Today is Dia de la Hispanidad, Spain’s National Holiday to celebrate Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492. There is a Military Parade this morning but it is a bit too early for us, so instead we go to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) which is supposed to be free today. However, when we arrive it is all cordoned off and there are lots of police and crowds of people everywhere.We decide that we should wait around and see what is going to happen. Turns out that King Felipe IV is to arrive at the palace, and after about an hour Bob thinks we should move closer to an entrance that is guarded by mounted soldiers. Good thing we did because a couple minutes later a cavalcade of cars, and lots of police arrive and so does the King. Only problem is we are still quite far away and the cars drive up and turn into the palace very quickly. We both try to take a picture and I mange to get this one which shows the King’s car but not much else. Oh well…. We do get to see the mounted troops return from the parade and they are magnificent.We find a spot to eat in the park across from the palace, accompanied by a guitar player singing in English. It was quite nice hearing something we could actually understand. I’ve only managed to learn a few Spanish words: I keep thinking of French words instead of the Spanish ones I have been trying to learn. They just don’t seem to stick in my mind.We decide to walk to the Reina Sophia museum, only we get lost, repeatedly! Bob is using a new map app on the phone and either the app or Bob is not working well because we find ourselves walking in the wrong direction more than once. We do walk past some interesting buildings…
and a newly planted bed of veggies around a statue that was very pretty.
And then there are the interesting street performers trying to make a bit of money. If people walked too close to this one, a head jumped out and scared them.
We end up right back where we started after walking in a big circle so we head for a Metro station near Plaza Mayor, and encounter hordes of people.The subway takes us very close to the Museum, but do you think we can find it? After some more walking in circles, as it seems to be that sort of a day, we finally spot the museum entrance tucked between two buildings. We are here to see PIcasso’s famous painting ‘Guernica’. I sneak this photo from afar and through a doorway, just to say I was here.
The painting is very powerful. It doesn’t reproduce well at post card or even book page size as the brushstrokes, textures, lines and subtleties of the paint and drawing just don’t show up. I was surprised by how much I liked this painting as it never appealed to me before. Here we are posing beside a couple sculptures we liked. A Picasso for me…and a Jacques Lipchitz for Bob. He liked this one even before he knew it was a sailor with a guitar I just loved this little head, ‘Portrait of my son Jordi’ by an artist named Joan Rebull.The hallways made an optical illusion in this photograph. Depending on how you look at it it is an arched ceiling or a big white cone. Can you see it?
We take the glass elevators up to the fourth floor just to check oiut the views, then down and we head for home. Can you find Bob?
We walk four kilometers of the El Camino de Santiago ( a pilgrimage walk) on Thursday in Pamplona. I thought I would like to do a long walk like this, but after talking to some of the people on the walk I have changed my mind. Much of the walk is on city streets or along the shoulders of roads, and the shelters are communal rooms with bunk beds very close to one another so lots of snoring and night-time noises. Not for me, thank you.This is the Bridge of La Magdalena, a medieval bridge that millions of pilgrims have used to cross the River Arga on the way to Pamplona through the ‘Gateway of France’ which still has a working drawbridge.
The drawbridge is now only used once a year on January 5th, when three Wise Men on camels enter the Old City of Pamplona.
We follow the route of The Running of the Bulls, which takes place during the summer, all the way to the bullring. It is easy to imagine how crazy, chaotic and dangerous this event is. The streets are very narrow and there is nowhere to hide from the many very angry, very large stampeding bulls! There is an eleven meter long sculpture called ‘Monument to the Bull Run’ by a Spanish Sculptor that faces the bullring. It is quite impressive and gives some idea of what this event might look like.
We rest for a while in the Plaza Del Castillo, with a view of the colorful buildings of Pamplona before getting something to eat and heading back to our hotel. We take a local bus that takes us almost to the door of our hotel. Nice, I am tired today.Wednesday morning we drive to the beach at San Sebastian, which is one of the popular resorts in Northern Spain. It is not for us. We prefer the more natural beaches, with fewer apartments and hotels. It is cloudy when we arrive but it warms up and the sun comes out. We have been very lucky with the weather, and had our first rain last night along with a very loud thunderstorm.
I stick my fingers in the Atlantic Ocean which we have now seen from Florida, South Africa and Spain.We are off to Guernica, a small town that was bombed by Germany in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. It was the world’s first saturation bombing raid and the destruction this bombing caused inspired Pablo Picasso’s famous painting, Guernica. We first visit Guernica’s Parliament building, which has an enormous modern stained glass ceiling covering what used to be a courtyard. It depicts the Oak of Guernica. Basque leaders met in democratic assembly under this tree for centuries. There is a 300 year old petrified oak tree in the garden outside here which is symbolic of the ancient roots of the Basque people.We find the tiled life sized mural of Guernica, the original paining is now in Madrid.There are several large sculptures in the Peace Park adjacent to the Parliament building and the oak tree, including this one by Henry Moore. We had our first tapas in Guernica, an easy economical way to sample a variety of local foods.Perhaps the nicest part of the day was arriving at our Airbnb apartment in Gama. Our host Gemma met us nearby and we followed her to the loveliest little apartment. We have stayed at several Airbnb accomodations and this is the nicest one yet. We decide to extend our stay here to five nights. It is relaxing to stay put for a while and this is such a nice place to do that. Here are photos of our home for the next five days.