Our travel agency was very flexible and made adjustments when necessary (ie: cancelling the trip to Torrejon AFB - to go to Toledo; re-scheduling our "view" from a building to see the Fallas). It was fun to watch the faces and hear my daughters' cameras click incessantly. The history captured by each stop was embraced by each of their senses; sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell.
All parts of the trip were great! Though different, each place had its lure:
Valencia: Las Fallas (parades of families walking in native dress with children carrying roses to place at the foot of the Virgen Mary at the nearby cathedral; sounds and sights of cardboard structures exploding and of marching bands announcing the arrival of different provinces).
Madrid: Home of my year abroad (1967-68) at University of Madrid: Filosofia y Letras: Nothing had changed of the campus and building over all these years. I found the apartment building where I lived for one year. I found out that Galeria Preciado and Sepu had "folded". I enjoyed returning to the art museums (el Prado and la Reina Sofia) and taking a day trip to el Escorial, el Alcazar de Segovia and the impressive Acueducto de Segovia.
Toledo: Museo del Greco, Sefardic museum, Monasterio de San Luis...and chains on outside walls to remember to never repeat slavery; Damascene jewelry.
Cordoba: Islamic architecture (Mosque of Cordoba, El Alcazar, La Giralda) Jewish quarter (synagogues, Square of Malmonides) Roman bridge; narrow streets lined with red geraniums.
Granada: El Alhambra. El Generalife; Both buildings repeatedly displayed the message (from the Koran) on the walls. "There is no victor but Allah."
Sevilla: Semana Santa parades wrapped around the streets; strong men walked underneath the floats to support them during the long procession. Each float carried a statue of the Virgen Mary or of Christ. Around the statues were large white candles that were kept lit during the procession. Children walking with the float, carried the candles, as well. As they passed, children viewing the parade would dart towards a child in the parade hoping to be given wax from the marcher's candle. Some people walked wearing conical hats. Each group had its own color worn by those in their group. We went to see Flamenco dancers . I was disappointed as the show seemed to be presented only for "turistas". Next time, I would prefer to see those of Sacromonte. I was hoping to see the market at La Triana but there was no time to do so.
Cadiz: El Puerto de Sta. Maria; la Bodega Gutierrez Colosia. We were told of the process used to make their delicious sherry wine (Jerez). We each were introduced to the different flavors and some of us bought some to take home. I purchased Moscatel and Amontillado. (Que delicia!)
Ronda: From Cadiz we took a boat across the bay to Ronda;the home of bullfighting. We were taken to the Plaza de Toros and shown all of the areas through which the bulls are led on their way to the ring. It was interesting but very sobering. Ronda is situated on top of a mountain, looking down a deep awesome canyon. It reminded me of Cuenca. Apparently, both Orson Welles and Hemingway were fond of this town and came to visit it frequently. Once, again, I was challenged to hike up the many floors leading to the bell tower. Once we made it, we were rudely surprised by the loud pealing of the nearby bell (Ouch!) We were eager to begin our descent as it would be ringing again in 15 minutes!
Sentenil: A small town who inhabitants dwell in the local caves where they enjoy ideal temperature in their homes all year long. All they have to do to secure their homes is to build a door! We were amused by the very narrow winding streets. Not only were they narrow, but the locals saw no problem with parking their cars outside of their homes in the street! We were amused at the driver's ability to zig-zag the parked cars! What a beautiful place!
I would have wanted to stay at a parador so as to show my daughters actual places of residence (castles) . I remember going to a lovely one in Avila. I wanted to go to the Rastro.
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