This is the assignment I have been putting off because I really don’t know what I am being asked to do. The assignment from October 2 is:
Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force. How does that make you feel?
For several months I didn’t write a post. As John Lennon said “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” But what exciting and fun filled months they were.
I did pen a post when I was in Italy. We had been to Venice and were looking forward to going to Spain with our Italian friends who live in Como. We started in Madrid and just happened to be there when the two local soccer teams played each other in the football Champions League semi-final. Real Madrid won but we were assured by almost everyone we met that the other team Atletico de Madrid was the better team and should have won. Anyway, the excitement was felt by all even those of us who are not soccer fanatics. I made the mistake of buying a Real Madrid scarf when our guide took us to see the stadium – my son quickly put me right on that score, but my soccer-mad grandson graciously accepted the scarf on our return to NZ.
Then the next day we went to Toledo a fantastic town built on several levels and dating back to Roman times. We saw mosques, churches and synagogues and were told that the three cultures lived peaceably side by side for many centuries. We wondered aloud what has happened to our world to make this impossible today. Are we all too caught up in ourselves to consider the next person? Is it possible to return to those more peaceful times or is it too late?
We went to the Prado museum and saw a wonderful display of modern and ancient art. Here we saw the Hieronymus Bosch “The Garden of Earthly Delights” – truly amazing. This is a triptych with so much in it that I stood transfixed until my companions called to move me on to the other fantastic paintings housed in the I hadn’t heard of Hieronymus Bosch until I started reading the books by Michael Connelly with Harry Bosch as his protagonist. Good reads by the way.
We saw many other paintings including Diego Velázquez’ ‘ “The Family” that I had seen shown in books but here was the original. Obviously, it was so much better than any reproduction I had seen. I now have a mouse pad at the side of the computer showing The Family.
After lunch, we went to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum which is very close to the Prado. More art. We were told that this was the collection of the Baron’s wife. With over 1,600 paintings the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection was once the second largest private collection in the world after the British Royal Collection. Here was a dazzling display of Old Masters, 14th and 15th centuries Italian, Flemish and Dutch painters, and among other things a collection of North American art from the 18th and 19th centuries. This last we were told is unique in European Art Galleries.
We spent several hours there and I could have stayed all day. I wanted to return but we had only a few days in Madrid. We really enjoyed our time in Madrid.
The next stop was Seville. We took a boat ride on the river on a lovely spring evening and oohed at the sights. One afternoon we spent several hours wandering around the old part of the city, getting lost and found again. We came across an old market where all sorts of fresh food was on sale and we stopped for coffee and chocolate cake at a very small bar inside the market. The owner came and insisted that my partner try a Spanish wine from a local winery and I had to try Manzanilla (?). A very pleasant half hour was spent there talking with the owner and his son.
We went to Cordoba and again marvelled at a town that had been in existence since pre-Roman times. And again we saw how the three cultures managed to live side by side in peace and harmony.
Then Granada which has to be my favourite of the cities we had visited in Spain. Of course, we had to visit the Alhambra – a 3-hour walking trip that wasn’t nearly long enough to see everything. We managed to get left behind the group as my companion was busy doing what he does on holiday, taking pictures. Never mind we managed to connect with the bus before it took off for the city again.
And then when our friends had to go home, we left for Barcelona. But this has to have a post to itself. The buildings, the food, the people all were exceptional.