Showing posts with label Madrid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Madrid. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Travel Realities: The Other Side of the Postcard

“Do you ever write about the bad stuff. . .or do you ever experience any bad stuff?”

The question has been asked more than once of us.

In reality, we  haven’t experienced any real ‘bad stuff’ –  lost luggage, small rooms, cranky people, schedule changes – are irritations, but not ‘bad stuff’ in our book. 

0005540-R1-035-16Yet, we probably are guilty of focusing on the  pretty side of the postcard when writing of our travels. We’ve not spent much time on the flip side, the one on which the human message is written. 

Our travels -- particularly in Europe --have given us a chance to see the other side of the post card; particularly the graffiti and the protests.

Those images on the flip side of the card aren’t the picture-pretty tourism shots, and we don't focus on them but realize  it’s important not to forget them either. Today we remember:

Madrid, Spain


DSCF0663In Madrid, Spain posters announced a manifestacion (a protest) that would ultimately fill the Plaza del Sol with such numbers of unhappy Spaniards during our stay that we ultimately quit going through the square but took back streets to avoid it. We weren’t particularly afraid of going through the gathering but just as we avoid emotionally-charged groups of protesters at home, we do so on our travels as well.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

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From the top of the Old City wall’s of Dubrovnik, Croatia we had spectacular views like that to the right, but also far too many views of graffiti marred historic buildings like the photo above.

Bologna, Italy

Graffiti artists had struck nearly every building here – even those where owners had painted murals to decorate the metal security doors that are pulled down and locked each night.

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And while we loved this Italian city and hope to return one day soon, we’d be less than honest, if we didn’t mention the smell of urine that filled the air as we strolled through some of its famous arcades (and there weren’t that many dogs. . .let your imagination do the rest)

Naples, Italy

As we began our day-long explorations last fall the ‘welcome parade’ was a protest march – again by another unhappy group.

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SilhouettePt12012 034 In fact, it is always interesting when we see the notices and the signs being carried. . .prompting this basically monolingual pair to wonder what all the unhappiness is about?

Seville, Spain

One of the more interesting protests we encountered was a group of unhappy teachers who’d set up their protest camp inside the massive Cathedral:

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Venice, Italy

Even Venice was not immune to graffiti vandals who tagged walls where ever they saw fit:

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Lisbon, Portugal

Where the  tram was so graffiti covered that it almost appeared to be a mural. . .

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Madrid,  Spain

Where faux-blood, red paint was splattered near the sign of the Syrian Embassy when we went past one morning. . .and gone by the time we returned a  couple hours later.

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And  the protestors who lined the street near the Embassy the day before. (Just down the city street firefighters had set up a protest camp).

United States:

I wrote that first portion of this post prior to our arrival in Honolulu, Hawaii last week.  It would have ended there, but we’ve got a post script to that postcard now:  We spent three nights with this view of Waikiki – the postcard view, you might say:

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OahuKolina2013 053Saturday night as we walked back to our hotel, we sadly witnessed a fight between two street people; one who was using his leather belt to whip the bare upper body of the man who’d challenged him.  By the time we got past, they were grappling on the ground as sirens of the responding police cars could be heard. Three of the police cars were below our room for some time.  Just last night a police chase in Waikiki ended in officers killing a soldier, whom they were unable to otherwise restrain.

Yes, we’ve come to realize there are certainly two sides to the postcard. What have you learned from the other side of the postcard during your travels?

And that’s our contribution to Budget Travelers Sandbox’s Travel Photo Thursday.  Head over there for some additional armchair travel.  Hope you’ll visit our Facebook page as well. And come back again real soon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TPThursday: Spain’s “La Fiesta Brava”

Today in History, a regular feature in the Seattle Times, began Tuesday with:

“1947: Legendary bull fighter Manolete died after being gored during a fight in Linares, Spain; he was 30.”

Bullfighting, ‘la fiesta brava’ ; the centuries old cultural icon of Spain is one of those ‘love it or hate it’ topics these days among tourists and locals alike. But still it is interesting that 65 years later, the death of  Spain’s famed young matador, Manuel Laureano Rodrigues Sanchez, -- better known as Manolete* – is still worthy of note on an international scale.

Although we spent several weeks in Spain last year, we didn’t  attend a bullfight; not as a political statement, but out of a desire not to watch an animal – or perhaps human -  be killed. 

But that isn’t to say we weren’t fascinated by the importance of the bullfight to this country’s culture and history. After all, the first recorded bullfight in Spain was in 711 AD at the crowning of King Alfonso VIII.

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Our stay in Madrid was during its May Fiesta de San Isidro. A highlight of the many celebrations the fiesta encompasses are the bullfights in its Plaza de Toros Monumental de Las Ventas – one of the largest bullfight rings in the world.

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Bullfights, or corridas, take place almost daily during the festival and many were televised for the enjoyment of the masses, much like football and baseball games in the United States and soccer (futbol) in Europe.
(Look closely at the two photos above and you’ll  see I photographed a television screen.)

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I photographed this sign in Madrid promoting toreras (female bullfighters)  because I thought it was something new. Silly me, they’ve been around for centuries  -- yes, centuries -- I’ve since learned.  Even the famed Manolete shared billing with a female during a  1930’s bullfight according to one internet account.

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In Seville we joined a tour group visit of  the famed Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza (Paseo de Cristobal Colon 12, Tickets for the tours can be purchased at the box office there.

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This 14,000 seat edifice is one of the largest in Spain and hosts fights every Sunday from Easter Sunday to early October.

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Our multi-lingual tour guide explained the history and the procedural aspects of bullfighting to the handful of people on the tour. The tour concluded with a stop in  the on-site bullfighting museum.

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The museum is a walk through the corridos history– walls filled with paintings, sculptures as pictured above, the outfits and equipment worn by some of the more famous bull fighters as well as a tribute to the more famous bulls as well.

We spotted one of the most clever pieces of street art we’ve seen on our travels while in Madrid. It seemed the perfect photo to end this Travel Photo Thursday post:


A couple of notes about bullfighting in Spain:
Barcelona’s leaders voted to end that city’s 600 year tradition of bullfights; its last bullfight was held  in September 2011. The first recorded bullfight there was in 1387. 

*Manolete, was considered by some to be Spain’s greatest bullfighter.  A book by Barnaby Conrad, “The Death of Manolete” has just been republished. Conrad also produced a You Tube video called The Day Manolete Was Killed.

If this is your first visit to TravelnWrite, hope you’ll come back again for more: Travel. Tips. People. and Places.  And now you can find TravelnWrite on Facebook

Thursday, March 22, 2012

TP Thursday: A Blooming Good Trip!

We had such a blooming good time on our trip last spring to Madrid, London and Paris that I decided to create a bouquet of memories today:


High above us on the side streets of Madrid, flowers cascaded over the railings of even the narrowest of balconies.


Parks were tapestries scattered throughout Madrid; their designs created by endless beds of red roses.


It felt as if we were staying in London’s Chelsea Flower Show each time we entered our Chancery Court Hotel.   The pungent peonies filled the lobby with a springtime aromatherapy.  (As well as providing inspiration:  “Why it’s simply flower stems and candles mixed. . .why couldn’t I do that at home?”)


It seemed all of London was in bloom – even the bench in the hotel’s courtyard.


A cold, blustery wind swirled street dust during our too-brief overnight stay in Paris. Despite the harsh chill that cut through our coats, balcony blooms reminded us that it really was springtime in Paris.



When someone asks, “But, . . .is there anything to see there?”  these are the images that come to mind. What every day images are in your bouquet of memories?

It is Travel Photo Thursday and there’s a lot of places to see in the world by just clicking this link to Budget Travelers Sandbox and see where our fellow travelers are this week. been.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

TP Thursday: A Spanish Food and Wine Fest

Food and wine. What’s a trip without them?
In Spain, a country known for its many festivals, we created our own food and drink fest everywhere we traveled last year.

In Madrid:  A trip to our favorite Cervecerias, Los Gatos on Calle Jesus, 2., phone: 914 29 3067) became an almost nightly ritual during our week-long stay. 

Our dinners – tapas and pintxos --were often eaten standing at the wine barrel table under the watchful eye of  “Satchmo” Louis Armstrong and next to a tribute to bullfighting that included a matador’s pink cape.



In Osuna:  We followed the suggestions of our hotel owner and visited Casa Curro, at Plazuela Salitre, 5, phone 955-820-758 where we found a dizzing array of choices ….. all in Spanish which made our dining a fun adventure.




Another night ate at Meson del Duque on Plaza de la Duquesa, 2, phone 95-482-2845 where we let the staff choose for us and were delighted with the culinary artistry. This dish in the shape of bull horns is battered and deep-friend shrimp served in a special dipping sauce. This place was so incredibly good we may go back just to eat there!


In Barcelona:  When not eating food, one of our favorite past times was looking at displays of it.  And one of our newly-discovered favorite places to do that was the Santa Caterina Market  (Avinguda de Francesc Cambo, 16) a few blocks from the Gothic Cathedral.   Its undulating roof is a mosaic made up of 325,000 Spanish tiles. (It isn’t the more well-known market on Las Ramblas.)


I’ll close with a toast to Spanish Cava. It’s  Spain’s version of  champagne; a bubbly glass of happiness. There’s no better restorative for sightseeing sensory overload than a tall flute of it served with a side of salted Spanish Marcona almonds.


Have any tapa favorites in Spain?  Where do we find them?  And remember, it's Travel Photo Thursday so serve yourself a helping of some great destinations and photos by visiting Budget Travelers Sandbox. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TP Thursday: The Train in Spain

We have limited options for train travel in the Pacific Northwest so we savor the experience when we are in Europe. In November, we traveled in Spain by train:


We first hopped aboard in Osuna, the town I’ve written about in earlier posts – Land of the Olives.  We loved its small station, opened in 1874. The agent who manned the ticket window also had the only desk job. Prior to each  train’s arrival, though, he’d put on his uniform’s cap and head to the station’s platform to manually adjusted the large levers that set the tracks in the correct position.

DSCF1696 From that history-laden platform, we caught a regional, regionales, train - similar to this one - that delivered us to Malaga. Two tickets cost 22.40-euro, or about $31US.  We purchased them the day we traveled.

After spending a week on the Costa del Sol, we returned to Malaga’s station to catch a long-distance train that would take us north through central Spain, hurtling us as speeds reaching 300 kilometers an hour through Andalusia and its neighboring Castilla-La Mancha region to Madrid.

DSCF1908In stark contrast to Osuna, Malaga’s train station is an enormous – think international airport size – modern facility.

DSCF1911The trains are equally as modern . . .and large; very large. Renfe is the national train service that runs most of Spain’s trains.

We walked past the engine pictured above to get to our car, half way down the length of the train. Note how far behind me the train stretches back to this engine.

The cost of our two AVE (the high speed train) tickets, which we purchased before leaving home and printed out on our computer (Malaga to Barcelona), was 316-euro, or $433US.

We would  have paid less to fly; it would certainly have been faster, but for us, the trip is as much about the journey as the destination and had we flown we would have missed scenes such as these:


One of Spain’s “White Towns” – loved the castle on the hill to the left.


Spectacular vistas stretched for miles in every direction. . .

DSCF1933At Madrid’s Atocha Station we connected with the train that would  take us to our final destination, Barcelona, on the northeast coast.

Again we had a slide show of Catalonian towns through the power lines that often line the tracks. 


Trains are a ticket to adventure for us. Got any suggestions for our next train trip?

Today is Travel Photo Thursday so be sure to visit, Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos and destination temptations.


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