The last days in Spain

It ended up that we spent several months in exile in Spain. The last part resolved itself into waiting in Madrid for a chance to avoid travel restrictions. Many borders closed to our passports so we had to negotiate the changing regulations in several countries. Here are a few of the photos I like from our walks. It seems my favorites are plazas, street art, and oddball galleries.

This last one shows reflections in the Tavern Viva Madrid. José Rizal, national hero of the Philippines, lived next door and drank his coffee here in 1891.

Sorry about all the WordPress advertising when clicking fotos. I’m experimenting with different ways to use WordPress new block editor. The exercise is a bit frustrating as they have decided to hide information that I thought was useful. Stay tuned.

Cordoba, final city before leaving Andalusia.

Staying in Sevilla, it was just a one hour trip on the high speed train to visit Cordoba for a day. The old city keeps the feel of a medieval village with its winding streets and historical references to the Jewish quarter. The Mosque-Cathedral (Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba) is the center point for tourist visits. Underneath the foundations, researchers have found remnants of possible Visigoth Christian temples. We wandered around a number of different streets before heading back to Sevilla. Here are some views around and in the Mosque-Cathedral. I captured some of the intricate patterns that I found mesmerizing.

Seeing Sevilla

There is the famous gothic cathedral along with the Basilica of the Macarena, but I was not so interested in churches. We wandered around interesting neighborhoods, and the usual markets and shops. For us, three things summarize Seville: Las Setas de Sevilla (a wooden like structure reminiscent of a Science Museum Store), Plaza España – location of the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition, and curious streets and street corners. There are some descriptions on the photos but I’m not sure how the new WordPress editor displays them. Leave a comment for further explanations.

Lost in the history and streets of Granada

Continuing our exploration of Andalucia under the easing of our exile, we spent a week in Granada. As of July 1, travel within the EU has for the most part opened for residents. For us, we are confined to Spain, and wait out the changing climate remaining in Andalucia.

Even though Malaga has been inhabited longer, the history of Granada is as convoluted as the streets. We enjoyed living right on the edge of what was Jewish quarter until 1492. The Alhambra palace was just a 15 minute walk away. A longer walk took us to the Monastery of the Cartuja. This is one of the finest Baroque churches with incredible detail. I was re-introduced to the American writer, Washington Irving, and his wanderings and writings in Spain 200 years ago. I also remembered my modern theater class working through Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca. Here are some memories we carry.

Leaving Malaga

In the last six years, Malaga now holds the record for the city where we stayed the longest. Our ten week stay in the last apartment is also a record for us. Now that the realm has eased our exile, we are off discovering other parts of Andalusia, Spain. Here are some of the memories we carry with us: Streets for discovery, fresh tastes, views across the Mediterranean, tranquil museums to contemplate one culture building on another.

Museums in Malaga

Although we continue exiled for the good of the realm, the kind and noble government has allowed us to visit some museums. All museums were closed during the State of Alarm in Spain since March 12. Under restrictions of mandatory facemasks, social distancing, and limited numbers, several museums opened in Malaga on May 26. Many of the exhibitions have been curtailed but as the museums experimented, they waived entrance fees. After walking around outside of these museums for a month, it was nice to see the interiors.

Here’s some of the photos of what we saw:

Our wandering the first day did not go unnoticed by the Euronews channel (after the first minute, skip to 2:20 for a nice cameo): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV6YGENykHM&list=WL&index=16&t=0s

Vamos chicos, es primavera (C’mon kids, its Spring)

Malaga is on the Spanish Costa del Sol (Sunny Coast). Our plan was to have a warm Spring. For the first five weeks since arriving in March, the high temperature every day has been below average of 20ºC (68ºF) with rain every other day. Only last week did we manage to break into the twenties.

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This week finally looks like some nice spring weather with sunny days. Just in time. The kids have been inside for six weeks during the Covid-19 State of Emergency. Starting yesterday, they can go out for an hour a day with a parent. Parks and Playgrounds are still closed but their voices enliven the street as they make their way to Plaza de la Constitucion. Here are some I captured from our window. The pillion rider took the lower right one from the street showing the convenience store clerk making a delivery and children farther down the street.

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For us, every 2 or 3 days, we take a walk to the convenience store or the covered market with an occasional detour to a bakery or a pharmacy. A tea shop was open on the corner so I treated myself to a pack of Lapsong Souchong Tea. It brings back memories of afternoon tea with my mother during my college breaks. My WordPress posts are up to date and so are my photo albums. Every evening at 8 PM we gather at our window to applaud the health care workers, the police, the street cleaners.

A Month in Malaga (Coronavirus Version)

We continue exiled in Malaga, Spain for the good of the realm. As we are mostly confined to the apartment, we have found daily excursions rewarding. Here are the photos of Balcony Beach, Mount Escalera, The Warped Woods trail. Translations are in the captions.

Traversing the Warped Woods Trail without making a sound requires some bouldering skills that I picked up when Daughter was doing rock climbing.

Staying home in Malaga

I prefer #yomequedoencasa / “I stay home” to the imperative form #quedateencasa / “Stay home.” Everything is closed except grocery stores and pharmacies. Take away restaurants and hair salons were allowed to continue but none in our area open their doors. We schedule our outings with care trying to limit our time out and avoid lines as the number of shoppers per store is limited.

It was a little exciting getting from Algeciras to Malaga. We had previously purchased bus tickets but there were regulations prohibiting travel for most citizens over 60 on public transport. To avoid questions, I shaved my beard and wore a cap to cover all my grey hair.

Our little outings to different mini markets take us through the streets of the old town. Photos of the empty streets of Lagunillas and Ejido neighborhoods are taken quickly. Picasso was born up the street from us. With the museums closed, we are happy with the street art.

 

Connecting Points on the Map

We have been exiled for the good of the realm in Malaga, Spain. Our journey of exile began in Ceuta on the continent of Africa. Then, by ferry, to Gibraltar, a territory of the British Empire. Finally, to Algeciras, Spain before arriving in Malaga. This is not chronological, but it makes a better story.

Ceuta is a city on a peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea. The western border of the city is the country of Morocco. It is part of Spain and uses the Euro. The famous rock of Gibraltar still belongs to the United Kingdom  as a British Overseas Territory. Algeciras is the main city near the southern most point of the Iberian Peninsula. It is the birth place of the famous guitarist, Paco de Lucia.

These photos capture some impressions as the Convid-19 epidemic began to take hold.

 

Our Journey to Torremolinos

This is an odd post for me to get right. We were planning an adventure to southern Spain when my dear sister-in-law, Elizabeth Ruenitz, passed away unexpectedly. In my heart, I carry many memories of her on this trip. No pictures, just some memories: her subtle sense of humor, how she and my daughter shared their favorite Tom Lehrer songs, the care she gave the cats and my brother, and the tributes from her co-workers at the FDA. It worked out to add a week in Atlanta to our plans to celebrate Elizabeth’s life with my brothers and other family members.


Sometime in the 1980’s I read Michener’s fantasy novel, The Drifters, that relates the lives of a group of youngsters that intersect in Torremolinos in the 1960s. When we decided to look for Spring in Europe, I wondered what might remain of the young free life. Our final destination would be Malaga on the Costa del Sol of Spain. First, we would explore Torremolinos and some southern points.

Here are some images to carry with me from Kuala Lumpur to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to Atlanta. Then, a week later, Atlanta back to Amsterdam. After a day in Sloterdijk neighborhood of Amsterdam, we flew down to Malaga Airport, heading 10 km south to Torremolinos.

Our take on Torremolinos. The youngsters left and came back when they retired, like us. Many retired British and German expats here along with Spanish jubilados who find the weather less harsh in the winter.

Covid-19 concerns. Before leaving Malaysia, we were already limiting our social engagements. Getting together with my family, Wife and I used the Indian bow and greeting of Namaste, and did not touch or hug. No reason for us to take chances as we are all on in years except for my grand nephew who has just turned one. So far, so good.
We are staying indoors in Malaga Spain now during the State of Emergency. Its rainy and cold on the Costa del Sol so no big deal. We have an apartment for 4-6 weeks with several small grocery shops just up the street. Out of the little kitchen come Soups Stews, Salads, and Olive oil with fresh “pan integral”, whole wheat bread baked locally.

Porto Pictorial

I spent the last two weeks of August in Porto, Portugal.  Daughter stopped by for a week on her way from Paris to Lugano.  Wife hoped to catch up but was attending to family in Malaysia.

Daughter and I enjoyed our time seeing the typical sights and looking for “odd and unique” adventures.  Porto is big enough to be easily accessible by trams and buses, but compact enough to offer great variety: Old city, shopping centers, beaches, interesting day trips, Harry Potter references.

My hope that these snaps illustrate this variety.  The display uses WordPress slide show feature with random on.  I’m an old “tripeiro,” tripe eater, as the local call themselves.

What happened to Barcelona?

A number of viewers of my blog comment how much they like Barcelona.  We traveled from Malta to Panama, but there is no direct flight.  In our plans we found that the best airfare involved a stopover in Barcelona with two full days to explore.  Clearly not enough time, but tried to make the most of it.  We were slowed due to train strikes and other complications.  All in all it was a very interesting two days.  Here are some of the impressions I have.

Day 1

 

Day 2

Here is a link to the Yerevan, Armenia page for another work by the sculptor of cats.

From African Skies

We prefer to travel overland when possible. Due to the distances, differing bureaucratic visa requirements, and questionable roads and rail, we opted for flying for most of our travel in Africa. As much as possible, we booked daytime flights in hopes of seeing as much terrain as possible. Part of the excitement of Africa is flying on a clear day viewing the vastness of the land.  I captured the following landscapes through airplane windows using iPad and iPhone.  During January to March 2016 we started in Casablanca flying to Dakar (via Madrid). Then we flew on to Nairobi, Johannesburg, Capetown, Windhoek, finally back to Johannesburg. We visited Pretoria by train. Then, we took a bus to Gaborone returning by air. Then, we continued up to Addis Ababa (via Nairobi).  The austere red earth highlighted by mountains, dappled with shadows of clouds, cut by the occasional river fascinates me. The lonely yearning in each of these photos of the distant expanses resonates with me.