Friday, June 2, 2017

PLEASE NOTE

Unlike most blogs that run backwards in time, I have arranged this one to read in the order of the trip. Ignore the dates of the posting.  Actual dates were 11 days in late April and into May.
Remember after finishing each page,  to hit the link "Older posts" in the bottom right of your screen to move ahead.  All of the blog will not load at one time.
For the most part I have not tried to figure which places have copyrights for photos and which do not.  Rather than copying them, I've just linked to them whenever the photos there or the information added to what I was reporting. 
The rest of the photos are my own, taken for the most part with my little point and shoot camera.  There are a few sent from Frank as well.
If you use photos from the blog, please include a link to this  blog as your source.
Elizabeth reports having trouble going to links and not having to refind where she left off reading.  She has a MAC.  That may make a difference.  I can't help thinking, however, that it depends on some settings she has on her computer.  When I hit a link and then hit the back arrow, I go back to where I left off reading.

I like comments and encourage them here.  Remember that they are moderated, so it may take a while for you to see your comments posted.  I have to do that to avoid posting spam. 
Enjoy.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

FRANK'S BOOK

Recently, my old friend Frank Vielba published a book in English on the life of his mother who lived from 1907 until 2010.



https://www.amazon.com/dp/1537602357/?tag=allamerspea-20

Trinidad was born in Hervas, one of twelve, and lived a simple, hard working life. The story of her life reveals what it was like for such a person to be in Spain throughout some of the most turbulent years, including political and social revolution.
I had read the book in computer email version and wanted to buy a few copies, have Frank sign them, and distribute them as gifts. Meeting him in Spain seemed a fine opportunity to do that. He carried the books from near London (where he lives) to Madrid, and I carried them from Madrid to Albany, New York where I live.
Meeting in Madrid, we would be able to catch up on our lives since our last meet up, years ago.
It also seemed a great idea because at that time the book could not be purchased on Amazon in the US, but only in the UK, so most of the people I recommended read it, could not buy a copy.
Since then the distribution has increased to include the USA.

I was delighted to see the format of the published book. It was a large paperback and Frank had arranged it to be double spaced, so it was was comfortable even for my old eyes.
The only downside was that none of the books I bought from Frank allowed recipients to post a review on Amazon. To post a review, one must buy directly from Amazon. So there are many copies of the book being circulated that preclude reviews.
If anyone reading the blog buys a copy, even in Kindle version, please write a review of the book.

In addition to obtaining copies of the book, Frank took me on a tour of his mother's village, Hervas http://spaintravelswithpaco.blogspot.com/2017/05/hervas.html


and introduced me to those of his cousins who still live in this delightful village. He showed me where his mother had lived her younger years. It was good background for my second read of the book.
The book is especially interesting to readers who like to view history from the perspective of the common people who lived in the times.  Spain went through enormous changes during the life of Frank's mother, and how she and her family viewed them and faced them makes for fine reading. 

Perhaps in future years the book will also be printed in Spanish. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

FIRST DAY

I flew out Sunday at five thirty and landed in Madrid at about six thirty. It was still dark. I remember that when I flew in to Spain for the first time in 1969 that I could see a good bit of the country in the daylight, so I must have left later in the evening.

I lucked out on my seat when a boy wanted to switch with me so he could sit with his girlfriend. That moved me from the middle to the edge of the plane where there were only two seats in a row. No one took the other seats, so for the trip I had two seats for all my junk and as extra space to stretch out.
I was to request this aisle seat on my way back home.  It seems the best seat for me because it frees up the bathroom access.
I did not sleep well, but some.
I was tired but not exhausted when we landed, and I managed to find my way to get my baggage.
From the airport I took a cab, and it was good that I wrote down the address of the hostal as the cabby did not know them. It was thirty dollars as advertised. I had to wait a while to get in and get registered. 
The hostal was a very low budget place. 
There is not always someone on duty. In fact, there is rarely anyone on duty. 
Strange.
It is a very tiny room, but it will do.
For full review see this link
Once in the hotel I took a walk around the Plaza Tirso de Molina and then took a great nap.

I used the day to shop for drinks. Wine is very inexpensive in the grocery by the bottle. I'm drinking a nice bottle of tempranillo that cost about two dollars.
I was glad I packed my tea cup because no cups are provided. The soap is a liquid for bathing and another shampoo. I brought a fine bar of soap that will last me the trip.
After a good nap, I walked to Plaza Mayor


and then to Puerta del Sol. 


I remember Puerta del Sol as much larger than it appeared in my visit.  It was the center of most of our travels in Madrid in those old days. 
The GPS on the phone could not seem to get me to Sol, and finally I asked someone.
While I wandered to the erratic directions of the phone, I got a good look at the streets and the shops and plenty of people, mostly tourists.
I almost went to a concert that I'm sure I would have enjoyed, but I was just too tired, and I was waiting for Frank to phone anyway.
After he called, I walked out again and circled Tirso de Molino. There were large groups of Black men with large bundles wrapped in blankets. Perhaps they were a soccer team. 
Also, there were a dozen or so young men with black shirts and "today" and "tomorrow" written on them with a drawing under "today" of a group of men and one under "tomorrow" with a bride and groom. I wondered what that was about. Frank supposed it was a bachelor party.
The rest of the plaza was either picked up and quiet or the outdoor seating for food venues. Mostly young people sat at them and talked.

Earlier there was loud drumming coming from somewhere, but later there was just mild street noises and the din of conversation. I did not find it hard to sleep with such noises. However, it is a great contrast to living on the lake where nights are very quiet.


GOYA'S REMAINS



Frank and I took Metros to the area where the Goya remains are honored by a chapel of angel and cherub like figures. 
Luckily it was open.
It took us a long time to find it.
We got bad directions and that increased our walking. We rode the bus at one point and there was a very pretty young girl with dark hair and small features. There was also sitting across from me a really old fellow in suit and tie. His suit was brown with large buttons I have not seen in a while. Interesting character.
A few days later, on Calle Mayor, I was to see the same guy in the same brown suit. I wish I had stopped and said something to him.

I was ready to give it up, but Frank kept pushing on. I was very dehydrated and thirsty,  and did not think the chapel would be open that late.
But we found it, and it was.
https://www.viator.com/Madrid-attractions/Hermitage-of-San-Antonio-de-la-Florida/d566-a9822

I enjoyed seeing the murals again.  There is some possibility that Maria's wedding occurred in this chapel although it is odd that no mention of the cherubs or Goya's remains were included in memories passed down to Frank about this event.  It was the event that first drew his mother to Madrid from Hervas.

  Here is an interesting blog report on this place along with fine photos

https://paradoresandpousadas.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/in-madrid-the-hermitage-of-san-antonio-de-la-florida-goyas-tomb/

Right across the street I drank a ton of agua mineral con gas and munched on chorizo cooked in cider as well as something else. This is the place with the special chicken that was on our list last visit. I have yet to eat any of the famous chicken.





Tuesday, May 30, 2017

ESCHER EXHIBIT


My eggs were cooked over easy and came with a meaty bacon that was more like ham, bread, orange juice and two expressos.  The cost was under 8 euros, which is under 10 dollars.


I shopped at the local grocery and bought some chorizo, water, and very cheap wine.

ESCHER

I had seen advertisement for this exhibit, but did not know exactly where it was.
Phone would not work to get me to Escher, but I asked directions a few times. It is in the Palace de Gavira which is itself something.









There is a book of the exposition, but it is 25 euros.
One book of prints he had was called Emblenata
He worked with shapes, loved the look of nature, bugs and such. Love contrast of white and black which take in all the colors.
One set features the 16th century proverbs of Andrea Alicati in Latin and then some Dutch.
"ne miserein vada impactus pereas" was one that had a buoy looking like a fishing bobber on a claw anchor and a fish swimming by.
Another had a lyre standing in a corner.

He fell in love with Italy and did many landscapes capturing the shapes. A print of a small city he lived in sets nestled in a large mountainous barren rock. Scilla was the name. In one there are also boats.
He did a good bit of the Calabria area of Italy. He liked the Alambra because it was about shape. We may perhaps go there on our next trip to Spain.
He influenced album covers.




One description of him was that he was a genius within a genius.
Many of the pieces blend shapes that then become other things. We have at home one of the fish and birds and there was another which was more in a figure eight than just rows. One circular print had black men with long menacing noses blend into white me who were of good posture.

One print was a heron in a cage.
As part of the Art Nouveu movement, he elevated crafts into arts having the same respect as painting.
I liked the crazy Tower of Babel but also the one of St Francis surrounded by birds in a garden. Very unique sense of person and bird.
He used the Droste effect


The glass globe in this photograph
https://heleninspaincom.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/img_9300.jpg


allowed the visitors to place themselves in the place of Escher in his famous glass globe.  I could not get the photo that this woman managed. 






SIGNING THE BOOKS AND SARDINES

SIGNING OF THE BOOKS


It took a while for Frank to find me at the Nuevo Apollo restaurant next to my hotel. I was around the corner of the bar with a nice quiet table for the book signing.
He thought I had not arrived.
The waiter was supposed to ask when people arrived.  He did not.

But eventually I checked for him and found him in the front of the restaurant.  I met with Frank and Mari and I got a few books which Frank signed individually for the people I intended to gift. 

Nice.

We ate some chicken cooked with garlic and some chorizo cooked in cider.

Then we walked to the Sardinas restaurant which was not far. It was downscale from what we expected, but the fish were good. It was uncrowded. But it does gather crowds when the Rastro is on.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187514-d2520579-Reviews-Bar_Santurce-Madrid.html



There was a guy dressed with upscale brown coat draped on him like a cape. He had a very fine suit. The woman with him was fairly simple, and for a time, a man talked to him who wore cargo pants.  This made me realize anything goes here.
What did they talk about?
Mari got in this conversation. I enjoyed the give and take, although I did not follow the content. It was something about how much food is available in Madrid. All were friendly and animated. I need to learn to hear more Spanish.

They took me to the Metro and instructed me how to find the bus station tomorrow. It seems easy enough, but I don't always succeed at following directions.

At least this starts me in Tirso de Molina.

SEGOVIA

Since it was raining, I decided to wait for Frank in the Nuevo Apollo restaurant next door where I had coffee y cognac while waiting. 
He was prompt as he always is, and we headed to Puerta de Sol to catch a particular ride to the train station. We then took the train to Segovia and from there the 11 bus to the center of town. It was a bit complicated, but Frank got the tickets, and so I was well taken care of.
During the day we discussed how I might do this on my own and decided that the best way would be to take a taxi after a red eye flight directly from the airport to the train station, Chamatin.
There I could get a train ticket to Segovia after which the 11 bus would take me to the center of the city, just under the aquaduct.
It was fine to see the old Roman aquaduct. I have many memories of it, of being there decades ago.
At the foot of it Elizabeth and I bought a lace table cloth in 2001. It developed a couple tears, but I use it to decorate and cover the old chest of drawers in my bedroom.

On a future imagined trip, l might not visit Madrid, but would spend my time in Segovia at the Hotel Infanta.
We went in and spoke to the desk. They said to assure a room facing the zocalo, we should call. There are large rooms, but there are also some just for one person.
Once again I loved the zocalo there, Plaza Mayor, with the cathedral in one corner.
The hotel itself is very upscale, just the opposite of my little hostal in Madrid which is just barely sufficient and lacks enough security to make me a bit worried about money and valuables.
The sliding window does not lock. There is no office safe to store valuables.
I have enjoyed Madrid and it has added the opportunity of the Prado and of the bullfight to the trip, but I still love Segovia. It is just an emotion from long ago.
Then too I would not get lost in Segovia. So if I do this again, I may just go to Segovia and back home again and skip Madrid or limit Madrid to a stay by the Prado.
We wandered slowly enjoying the views of the city streets and the fine views of the outlying areas. We took one of three walking tours suggested in the tourist pamphlet, and ended up at the castle where we had a fine visit.




Here is a church I remember from the old days.  I always thought in my eirie senses that I had been there in a past life.  At any rate, I was there this year.

Narrow streets as I remember them










We ate at a restaurant de Abuelo, which seemed fitting.
This was an upscale place with a fine 12 euro menu de dia. Lentil soup, lamb chops, coffee. It was fine.
It was quiet and gave us time to talk. There was a very sweet and pretty blond waitress, perhaps French although she looked Scandinavian.
The decor was old brick arches decorated in places with a bull and a saddle. I did not follow all of the story of the place, but it was perfect.

We also had coffee in a few places, and I had a brandy. I have now tried a few brandies and have found nothing I like better than our Felippe Segungo. I did not like the 43 as it was too sweet, nor did I find the 103 much better, although I know we used to drink that 47 years ago. However, I had the red label here and remember a black label. That may have made a difference.
Abuelo was decorated with interesting pieces.





We walked up to visit the castle.
That is always a treat. I love being outside on the high walkways. The geometry is so appealing. Over the years we have many photos like these showing a person with the perspective of the narrowing wall tops.

We did not get a guided tour of the castle, and I did not learn much about what I was seeing. Still, I enjoyed the visit very much and found I responded well to everything, including all the knights in armor.
I have visited this castle many times in the past, both when I lived in Spain and when Elizabeth and I went on our honeymoon.
Meanwhile Frank and I caught up with our stories, telling the old ones over again and adding new ones as well. We old friends get on very well, I think.







an interesting mural detail.







Wandering the streets was interesting.  Take this sculpture of man sliced in half.

Here is monument to Agapito Marazuela, a famous musician.
http://www.spainisculture.com/en/artistas_creadores/agapito_marazuela.html


HIS MUSIC AND INSTRUMENTS

And so I add to my memories of Segovia this fine visit.  I'm certain I'll try to go there again.

BACK IN MADRID
I left Frank to find his way to cousin Mari's and walked successfully to the hotel from Puerto de Sol, which is important because I need to do that again the next day on my own and not be lost or late for the trip to Avila.

I was not ready to sleep so I took a walk. I had a plate of chorizo Iberica and some mushrooms but did not find either the best I have eaten.
I was at the place I started from this morning and the soccer was on the television, so the atmosphere was authentic old guy bar atmosphere. I liked it.
I walked a bit, taking a street called Lavapies to a section of a half dozen Indian restaurants. It was pretty cool. However, I was not hungry nor did I have the ambition to navigate Indian food without carbohydrates. So, I headed back for a sleep.


AVILA

Today we went to Avila to see the wall from the middle ages. I had been there quite a few times years ago, but I never had such a complete and nice trip as I had today.  We took a fast train from Madrid, a fine ride that took us directly into the city of Avila.
I was hungry when we arrived because I had only managed some coffee and a banana for breakfast


We stopped a little bar with great bull fighting pictures on the wall.


 Here is where they sliced the ham.  I should have had some.



l had a small taste of tortilla l a few very small birds in vinegar that were eaten bones and all. Good. 

I don't remember ever walking the wall before.
We paid 7 Euro for two of us seniors (and they checked my passport) and had a grand time with no crowds and little hassle.
Well, Frank was hassled by the lack of clear and good signage. It made his job as El Guio, the one who guides,  more difficult. He protested his complaints,  and I enjoyed listening, although I did not fully understand the Spanish.
There was no rain. Sometimes out of sunlight it would be a bit chilly, but my rain jacket cut the wind and my nice new cap and warm scarf kept me cozy.


The views from the wall were quite interesting,  and I delighted in the geometry of the stones and bricks and mortar, of the larger patterns made by the wall against the background of the surrounding houses or farm land.




















We also went to the small museum ourside the Cathedral where there were a small collection of relics, including the ring finger of St. Teresa.
I had remembered it in a jar of preservative, but that was not the case. It was encased in gold and had a fine ring.
I remember how years ago we were shocked to see such a thing. 
And we laughed.
Along with her finger were the bones of a Saint and a presentation in similar fashion of yard called St. Theresa's discipline.
I need to research about this topic.
I remember reading about her. She was a mystic and said to be able to levitate. Pretty wild stuff.
After our long walking journey, we climbed a residential road to a place where restaurants served nice menus of the day with cordero asado being one of the choices. 
Frank had a thick steak of beef that was both tender and delicious. Of course he had to send it back to get it done even medium rare, but I tasted it, and it was delicious. We ordered a bottle of nice red wine and ended with cafe y cognac. It was all very good and very mellowing after such a walking day. And it was grand to be outdoors.
I indulged and had flan again.









Our talks permeated all the days activities. We shared memories of the life we lived together and details from our lives after that. It was what I had hoped, a time to reconnect with a close and valued friend.

The ride home was on the slower train. It had a number of local stops, but no one was coming or going today, so it did not take too long. I could see that a person might use the train to go from one stop to another and see a series of small towns.

Once home I washed out a shirt and scrubbed at a stain of vinegar from the birds. I washed my pants as well and scrubbed another stain. I think the Fels Naptha took care of the problems.
At supper I remembered that my rain jacket would double as a fine bib. That worked very well to keep me from spoiling my shirt again.

Before we left Avila, we stopped in a little jewelry store and I picked out a pair of silver earrings for Elizabeth.