|Cathedral of Salamanca looms through the fog|
Road Trip to Segovia, Salamanca and ÁvilaSon David, Heidi and Emily arrived 20 December, and we spent two weeks traipsing across Madrid, driving to Segovia, Salamanca, Avila, via train to Barcelona, via bus and cab to Pamela and Juan's Boxing Day party in San Agustin de Guadalix; we've eaten pounds of jamón and cheese and olives, shopped in the narrow, winding streets of Chueca in Madrid and Barri Gòtic in Barcelona and elbowed through the crowds at El Rastro flea market. We beat time to flamenco at Casa Patas.
[All photos can be enlarged with a click in the center]
|El Rastro wares|
We zigzagged through the snow-capped Sierra de Guadarrama mountains to Segovia where the towering 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct rises 30 m high and 825 m long and never fails to amaze even after multiple visits.We arrive just in time for lunch, and Rich finds a sunny spot in Segovia's Plaza Mayor where we each eventually shed winter jackets. Bean soup and lamb stew and duck leg and salad -- perfect for a winter afternoon outside. We explore the flamboyant Gothic cathedral topped with a Renaissance dome. The Gothic arches overhead collect any heat that happens into the structure, while at floor level, we tour in finger-numbing cold. At 1,000 meters, Segovia looks out over the surrounding countryside all the way to the Sierra de Guadarrama snow caps. The town is crowned by the Alcazar, a best in fairy tale castles--turrets and moat and high above the peon world.
|Bean soup with clams in Segovia|
in the Sierra Guadarrama
|Aqueduct in Segovia|
|Heidi, Emily and David with the |
fairytale Alcazar in Segovia
Then on to Ávila, where I finally get to tour the first Gothic cathedral in Spain. Although begun as Romanesque, the cathedral was completed in the Gothic style in the 16th century. The gray block and simplicity of the cathedral complement perfectly the medieval tapestry of the walled city.
|David and Emily|
We loved sharing Spain with David, Heidi and Emily who go anywhere, eat anything (don't miss the final photos). While the rest of us relaxed somewhat between jaunts, Emily wrote college essays and submitted applications. Having the opportunity to read so much of her writing made this writer's heart proud. However, waiting to hear the outcomes in May might prove a bit nerve wracking. Plus, we have bets on the outcomes. Look for more on our travels in future posts.
|Plaza Mayor in Salamanca|
Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo
Spanish class was my best source for Spanish and madrileño traditions for the holidays, but if readers have corrections and additions, please do add to the comments. Although Christmas here is essentially preserved as a religious holiday, not a gift-giving extravaganza, the streets are certainly full of shoppers and sightseers and families, and Christmas kiosks pop up in any available space. The markets sell toys, trinkets, inexpensive memorabilia, but they also offer nativity scenes or the individual pieces for do-it-yourself scenes. They offer Christmas decorations like Santas and stars and sparkle, but stands also display lots of mistletoe, potted evergreen trees and cut greens, and yards and yards of moss. We deduced the moss must serve as landscapes for nativity scenes. We are talking real moss, not plastic soccer turf.
|Spanish class holiday photo|
We five celebrated Christmas Day with a suckling pig roasted by a neighborhood restaurant and carried home. Emily and Heidi ate the ears, and I don't know what happened to the tail. We devoured the entire roast, succulent and delicious as promised, in two sittings.
|Emily and Heidi share|
freshly spun cotton candy in
Plaza Mayor in Madrid
|Waiting for the parade|
|Reyes Magos arrive in Prosperidad|
On the night of Dec. 5, kids follow the custom of putting shoes outside the door or on the patio to be filled with candy and gifts by the Reyes. In store windows, shops displayed knee-high women's boots overflowing with boxes and treats.
On New Year's Eve, David, Heidi, Rich and I made our way via Metro to a neighborhood close to Puerto del Sol and the major celebration. As is the custom, we each carried our baggie of 12 grapes to consume within the first minute of the new year for luck throughout the year. We left Emily at home, nursing a cold, finishing another application and holding her own grapes.
Wishing all of you happy uvas and a wonderful year to come!
|Heidi and Emily se gustan|