Irregular Post; Gran Canaria to Nice

Friday Dec 23rd Hola et Bonjour,           We used the last day in Gran Canaria closer to home. Downtown Puerto Tico to get stamps to send postcards to dos nietos in Hong Kong. This village is larger than our neighborhood of Playa Amadores. Vacation condos are carved chocker-block into the barrancas walls, all the way to the top. If there is a “next time” to Gran Canaria, we will definitely stay in the north where the locals live.           Arguinegiun was a working fishing village with some tourist condos away from the rocky beaches. Interesting local pleasant grittiness here. But still too many condos. Further afield we went uphill and away from the coast to a “preserved” village; Aguemas. Oops here. The “business model” was to preserve the old look of Gran Canaria  but in the process it became sterile!! After noon is quiet time and few people are about except for a few tourists. Tiendas were cerrado until 3P; siesta. A few restaurants/cafes were open but all had the same menu in four languages. I did shoot some and probably got a couple of OK ones  but I felt it was a movie set waiting for the actors.           Dinner was at the upscale AQUI restaurant in one of the beach resorts in Playa Amadores. They had seven starters and seven mains along with some nice inexpensive house wine by the glass. We had a lovely tasty olive salad with shaved parmesan after a nice squash soup amuse bouche that you drank from a translucent cone. Meg had sea bass with a spanish risotto and I had filet of beef...

Irregular Post; Gran Canaria2

Thursday  Dec 21, 2016 Buenas, “So! Where and What?” “In the car and about the island.. We finally stopped at the beach Playa Amadores where our home is located.”           Gran Canaria is a small circular island that is about 6000ft altitude in the center; 3D shape like a volcano. Barrancos, steep ravines, start very narrow as run-offs from the rains on the peak. The steepen and widen as they descend to the ocean. Between these barranco outlets, there are sandy playas in the south (tourist resort country) and high headlands, especially in the north. Most of the locals live in the north near Las Palmas.           Roads to the interior are carved in terraces that wind along the steep barranco walls. Speeds are slow as the road, which is well surfaced, twists and climbs/descends. There are a few turn outs where less familiar drivers might pull over and let the cars behind go past.           We have spent most of the time exploring the interior; San Lucia, San Bartholme, Tejeda and Roque Nublo. Tejeda is high up, 5000 ft, and a beautiful town carved into the barranco wall facing south. White painted stucco with red tile roofs. Flat cobbles for street pavement. Here they make the famous almond delights noted across Spain and Europe. We can vouch that they are tasty!           Roque Nublo is a thumb of basalt that was a throat of lava in the ancient volcano. Softer rock eroded leaving Nublo pointing to the sky. This iconic symbol can be seen from many place on the shore. In an art museum in Galdor on the...

Irregular Posts; Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria,

Sunday Dec 18 2016, Hola,           Gran Canaria belongs to Spain and sits just off the African coast. We are ensconced in Puerto Rica at Playa Amadores in a times share. Folks from northern Europe are the guests; they thought we were English. We are the only North Americans.           The resort, like all the others built in the past few years, is terraced into the steep walls of the barancas where the headlands meet the Atlantic. Roads thread their way up, around, down, twist the curves of the walls of the canyons. Narrow. 2nd and 3rd gear manual driving 40 km/hr maximum speed. The few main highways are 5th gear and are 100 km/hr.            We arrived from Paris via Brussels on Brussels Airlines; a budget airline under the Air France alliance. We left the hotel on Saturday at 5:30A. Landed at Las Palmas 6 hours later with a 1 hour change planes in Brussels. The plane to Brussels was very mixed race and age. The plane to Gran Canaria was mostly northern European and a lot of families with children. The same at all the car rental booths in the airport. The road from the airport was a highway with many tunnels though mountain flanks. The south of the island is dry, temperatures in the 60s and partly cloudy. It gets its winds over the oceean from Africa and the Sahara. No real trees, a lot of cactus and scrub vegetation. AND a lot of resorts near the coast for northern Europeans.            After a leisurly breakfast, laundry etc, we drove west the then north along GC...

Irregular Posts; Spain, Seville 4

Andover; Sun 28th HomeAgainHomeAgain…JiggittyJig Sevilla, Saturday morning, the rain fell steadily and cold. At the stop for the airport bus, a dozen folks crowded under the shelter overhang and clustered in the dark under umbrellas.  Daylight doesn’t begin until about 8AM at this time of the year.  The windows of the bus were covered with the condensed moisture of a travelers leaving Sevilla.  The defogging system on the bus was hardly able to deal with the windshield. Check in and security is never the same.  Each place and sometimes each agent have their own procedure.  It does give credence to the idea of “Security Theater”.  In Sevilla, anyone with fashion boots had to remove them.  No other footwear came off.  No need to open the computer here!  With time aplenty, we settled at a table for a Spanish coffee.  These are small cup espresso or cafe con leche.  The milk is hot so as not to cool the coffee.  The Cafe Solo is espresso; strong and with the sugar, a real different taste.  Occasionally I get the double cup when a single “thimble” of espresso is not enough.  This AM a roll, and out of a ziploc, some left over jamon Iberico del bellato from last night’s farewell tapas. A tall Latin American guy asked us to baby sit his baggage while he got his desayuno.  He too had a double espresso and a sandwich, which he heated in the microwave near the cashier.  A seasoned traveler!  Later he invited us into the boarding line with him as we waited the boarding of Sevilla to Madrid.  [A common practice...

Irregular Posts; Spain, Seville 3

Sevilla, Friday 26th Buenas Tardes, Friday morning, we head back to el barrio de Triana on the other side of the Guadalquivir River that flows through the city.  There is a Castillo de San Jorge on the edge of the river; a monument to the purity of intolerance; now it is a museo of Tolerance.  The lively Mercado de Triana is at street level.  The former buildings of the castillo were razed and covered almost two centuries ago.  The excavated ruins are under the mercado. This was the official center for the Spanish Inquisition.  There is no Monty Python joke here.  The “conservo” was at issue.  The Church was upset that some of the Jews who stayed after the Christian conquest of Espana did NOT really accept the christianity that they were forced to convert to.  It was believed that many actually practiced Jewish ritual in secret.  An officialdom was formed to deal with the problem of secret Jews and heretics.  People were encouraged to inform on suspected Conservos, and later Lutherans, and Reformists, and anyone who might do something, believe in something that was “heretical” to the established beliefs.  The Inquisitors would get the truth from the accused sooner or later by one torture or another.  Yes waterborading was in vogue as well as the rack.  “The truth will save you” and get you burned at the stake.  If you were lucky, you were strangled before the flames reached you. Difficult transition to go upstairs to the mercado where locals do their daily shopping for fresh meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables.  Sitting at a small table with a...

Irregular Posts; Spain, Seville 2

Sevilla; Thursday Thanksgiving 25th Hola y Buenas Noches, The rain in Spain… Weather looks cloudy and showery/rainy through our stay in beautiful Sevilla. “Showers become rain, some umbrellas become all. Cobbles and puddles.” November starts the cool wet winter season here.  We are assured that it will get nice in March.  Still there are a lot of tourists here.  Many tour groups can be seen going into the Catederal and the Giralda, and the Alcazar.  There a several different Japanese groups.  Meg was often greeted here and in Maroc with “Konichiwa.”. The Giradla was an 85 foot high minaret built from 1198 to 1248 by the same Arabic architect that built two similar ones in Marrakech and Rabat.  Five times a day, a rider on horseback would ascend the minaret’s ramped corridor to the top to do the call to prayer.  The Christians captured the town in 1248 and just built a bell tower on top of the “new” minaret.  They followed by building what is now the third largest cathedral in the world.   Nice of them preserving the minaret, since they usually destroyed the religious sites of the vanquished and built a church that included the former building’s remains. We’ve fallen into the local routine of morning coffee and a tostada [toasted roll with ham or olive oil].  Then walk a lot all over town and take a lot of photos [with as little gray sky as possible ;~{ ].  Lunch, long after 1PM, is usually a “menu del dia” for a set price of about 10 euro each.  This is an appetizer or soup followed by entree and dessert with bread and...