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Spain Favorites: 561 reviews and 482 photos
Sandy and Allan on "Balcony of Europe in Nerja
Favorite thing: Photographs:
1. Sandy and Allan on Nerja's "Balcony of Europe"
2. Allan in garden of Paradore Nerja
3. Dee on walk back from Nerja to our apartment
4. Two shots of Sandy on her way back from a shopping spree in Nerja
5. Allan overlooking Nerja [Costa del Sol]
Allan, our friend Sandy and I spent one week in an apartment that we rented in Nerja that was called Nerja Villa. It overlooked the Mediterranean Sea!
It had two bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen, and a living room. In addition, it had a huge patio that looked out over the sea. This terrace had cushioned chairs for sunning [which I used on one particularly warm afternoon
It would have been fantastic except it had no heat, and while we were there, it was a bit cool so at night we froze.
We had great fun in this beautiful small town of 10,000 people, and if it were warmer weather, the beaches would have been a priority. It's an established resort community that is built on a cliff above sandy beaches and coves. It is at the bottom of the Sierra de Almijara.
From the famous Balcony of Europe, you can see sweeping views up and down the coast. Along this Balcony of Europe is a promenade which has cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Fondest memory: The location was excellent for all of our planned activities:
1. Visiting the "White Villages" in the area
2. Visiting the Parador Nerja and experienced their chocolate dessert that was made for their 70 year anniversary of Paradores in Spain. IT WAS TO DIE FOR!
3. Experienced the "Balcony of Europe in Nerja, which is a plaza that juts out into the sea
4. Exploring the town and beach of Nerja
5. Visiting the Nerja Caves
6. Going on a trip to a relatively nearby Casino
7, Taking a tour trip to Granada and The Alhambra
Deposition by Rogier van der Weyden in the Prado
Favorite thing: I loved the Prado Museum!
It contains some of the world's greatest art: Spanish art with Valazquez and Goya; Italian and Flemish works with Jose de Ribera and Rubens. Really, there are far too many to name.
So much foreign art tells me that Spain had to be a powerful country to obtain so many quality works. I assume it is because Spain dominated many other countries for years.
Some of my favorites are:
1. The Three Graces by Flemish artist, Rubens. (Having taught mythology for years, I love any myth-based works)
The Three Graces were Zeus's daughters who represent Love, Joy, and Revelry.
2. Saturn Devouring One of His Sons by
Francisco de Goya.
3. The Deposition by Rogier van der Weyden.
4. Landscape with the Embarkation of St. Paula Romana at Ostia by the French artist, Claude Lorrain.
5. "Guernica" 1937 by Pablo Picasso which
means "View of War"
The Prado has a wonderful gift shop with lovely items, many only a few dollars and all of fine quality.
We went on a Sunday and found that on Sundays, the museum is FREE
Fondest memory: It's difficult to take pictures in the Museum (usually no flashes). Allan was able to take this picture of one of our favorites:
The Deposition by Rogier van der Weyden
I think that it turned out well, considering the circumstances.
Orient Square and Royal Palace in Madrid
Favorite thing: Photos:
1. Orient Square and Royal Palace in Madrid
2. Typical street and small park in Madrid
3. Sandy and Dee on our way to Royal Palace
4. Allan and Sandy in Madrid
5. Post Card of Museo del Prado [Prado Museum]
Even though most capital cities lie beside a harbor or river (or at least stand on a giant hilltop), this cannot be said about Madrid. Instead, this huge capital city is rather flat and is far from the ocean, and its main river [the Manzanares] is quite narrow. It is important because of its location in the middle of Spain, providing a much-needed common ground for a nation of diverse ethnic groups.
Madrid is Spain's largest city and has two patron saints, San Isidro and the Virgin of Almudena. These saints are thought to be Madrid's special protectors.
The Virgin of Almudena has an interesting past. According to legend, a statue of the Virgin of Almudena was hidden in the wall of Madrid's castle during the 9th Century. 200 years later, a young woman, Maria the Blessed promised God that she would lay down her life if the imprisoned statue could be rescued. The wall collapsed with a thundering roar to reveal the statue. Of course, Maria the Blessed perished. That is why this saint is a favorite among Madrid's teenage girls!
San Isidro supposedly performed several miracles. He could heal the sick or make water gush from solid rock. San Isidro's feast day, May 15, begins a 3-week festival in Madrid. It's the festival that produces processions, music, dancing, and food, and everyone in Madrid is invited to attend. People pour into the capital from all over Spain for this special day.
Fondest memory: During the San Isidro Festival, Madrilenos enjoy a series of lively operettas known as zarzuelas. These operettas are thin on plot but rich on singing and dancing. They usually praise life in Madrid.
In Madrid, music is an important part of life. Madrid's popular music is flavored with ingredients from Gypsy dances, Jewish holiday songs, and Arab love chants. However, the young people in Madrid prefer rock music.
People always ask me if I like Madrid or Barcelona better. I like them both; however, there is something solid, and magical about Madrid. Madrilenos have a saying, "From Madrid to Heaven, and in Heaven a little window from which to look at Madrid." I think they mean that Paradise would be flawed if they could not gaze upon their much-loved city. After visiting the city, I fully understand their saying.
Dee on Patio of Hosteria Mont Sant in Xativa
Favorite thing: Photos:
1. Dee outside Hosteria Mont Sant Hotel
2. Le Seu de Xativa church in Xativa
3. A wedding we observed in the church in Xativa
4. View of Castillo de Xativa
5. Sandy and Allan looking up at Castillo de Xativa
When planning our trip to Spain, I just happened to read in one of my books a short "blurb" about an out-of-the-way place called Xativa. Later, I saw a lovely hotel located in that town. I did more research, talked to Allan about going out of our way, and made the decision "to go for it"!
We visited the old castle [Castillo de Xativa]that had, at one time, 30 towers. It was fun as was a visit to the oldest church in Xativa [Chapel of Felix]. We also saw a beautiful wedding at the church called La Seu de Xativa.
I sure am glad that I just happened to find this scarce information because Xativa was such a delight, and our hotel Hosteria Mont Sant was incredible.
Besides being in a great location, our hotel had one of the finest restaurants, and incredible grounds surrounding it. The whole time there, it was like being in a dream...perfect weather, perfect hotel, perfect food, and, most of all, perfect partner, my husband Allan.
Fondest memory: The morning that we were preparing to leave Hosteria Mont Sant, I was sitting on the patio out front enjoying the warm sunshine, and the owner came up to me and handed me a bag of Valencia oranges that he had just picked off one of the trees in their private orchard (I told you the surroundings were incredible!)
I was so surprised that I just didn't know what to say. Allan saved me by thanking the gentleman and then taking a photo of me so we would remember his kind gesture.
Those oranges came in handy many times. We would stop and have a snack between locations.
Each time we shared an orange, we remembered our lovely time in Xativa, Spain.
Fountain in Patio de los Leones
Favorite thing: Photos:
1. Fountain in the Patio de los Leones at The Alhambra
2. Fountain and water system at The Alhambra
3. View of Granada from the Palace at The Alhambra
4. Inside Capilla Real [Royal Chapel], and these are the graves of King Fernando and Queen Isabel
While in Nerja, we took a side trip via bus(1 1/2 hour drive) to Granada. We were in the old city center, which is near the cathedral. It is literally a maze of narrow one-way streets.
We visited the Cathedral, which I felt was cold and imposing. The chapel called Capilla Real or Royal Chapel (where Queen Isabel and King Fernando were buried) was quite touching and impressive.
Then we went to The Alhambra, which was built under the Nasrid dynasty, which ruled Granada in 1232. They were attempting to build their idea of Paradise on Earth.
Through the ages, Alhambra has been pillaged and has decayed with time; however, in recent times, it has had extensive restoration done. It now is quite beautiful.
This Moorish Palace seems well preserved and is the only Moorish Palace in good repair left in Spain.
The Garden, with its numerous fountains and natural water system, seems so modern for the time it was built. There are manicured hedges, lovely flowers, and beautiful views of the countryside.
Fondest memory: We were glad that we took the bus tour to Granada and especially to The Alhambra.
Even though it is a tourist attraction, it is also historic and worth seeing and experiencing.
Dee Beside a "Babbling Brook" in Spain
Favorite thing: My husband Allan fantasizes about sitting by a babbling brook or a small stream just absorbing the moment....that often happened to him, to us, quite often during our month plus time in Spain.
Since we leased a car, we did a good deal of traveling. The distances between places were not far; however, we often were side tracked by the beauty of the marvelous countryside, especially if a brook, stream, or river appeared.
The photograph that Allan took of me beside the stream was one such occasion.
We had left Xativa about an hour ago and were anxious to taste the delicious Valencia Oranges that the owner have given us.
Suddenly, along the side of the roadway, Allan spotted a grove of trees and a delightful stream. He almost came to a complete stop in the middle of the road (thank goodness there was no traffic).
He examined the situation, pulled the car off the road, opened the trunk, took out an orange and a knife.
Thus began one of our most pleasant memories of Spain....Allan's stream fantasy was about to happen...
Fondest memory: He peeled that juicey Orange, gave me half of it as we strolled "stickey hand-in-stickey-hand.".
We sat by that hypnotic stream and enjoyed our treat with the juices running down our faces. It was a marvelous moment, an unimportant moment in the scheme of the world, but a moment that was forever emblazoned on our private memories.
Favorite thing: Spain is one of the most ancient countries in Europe, & if you study the history of Spain, you'll discover that it has experienced the extremes. During its glory days [Catholic kings], it was a powerful force; however, during its dark days [General Francisco Franco] Spain fell into obscurity.
There are several distinct ethnic groups in Spain:
The Catalans live in Catalonia and have enormous cultural pride. They speak the Catalan language & all students have to know the two languages, Catalan and Castilian. This is a prosperous, urbanized, and industrialized region. The Catalans are known for their business skills and their thrift.
Gypsies are a small ethnic group in Spain with their origins unknown. They are divided into two groups:
Gitanos live in southern & central Spain. They are usually street entertainers.
The second group is the bungaros [OONG-gah-ros] live a more nomadic lifestyle, are poorer than the gitanos.
Fondest memory: The Basques live in the remote region of Spain that includes the provinces of Alava, Vizcaya, and Guipuzcoa. They have a very difficult, mysterious language called Euzkera and are fiercely independent people. Their spirit of defiance is well known in Spain. The Basque region is one of the most prosperous in Spain. Its industries include metal, shipbuilding, and steel..
The Galicians live in the northwest corner of Spain. This region is sparsely populated and is quite rural. There are no industries. They speak Castilian and Galician. About 1 million people have migrated out of Galicia to urban centers.
Galicians by tradition and trade are fishermen and poor.
Even though Spain has very varied ethnic groups with different lifestyles, there still exists a distinct, national personality that links these various groups and cultures of Spain...they are vivacious, enjoy celebrations and parties; they are passionate about the arts, their religion, and their families. Yet, they also enjoy the small pleasures of life such as food, flowers, friends, & siesta. Regardless of ethnic origin, these are what make all these various people true Spaniards.
Favorite thing: Both Allan and I were continually commenting on the beautiful children in Spain. We were in many different regions of the country, and the children were equally attractive and well behaved.
The photograph on this page was taken in a small town in the southern part of Spain. We were "window shopping", and a young couple walked by pushing this darling little girl in her stroller. I asked if I could take a photograph, and the father nodded in agreement. [Boy, am I glad that he agreed].
As you can tell from this picture, the Spanish children are bright-eyed and cooperative. She was more reserved than most of the other children that we met.
Not all of the Spanish children had dark hair [as I had incorrectly assumed]. We saw some fair-haired children also.
Fondest memory: The adoration of children in Spain reminded me of the attitude toward children in Italy. Even though the children are revered, they did not appear to be spoiled or ill behaved. It was a joy to be around them.
Paella from Recipe
Favorite thing: While in Spain, we were able to try the different kinds of Paella, a rice dish very popular, especially in the southern portion of Spain.
From a woman that we met, I was able to obtain this recipe: Hope you enjoy it.
This recipe serves 6 to 8 people:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 boneless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 pound pork sausage, cubed
1 pound of boneless pork, cubed
1 finely chopped large onion
1 green pepper, thin strips [I prefer red peppers]
1/4 pound sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon saffron powder
1 pinch oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
3 cups long grain rice
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound peeled raw prawns or shrimp
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
2 medium tomatoes, peeled & cubed
12 clams in the shell
Fondest memory: Heat some oil in a pan. Fry chicken, sausage, & pork one after another until lightly golden brown; then set aside.
Add more oil to the pan & fry onion, pepper, and mushrooms. Then slowly mix in garlic, saffron, oregano, salt & pepper, and rice; stir for 5 minutes.
Add the cooked meat, pour in the stock, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan with aluminum soil and bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring gently every 5 minutes.
Add prawns [or shrimp], peas, and tomatoes, and arrange the clams on the top.
Bake for ten  minutes, until the clams open and almost all the stock is absorbed.
Now it's time to enjoy.
Favorite thing: The Gothic Cathedral in Cuenca really is amazing.
First of all, it is absolutely gorgeous on the outside...then, when you step inside, you are awed by the splendor of the very life-like statues, marvelous stained glass windows, and all the massive architectural elements.
There are individual paintings of all the followers of Christ. A particularly wonderful set of statues are the ones which depict the story of a follower hitting a Roman soldier, and Christ stopping him.
Fondest memory: The pictures:
1. The exterior of the Cuenca Cathedral (its facade)
2. An elderly local woman all dressed in black who is walking up the stairs to enter the church.
3. Inside church with Stained Glass Windows
4. Statues which depict the story of a Soldier being hit and of Jesus stopping it.
5. Another view of the Inside of the Cathedral
This moment in time when we visited Cuenca Cathedral remains with me still as it haunts my memories..
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