Musings, Thoughts & Commentaries
Arrived Madrid. On our way to our hotel we visited la Reina Sofia Museum, Santa Isabela 52, (corner of Atocha) to see works of Dali and Picasso.
We spent time studying Picasso’s “Guernica” to understand the horror of war and the bombing of innocent civilians.
We had dinner and my last vino tinto Rioja in the patio outside the museum.
The next morning, we departed Madrid at 1335 hours to London, continued at 1605 hours to LAX, arrived 1915 hours Pacific Coast Time. Shuttled home, remembering our culminating event in Spain while holding a miniature magnetized copy of the Guernica panorama by Picasso.
We departed Bilbao early, quick visit to Algorta, Avenida de Basagoiti, where I once lived then drove south to Burgos, the capital of Castile. We walked along the river down from the main square.
As we arrived at the cathedral, the local bishop was conducting High Mass, red carpet rolled out and a full choir and his followers in elegant attire. We gradually moved along the side to near the front to hear him praying in Latin.
Elaiza purchased a rose-scented rosary and I bought post cards—we have mailed a post card back to ourselves from every stop we made in Spain, signed by all four of us with a comment about the location.
I mailed a postcard of Burgos Cathedral from Burgos to Mrs. Burgos (Both Emily’s and Eliza’s teacher in elementary school back in Huntington Beach) and bought a small replica of the cathedral to give to Mrs. Burgos at Christmas.
Mailyn drove on to Bilbao, where I lived and worked 1978-80.
We checked into Sercotel Coliseo, Aveida Urquijo. Mailyn and I had room #307, Emily and Elaiza #306. After a long day of driving we all hit the sack.
The next day we four walked around Bilbao, crossed the bridge over the Nervion into Old Town. Mailyn “Wants to live here.” We shopped in El Corte Ingles and made our own dinner in the hotel.
Our tour of the Guggenheim Museum was a highlight of our trip. Then we had lunch at Krunch, with pineapple smoothies!
In the early evening Mailyn and I took a city bus tour sitting in the front row of a double decker and saw a magnificent city. Impulse shopping at Mango. I bought a pink shirt and a checkered linen sport coat--new style for me.
I had a vino tinto at local bar and packed up.
We had macarons, café lemonade and milkshakes for lunch on the boardwalk in Biarritz. The girls just wanted to say “We were also in France this summer.”
We departed Sitges for Barcelona to have very early breakfast in a coffee shop on Las Ramblas. Also fries and chicken nuggets at McDonald’s.
We rambled along Las Ramblas. Took photos of the Gaudi Cathedral (when are they going to get that finished?)
Then Mailyn drove a long route fast and good, 850km from Barcelona past Zaragoza along the Ebro around Pamplona and on to Biarritz, France.
Departed Granada and drove 810 km to Sitges in seven hours. Stopped along Autovia A3 at km 186 in Tebar, Cuenca, for calamari lunch and gasoline. I prefer to stay in Sitges rather than downtown nearby Barcelona when I am in this area. Sitges is on the east coast of Spain directly North of Algiers on the other side of the Mediterranean and directly west of Sassan, Sardinia.
In Sitges, we stayed at Hotel San Sebastian Playa, in a lovely two-bedroom suite on the second floor with three balconies overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Café on first floor opens to boardwalk and then the sand beach of a small bay bounded by ancient pier with stone towers. People walk below us, passing open bars and restaurants.
On Sunday, Mailyn and I are awake before dawn. From our balcony we watch the sun rise directly to our left. We jog on the beach and swim in the sea, the girls flipping their wet hair.
Later the bars are alive with noisy people watching the FIFA championship on TV; France defeats Croatia. Mailyn and I have dinner but have to send back the poorly cooked paella. The house Rioja wine was OK.
Left back in the hotel room, Emily drank my bottle of wine and got very tipsy. Mailyn video recorded Emily’s antics for posterity. (I-unfortunately-had taught Emily last year how to open a bottle of wine with a coat hanger in a hotel room.)
We spent the next day swimming in the pool and the sea.
Mailyn, Elaiza and I walked to the Mercado to buy fruit before our late dinner at an outdoor restaurant at the end of the quay-- new moon and one star overhead. We four intentionally got splashed by waves as we walked back to our hotel and packed up.
Checked in to Hotel Palacio de Santa Ines after Driver Mailyn and Navigator Emily drove around through VERY narrow, winding, hilly streets. Our hotel was classic old style with high ceilings and our room had two stories, with steps up to the daughters’ room. We ate leftovers that we had brought with us. Elaiza and I had a planning meeting and talked in the hotel while Mailyn and Emily cruised bars in the old town center. Drinking age here is 16; Emily got tipsy for the first time.
The next day we walked the entire Alhambra and Generalife. Granada was the last stronghold of the Moors in Europe and was reconquered in 1492 by the Catholics under Isabela and Ferdinand.
We walked the old town center, formerly the Jewish Quarter, Albayzin, where Washington Irving once lived and wrote Tales of the Alhambra.
To culminate our visit to Granada, we did the right thing. We four went to Los Olvidados “A los pies de la Alhambra” to experience an authentic Flamenco performance by an excellent guitar player, a singer and a powerful dance team of a beautiful lady and talented guy.
Exploring the Costa del Sol, we departed Marbella and stopped in Malaga to visit the Picasso museum and his boyhood home. Mailyn took a photo of me “conversing” with the bronze statue of Picasso in the park where he played.
Bought a magnetic souvenir of “Guernica” painting to hang on our refrigerator at home. Drove (fast) 122 km to Granada.
Drove to Terifa and took the ferry to Tangier, Morocco, the oldest city in Africa. Berber tour guide Fahid showed us around the Kasbah (fort) Medina (living area) and the Bazaar. We took many photos in old town center. After some long, good cop-bad cop negotiating by me and Mailyn with the seller, we bought a table spread, a fancy dress for Emily and a fez for me. Returned through Algeciras and stopped by Gibraltar to take photos of the big old rock.
Back at our hotel in Marbella. We had dinner at La Bocana on the quay, lobster paella for 150 USD for three including a half-bottle of a 2015 Rioja Ederra Crianza.
Our hotel in Marbella was the Aloha Gardens where we checked into our two-story, two-bedroom apartment on the second floor with a full kitchen, living and dining room on the first floor. Our apartment also had a large outside patio and yard with a spiral staircase up to a third floor overlooking a park.
We had a fun dinner at Shiro’s Sushi Japanese bar owned by a guy from Denmark with a Filipina waitress and Germans at the next table shouting and drinking. Then we walked down the hill to La Fontanilla beach. The girls got wet for the first time in the Mediterranean.
Tom Anthony is a West Point Graduate and combat veteran who spent his professional civilian career in global business all over the world. He has lived and worked in Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Iraq, Israel, and throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Anthony also lived in Mindanao for seven years.
Copyright 2017 Tom Anthony.