Page 16 of buddymedbery Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Spain » La Rioja October 5th 2009

Definitely a "highlight reel" day. We toured the Guggenheim Museum at 10, but did not tarry long. I have trouble finding much interest for collections of airplane ashtrays linked by a loosely arranged keychain. We then drove up into the mountains. We are by now well accustomed to using our GPS to find our way. But the GPS requires being able to locate your destination. Today, we were not only off the beaten path, but the beaten path could not even be seen from our vantage point in the mountains. Our goal was Asador Etxebarri, a restaurant known to "foodies" but otherwise obscure. It is listed several places as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, and richly deserves that ranking. We arrived early, mostly because our tour of th Guggenheim Museum was shorter ... read more
Mountains above Etxebarri
Marques de Riscal
Grapes being dumped at Marques de Riscal

Europe » Spain » Basque Country » Bilbao October 4th 2009

A somewhat longer driving day. Leaving Santiago de Compostela, we initially headed inland for some time, then turned northward toward the coast again, hitting the coastline at Ribadeo. From there to Bilbao, it was mostly driving along an interstate-type highway, albeit not yet complete, to Bilbao. Along the way we stopped frequently to see views of the rugged coastline of Galicia, Asturia, and Cantabria, before entering Basque Country. A brief note on languages in Spain. There are a number. Galician is closer to Portuguese thanto Spanish, and in fact is considered by many to be a Portuguese dialect. Both are derived from Latin. The Basques speak a language that is the only language of Spain not derived from Latin, and in fact is not an Indo-European language at all. It is totally distinct and is thought ... read more
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Spider sculpture at Bilbao Museum Bilbao
Map of day's journey

Europe » Spain » Galicia » Santiago de Compostela October 4th 2009

A relatively easy travel day, but long on interest. We drove almost straight up the coast from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. We had been advised by our friends Alan and Sue to visit Holy Bom Jesus near Braga in Portugal. We could not remember what was there, so we e-mailed them and Alan (typically) told us of the opportunity for a meal on top of a small mountain reached by a cablecar, and Sue told us of pilgrims going up on their knees. It was too early to eat, and we weren't going anywhere on our knees, so we bypassed it. By lunchtime, we were in Cambados, a lovely and picturesque seaside town in the Galicia region of Spain. Our drive took us through rolling hills with various types of forestation, and the usual vineyards ... read more
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
Reliaquary of "St. James" in Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Map of day's journey

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto October 2nd 2009

Leaving behind Lisboa and the broad Tagus River (the same one flowing in smaller form through Toledo) we headed northward. North of Lisboa are rolling hills and small mountains, often forested with pines of various sorts and the overtaking eucalyptus. As is thus far always the case in Spain and Portugal, you are never far from olives trees and vineyards. Our first stop was in Fatima, site of the famous religious shrine (which interestingly was named originally after one of the daughters of Mohammed). On May 13, 1917 three shepherd girls told of seeing a vision of Mary in an oak tree. She appeared monthly on the same day of the month until October. The children told of visions and predictions she had given them. Each apparition took place at a site called Cova da Iria ... read more
Supplicant at Fatima
Vineyards in Doura Valley
Douro River valley

Europe » Spain » Andalusia October 2nd 2009

Somewhat regretfully, we departed Sevilla and head to Lisboa through the Algarve. Our first stop was in Italica, a Roman town founded in 206 B.C. by Publius Cornelius Scipio "Africanus" to provide land and accommodations for his veterans of the battle of Ilipa, where the Carthaginians were defeated in the Second Punic War. In that battle, the Carthaginians were finally evicted from the Iberian peninsula, opening up the rich lands for Roman domination. Italica later became the birthplace of the Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian (actually, there is some dispute about Hadrian, nephew of Trajan). Today, the oldest parts of the town are buried under the modern Spanish town of Santiponce, ane the excavated portions are from a later era when those emperors enhanced the town of their birth. The site includes houses, a temple complex ... read more
Colosseum (or "Theater") in Italica
Jennie and Lucie on Santa Maria replica near La Rabida Monastery
Old ports in store

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Seville September 29th 2009

Easier day today. Got up when we just happened to wake up, ate breakfast, and then headed downtown. Sevilla is said to contain the heart and soul of Spanish culture. It is a very clean city with wide boulevards and neat winding alleys among the major monuments. Horse-drawn carriages are the major racket. Sevilla has been inhabited for over 2000 years, and was an important city in Roman times. Today it is the largest cit and capital of southern Lusitania. With its southern location on the coast, at an average elevation of 23 ft, it is the warmest city in Europe. Some day I am going to have to figure out how much of Spain stays relatively warm, since Madrid is on the same latitude as New York City and is nowhere near the warming influence ... read more
Retablo in cathedral
Tomb of Christopher Columbus
Flying buttresses of cathedral

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Granada September 28th 2009

Long-ish travel day. Started in Madrid with breakfast as usual, but left early for trip to Granada and our visit to the fabled La Alhambra in Granada. On the way south we drove through what seemed like endless groves of olive trees. The area from Madrid to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada is a sere plain. Although lack of experience precludes my making any definitive observations on all plains in Spain, I can absolutely assure one and all that the rain in Spain doe not stay on this particular plain. There are scattered vineyards, some wheat fields, and some cotton patches, but most of the land is give over to the ubiquitous olive trees. On the way down we drive through the Morena mountain district, home of Don Quixote, and saw some of the famous ... read more
Wall decorations in Alhambra
"Stalactite vault" ceiling in Alhambra
Gardens in Alhambra

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid September 27th 2009

We just love the sights, sounds, and smells of Europe, though in the case of the latter, sometimes not so much. Today we started with breakfast at the hotel (hint: push the button marked "Americano" on the coffee machine), then set out to see the art museums and some other sites of Madrid. All day, lots of people were just walking around enjoying a Sunday walk. Strolling down the Gran Via we were startled to see a teepee pitched in front of some sort of multicultural exhibition. We eventually arrived at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, named for the Baron an Baroness who donated lots of money and most of the artwwork. We foiund the museum very interesting as much for what it did not contain as for what it did contain. There were lots of works by ... read more
Tepee inMadrid
Iberico hams
Accordion ploayer

Europe » Spain » Castile-La Mancha » Toledo September 26th 2009

After an uneventful trip from OKC, we arrived in Madrid and immediately took our rental car south to Toledo. Toledo has been occupied since the Bronze Age, but gained real prominence during the Roman occupation, when it was the administrative center for the Tarraconensis province. After a period as the capital city of Visigothic Spain, it became an important multicultural center (La Convivencia) under the Caliphate of Cordoba, with vibrant Jewish, Christian, and Muslim populations. When re-taken by Alfonso VI of Castile, the Arabic libraries were not destroyed, and translations into Spanish and Latin of the many Hebrew and Arabic texts allowed that knowledge to be re-distributed throughout Christian Europe. From the 17th century to the late 20th century, economic penury prohibited urban renewal projects, and thus the architectural and cultural riches were preserved. Today, Toledo ... read more
the guys
Old gate and door
Ruins of old Roman hippodrome

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