Southern Spain, October 2015

October 4, 2015

Hello Faithful Blog Followers:

October 8 is fast approaching and we welcome you to our 'Spain blog. Please follow us as we travel through the beautiful countryside and cities of Madrid, Seville, Toledo, Granada, Ronda and Malaga.

October 8-9 2015 - Chicago to Madrid

Wow, it is the 9th of October as I write this.  It was a wonderful flight - we landed on October 9. It was the most wonderful landing I have experienced.

Our introduction was not only the landing but also the sunshine that greeted us.  We landed in Madrid after a 7 hrs and 34 minute flight.

The Christopher Columbus statue downtown Madrid. October 12 is a National Holiday in Spain...remember that Christopher Columbus is celebrated on Oct 12 in the US also.. In 1492 he left Spain and "discovered America" but history shows that he never touched a foot on American soil but was credited with it's  discovery. We witnessed the preparation of the large celebration in his honoe with parades, national holiday ad visits and speeches by both the President of Spain plus the King but more of this later.

Mary Jo Keating, Kathy Keating,Terry Keating  & Julie Keating.
What a fantastic opportunity for family to travel together.

Joni Greenfield, Valerie Graczyk and Jeanne Nordstrom on a short stop in Madrid near the Column of Christopher Columbus..

Mother/Daughter, Anne and Julia Madrid from "Farmington N. Mexico and Colorado respectively. . Many people asked if they were from the "Madrid Heritage" but they could only claim their homes as New Mexico and Colorado but enjoyed the comments..

 When you look at this leg of ham is makes your mouth water. Ham in Spain is delicious but does taste different from our U.S. leg of ham.

The Wedding Crashers!  I think they were Valerie and "one who shall not be named" and company who ventured into the Cathedral before the wedding and remained. They all enjoyed what they called a "beautiful wedding". They all said the curious glances and attention from the wedding ushers  caused them some concern but they remained. Our guide shared the mannerisms of weddings in Spain and while most were like ours, he shared that fewer people are getting married in a church rather opting for marriage in the courthouse. He also shared that when invited to a wedding in '
Spain the invited guest pays the bride and groom from 150-200 euros ($170-$225).  He jokingly shared that when invited instead of joy and happiness your reaction is more like "Oh, no!

This wedding took place in the Madrid Cathedral where all Royalty are married.

Winnie the Pooh found Wayne very charming and thanks to Terry Keating,  got his tip,much to the embarrassment of Wayne who didn't tip Winnie at all.

 Terry and Julie Keating off on a walking tour of downtown Madrid.

This hotel is still active in Madrid. It was built in 1610!

These twin steeples are located in the Plaza Mayor. The one on the left rings once a year on the birthday of the Patron Saint of Madrid (November 9). The one on the right is for predicting weather. On the day we were there is was forecast to be a beautiful day, which it was, so the clock and tower were right for October 10.  But the guide shared that every day the clock is set for a beautiful day so not to be too excited about the predictions for the next day..

Any shops or stores over 100 years of age have a copper plaque embedding in walk with the date they were established. This one was 1832.

A group picture of 13 of our 18 travelers in front of the Prado National Museum. The Prado visit was more than great. The Prado holds the single best collection of Spanish art. It is one of the most visited sites in the world. We saw works by Francisco de Goya as well as Diego Velazquez, El Greco, Titian and Peter Paul Rubans.We viewed only the Spanish works since to see more would take weeks.

We drive in comfort in luxury coach buses Our bus proudly displays our Someday Travel poster in the window.

We took a High speed train (hitting speeds of 180 mph) to Toledo

October 11, 2015 -Toledo

What a great day. This city Toledo, means round. It  is built on the top of a hill circled by a wall.
The views were spectacular and picture perfect.

Some of us looking out over the countryside from up above

What was amazing is that we were traversing the same streets that were virtually unchanged for over 500 years. Toledo, pronounced ToLaydo, is the sister city to Toledo, Ohio since it was founded by the Spanish.

Anne Madrid and Julie Madrid enjoy the pleasure of being in Toledo.

A happy family atop of and in Toledo. Kathy Keating, Julie Keating,
Terry Keating and Mary Jo Keating.

Cathedral Primada - Toledo's Cathedral

Mary and Child

We returned to Madrid to enjoy a "Gourmet Madrid Tapa" tour. Tapas are a variety of small savoury
Spanish dishes, often served as a snack with drinks or with other tapas as a meal. Our group headed out for a visit of 4 Tapa bars and sampled and sampled and in the end, were completely satished.

We enjoyed our night but the next day we needed to "escape" Madrid since it was October 12, Columbus Day.  It was complete with festivities that included the King of Spain and the President. making speeches. Since this was much bigger than Someday Travel, we had get to get "out of Madrid", before the streets were blocked off and we were locked in in.
so we had to leave town at 5:30 a.m. which we did for our trip to Cordoba.

October 12, 2015 - Columbus Day and Cordoba

A visit to Madinat al-Zahra in Cordoba. It is considered to be one of the most important mediaeval archaeological sites in Spain and Europe. It was the political capital of Al-Andalus for most of the 10th century and the finest expression of the Muslim presence on the Iberian Peninsula. only about 10% of the city has been excavated.
Valerie Graczyk at the Madinat al-Zahra

We visited this Alcazar fortress which sits on the Guadalquivir River. It contained beautiful gardens for all to take pleasure in.

Anne Madrid, Alan Nordstrom, Mary Jo Keating and Jeanne Nordstrom enjoying the gardens

Terry Keating, Alan Nordstrom and Julie Madrid

Statue of King and Queen of Spain and Christopher Columbus
at the end of the beautiful water monument.

The Cordoba Mosque (now the Cathedral of Cordoba but retains recognition as a Mosque). This picture was taken from an 1000 year old Roman bridge behind Mosque. In 1523 Cordoba's Bishop  proposed building this grand church  at the center of town where the Mosque stood. It was opposed but Charles's ordered it done anyways. It seemed like a travesty at that time but they respected its beauty and built their church into instead.You must see it in person to see the differences between Catholic and Islamic aesthetics, horizontal vs vertical, intimate vs powerful. We loved it so  we present some pictures of the inside reflecting what is now the Cathedral.

Cross was hung to show all invaders in the future that this was a Catholic Church since it was so different and no longer Islamic.

Our guide pointing to something on the floor of the cathedral to some in our group

Welcome dinner with libations as we arrived in Seville.
Terry Keating, Mary Jo Keating, Kathy Keating, Julie Keating,
Anne Madrid and Julie Madrid.

Welcome dinner. Joni Greenfield, Gary Greenfield, Jean and Alan Nordstrom and
Valerie Graczyk

Sherry Freiberg, Jeni Noe, Anne Madrid and Julie Madrid.

Mary Jo Keating, Julie Keating, guide Enriquez,Terry Keating, Kathy Keating

Jeni Noe and our tour Escort
Alan & Jeanne Nordstrom enjoy a break on our tour of
Banos del Azahara garden.

Sherry Freiberg in the beautiful Gardens of Banos del Alcazar
Bishop of Cordoba after celebrating mass on Columbus Day at the Mosque (Cathedral)
Our guide pointing out marking and symbols on the floor of the mosque (Cordoba
Cathedral/Mosque)), Kathy Keating, Valerie Graczyk, Susie Eiler, Alan Nordstrom, Gary Greenfield, Julie Keating and Sherry Freiberg.

Valerie Graczyk in Gardens of Bonos del Alcazar

A visitor for Al and Jeanne Nordstrom when their daughter
Gretchen visited them in Madrid with granddaughter Emma.

October 13, 2015 _Seville (pronounced Si-Veal'-lea)

Alcazar, originally a 10th century palace built for the governors of the local Moorish states, this building still functions as a royal palace, the oldest in Europe that's still use.

Sherry Freiberg and Mary Jo Keating

Flamenco dancing for everyone's enjoyment! we were a tired lot but once we ate dinner and got finished with this uplifting show, who could sleep? (we could since we were so tired but it was a fun sort of tired).The music and dance as a  form has its roots in the Gypsy and Moorish culture.
Sparks fly and fun is had by all!  Men do most of the flamboyant ant machine-gun foot work while the women often concentrate on the graceful turns and smooth, shuffling step of the solea version of the dance. Like Jazz, flamenco thrives on improvisation, and improvise they did. 

October 14, 2015- Gibraltar

We arrived after a check point between Spain and Gibraltar and were off to an adventure of observing this unique on the contintent.

Valerie Graczyk demonstrating that she can pose with the best of them in front of the "Rock"....the Rock of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar is still a "British" Colony from years past.
Votes to give it over to Spain governance has been shot down by voters whenever it is tried.
"Why? The people in Britain, which Gibraltar is, have better working conditions, better wages, etc. Why would vote against that?

The Rock of Gibraltar

Valerie and our guide

Gary & Joni Greenfield and Jeanne & Alan Nodstrom

St. Michael's Cave. One of 140 caves the Rock hides. It is the only one open to the public. It is famous for its stalactites  and stalagmites formations, it is now an auditorium where concerts, dances shows and theatre performances are celebrated.

The monkeys of  Gibraltar...There origin on the Rock is unknown but they are wild and number in the 100's. The government is responsible for them and the army takes care of their food and peaceful existence.One legend about the monkeys is that the day they disappear, Gibraltar will cease to be British.

These are truly wild monkeys but are very astute in at finding food on people. Wewere advised to not take any food with us. If we ate in the close by cafĂ© not to leave with food.

Mother with two babies

Our guide chatting with one of the monkeys. I think they were discussing Spanish and British politics but who knows? They were speaking in Spanish.

Joni  Greenfield, Anne Madrid, Mary Jo Keating, Valerie Graczyk and Julie Madrid prepare with hardhats to visit and enter the WW II caves within the Rock.

The caves have existed for over 30,000 years. In 1942 over 30,000 British soldiers occupied Gibraltar, They expanded  the tunnel system in the defense of shipping routes in the Mediterranean.

The tunnels were quite large.

Kathy Keating and Anne Madrid enjoying the guide's explanations

Valerie & Wayne Graczyk

October 15, 2015 - Ronda - Bullfighting capital of the world!

Bullfight facts:
Bulls are color-blind but are attracted to MOVEMENT NOT the color red as believed.
There is only one bullfight held in Rondo each year, on one single day, and it is held in September.
Not all bulls are killled. Some are spared if the crowd likes its performance and waves hankies which signifies let it live. The matador usually complies with their wishes.
The Matadors get the ears and tails of their vanquished bull.
The best of all Matadors, Pedro Romero, killed over 6000 bulls without a scratch on himself. We all thought, "He has 6000 ears and tails in his archives?"

Mary Jo Keating, Terry Keating, Julie Keating, Gary Greenfield, Joni Greenfield, Jeanne Nordstrom, Alan Nordstrom, Kathy Keating and Valerie Graczyk

We assembled inside the famous bullfighters ring in Ronda. Interesting because the gold-ish colored dirt is soft and while I hate to say it, we were told that it absorbed blood  quickly.
We really enjoy being with all of our travelers...
Valerie and Wayne in the major Bull Ring in Ronda

Bullfighting Museum-note the color of outfit the Ronda matadors wear but you now know it is movement and not a color that a bull reacts to.

Ronda -  The city built over a gorge. It is breathtaking and stunning to see home atop of the gorge.

The bridge over the gorge with the river Guadalevin below.

Mary Jo, Kathy, Jeanne with Gary to right background. Above the gorge. The views were breathtaking!

Before we leave Ronda we need to recognize 5 adventurous traveler who walked down the gorge. 200 feet down and of course 200 feet UP. Kathy Keating, Kathy Keating, Terry Keating, Julie Keating and one outside the family, Sherry Freiberg. Way to Go Travelers!

Malaga - We traveled back to Malaga for a tour of this fine city.

Julie Keating & Valerie Graczyk inside the Alcazaba in Malaga. The Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro castle together make up the most outstanding monument to Muslim times in Malaga.
What a group. Posing at the entrance of the Alcazaaba. Valerie, Joni, Jeanne, Mary Jo & Kathy. Who says we don't have personality and have fun with great travelers like these?

Kathy Keating, Alan Nordstrom, Joni Greenfield, Gary Greenfield, our guide,
Valerie Graczyk and Terry Keating.

We visited the Picasso Museum in Malaga but cameras not allowed inside.The museum was one of Picassos dreams, that he would have his own museum in his birthplace town. The exhibit consisted of ir original works and sketches.

We ventured to the Cathedral of Malaga.  It is Renaissance church built between 1528 & 1782. They ran out of money so it had only one tower to it was called the One Armed Lady.

October 16, 2015 - Granada & the Alhmbra

What a  way to close out our tour. The Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada. It was constructed as a small fortress in 889 and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century. Despite long neglect,  willful vandalism and some ill-judged restoration, Alhambra endures as an atyhpical example of Muslim art in its final European stages. It is beautiful and amazing.

Before we entered, we walked about the city of Granada.This is a picture of a market that has been in existence for over 1000 years...every day it opens for its customers.

It is their fall season yet the gardens are so lush and beautiful
Valerie Graczyk enjoying the natural canopy.
Alhambra was extended by the different Muslim rulers who lived in the complex.
Mary Jo Keating
Group with smiles on their faces. Wow. Great travelers.
Following all hat is said.
Family pic....Terry, Julie, Kathy and Mary Jo Keating
Kathy Keating and Valerie Graczyk

The Keating family

The perfect view of a perfect family

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