Night church

Seville Cathedral with the Giralda (Bell Tower) aglow.

Heading to Hotel Casa 1800 we catch our first glimpse of the magnificent Seville Cathedral. Legend has it that when they tore down a mosque of brick in 1401, the Christians re-conquering Spain said, “We will build a cathedral so huge that anyone who sees it will take us for madmen.” Taking about a hundred years to build, it is the third largest church in Europe, and the largest Gothic church in the world.

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The next morning we rise to sun, clear blue skies, and make our way to the Cathedral… take a stroll with us…

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The tomb of Christopher Columbus is located inside the Seville Cathedral in Spain. It was designed by the sculptor Arturo Melida. Originally installed in Havana, it was moved to Seville after Spain lost control of Cuba.

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Harvest time in the Cathedral’s Patio de los Naranjos (oranges).

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Spectacular views as we make our way up the 308′ high Giralda (bell tower). There are no stairs but a gently sloping ramp which ends just below the belfry. It is one of the very few buildings of Islamic Spain left unscathed by Christian intervention, and it is said that the Castillian king, Ferdinand III, rode to the top of the bell tower on horseback on the day he entered Seville on horseback.

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orange harvest

Quite a harvest from the Patio de los Naranjos!

In the distance is the Real Maestranza, Seville’s historic bullring, which we will visit tomorrow…

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Lisbon, Portugal – Walkabout

by Sue on January 27, 2015

Florist shop

Florist shop

Lisbon is described as a safe harbor – one of the remaining havens in Europe for sophisticated culture and relaxation in a time of tourist destinations. This time of year anyway, there are no parking lots full of tour buses, and reservations are easy to get or not needed. Walking miles each day around the city’s steep and often narrow streets has been a delight. Day and night we have felt very comfortable and safe exploring.

Saturday and the laundry is drying.

Saturday and the laundry is drying.

Few places in the world can pride themselves on maintaining the tradition and artistic use of tiles. Each group of “azulejos” (from the Arab word azzelij meaning small polished stone), as they are called in Portuguese, tell a story or portray a tradition. They are used to decorate interiors, whole facades of buildings, churches, and streets.

Tiles decorate an antique book store.

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Bronze sculpture of Portugal’s famous writer and poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935).

Bronze sculpture of Portugal’s famous writer and poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935).

Famous cafe ‘A Brasileira’ in Chiado where Pessoa’s sculpture lives out on the terrace.

Famous cafe ‘A Brasileira’ in Chiado where Pessoa’s sculpture lives out on the terrace.

The best way to travel is to feel’ Pessoa wrote, ‘so feel everything in every possible way.’ Pessoa was born in Lisbon in 1888. The story is that apart from his high school years, which he spent in South Africa, he lived in Lisbon without a break, without taking public holidays, without traveling abroad. Instead inventing many lives (and cities) out of his own. Pessoa spent a lot of his time in cafes, where he wrote and drank a lot . He died in 1935, aged 47.

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City window garden.

Pedestrian friendly area near our hotel - Brown's Downtown.

Pedestrian friendly area near our hotel – Brown’s Downtown.

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Portion of aqueduct with a tile fresco.

 

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum’s cool facade.

Tram ride anyone?

Tram ride anyone?

Strolling back to our hotel after dinner we come across the lookout that evaded us during the day… in the distance is the Castelo de Sao Jorge – tomorrow’s destination.

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Castle at night_new

We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

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Lisbon, Portugal – Mercado da Ribeira

by Sue on January 24, 2015

Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal

Mercado da Ribeira (market near the river) is a Lisbon treasure, and the city’s largest open food market. Housed in a beautiful building topped with a Moorish-style dome, the food market sells everything from inky octopus and fresh seafood to fresh fruit, and funeral flowers. But, beginning in May 2014 the gastronomical area opened, representing the best restaurants and chefs of Lisbon. The area has about 30 spaces for food vendors and seating for around 750 in the center area. Being foodies and on vacation, this was the focus of our attention… thanks for the tasty tip Lisa and Jeff!

Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal

The idea is brilliant: you grab the food and drinks from one or several restaurants of your choice (can be different than your family and friends), and find a seat in the food area where you’ll be able to interact with everyone there.

Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal

Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal

Spit roasted pork belly immediately caught our eye, as did the salads from another booth…

Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal

With delicious results…

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And still room for a sweet or two from Arcadia…

Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal

Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal

We visited a second time on a Saturday night and the food area was overflowing. Seats were full, the most popular stands had lines and the atmosphere was dynamic. Having already eaten dinner, we tried some chocolate cake and stood at the end of a bar-like table. Conversation started flowing when one of the guys heard we were from Seattle – he had seen the recent Seahawks game leading up to to the Superbowl, and was very excited to compare notes with Americans, and Washingtonians at that! Turns out he and his friends are from Iceland, and two of his buddies are competing in the European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Gotta love travel!

The Lisbon Connection is a great resource for travelers in Lisbon with articles and reviews on just about anything having to do with the city. Check it out next time you are traveling to Lisbon or just for fun.

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Lisbon, Portugal – Arrival/Chegada

by Sue on January 24, 2015

From a spectacular sunrise in Vancouver, BC to a cold and gray Frankfurt morning, to a mild but drizzly day in Lisbon, Portugal… we have traveled far over the last 24 hours. Energized from the excitement of our arrival in Lisbon, the adventure begins as we take the City Centre bus #1 to our hotel – Brown’s Downtown. Making our way to the Rossio stop, Jay writes, “the neighborhoods pass, like waves, each with their own character and pulse – palm trees, cars parked on cobblestone sidewalks, ancient tiled facades, monuments at many intersections.” We sense the history and grandeur of Lisbon.

Arco da Rua Augusta, Lisbon, Portugal

Arco da Rua Augusta, Lisbon

After a siesta and consult with the friendly and helpful hotel staff, we head out for the evening with a loose walking plan and a destination for dinner.

Church on Rue da Alfandega, Lisbon, Portugal

Church on Rue da Alfandega, Lisbon

Populi Caffe, Lisbon, Portugal

Arriving in the square, Populi Caffe in the far corner.

Populi Caffe and Restaurant floor tiles, Lisbon, Portugal

Populi Caffe and Restaurant floor tiles.

Recommended by our hotel concierge, Populi is a short walk away, and very welcoming as we approach it across the square. Beginning with glasses of red wine from the Douro region of Portugal (graceful, with notes of black cherry), and a burlap sack of focaccia and peasant bread we settle right in. Roban, our waiter, guides us through the menu and we enjoy his friendly conversation. After a plate of charcuteries, Jay has a very nicely cooked and tasty duck risotto with fresh rosemary & thyme. I enjoy lighter fare, a bowl of the traditional sausage, potato and kale soup… potatoes pureed into the broth with little chunks of sausage and a chiffonade of kale – perfectly executed.

Populi Caffe and Restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal

Art and sculpture in the Populi Caffe and Restaurant.

At the end of the meal, Roban brings us complimentary glasses of Ginjinha – a delicious Portuguese sour cherry-infused liqueur – popular in Lisbon.

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View from the balcony

Populi Caffe and Restaurant, Lisbon, Portugal

Sophisticated interior of Populi.

Wandering back to the hotel after dinner, enjoying the fresh air and quiet energy of the city, a sliver of moon appears as we round the corner.

Moon in Lisbon, Portugal

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The Longest Road – Florida to Alaska

by Sue on July 14, 2013

The Longest Road by Philip CaputoFeeling nostalgic this morning as I read rave reviews about a new road book in the NY Times…

Two years ago we converted our Honda CRV into a camper van and drove round-trip from Washington State to Maryland. Taking a northern route out and southern path home. Read about our adventures here:  US Cross Country Road Trip.

Back to the new book:  “The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, From Key West to the Arctic Ocean” by Philip Caputo. Mr. Caputo is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and his book chronicles his trip in an Airstream trailer from one corner of North America to the other, asking everyday Americans what unites and divides a country as endlessly diverse as it is large. From his publisher:

“Standing on a wind-scoured island off the Alaskan coast, Philip Caputo marveled that its Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. And a question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united? Caputo resolved that one day he’d drive from the nation’s southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives and asking how they would answer his question.

So it was that in 2011, in an America more divided than in living memory, Caputo, his wife, and their two English setters made their way in a truck and classic trailer (hereafter known as “Fred” and “Ethel”) from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. He spoke to everyone from a West Virginia couple saving souls to a Native American shaman and taco entrepreneur. What he found is a story that will entertain and inspire readers as much as it informs them about the state of today’s United States, the glue that holds us all together, and the conflicts that could cause us to pull apart.”

Recently, Mr. Caputo traveled to Missouri for a conversation with one of America’s most acclaimed travel writers, William Least Heat-Moon, the author of “Blue Highways” and “PrairyErth (A Deep Map).” Heat-Moon’s latest book is “Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories From the Road”, a collection of short essays taken from 30-plus years of travel. They had a wide-ranging conversation, covering their many years of travel. The New York Times published a condensed and edited version:  To See America, Be a Traveler, Not a Tourist.

Here is a taste of their conversation:

CAPUTO: One of the things that’s impressed me about traveling in this country — and I’ve done a lot of world traveling, as you have, too — is not only the size of the country but the variety of the landscape, which is like nothing I have ever seen anywhere else. I mean you can be in Arizona or New Mexico and think you’re in North Africa, and not terribly far away it might look like the Swiss Alps, and someplace else — say, the Dakotas — looks like Ukraine.

HEAT-MOON: American topography is so incredibly diverse. If you’re traveling by auto, the windshield becomes a kind of movie. And we’re going to go out on the road, and we’re going to meet people who don’t think the way we do. And listen to someone who doesn’t think the way we do, we may learn something that could be useful, as well as something downright interesting.

CAPUTO: Yeah, I think one of the things I got out of this particular journey was running into people who will change your perspective, who will change the way you looked at things. And sometimes I think not just for the moment either, but permanently. And I think you’re right, that the country is big enough and varied enough, not only in its geographical landscape but its social landscape, that if I do travel to northwest Washington from southeast Georgia, or vice versa, I’m not going to run into somebody who thinks exactly the way I do and sees the world the same as I do.

Time to hit the road… well, maybe not until the house renovation is a little further along…

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The Quiet Traveler

December 5, 2012

I am an introvert. Recently completing the Myers-Briggs personality test confirmed my thoughts, and reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking deepened my understanding. The terms “introvert” and “extrovert” were first made popular by psychologist Carl Jung in the 1920s and then later by the Myers-Briggs […]

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Victoria, British Columbia: Restaurants, cafes and bakeries

November 19, 2012

In autumn Vancouver Island abounds with heirloom tomatoes, pears, apples, plums, exotic squash, pumpkins, wild mushrooms… Restaurants Bengal Lounge ~ Fairmont Empress Hotel (721 Government Street). Drawing inspiration from Queen Victoria’s role as the Empress of India, this colonial style lounge is known throughout Victoria for its authentic curry buffet and signature cocktail menu. Frequented […]

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Ireland in September

October 28, 2012

Those of us who read the New York Times know Frank Bruni as an Op-Ed columnist; I had forgotten he was the restaurant critic of The Times from June 2004 to August 2009. Enjoy this thoughtful salute to his mother and musings on Ireland as he travels the country by car… I went in mid-September, […]

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Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

October 17, 2012

Off to Victoria, British Columbia, for three nights to escape phones, computers and all the trimmings that come with working at home. The reality of our sweet retreat sinks in as we park in the ferry lane and seek warmth from our fleece blanket on this crisp autumn morning. We plan to walk everywhere, exploring […]

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The Best U.S. Beaches

May 28, 2012

This is the 22nd year for the Top 10 Best Beaches list, created by Dr. Beach, also known as Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research in Miami. Coronado Beach in San Diego won first place this year. It has great sand, the warmest water on the west coast, and the […]

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Travel Journaling ~ Commiting

May 11, 2012

On a recent trip to VA, DC and MD I decided to do a quilt or comic strip like approach to recording our journey. A shorter, busier trip, this was my way of capturing the memories. In Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler by Lavinia Spaulding she writes, “Everyone is capable […]

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Fredericksburg, Virginia ~ Dining

April 24, 2012

This Easter we are up in the air, flying from Seattle, WA to Washington, DC non-stop with Alaska Airlines. Thinking about our food plans, I do some research on restaurants in Fredericksburg, VA, which we will be passing through around dinner time on our drive to Norfolk, VA. Bistro Bethem rises up as I search. […]

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Santa Fe, New Mexico ~ Restaurants, Farmers Market

April 5, 2012

Deciding where to dine in Santa Fe is serious fun. Our generous hosts, Dorsey & Richard, have sampled all the best local fare and together we have a terrific time experiencing some of the local favorites… Tesuque Village Market, 138 Tesuque Village Road, is a charming market and restaurant about 15 minutes north of Santa […]

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India, on my mind…

March 30, 2012

Different articles and books concerning India are crossing my path recently and bringing back many memories. January of 1997 I visited India with a group of 12 women. Our host was one of my social work professors – he taught us “group therapy” at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, but confessed to being terrified […]

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San Miguel de Allende: Restaurants, bakeries, groceries

February 24, 2012

Whether you are eating at home or dining out at a local restaurant, San Miguel de Allende food is tasty and affordable… Restaurants La Sirena Gorda (The Fat Mermaid) ~ Calle Bar­ranca at the cor­ner with Calle Huer­tas. Happening little neighborhood cantina, dating back to the 1920s. Nothing pretentious. No white tablecloths. Just good, fast service […]

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Gluten-free Cherry Blueberry Pie

February 12, 2012

Pablo Picasso is quoted as saying, “Love is the greatest refreshment in life.” I would agree and with Valentine’s Day approaching, let’s add a scrumptious cherry pie to the mix. A key element of a good pie is a light and flaky crust. I find The Gluten-Free Pantry Perfect Pie Crust Mix comes closest to […]

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San Miguel de Allende: La semana cuarta y última

February 11, 2012

The Museo Histórico de San Miguel de Allende is one of many “regional museums” of Mexico. It was the home of Ignacio Allende, who was a principle protagonist in the early part of the Mexican War of Independence. The structure, built in 1759 with Baroque and Neoclassical elements, is located next to the San Miguel […]

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San Miguel de Allende: Saturday Organic Farmers Market

February 3, 2012

Entering the Saturday Organic Farmers Market one of the first things we notice is an outdoor dining area under the shade trees filled with people eating. Then the aromas of tortillas and gorditas frying on the griddles. Two Mexican families are cooking and serving up a storm of tacos, tamales, quesadillas, and huaraches – their […]

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San Miguel de Allende: La Tercera Semana

January 24, 2012

Each Sunday since our arrival in San Miguel de Allende we begin the day with a morning walk around the Jardin Botanica. Located on a hilltop 1.5 km northeast of town, this 217 acre area is a wildlife and bird sanctuary. Today as we do our silent walk around the sanctuary we come upon this […]

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Oaxaca, Mexico

January 19, 2012

Oaxaca is another artful city in Mexico on our list to visit – read about the town, some of its culture, food, and nightlife from New York Times writer, Freda Moon… WITH Oaxaca’s imposing Baroque churches, plant-filled courtyards and shady plazas perfect for people-watching, it’s tempting to see the city as a photogenic relic of […]

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