White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Monday, February 29, 2016

Flamenco in the Plaza Nueva, Centro, Seville, Andalusia, Spain



In the Plaza Nueva in Centro, this Flamenco trio was performing for passersby. They bring their own wood platform both to create the traditional sound and perhaps to protect the marble or granite blocks from any damage caused by the powerful foot movements.  Seville's City Hall is the building in the background.



It is such a vibrant and passionate dance and performance. The contrast with typically restrained street performers in the United States is noteworthy to me. In fact, I seldom see  more than a soloist performing on the street at home - a duo or trio is rare - Americans are more restrained - perhaps I mean uptight?



It is typical for spectators to interact and to also shout out encouragement along with the musicians. Olé!



I wish I could understand the words........I expect it is about love, loss, beauty, heartbreak, inspiration, and happiness - like all great music of the world.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Music, Seville, Andalusia, Spain



Those of you following along on this Spain trip will recall I mentioned an extrordinary musical experience hearing some street musicians during an evening paseo. (Here's the link) Well, a week later, on a different street I saw them again and here they are playing in front of a grafitti wall. Again, extraordinary music.



I didn't linger with my favorite street musicians because we were in a hurry to get to this restaurant, Volapie, and get a seat for a free Flamenco show. We did have to buy food and drinks though - not much, a couple tapas and a bottle of water. Every weekday evening at 9pm, the Volapie bar/restaurant, located very near the Parasol on Calle Martin Villa in Centro, moves aside a few tables and provides this show.



I don't know much about Flamenco and this was the first show I had ever seen and frankly, it was wonderful. Three artists perform together: a guitarist, a singer, and a dancer. The venue had a sign posted saying they did not permit photos during the performance but my next blog post will have some photos from another public location and time that did.


A White Church, El Rocio, Andalusia, Spain




We made our first field trip out of Seville. About 40 miles southwest from Seville, there is a special village. Special for both the church at right and the wetlands at left.

This is the village of El Rocío and they host an annual pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin of El Rocío. The village normally of less than 1,000 people swells to approximately 1,000,000, (yes, I mean one million), during the religious pilgrimage. The pilgrimage dates from 1653.

On the left is the edge of the Doñana National Park, reportedly the largest natural reserve in Europe, which covers approximately 210 square miles and provides a critical habitat for both wintering and overflying bird species and other natural life. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



It was a hazy, dusty day so I didn't get the brilliant blue sky I wanted but, you get the idea. Just imagine a brilliant blue sky surrounding the white church.



It was lunch break for a group of school kids eating, laughing, and playing along the malecón. Very comfortable, sweater weather.



Inside the church.



The village has no paved streets - all sand - and horses are a common form of local transportation.



Unfortunately, we didn't see any horses during our short visit but, there are hitching posts in front of the business district stores to tie up.



These mannequins were modeling traditional attire for men and women.



It may be a horse town with sand streets but, we did wander into this fancy hotel lobby for a look around. The ceramic tile mural at left shows a diverse collection of birds in the tree.  Birds are a strong magnet for people all over the world to visit the natural preserve Doñana National Park.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Seville Marathon, Music, Triana, Seville, Andalusia, Spain



On this Sunday midday, I stepped out the door right smack in the middle of the Seville Marathon. This time was the 32nd running of the event. On a very warm February day, approximately 13,000 runners weaved through the street of historic Seville. The event provided a few good photo ops during our afternoon out and about.



The police presence along the course reminded me of being at the Boston Marathon on that horrible day in April 2013 when terrorists exploded bombs killing and maiming many.



After walking through Centro, we ended up back on the Triana side of the river for lunch. The Triana neighborhood seems to draw us back time and again - for eating, parking, strolling, and just plain enjoying it's edgy ambiance. (On this street, parking on the left, parking on the right, driving down the middle).



We scouted these restaurants for future reference.



This Mexican restaurant/bar stays open until 5am in case dinner runs late - very late.



Music is everywhere in Seville. This man was walking down the street practicing his flamenco style of play.



This perfect Sunday afternoon featured many locals spilling out of bars and restaurants drinking, visiting, and enjoying life. I might normally call this a biker bar but, since half of them were scooters, that moniker doesn't really apply.



This street musician, a flamenco guitarist, was playing for tips from passersby.


Music training apparently starts early as this little one demonstrates. He's wandering around while his parents are lunching at a nearby outdoor cafe.



I left the chocolate ice cream on his cheek instead of photoshopping it out. It seemed somehow better that way.



It's never too early to start your own band.



The long shadows mean his parents' lunch is drawing to a close.



Back on the Centro side of the river, the golden hour provided this lovely scene.......with a bit of added texture......


......and so too, did the blue hour on La Avenida de la Constitución de Sevilla. We passed by here many hours earlier when the Marathon was underway. All traces have been removed, litter cleared, and now people are beginning their evening stroll. It's a beautiful life here in Seville as a tourist, probably as a resident, too.



Friday, February 26, 2016

First Time in My Life, Triana, Seville, Andalusia, Spain


This is our car. This is our car parked on the narrow, crowded streets of Triana in Seville. It is a brand new car. A standard transmission, diesel, Citroën C4. It has French license plates. I had read before the trip that a new and foreign car can make a good target for potential thieves. I am a bit uncomfortable parking it on the streets not really knowing the area but, I am also a cheapskate and the $20 USD parking rate in a garage is too much when free street parking is available if you pay attention to the road and curb paint markings and don't park where you shouldn't.



Today was the first rainy day in two weeks and we had no plans for tourism so I walked over to check on the car. This is what I found in it's place. A BIG TRUCK! I was sure I was looking in the right place because I had programmed the lat/long in my GPS in case I got lost. My worst fears were realized! IT WAS GONE!

I walked up and down the street four times to make sure I wasn't just a bit off on where I parked it.  I checked the curb and road markings.  No paint markings indicated restrictions. It was simply nowhere to be found. IT WAS GONE! I immediately jumped to the conclusion that is was STOLEN! My worst fears realized.

I walked the one mile back home in what was now a steady gentle rain to tell Amy and get her to come and look, too, (and to use her linguistic skills to make the police report). Maybe I was momentarily overcome with stupid and it was really there somewhere and she would find it and all would be right with the world again.

We both walked back to the spot. She confirmed that was the right spot and the car was GONE but, then, she promptly walked into a hole-in-the-wall bar nearby and asked the five locals drinking beer about the truck in our spot.



They pointed her to where I have drawn the red arrow. It seems that we were illegally parked in a one-hour zone and the sticker at the end of the red arrow was a notice from the city that it had been towed for illegal parking! There were no paint markings but, there were signposts we hadn't seen.



Here's the sticker at the end of the red arrow. I have never had a car towed for illegal parking in my life. Until now.



We stopped for lunch to collect our thoughts at a familiar restaurant, Casa Cuesta, and, of course, ate tapas and conferred with the waiter on where the impound lot was located.

It wasn't too far away, the rain was just drizzling so we decided to walk the 1.5 miles (2.5 kms). About half way there, the skies opened up and the wind began to howl. The rain blew sideways right into our faces, soaking our pants and shoes as we walked. And walked. And walked. Wetter by the moment. 

When I left home in the United States, I said to myself, "self, I don't need no stinkin' umbrella in sunny Spain." But at least I did have my new hat - but that's another story for another time......

Long story short, we got the car from the impound lot, drove home, parked in a garage for $20 for 24 hours and changed out of our wet clothes - once again warm and dry - but $180 USD poorer for the fine and towing charges.

There is a silver lining to every cloud. The good news is - I already have more than 12,000 steps for today! The sun is due out tomorrow and life is good in Seville - just a little complicated sometimes.


Out on the Town, Seville, Andalusia, Spain



Each evening as we search for a place to dine, we wander down unknown or familiar streets, sometimes lost, sometimes not.  Above, framed by the Metropol Parasol (also known as the mushrooms or the waffles) in central Seville, the golden glow in the distance is a former mosque, now a baroque Roman Catholic church, the Iglesia del Salvador.



It is the largest church in the city after the Cathedral. The current construction began in the 17th century.



A nearby tapas bar is filled with diners at 1030pm - typical late night dining hours in Seville. Dining late actually works out fairly well since my body still thinks it is six hours earlier in my home timezone.



We found a vegan/vegetarian/bio restaurant nearby named surprisingly, Fargo.  Here's the dessert in honor of Amy's birthday! (Yes, it is vegan).



Sunset  viewed through the Iglesia de la Magdalena. The Church of Santa María Magdalena was built in the late 17th century above a medieval church built after the Christian conquest of the city in 1248. From the "newness" of the Parasol, to the "oldness" of churches, Seville has it all.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Weddings and Sunshine, Triana, Seville, Andalusia, Spain



We set out for lunch today to celebrate Amy's birthday in our fancy rental car. Just kidding - about the car, not the birthday.



The car was actually waiting to take newlyweds Ana and Pepe from the church after the ceremony.



This is not Ana and Pepe but, they were mighty happy also.



We wandered about looking for just the right place for lunch. This looked good but, it had ham and cheese on it (not so good for vegans) and it was indoors - three strikes against it.



We instead settled on an outdoor cafe in Triana again on the pedestrian only section of street.



Our next door table mate was drinking and smoking and enjoying the warm sun with his family - it was maybe 72 degrees F or so - we were down to shirtsleeves in the direct sunlight.



A street musician wandered among the tables singing and playing a flamenco style of music - he helped create a great sense of place.



It was crowded with Sevillianos out enjoying the warm sunshine on a winter day.



The crowd at this bar beside the river spilled out onto the adjacent steps - drinking beer, laughing, and enjoying life. Bars and patrons (and police) here are more relaxed about where and how people consume alcohol in public.



Some folks opted for just sitting on a bench in the warm sunshine, no beer desired.....



......or having a coffee at an outdoor table. Both men and women tend to dress "to the nines" here as this woman in the hat demonstrates.



Also true for these four men - though perhaps it's "to the minus nines" in their case. It's a bachelor party and the man second from the left is the imminent groom. They are standing on the Triana Bridge drinking beers from quart/liter bottles - Salud!