Blogs from Castile & León, Spain, Europe

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Europe » Spain » Castile & León » León September 10th 2019

SC writes: So we had to get ourselves back from Santiago to Bilboa, about 700km, in two days. It was long drive, but the roads were very good and very quiet...a lot of EU money has gone into that infrastructure! We had booked to stop over in Leon, simply because it was about half way, but it turned out rather well as Leon is a Great City. We got there but mid afternoon and had time to: Visit the extraordinary Cathedral, which has some of best stained glass in Europe. The interior was impressive, even if one is not religiously inclined. Visit the second of the three Antoni Guadi’s buildings outside of Catalonia; Casa Botines. Again this was a well worthwhile visit and overall we learned a lot more about Gaudi and his influences. I first ... read more
Leon Cathedral - stained glass windows
Leon Cathedral - stained glass windows
Gaudi’s Casa Botines

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » Ávila August 17th 2019

We decide to have a quiet morning, so I take the opportunity to read up a bit about the history of Avila. It is thought to have been originally settled sometime around the 5th century BC by the Vettones who lived in this part of the Iberian Peninsula in pre-Roman times. They were apparently particularly notable for leaving large granite statues of pigs scattered around the countryside, and there’s one of these in our hotel’s garden. We also saw one at one end of the Roman bridge in Salamanca without having much idea what it was. Issy said it looked like a beheaded gorilla while I opted for a beheaded bear. It seems that neither of us got any points for those guesses. Avila was captured by the Moors when they came to Spain, and it ... read more
Basilica de San Vicente
Basilica de San Vicente
Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » Ávila August 16th 2019

First stop this morning is the 12th century Avila Cathedral. One of the most notable things about this event is that I’m able to get Issy into a Cathedral. She went into a chapel in Salamanca for a few minutes a couple of days ago, and the fact that the roof didn’t fall in has clearly encouraged her to try her luck on bigger and better things. The roof seems to be holding firm today as well, which is good for her, as well as for the hundreds of other tourists who are here. I’m quite pleased as well. The Cathedral is impressive, if not quite on the same grand scale as those in Segovia and Salamanca. The rear of the Cathedral forms part of the town walls, complete with turrets. The stress of waiting for ... read more
Avila Cathedral
Avila Cathedral
Avila walls

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » Ávila August 15th 2019

Today we will be taking a short train trip to our next destination, the town of Avila, which is about 150 kms east of Salamanca. We’ve got some time to kill at the station so I do a clean out of used train tickets and other miscellaneous redundant paraphernalia. I ask Issy whether she still needs her mobile phone contract for Jordan. She says she doesn’t remember buying a mobile phone contract in Jordan, so I take this to mean ‘no’ as the answer to the original question. The contract has a copy of the front page of her passport in it so I tear this up into small pieces and head off to put it in the nearest waste bin. Issy stops me. She asks me if I realise that people prowl train stations looking ... read more
Looking south from Avila
Church tower - note stork nest
Market stall

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » Salamanca August 14th 2019

Issy is keen to lie on some grass in a big park, so we head to the biggest nearby patch of green we can see on the map, which is the Parque de Los Jesuitas. It’s leafy and very pleasant, with a duck pond, some fountains and a section for dogs. We lie on the grass on our Sardinian tea towels and then go for a snack at the park’s cafeteria. Our waiter seems to have a real obsession with the menus, and if we leave them lying down on the table for more than a few seconds after we’ve finished looking at them he appears from nowhere to put them back in their stand next to the salt and pepper. We were probably fortunate he let us look at them in the first place. We ... read more
Prince mural
Local resident, Parque de Los Jesuitas
New Cathedral

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » Salamanca August 13th 2019

Issy says she’s run out of clean clothes. I ran out about a week ago, which I suspect is no news to Issy; the bed in our hotel room is very big and I’ve noticed she’s been making good use of the very far side of it. We could spend about 200 Euros getting the hotel to wash our clothes for us and send them back individually gift wrapped, but we decide instead to save some money and spend some quality time together in a nearby laundromat. I think the last time I went to a laundromat was about forty years ago when I first had to travel for work, and the company I was working for was too stingy to pay for the hotel to wash them. I’m probably lucky they agreed to pay for ... read more
Spending quality time together at the laundromat
University chapel
University library

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » Salamanca August 12th 2019

We sleep in, and when I realise how late it is I decide to make this morning’s shower extra quick so that we don’t waste any more of the day. This proves to be a bit more of a challenge than I might have hoped. The water outlets in the bath are a bath tap, a shower rose on the end of a hose, and a real shower head; I can only work out how to turn on the first two, and as Murphy’s Law would have it it’s the third one that I really want. How can this be so complicated. After a long time I find an obscurely hidden knob to twiddle and the real shower head bursts into action. I wish Issy luck as she goes into the shower, but she emerges a ... read more
Salamancan flowers
New Cathedral
New Cathedral

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » Salamanca August 11th 2019

Today we travel a couple of hundred kilometres west to the city of Salamanca. It seems that Spaniards aren’t into mornings, especially on Sundays; the breakfast room at the hotel still hasn’t opened when our taxi arrives at 8.30. We walk into the station to a deafening noise which sounds like several forest loads of birds all screeching at once. The man who checks us in tells us that the fire alarm here has been going for more than two hours now and it’s driving everyone crazy. We can’t see any flames or smoke, which is probably just as well, as I’m sure there wouldn’t be too much left of the station by now if there really was a fire. If anyone ever forgets to turn the iron off at home I think we need to ... read more
Plaza Mayor
Salamanca Cathedral
Monasterio de San Esteban

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » Segovia August 10th 2019

Issy again asks me to steal some buttered toast for her from the breakfast buffet in direct contravention of the hotel’s strict rules about not removing buffet food from the dining room. The elderly guest who seemed to be awake to my scam yesterday is there again so I need a new tactic; I decide to go with sneaking the toast out hidden under my shirt. I don‘t think anyone noticed, but my shirt is now covered in butter. Issy says I’m being ridiculous. That’s easy for her to say; she’s not the one whose going to get locked up, although I suppose they could still get her as an accessory after the fact. Issy is happy to stay in our room munching on her contraband toast so I go out in search of more churches. ... read more
Cloisters, Iglesia de San Martin
Cloisters, Avenida del Acueducto
Avenida del Acueducto

Europe » Spain » Castile & León » Segovia August 8th 2019

After failing to decipher the mysteries of Segovian eating times last night, I enter the breakfast room at about what I would consider to be a normal breakfast time having no idea what to expect. There are people here eating breakfast, but if they’re staying at a hotel they’re probably not Segovians, so I’m really no closer to solving the mystery. Issy is a bit tired after a long day of travelling yesterday so I set off on my own for the Cathedral. As we saw last night, it is an absolutely massive and spectacular structure that towers over the main square and the rest of the town. I arrive just in time for a tour of the belltower. I’m told the tour will be in Spanish, which is fine because I’m now an expert in ... read more
The streets of Segovia
Segovia Cathedral from the belltower
View from the Segovia Cathedral belltower




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