I spent the year before my trip trying to recover my Spanish from High School. Fortunately, a lot of people spoke English, those that didn't were very nice about my attempts at Spanish, between that and drawing pictures, I did quite well. Unfortunately, my camera died halfway through my trip (I'm sure that it had nothing to do with my dropping it a couple times!) I bought a cheap one while I was there. In the larger Spanish cities - if you need anything - head to Cortes Ingles. These super department stores (think of an upper scale super K-Mart) have everything!

This statue is in El Parque del Retiros in Madrid. It's called Angel Caido - Fallen Angel. It's not too often that you come across a statue to the fallen angel. The park is very beautiful, statuary, greenery, and a man-made lake. It was also uncrowded, unlike most of the rest of Madrid. After this I headed for the Prado, which was nice, but I preferred the Museo Reina Sofia. The artwork there is more modern and includes Picasso's Guernica.


Segovia (this picture looks tilted, but it's the uneven terrain!) This is a nice small little town. The streets are narrow and twisty, but, like many of the cities of Spain, there are lots of signs around town pointing the way. This is supposedly the town where Columbus got his okay from the King and Queen to set sail for India.

The tomb of Columbus in Seville. I was surprised that picture taking was allowed in the Cathedral. The Cathedral used to be a mosque, now it's the third largest (Catholic?) Church in Europe after St. Paul's at the Vatican and St. Peter's in London.


The Mezquita (Mosque) in Cordoba. My absolute favorite site in Spain! It was just awe-inspiring. The building is just immense - in fact a Cathedral was built right in the middle of it. In one way, that's a shame, but if it hadn't been, the mosque probably wouldn't have been saved. This happened to be the site where my camera finally gave up, so my indoor pictures were mostly messed up. The arches and columns seemed to go on forever!

I walked through the old Jewish quarter to find one of the few remaining Synagogues in Spain as my distant ancestors came from Spain or Portugal in the 1600's - they were Sephardic Jews. It's pretty amazing how completely almost all traces of the Jewish people were eradicated from the country.



Granada at the Alhambra. Granada was just filled with tourists! It was the only place I had to get a ticket in advance - and over the phone. I had to wait a day and a half - and I was worried that I'd get to the ticket window and find I didn't order them after all. But apparently my Spanish worked - the ticket was waiting for me. The Alhambra was beautiful. One of the attractions was the heavy use of water - fountains, stair railings with water coursing down, water running through the walls, etc. It was impressive, but probably would have been more so if it hadn't been pouring down rain for most of my time there. There were some unhappy tour groups, but being a one-woman tour group - I just browsed the gift shop and palaces on the grounds until it cleared up. (The advantages of a loose schedule!) The cathedral is nice too - it holds the tombs of Isabella and Ferdinando along with their daughter and her husband.


If you're going to Barcelona and want somewhere a little slower paced, stay in Tarragona! It's a beautiful little town on the Mediterranean, about 45 minutes from Barcelona. (And that's driving slower than the speed limit, but Spain is considerate and has slow lanes from time to time while driving through the mountains - it's probably just for trucks, but it works well for amazed tourists trying to drive and stare at the mountains on one side and the sea on the other!) It has everything - a modern area, an older area, and even older area - the Roman ruins above. I saw a parade there in honor of the towns patron saint - people carrying big structures in the shape of people. They danced around and twirled with these 12 foot things on their shoulders - even down cobblestone streets that I could barely walk on.


Barcelona was fantastic! I spent three days here and should have allotted more, but I was nearing the end of my 22 days and had to move on. I had made reservations at Hotel Calabria - to my surprise, it turned out to be a little apartment. There are lots of things to do and see here, my favorites were buildings (like the one here) by Antoni Gaudi. His buildings are works of fantasy, including the still in progress cathedral, Sagrada Familia.


This is just a picture of the scenery near Pamplona. Spain was much prettier than I had realized - especially in the mountains.


In Pamplona, I saw another parade (though not in the sense of US parades - people would run along with the parade instead of just watching). This is a picture of one of the Gigantes. There are also shorter figures with big heads, small musical bands, and dancers. The guys in the white and red switch off carrying the big figures. The streets during these parades get just packed with people.


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