Monday, June 10, 2013

Summarizing Spain

We are back home!!!
The apartment which James had found for us close to the airport worked out very well. The drive to the airport ... you know you are always supposed to bring your rented car back filled up with gas or it costs you dearly. But why do they hide their gas stations in Madrid? Even with the GPS we had to drive around each roundabout several times. Ute, James and I each had flights out about the same time ... but from three of the four different terminals. But it all worked out nicely.
After ??? hours James via Newark and I via Chicago we landed RIC within 30 minutes of each other.
When you sit in the plane with nowhere to go and not much to do it is the perfect time to reflect. This was an awesome experience. Everything had fallen into place especially spiritually. Our reading of the bible in a year together, James preparing for the Camino and sharing that, his adventure (I am so proud of him), my adventure, seeing another part of our Creator's beautiful earth, the lovely nice and extremely helpful people in Spain, meeting Mariña and Carlos and my sister-time with Ute. Life is good!
And then you start settling in again. Inventory in the garden. We missed the blooming of the peonies. After cutting off the dead parts a little more beauty to admire.

I was surprised to learn that in my absence i I had won one of the church scholarship baskets: the wine one. Great!
Of course being able to talk with my girls again is priceless. That is always one of the drawbacks of traveling especially with time-differences and lacking Internet.
Here Sarah shows me her garden. The proud harvest of some sugar snap peas.
I had promised her to help with her yard sale on Saturday. Nothing I could do about the weather though. Nevertheless we called it a success. Some big pieces are gone making room for the nursery. And it was fun. Always something to laugh about.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Day 21 in Spain

Tuesday 6-04

We REALLY like Avila. If you would like to know more, here is a great link.

Wake up, pack up, get ready for the day. First we bring the suitcases to the car we parked two days ago. We check out of the hotel.
Every day before 10 am we have to put money into the parking machine to get a ticket to put visibly on the dashboard. James is doing that (next to the white van).
Then we head for breakfast. You guessed it. Cafe con leche and tostadas. We always wondered about the pictures on top but today we saw how it was done. Clever and easy.
There are two places where you can go up onto the city wall. Two sections can be walked on. As you know, we wanted to do that yesterday, but it was closed on Monday. Now we have to wait till 10 am. But the weather is lovely. And there are benches.
Finally. Unbeknown we chose the smaller section first which was good. This one had a very steep, long and narrow staircase with uneven raises. Some very high. Ute decided that her knees will not let her do it. James and I have a quick look. 

We discovered more stork nests. Incredible. If you look ... they are everywhere.

Waving to Ute.

Waving to James.
Then the three of us go to the other, longer walkable part. Thankfully there was a lift to take Ute up.
We walk past out hotel. Actually, we can see our windows. Well, we did check out by now.

It was so much fun walking along. We looked down into cafe and restaurant yards, narrow streets and backyards. We loved that Avila seemed so vibrant, really lived in.

Finally we went back to the car. There was still some parking left so we could have a refreshment  before leaving. GPS was told to take us to Madrid. It took us post Cuatro Postes. I stopped so Ute could have a look too. This time an artist had found a good spot to paint.
The drive to Madrid was easy through lovely countryside until we reached the big city and driving right through the middle at rush-hour made me sweat a little. But, we made it to the hotel which James had booked the day before. He had found an apartment with two bedrooms in one of four huge blocks in a business district close to the airport. It was an experience by itself. So was the parking.
It was warm in Madrid and we could sit outside and have a late lunch in the cafeteria downstairs. A lovely warm breeze was blowing.
James and I felt we needed to have a walk so we looked for a supermarket. James had looked it up in his iphone. When we reached it we found that it was a membership place like our Costco. So we walked a little further and found that it was not the lonely area we thought it was in the beginning. Just a couple of blocks over a park and some nice looking restaurants.
And before we went to bed we enjoyed a glass of vino on the hotel cafeteria patio.

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If you want to go to "Summarizing Spain" click here.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Day 20 in Spain

Monday 6-03

The hotel's location is fabulous. We have a pretty good night's sleep but with the windows open the traffic wakes us up in the morning. We head out to find a nice cafe for breakfast. A cafe con leche and toastadas is what we are looking for. 

Down the street we see this church tower though with several stork nests on top of it. We have to stop and watch for a while. This stork is performing a dance for me at the corner.
After we all had our cafes we are walking back to the hotel ...
 ... walking on the outside of the city wall.

James and I would like to do a little hike which Ute's knees don't like her to do. So while Ute is doing a little exploring by herself, we head towards the "Cuatro Postes".

We have to walk outside the wall and across the river.
When we come to the bridge there is nothing for pedestrians. We find a walkway to the right but it only leads us underneath the bridge to the base of which looks like the old bridge.
It is pretty though. But we have to go back and discover to the left is a way over the old bridge. 
And then up the hill on the other side of the river. When we come to the Cuatro Postes there is a big busload of Swiss people but they are just leaving.

From here we have a lovely view of the old city.

On the way back ... a pretty bed of poppies.
We go in the lower gate and wander through some narrow streets.
It is interesting to peek into the back yards. Here is a staircase way in the back from one house to another.
Then we find Ute again and we all take this little "train" for a ride around. It is quite interesting. The engine pulls three cars and we are told to go into the middle because explanations will be in German. We  sit with some of the Swiss people we saw earlier and have a very nice talk while waiting for it to start.
More walking in the afternoon. Here is the Plaza de Santa Teresa with the San Pedro church.

Since there was a service in progress we could not visit the church though. Here the view back from the church.
The cathedral is inside the walls.
James and Ute reading the opening times. A visit is a must. You have to pay entry fee though. It is very organized with a map which way to go through it, where to turn etc.
The Retrochoir was most impressive. A huge ornate limestone carving. Our pamphlet says that the masterpiece was crafted by Lucas Giraldo and Juan Rodriguez but it didn't say when.

In many places like all the side chapels were buttons you could push to turn the lights on.

The middle carving was most impressive ... the scene of the adoration of the magi.
But then there was the flight to Egypt.
 The killing of all the little boys.

Jesus' presentation in the temple meeting Simeon and Anna.
It truly is an incredible building, said to have started 1107.

 The back of the altar.

The way out leads through the museum. Ah, textiles (from 1800s)
Lunches in Spain start at 1 pm to about 3:30 pm and dinners start at 9 pm. So as always we opt for lunch as our main meal. James had seen this menu next to the front door of one nice looking place. He was very excited about it.
Lunes = Monday (which is today)
So this is where we went. James started out with a bean soup which he liked very much. Ute and I had nice ensaladas.

Wikipedia says it is sauteed or fried lamb or goat meat.
Well, lets say this was interesting but disappointing (too much bone and skin). We had a good laugh though.
Ute was the winner. We thought that Albondigas a la Jardinera would be veggies (jardin = garden) but it actually translates to "Gardeners Meatballs".
Postre (dessert) included. I got the last tiramisu. 
 Ute liked her ice cream.
James liked milk rice pudding ... since this was NOT cinnamon but cocoa powder.
The restaurant was upstairs. The stairs leaving were impressive too. Those tiles everywhere.
And on the way back to the hotel: Ute fell in love with the green man!

You got to see this video!

We also wanted to do the walk on the wall but ... it was Monday, the day a lot of things are closed. Sigh. We decide to do it in the morning ... at 10 am ... and forgo the visit to Toledo. Why hasten somewhere else to see something beautiful if you can see something beautiful here? One can't see everything. The decision is unanimous. 

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If you want to go to "Day 21" click here.