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Spain and Portugal – Post #4

October 17th, 2014 · eating, photo of the week, Spain & Portugal 2014, travel

Since I have high-speed connection at this hotel tonight, I’ll just post some pictures of today and the last few days.  Tomorrow we head to Pamplona & a parador at Bielsa in the Pyrenees for two nights.  Not every hotel has had great internet, so for tonight enjoy the photos!

Sharon keeping St. Martin company in front of the parador (hotel) in Leon, Spain

Sharon keeping St. Martin company in front of the parador (hotel) in Leon, Spain

The amazing stained glass windows of the cathedral in Leon

The amazing stained glass windows of the cathedral in Leon

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A mural replicating Picasso’s moving art work about the bombing of Gernika. We went there today for a walking tour – very, very moving.

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The fine arts museum in Leon. A great exhibit in there on “Conquest” – stay tuned for a future post about that.

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An amazing footbridge over the river in Bilbao – the city is one great architectural feat after another….

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The Atlantic ocean behind us, the Basque Country under our feet….

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Can you see the transporter carrying cars and folks across the river? It hangs from a steel structure….just amazing…

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Our favorite ham in Spain! If only we could have this store in Greenfield, MA!

Olive stall at the market in Bilbao

Olive stall at the market in Bilbao

The Guggenheim...a really amazing building...

The Guggenheim…a really amazing building…

In the outskirts of Bilbao..this is a transporter bridge.  This hangs from the bridge and ferries cars and people across every two minutes!

In the outskirts of Bilbao..this is a transporter bridge. This hangs from the bridge and ferries cars and people across every two minutes!

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Spain and Portugal – Post #3

October 16th, 2014 · Art, Food, Garden, Learning Spanish, Museums, Musings, photo of the week, retirement, Sabbatical trip, Site Seeing, Spain & Portugal 2014, travel

All day I say to myself, “I need to blog about this – no, about this, no about this, or what about this?”  So it comes down to that I wish anyone reading this could be with me on this trip.  It really is turning out to be even more delightful than I had imagined.  And that says a lot because I imagine BIG!

The Puppy  - located on one side of the Guggenheim...made from fresh planted flowers!

The Puppy – located on one side of the Guggenheim…made from fresh planted flowers!

In 2008, hubby and I came to Spain for a good part of a four month sabbatical.  (If you are interested, just search for the other entries in the blog from that time period under sabbatical.)  We enjoyed many cities of Spain, most in the south and east side of the country.  We had hoped to get to the west and north of the country, but it was just too complicated and would take too many public transportation methods to achieve it.  We did not rent cars during that whole time, but used public transports.  We’d always wanted to come back and see the north and west sides.  Well, this trip began in Portugal and has taken us so far exactly where we wanted to visit.   (Here is the trip we are on.) 

Today we enjoyed Bilbao.  I’m in love again as I have found myself with so many Spanish cities.  But, although I will not do this justice, we have learned that this is first, and foremost, the Basque Country.  Their language is fascinating, the food exquisite, and the people generous in their dealings with we Americans.

The view out of our hotel window in Bilbao.

The view out of our hotel window in Bilbao.

(Let me insert here an opinion I always have when I travel – it’s time that my fellow English speaking Americans become bi-lingual…..)

The city of Bilbao is gorgeous.  The rain and clouds in the sky just enhance its beauty — its history of coming back from economic decline is interesting and I think other municipalities could likely learn something from it.

The Guggenheim is an architectural wonder, and the Museum of Fine Arts is a real gem.  (Stay tuned for a posting in We Love Museums about that when we get back.)

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Put this place on your list.  I’m putting it on my list of cities to come back to and stay in for a month!

 

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Across Spain and Portugal – post #2

October 15th, 2014 · photo of the week, retirement, Site Seeing, Spain & Portugal 2014, travel, Walking

Goodness, I really don’t know where to start, and the days of touring are incredible long, so tiredness sets in at this hour of almost 11 pm.  We began today at 7 am, getting our bags outside the door of our room, down to have an incredible breakfast, and onto the bus.

Today’s schedule had us on the bus for about 3 hours; getting to stop at a very local truck stop for a coffee (of course) and the rest room.  We did it yesterday as well because the rules about the bus driver needing frequent breaks are very strict here.  Apparently, they carry a chip in their bus that records their stops and rests, etc. and they can be fined for not following the rules.  But, we were glad for the stop as well!

We drove from Santiago de Compostela to Santander, then onto Bilbao.  In Santander we had a lovely tour of the downtown, and a summer “palace” built on the sea by Alphonso (the something – can’t remember – oops!).  We had lunch in a restaurant nearby situated on the 9-hole golf course that he built.  The food was phenomenal.  We have not starved on this trip, and are likely to come home about 5 pounds heavier, even with walking nearly 5 miles a day with the touring walks.

On the way to Santander we drove along a long stretch of the Camino that the pilgrims walk and saw many on their trek.  I’ll try to post more in a separate entry about Santiago – it’s a very moving place.

We arrived this evening in the Basque Country and are staying in Bilboa.  A fabulous city by night for sure.  We’ve seen the Guggenheim lit up along the river and crossed an amazing footbridge.

Here’s a few pictures from the last few days that I promised you last night, and the internet connection was too slow:

Octopus for your eating pleasure!  It's really good here!

Octopus for your eating pleasure! It’s really good here!

The front of the 500 year old hotel we stayed in for 2 nights - Santiago de Compostela -- right next to the cathedral!

The front of the 500 year old hotel we stayed in for 2 nights – Santiago de Compostela — right next to the cathedral!

One of the many beautiful streets we have walked this past week.

One of the many beautiful streets we have walked this past week.

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Across Spain and Portugal Trip!

October 14th, 2014 · eating, Food, Learning Spanish, My Goals, retirement, Site Seeing, Spain & Portugal 2014, travel

Although I’ve had a whole week on the road tomorrow, I haven’t taken or had much time to put up a post!  We’ve done so much in just a few days!

Today, we arrived after driving on the bus (coach) all morning going from Santiago de Compostela to Leon, Spain!  Beautiful countryside, pleasant driving conditions, and a very comfortable bus.

We are about to go to dinner.  Dinner begins at 8:30 here in Spain – sounds crazy to Americans, but after several days of adjusting to the schedule, I like it.  Back in 2008 when we went on sabbatical to Spain, we enjoyed the pace of life here and we are enjoying revisiting it.

We’re not on our own, but with a tour organization based in Massachusetts — Odysseys Unlimited.  The guides have been phenomenal so far.  We have one guide with us at all times, with very local guides joining us for parts of the day when we arrive in a new town.

This past week, after a very long plane ride to Lisbon  (maybe don’t ask about this – I had the tour company arrange it and I think we could have arrived there without going through Frankfurt, Germany…..), we have enjoyed Lisbon, Obidos, Nazare (where the world’s surfing record was set a year or two ago), Porto (great port tasting – stay tuned for this story!), Pontevedra, and Santiago de Compostela! All delightful in their own way, but Obidos is my favorite so far with Santiago probably a tie for first.

We are staying in Paradors (Spain) and Pousadas (Portugal) — another long story to tell in another posting!

For tonight as it is almost 11 p.m., and our day starts tomorrow at 7:30; I’ll leave you with a picture or two of these first few days.

 

 

 

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Cooking as an art.

July 24th, 2014 · Shaker

Today’s Seminar sessions were at the Sabbathday Lake community. I spent most of the afternoon on a wonderful hayride around the village narrated by the gentleman who spent 25 years as the director. The rest of the afternoon I took a bog walk led by Brother Arnold. In the morning Sister Frances gave us a wonderful history with delightful stories, recipes, and cooking suggestions on the use of herbs. Having spent several decades cooking for the community, she had much to say about the connection between cooking, spirituality and life.

(Please note that I am making some basic entires from the hotel with weak connections on an iPad – so come back soon as I plan to repost when I get home and say so much more about these important topics!)Sabbathday Lake Friends

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