Bill Carlson

Spain Part 1

Bill Carlson
Spain Part 1
On our last day in Madrid, after foraging through far too many fried foods, fishy sea creatures, pork rinds and offal, we finally found the local landmark bomb: Chocolateria San Gines, home of churros and hot chocolate since 1894! First you dip the churros and then you drink the rest of this hot chocolate that is every bit as rich as a chocolate sauce...completely decadent and delicious :)...tomorrow after stopping at La Rastra, the local Sunday flea market and the largest one in Spain, we head out for Avila with a brief stop in Segovia on the way...

On our last day in Madrid, after foraging through far too many fried foods, fishy sea creatures, pork rinds and offal, we finally found the local landmark bomb: Chocolateria San Gines, home of churros and hot chocolate since 1894! First you dip the churros and then you drink the rest of this hot chocolate that is every bit as rich as a chocolate sauce...completely decadent and delicious :)...tomorrow after stopping at La Rastra, the local Sunday flea market and the largest one in Spain, we head out for Avila with a brief stop in Segovia on the way...

Angry clowns in Madrid.

Angry clowns in Madrid.

Madrid street market .

Madrid street market.

We hit the road to Avila a few days ago via Segovia and then went onto Toledo, driving through the countryside that presented everything from desert-like regions to ski slopes. Wild blackberries and cool nights make it feel like autumn, but the long hot days into the high 80's still feel like summer and it's still light here till almost 9 PM. We listened to American gospel music and blues standards at an outdoor concert beneath a full moon and the towering cathedral of Toledo tonight. We are on to visit Roman ruins tomorrow in Merida

We hit the road to Avila a few days ago via Segovia and then went onto Toledo, driving through the countryside that presented everything from desert-like regions to ski slopes. Wild blackberries and cool nights make it feel like autumn, but the long hot days into the high 80's still feel like summer and it's still light here till almost 9 PM. We listened to American gospel music and blues standards at an outdoor concert beneath a full moon and the towering cathedral of Toledo tonight. We are on to visit Roman ruins tomorrow in Merida

Toledo

Toledo

The highways are a far cry better than the 405 in LA. Endless miles of flawless blacktop stretch as far as the eye can see with only an occasional fellow motorist along the way enabling us to make great time, enough so to include a side trip to the land of La Mancha (Consuegra) with 300 year old windmills, cheese and azafran (saffron). From there, it was on to the Roman ruins in Merida (Temple of Diana below) after an extended tour of a Toledo suburb, courtesy of our GPS navigation system ("if possible make a U-turn" x 30). "She" also can't count worth a damn, especially at traffic circles which are ubiquitous here. Luckily, we also brought some actual maps and a little common sense along.

The highways are a far cry better than the 405 in LA. Endless miles of flawless blacktop stretch as far as the eye can see with only an occasional fellow motorist along the way enabling us to make great time, enough so to include a side trip to the land of La Mancha (Consuegra) with 300 year old windmills, cheese and azafran (saffron). From there, it was on to the Roman ruins in Merida (Temple of Diana below) after an extended tour of a Toledo suburb, courtesy of our GPS navigation system ("if possible make a U-turn" x 30). "She" also can't count worth a damn, especially at traffic circles which are ubiquitous here. Luckily, we also brought some actual maps and a little common sense along.

Merida Temple of Diana

Merida Temple of Diana

We took a turn to the south into the Andalusia region, first visiting Cordoba and then Granada: Cordoba for La Mezquitaop, once the largest mosque in Europe (and third largest in the world) though it is now used as a Cathedral and then to Granada for the Alhambra, the most popular destination in Spain.

We took a turn to the south into the Andalusia region, first visiting Cordoba and then Granada: Cordoba for La Mezquitaop, once the largest mosque in Europe (and third largest in the world) though it is now used as a Cathedral and then to Granada for the Alhambra, the most popular destination in Spain.

Walking through the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba

Walking through the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba

Every site we visit seems bigger and more elaborate than the last, and the Alhambra is truly magnificent! We feel fortunate to be here slightly off season because the crowds have not been too much of an issue.

Every site we visit seems bigger and more elaborate than the last, and the Alhambra is truly magnificent! We feel fortunate to be here slightly off season because the crowds have not been too much of an issue.

We were able to get tickets to a gypsy flamenco performance, which turned out to be much more dramatic and exciting than we had expected and almost as consuming as the architecture we have been seeing.

We were able to get tickets to a gypsy flamenco performance, which turned out to be much more dramatic and exciting than we had expected and almost as consuming as the architecture we have been seeing.

We hit the Costa Del Sol but even though the attached photo shows the pretty view, up close and personal it is overbuilt, overcrowded and over-rated. We split as soon as possible but not before going down under for a look into the caves in Nerja, just 2 miles inland from the beach but a world away . . . very cool !  "I never go down to the coast. It's awful down there" was the comment from a British ex-pat who was buying his croissant & coffee at the bakery next to our churro place. He's been living in the "white hill town" of Ronda for 7 years and still loves it (see first photo). It's a charming place just under an hour from the coast . . . what a difference an hour makes!

We hit the Costa Del Sol but even though the attached photo shows the pretty view, up close and personal it is overbuilt, overcrowded and over-rated. We split as soon as possible but not before going down under for a look into the caves in Nerja, just 2 miles inland from the beach but a world away . . . very cool! "I never go down to the coast. It's awful down there" was the comment from a British ex-pat who was buying his croissant & coffee at the bakery next to our churro place. He's been living in the "white hill town" of Ronda for 7 years and still loves it (see first photo). It's a charming place just under an hour from the coast . . . what a difference an hour makes!

Ronda

Ronda

The toy store in Ronda.

The toy store in Ronda.

Grazalema, another whitewashed town nearby, much smaller and even quainter and more lovely than Ronda. We have remained up in the hills, despite having to navigate our little Citroen on single lane roads winding through steep canyons with the occasional 16-wheel tour buses barreling down in the opposite direction. But, no matter...after the recent rains, everything smells sweet and the fig, olive, pomegranate and plum trees that grow all along the country roads here are now all laden with ripe fruit to pick and we've foraged for plenty of blackberries, too. By the way, have we mentioned that in Spain, when you order coffee, they always make you a cup of strong espresso with plenty of steamed milk and mounds of foam?! It's a coffee lovers paradise :)

Grazalema, another whitewashed town nearby, much smaller and even quainter and more lovely than Ronda. We have remained up in the hills, despite having to navigate our little Citroen on single lane roads winding through steep canyons with the occasional 16-wheel tour buses barreling down in the opposite direction. But, no matter...after the recent rains, everything smells sweet and the fig, olive, pomegranate and plum trees that grow all along the country roads here are now all laden with ripe fruit to pick and we've foraged for plenty of blackberries, too. By the way, have we mentioned that in Spain, when you order coffee, they always make you a cup of strong espresso with plenty of steamed milk and mounds of foam?! It's a coffee lovers paradise :)