug talked with the guard about the knives he’d purchased in Toledo just weeks before. At the time he was allowed to take them on this very same train system.

In Malaga the knives were NOT allowed on the train. Same company, same country, same system, different rules. The security guard directed Doug to mail the knives home. The Post Office was just around the corner from the train station. Off Doug goes as I sit with the bags. Within a short time he returns, empty handed. Ah success, I think. Not to be. The woman at the PO told him the knives would not leave the city once they had been discovered on x-ray. Consequently, Doug gifted the knives to this woman. Heavy sigh. End of the Knife Saga.

On to Córdoba. The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba is one of the most highly respected Moorish sites. There was originally a Christian church on this site. During various changes in leadership, it became Muslim, Christian and now joint. It is an awe-inspiring building not to be missed should you get an opportunity.

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Lucky for us when we arrived in Córdoba it was time for the annual Fiesta de los Patios. This is when various private homes throughout the city open their courtyards for public viewing. It was such fun walking around the city viewing the beautiful flowers both inside and outside the courtyards. Getting a glimpse inside allowed us to see how these walls enclose such lovely outdoor living spaces.

We’re off to Italy. Our last leg of this momentous journey.


Hmmm, Security at the Train Station…

It was a sad day for Doug. Upon leaving Madrid we headed, by train, to Toledo the first capital of Spain. Since we were only going for three days, we decided to leave a couple of our bags in the lockers at the train station. Doug travels with two chef kitchen knives. It hasn’t been a problem because they travel in his checked luggage.

When we entered the locker storage area at Estacion de Atocha in Madrid we were surprised our bags had to go through the X-Ray security machine. This is the train station that was bombed by terrorists a few years back. It’s the only time we’ve gone through security in a train station.

The security guard wouldn’t let Doug keep his knives; not to take on the train or to store in the lockers or to dump in the trash (unless he took them to trash outside the station). Security would not confiscate them. This all happened in Spanish, the security guards did not speak English. Since this was eating up our time and we had a train to catch Doug’s only option was to give the knives to a restaurant kitchen in the train station. So, that’s what he did. It was so sad, one knife was a gift from Jason, the other from Erin. So many memories of great kitchen times and meals prepared. The grieving process had begun. So go the adventures of travel.

On to Toledo. This is a walled city on a hill, about an hour outside Madrid. The city is protected on three sides by the Tajo River. It boasts a rich Jewish, Moorish, and Christian heritage which continues to make it a tourist attraction today. It looked to us like many of the Roman villages we visited in France but much larger. A closer look shows the multi-cultural influences. Toledo is said to be the historic, artistic and spiritual center of Spain.

Toledo was the first capital of Spain until the king wanted to expand his castle. Being on a hill surrounded by a river left no room for expansion. A new palace was built in Madrid, the capital moved and the rest is, as they say, history.


Royal Palace in Madrid

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There were many historical, artistic and spiritual sites to visit in Toledo. Needless to say we didn’t see it all. We did our share of ‘getting lost’ in the maze of tiny streets and sitting at the outdoor cafes watching the other tourists. I must confess, we also visited McDonalds for breakfast one day. The gooey cheese food stuck to my teeth in a nasty way. Only the real deal for me after that. Above are some sights of Toledo.

Another thing Toledo is known for is it’s steel. Yup, they make great things of steel, swords, cutlery, scissors, and of course, knives. It took a few days of looking before Doug was ready to replace his beloved tools. But, in the end, with much assurance that as long as the knives are wrapped and include a receipt, Renfe, the train company, will allow the transport. Here are the new kitchen tools:


Not to be opened until on U.S. soil. We did check at the post office in Toledo about mailing these babies home. We were told they could give no guarantees on how they would be handled once they enter the U.S.A. In other words, they didn’t know if U.S. officials would allow delivery.  Hmm, guess we’ll carry them home.

We’re off to Seville via Madrid. It’s how the train goes so how we go too. The trains are nice and fast. If you get a seat facing another seat, leg room is minimal for Doug. But overall, not a bad way to travel.

Hasta la vista. Via con Dios.

It’s Good to be Back…in Spain

A little over a week ago we had just returned from a month in Washington and Oregon. We’d decided to take a break in our European travels to celebrate our grand daughter’s 5th birthday and see family and friends. It was a nice reprieve yet, it’s good to be back in Spain. Madrid to be exact.  

Madrid is great; great wine, great food, great art, great sites. Not so ancient as Greece. Right off we noticed an absence of ancient ruins. It was okay. What replaced the ruins was lovely 15th-17th century architecture. Most of the buildings were four to five stories with long narrow windows and always wrought iron balconies. Some buildings were more decorative than others showing different styles and eras.

The main Plaza, Plaza Mayor, has had a face lift in recent times, yet, it has been around since the 17th century. This was the city’s main square in medieval times and has been the home to royal pageantry, the market, “open air theatre,” bull fights, as well as hangings and other horrific acts during the Spanish Inquisition. Now it’s a great place to hang out and people watch. However, if you sit at one of the outdoor restaurants, you will pay a nice price for the privilege.

Sunday on Plaza Mayor


Typical Madrid street


Plaza Mayor, the bakery side

Of course we had to visit the infamous La Torre Del Oro Bar Andalusia to see gruesome pictures from bullfights, have a cana (small beer) and tapas during our walk around the city. Sorry for the fuzzy pics, there was a lot of activity going on and quite a crowd.


Lots of dead bull heads in a small space.


Lots of celebs have visited La Torre Bar.


I think I see another…Yup, I’m standing with the guys.


True picture of a neck goring.


Our apartment in Madrid was in Lavapies neighborhood. As is typical, we had several flights of steps to climb. I believe it was only 64 in this case. The apartment was near the new art museum, Reina Sofia, and overall very well located. The neighborhood was very multicultural with Chinese, Indian, Turkish and Jewish markets nearby, just to name a few. We also had a very current French grocery chain that we’ve frequented since coming to Europe called Carrefour. Outside there was a little parking place for dogs. Very nice.

 We saw most of the major sites, the Prado Museum, which some believe has the greatest collection of artwork by European masters that can be found in one place anywhere. We saw famous paintings by Goya, Velasquez, El Greco, Picasso and many others. Do I sound as if I might know what I’m talking about? It was amazing and overwhelming and I learned a lot.

Pictures weren’t allowed in the Prado.The following Picasso was in the Reina Sofia where you could take pictures in some areas. The Reina Sofia houses Picasso’s famous ‘Guernica’. This painting was a response to the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) but had been housed in New York’s Museum of Modern Art until 1981.  It was very moving. Of course no pictures were allowed but if you google Guernica, you can see what I’m talking about. The painting is still considered an homage to the atrocities of war today.

Instead of ancient runs, we visited the ‘oldest restaurant in the world’ that had a plaque to prove it. The story is Ernest Hemingway loved to eat roasted, suckling pig here. He ate one all by himself on a regular basis. We didn’t try that dish, which, if you’re interested is still on some menus.


Outside the oldest restaurant.


Miniature of the kitchen in the oldest restaurant.


At cooking class we learned to make traditional Paella, Spanish Tortilla (potato omelet), orange and bacalhau salad and bananas flambé. It was a fun day. Tasty and quite informative.


Toasting the pimenton.


Slicing oranges.


Ready to eat.




Spanish Tortillas and Orange Bacalhau Salad

The language has been challenging here. Very few people speak English. Doug has made a huge effort to practice his Spanish, however, the accent and rhythm is so different from what we’ve learned in Mexico. People rarely seem to understand our attempts on the first or even second try. In the end it all works out.

There was so much to do and see in Madrid. We loved it and really got our steps in. Among some of the highlights were the Tapas (we took a tour with Historical Tapas), touring the Palace and learning about the multicultural history of the city, and just hanging out. We didn’t get to all the things we wanted to see so of course we’ll be back!

Spanairds eat jamon daily. The black pig that only eats acorns is the most prized.


Back of the cathedral.


Tio Pepe is a sherry and this is a big landmark in Puerto del Sol Plaza.


Tapas, Spanish tortilla and sausage.


Street statue performers. How does he do that?




Looking over the Moorish Wall at the Jewish Plaza across from the cathedral.

Next we head to Toledo via train, a walled city and former capital of Spain. Adios amigos, until we meet again.

It’s All Greek to me

It’s a bit overwhelming to begin describing all the ancient sites in Greece. From Athens to Delphi to Olympia and more, there is so much history here. It’s hard to know where or how to begin. And how to keep all the stories straight. Honestly, I’m not or wasn’t that familiar with ancient history before coming here. It was one thing to explore the ancient Roman sites in France, now we’re looking at remains even older and some even thousands of years before Greece’s Golden Age. Whew!

I’ll start with Athens where we began this journey, and take you along the roads we traveled. We had a very basic little hotel in the heart of the Plaka, the area just below the Acropolis in Athens. However, we had a great view of the Acropolis from our balcony. In the other direction were the mountains of Greece. After several gorgeous, sunny days, we awoke one morning to a chill in the air and snow atop the mountains.

Across from the entrance to the Acropolis is a huge, craggy Boulder called Mars Hill. Standing here gives you a good view of the Acropolis. This Boulder is where The Apostle Paul preached and converted many Athenians.

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The Acropolis is set on a high hill rising above the sprawling city of Athens. As a European city, Athens itself has little to offer, the architecture is lacking and the city is a bit messy, much like many cities in Mexico. However, the Acropolis rises above it all with its own historic and artistic significance. Athens now boasts a state of the art museum that houses many pieces of art and architecture from the Golden Age and before.

The Mycenaeans ruled this area from around 1400 B.C. and had a palace atop this hill. These people had an empire in Greece and beyond about 1000+ years before the ancient Greeks. If you think about it, they existed about the same amount of time before the Golden Age of Greece as between the Golden Age and now! We’ll see more from them later.

By 450 BC, after withstanding attacks and destruction from the Persians, Athens was once again at its peak. The leader, Pericles, led a massive building project transforming the Acropolis into a supersized complex devoted to the goddess Athena who was believed to be the city’s protector. There were four major buildings or monuments; the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Propylaea and the Temple of Athena Nike. One thing we know of this great site was it was started and finished within fifty years (450-400 B.C.).

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There is a lot of information in the museum that tells visitors about the geometry of the columns and buildings. There was so much life-sized statuary built onto the buildings. It is truly amazing to see these structures and imagine how they were constructed without the technology and tools we have today. Just the massive size was impressive.

Also in Athens, at the base of the Acropolis, were ruins of the old city including the Ancient Agora. This is where the people would shop and meet and philosophize. Walking these streets and considering some of those who went before, Socrates, Plato, and others can be awe inspiring. Almost anywhere people begin to dig in Greece ruins are found. When the construction began for the Metro prior to the 2004 Olympics more ruins were unearthed and are now displayed in the Metro entrance.

I’ll finish up this post with a few more pictures from Athens. The Byzantine churches are seen everywhere in Greece. They are always built in the shape of a cross and furnished similarly inside. Now it’s common to see more modern versions throughout the villages.

One morning on our walk we were lucky to watch a changing of the guard outside a government building.

Now, we’re off to see the oracle of Delphi. I hope you’ll come along.

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A Bit of Heaven on the Island of Hydra

After two weeks of touring ‘sites’ in Barcelona and a week visiting archeological ruins in Athens, while staying in a tiny, very basic hotel with only one outlet in the room, we were ready for a break from being tourists. Welcome to the islands of Greece, specifically, Hydra, for a bit of down time. Yes, we do feel a need for a break from time to time as odd as that may seem.

Hydra or Idra in Greek with English letters (pronounced Ee-dra) is an island located just off the eastern most finger of the Pelopennese peninsula. It takes two and a half hours to get there from Athens by ferry. From where we were staying in downtown Athens it also meant a 45 minute Metro ride including a transfer. We were wise to take a practice run a day before our ferry set sail.

On our travel day we set out with our 3 bags in plenty of time. We each left a bag behind at the hotel. I had my roller bag and Doug had his backpack and our carry-on which included our kindles, iPad, cards, cribbage board, a few other items and my purse. My purse has all our important papers. As we maneuvered through the crowded port area with newsstands, food kiosks, shoe and bag venders and those coming off and on the Metro, Doug was very alert to notice a guy had lifted my purse. He quickly retrieved it without incident. Whew! Lucky us. That was not a smart place for me to stash my bag. This has been our only incident in the 5 months we’ve been in Europe.

Now, to find our ferry. We arrived just at the end of the boarding time. Little did we know we actually had assigned seats. Nice! After stowing our bags, we settled in for a 2+ hour boat ride. The seats were comfortable, more like on a U.S. train. Not at all like Wa State ferries. Doug did have to shag someone out of one of our seats before we sat down. The ride included old black and white Greek movies.

When we arrived on Hydra, we were greeted by  ‘Mario’ holding a sign that said Douglas. With him were two horses that carried our bags to our Villa.


Our ferry to Hydra The Flying Cat 6.


Doug with our ‘beast of burden’.


Loading up.


And off we go.


Up over 220 steps. Glad we had help.

Hydra does not allow any motorized vehicles. The exceptions being a garbage truck, an ambulance and a port police vehicle. The horses, donkeys and mules haul pretty much everything. There are also a few man powered pull carts. In addition to luggage, the animals are known to haul small appliances as well as fire wood, bags of rocks and even big bales of straw.

There is one main town on Hydra here at the port. From there, everything goes up. This island is really a big rock. Since most of the streets are narrow and stepped I’m not sure how you would get a motorized vehicle up the streets. Motorcycles or scooters could no doubt be managed but what a racket that would make.


Hauling bags of rocks.


Waiting for the ferry.

The island is home to a lot of cats. They are everywhere and well tolerated. The island folks put out bowls of food and water. The fishermen feed scraps. Island folks bring scraps to the waterfront to leave for the cats. The cats are all over and tame. We were with another couple at a restaurant and a cat jumped into the guy’s lap. No, that didn’t happen with Doug. The tourist shops sell t-shirts with cats or donkeys on them as Hydra Island souvenirs.

See if you can find how many cats are waiting for fish scraps in this next picture. Answer below.

Cats hangin on the waterfront with the horses, donkeys and mules.

In the summer people come to Hydra to enjoy water sports, swimming, and beach activities on the beautiful Aegean Sea. The beaches we saw were all rocky.


This is a swimming hole on Hydra.


Gorgeous clear water.


Hunk watching is good any time of the year.

In the winter there isn’t much to do on Hydra but hike. The island has 4 main hikes mapped out. Two hikes are loops and the other two go to each end of the island with a water taxi back to Hydra town. Of course you have to be able to call a taxi or arrange it in advance. The hikes to the outer ends of the island are long enough that there isn’t time to walk out and back and not really anywhere to stay at the outer edges.

Most of the shops and restaurants were closed for the season. No worries, we found plenty to eat and our bags don’t have room for shopping. One of the restaurants served fresh, fried calamari. The chef was also a fisherman and caught what he served. This has been one of our favorite meals in Greece. It has to be healthy, right, it’s Mediterranean food.

Just two blocks from our house was a little market. They had fresh fruit and veggies as well as most other things we needed like yogurt, nuts and Snicker bars. This meant we only needed to carry items from the town butcher up the 220+ steps when we prepared meals.

We had two terraces. First thing in the morning I would go to the upper terrace and listen to the island wake up. The sounds of the birds, chickens, roosters, dogs, clomping of hooves and occasional braying of donkeys always started my day with a smile. The almond trees are in bloom as well as other shrubs so the air was fragrant. It’s amazing what you notice with the absence of traffic sounds. In the afternoons or evenings someone often played music that reverberated throughout the stone structures. It was almost like being in a scene from a movie.

It was cool in the night so we had a fire every evening. Smelling like a chimney brought back fond memories of camping years ago. In the day time we took long walks and had long lunches at the port restaurants.

When it got windy our wifi was sketchy so unfortunately I wasn’t able to use the down time to blog. Reading and playing cards is always good in the off hours. I wonder who’s ahead in Crib? Now I’ve jinxed myself.

Here’s a few more sights around the island.

Looking down at Hydra town waterfront.


Hydra tourist


Greek Orthodox priests on island for Sunday services.

A typical site since we’ve been in Greece but not so common in the Northwest US.

Kaminia settlement along the sea front hike.

One of Hydra’s heroes. For a small island, Hydra has had many prominent Greek ‘heroes’ and five prime ministers memorialized on plaques below.


Our time on Hydra was exactly what we needed. The house was great with all we could have wanted. We had great massages and I practiced Kundalini yoga a couple times at the local studio.

Now refreshed, we’re off to explore the archeological sites of the Peloponnese peninsula, Delphi, Olympia and more.

(9 cats were waiting for fish scraps)

This is the day the Lord has made


give thanks

be glad.

Ba-bye Barcelona

Our last day in Barcelona we were lucky to attend a futbol match between Barcelona and Athletica Madrid. Our seats were halfway up at the end of the field. Great views. As recommended when we purchased our tickets, we arrived half an hour early. It was a gorgeous day as we wove our way through the crowds to find our stadium entrance point. Camp Nou was nothing fancy, just plain old concrete.

Doug went to find our seats as I headed to fetch us each a beer. Make that a Fanta orange and water. No alcohol is served in the stadium. However, the fans seemed just fine ordering the available non-alcoholic beer. It seemed so ironic that you can get/have alcohol anywhere in Spain, or in southern Europe for that matter, but not at a major sporting event. Hmm, pretty much the opposite case in the states.

My dismay at not getting a beer was soon forgotten when I walked out to our seats and found we had a Barcelona flag! Yea! Flags were placed on every other seat. What fun!

As you can see, there weren’t many fans in the stands at this time. Everyone seemed to show up closer to start time.

The stadium has filled a bit more. In the end it was a packed house. Barcelona won! The crowds were a zoo afterward. Getting on the Metro to return to our flat meant waiting in a lengthy line. We opted to find a pizza and let the crowds thin. Still, it was like sardines on the Metro. My first time with people pushed on my back, front, sides. You got the picture. It’s all fun. Living like a local.

Earlier in the week we went on a tapas tour visiting three different taverns/restaurants and tasting the local fare including tripe and blood sausage. This was accompanied by social-cultural-historical discussions of the foods and wine.  There were three other couples and our guide. Yup, we really did stay out past midnight!

These are olive appetizers with a liqueur in the little squeezie thing. Tricky.

We toured the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s biggest work. Everything Gaudi designed for the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) has significance. Gaudi was looking for funding and believed if people could see something finished they’d more likely contribute. Therefore, Gaudi finished the Nativity side in his lifetime.

The entrance Gaudi finished symbolized life with a depiction of the nativity. Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus are in the center at the top of the doors. It is difficult to see all the details in this picture. If you look closely you can see the wise men, shepherds, Angels and others who marked the birth of Jesus. This side is covered with ornate carvings depicting life, plants, flowers, fruits, animals and many leaves. Since this side is so old there is now repair work being done as the overall building construction continues.

The opposite side of the building represents death with the last days of Christ depicted through carvings. Gaudi designed this to be very stark and simple in contrast to the ‘life’ entrance.


At the right of the crucifixion is Jesus being laid in the tomb. And, if you know to look above these carvings, you will see Jesus  ascending to heaven.

Inside Gaudi wanted people to feel they had entered a forest of large trees and to induce the meditative silence one feels in nature. As a result, the interior is quite modern and simple. Most of the light comes in through the stained glass windows. The colors in the windows all have significance and reflect different times of day. You don’t see any ornate paintings or golden icons. Notice the columns like tree trunks branching off as they reach to the ceiling. It truly was awe inspiring.


Facing the side of orange, yellow tone windows. this is the sunrise side.


Looking at the front of the nave. The light coming from the ceiling at center represents Almighty God.


This is looking at the crucifixion side entrance to the sanctuary.

Here’s a close-up of the lighted umbrella-like feature hanging over the altar. As you can see, it’s a crucifixion.

One evening we attended a classical guitar concert in an old chapel. The musician had a gift for making his instruments sing. He played three guitars and music from different eras in Spain.

Of course we also visited Parc Guell another of Gaudi’s works. This was intended to be a housing development including green space and community space. Gaudi and Eusibil Guell were ahead of their time in this plan, especially when you consider this was built between 1900-1914. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

“Güell and Gaudí conceived this park, situated within a natural park. They imagined an organized grouping of high-quality homes, decked out with all the latest technological advancements to ensure maximum comfort, finished off with an artistic touch. They also envisioned a community strongly influenced by symbolism, since, in the common elements of the park, they were trying to synthesize many of the political and religious ideals shared by patron and architect: therefore there are noticeable concepts originating from political Catalanism – especially in the entrance stairway where the Catalonian countries are represented – and from Catholicism – the Monumento al Calvario, originally designed to be a chapel. The mythological elements are so important: apparently Güell and Gaudí’s conception of the park was also inspired by the Temple of Apollo of Delphi.”

And some pictures. It was a crowded day. I can’t imagine how it would be to come here during high season!


Until we meet again. We’re off to Athens.

Barcelona, it’s good to be warm again!

When we stepped off the train a week ago in Barcelona, we actually felt we’d entered a tropical heatwave. That was a week ago, after leaving frigid Marseille. The past week has been a lovely, sunny reprieve. However, the past couple days have been overcast and a bit more temperate. That is to say, jeans and jacket weather. You can always spot the locals. They’re the ones in down jackets, knee boots and scarves. While we too have taken to wearing jackets and scarves, my knee boots were left behind in Paris. Oh well, today is sunny and mid to high 60’s again. Very nice.


Entering the old mercat in the historic center.

We are staying in the Eixample (pronounced eye-SHAM-plah) which is the newer part of the city developed beginning around 1864. Here are some buildings sited around our neighborhood. Yeah, this is the new neighborhood. Quaint, don’t you think?


The Catalan flag is everywhere. People here are serious about divorcing Spain and creating their own country.

This is a common site on many street corners. Motorbikes are popular for transportation.

Entrance door to our apartment building.

The Eixample is home to many of Antoni Gaudi’s architectural creations, La Pedrera (also known as Casa Mila is an apartment building), Casa Batllo and the most famous, Sagrada Familia. The Sagrada Familia is the huge church that Gaudi is most known for. It has been under construction since 1883 and is a geometrical marvel especially considering the tools available at the time. The completion goal of 2026 marks the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. This is too huge for one photo. Look closely at all the details.

Antoni Gaudi is considered the father of the Modernist architecture movement. He said his inspiration came from God and the natural world. Barcelona has many examples of this type of architecture from Gaudi himself and his followers.

This is stuck in the wrong spot, La Pedrera, apartment building.

Entrance opposite the picture above.


Another facade of Sagrada Familia.

We’ve enjoyed the tapas (small plates) style of eating here. You order several small dishes and get many different tastes and textures. The food is not spicey yet it is quite tasty. There are lots of seafood dishes. Here’s a sampling.


Oops, dessert first! This is a cinnamon, sugar baked French toast. A Catalon specialty. It was also a Portuguese specialty I never tried.

This Catalon specialty was also a specialty in Portugal. I never tried it there. When it presented again, I caved. It was actually quite tasty especially with the ice cream.

These are Mediterranean razor clams. We had them in Portugal too but mostly shelled in Cataplana (seafood soup).


Mediterranean razor clam next to a steamer clam.

Had a bit of a scare last week. While using the WC, I dropped my phone in the loo. Lucky for me most john’s
in Europe are low flow so don’t have much water. I noticed immediately I’d dropped the iphone and retrieved it.
Seems it sustained little damage. After a two day drying out all seems to be working fine. Phew!!

There is an Apple store here. We’re four blocks from the major shopping district in Barcelona. I’m talking major! You’ll find all the designer labels, Cartier, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Prada, Dior, Hermes, and the list goes on. We can be very proud as along this avenue you can also find Adidas, Nike, and Timberland as well as Apple. And my luggage is already full,  dang!

On Sunday we visited the main cathedral. Construction on this structure was begun in the 13th century and finished six centuries later. The facade was built at the end of the 19th century according to a Gothic design dating from 1408. There was a gentleman playing the classical violin on the steps so we did the Spanish thing and sat at a cafe to listen for a while.

Sculpture outside the Gaudi museum.

Afterward we strolled down to the waterfront and on down to the beach. In spite of it being overcast, it was a very busy day at the beach. People were running, walking, biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, paddling, and even swimming in wetsuits. We also noticed a windsurfing lesson going on. The beach was covered with volleyball games.


Myth has it the patron saint of Barcelona, St George slayed a dragon that was threatening to destroy the city. You can see images of St Georges and dragons throughout the city.


Statue of Christopher Colombus on the marina .


Sunday at the beach in Barcelona.

As usual, we were the third table sitting at the restaurant. In typical fashion, the place filled up around us. Yes, we are the trend-setters. Note that I only say this about the mid-day meal. We’re not out eating at 9PM. Sunday was an official paella day. Delicious!


It’s not visible but this dish was loaded with tasty bites of shrimp and fish.

Yes, you are seeing correctly, that’s Doug paella on the other side of my plate. We each had our own.

I’m going to close with a few more pictures from La Pedrera, Gaudi’s apartment building that is one of the best representations of his work. The following five pictures are from the rooftop of La Pedrera. Gaudi wanted this to be a pleasant place for residents to walk. Therefore, he ‘decorated’ the necessary rooftop structures such as chimneys, staircases and airflow stacks. It does make for an interesting walk. Imagine this rooftop when completed in 1912 without the chain link fence. It took six years to complete this structure.


Inside the attic at La Pedrera. Once used to wash and hang clothes now a Gaudi museum. Felt like I was in the belly of a whale.


One of my favorite foods in Europe, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil.


Interesting sign one block from us. A steakhouse selling Nebraska beef.


Funny the things you see on a morning walk. Yup, we went back for breakfast.

This is the day the Lord has made.


Give thanks.

Be glad.