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September 14, 2019

Madrid

by Steve Winogradsky

Raton Perez is a cultural icon in the Hispanic culture, similar to the tooth fairy.

We took the train from Malaga to Madrid, then took the subway into town. Unfortunately, the station at our stop was under construction, so we got off at the next stop and had to walk a mile back to our hotel, the Circulo Gran Via, on the main drag in town and connected to a casino (which we did not enter).

We walked around town, through the Plaza Mayor, where there is a plaque in the sidewalk showing the geographic center of Spain.

And the center of my world!
The Plaza is surrounded by colorful buildings, and has several statues and some advertising for Tio Pepe, a locally produced sherry.






King Carlos III

Tio Pepe, the sherry of Kings
On our way to the Royal Palace, we passed the Catedral de la Almudena, a baroque Catholic cathedral known for its colorful chapels, plus a Romanesque crypt and museum. As with many of the churches in Europe, there is a large statue of Pope John Paul.

El Papa
The Royal Palace was magnificent, with an expansive courtyard and the usual array of artworks, tapestries and weaponry




Although Columbus was Italian, it was Ferdinand and Isabella, King and Queen of Spain,
 who financed his trips to the New World



As we were there in mid-December, there was a large nativity scene that took up an entire room






Two of the most popular museums are the Prado and the Reina Sofia, but no photos were allowed in either, so you will have to take our word for it.

On our last day, we went to Retiro Park, which has a large lake in the middle and an enormous tribute to King Alfonso XII, with many sculptures as part of the display.





Inside the park is The Crystal Palace, a building made of glass panels.

No one throwing stones here!
As we were leaving the park we came across the Fountain of the Fallen Angel.



We enjoyed our time in Madrid and looked forward to our next stop, Barcelona.

We were here in mid-December, 2018.

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August 4, 2019

Sunnier Spain

by Steve Winogradsky


After weeks in the cold climates of Northern Europe, we headed south for what we hoped was warmer weather. Our first stop was Estapona, on the Costa del Sol. We flew into Malaga, picked up a rental car and checked into our condo. Rosemary was not feeling well on our first full day so, since we had a full kitchen, I went grocery shopping and we rested all day.

The next day, we drove to the colorful seaside town of Marbella and walked along the shoreline of the Med.



One of the features of the town is a series of sculptures by Salvador Dali, the surrealist artist.

The view of the sculpture garden

Elefante Cosmico

Hombre Sobre Delfin
As in many of the European cites we visited, churches play an important role in the local culture. Because we were there in mid-December, some of the churches had nativity displays. Colorful tiles, fountains and artwork brightened up the buildings and the plazas.





Next on the agenda was a trip to Gibraltar, a British Territory on the tip of Spain. It felt odd to walk across a parking lot to another country. We rode the tram to the top for some amazing views.

The Rock

Town of Gibraltar

Note the plane landing on the airport.

Best view of the day!
On the walk down, we encountered many of the famous Gibraltar Barbary macaques. While they are wild animals, they are so used to tourists that they hardly noticed us.





One woman, who was wearing a coat with a fur collar, was groomed by a macaque - probably a case of mistaken identity.

Let me get those fleas for you.
Estepona is surrounded by what are referred to as the Hill Towns. The first one we visited was Mijas. There are no automobile taxis in the town itself, but there are carts pulled by burros to get you around town if necessary.



Although it was very windy on that day, as a hill town, there was a great view of the Med and the towns below.


There is a cave which has been turned into a shrine for La Virgen de la Pena, the patron saint of Mijas.


We also went to Ronda, another hill town. where we toured the bull ring.

Outside the bullring.

A view from inside the ring.

A protective barrier inside the ring for police, photographers and bullfighters.
Ronda is built atop a huge gorge, with bridges spanning the canyon. Looking at the bridges, you have to marvel at the ability to build them so long ago without the heavy machinery in use today.





All in all, a pleasant week 40 degrees warmer than our previous city. We were here in mid December, 2018.


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