Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

Recently, a dear cousin happened to be in Barcelona for a day before she embarked on a cruise. I love to see family so took a quick trip to my favourite Spanish city to spend the day with her. We packed a lot in and had fun.

31073099_10155289132480952_4582587387363721216_n

Cousins at Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona

We managed to see quite a bit and catch up on family news. One place she really wanted to see was Gaudi’s Sagrada Família. Every time I visit this amazing work in progress, more parts of it have been completed. She was awestruck, as everyone is when they it.

DSCN1316

Happy to see La Sagrada Família

After a bus trip around the city and a delightful lunch on Passeig de Gràcia we visited another of Gaudi’s magical buildings, Casa Batlló, all decked out with roses.

DSCN1314

Casa Batlló dressed in roses

DSCN1342

31100346_10155289144235952_6942827312727457792_n

Inside Casa Batlló

The roses were in honour of St. George’s Day or Día de San Jorge as it is known here in Spain. I loved all the references to roses and books scattered about the intriguing house.

DSCN1350

DSCN1353

I found out later that Día de San Jorge is also known as the day of books and roses. A day where lovers exchange books and roses to honour the legend of St. George or San Jorge, who is the patron saint of Catalonia.

We ended the day by strolling along La Rambla and having dinner on this iconic street. This building covered in umbrellas with a dragon on the corner caught our attention.

DSCN1360

An umbrella building on La Rambla

I had the next morning to myself before flying back home so after a cafe con leche and a chocolate filled croissant across from Plaça Catalunya, I decided to walk to the Gothic Quarter which was nearby. I came upon the impressive Barcelona Cathedral built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. Beside it is the Gaudi Exhibition Museum. Since this had been a very Gaudi trip,  I went into the museum and had a good look around. The displays depicted items from the great man’s life and things that influenced his work.  It was very informative and I got to know more about Antoni Gaudi and how he came up with his unique ideas.

DSCN1385

DSCN1394 (2)

The legend of St. George slaying the dragon influenced Gaudi’s work. In fact, the roof of Casa Batllo is meant to look like the back of a dragon with a sword through it.

DSCN1406

Gaudi’s workbench

The building housing the exhibition was incredible. It was built in the 12th century as a hospital for the poor. Gaudi himself was a patron and would often visit the sick. Remains of the old walls and frescos added to the experience. It was well worth the visit.

DSCN1386

And when I went back outside, a bride and groom were preparing for a photo shoot by the cathedral. How special.

DSCN1429

And an orchestra played music on the steps of the cathedral

DSCN1433 (2)

People in the audience joined hands and danced to the music.

DSCN1444

The sun shone, music played, people danced and I was overflowing with happiness. A perfect little getaway to a city that never ceases to amaze me and a chance to see a family member.

DSCN1452 (2)

Don’t you just love this outfit made of fresh flowers?

We are off on a driving holiday to France so I may be offline for a few days, but will respond to your comments as soon as possible.

Happy Easter!! Here is an article I wrote on Easter in Spain from my archives. Sally has kindly featured it on her site. If you haven’t read it before, you might enjoy the celebrations of Semana Santa. Wishing everyone a wonderful day!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Darlene Foster shares a post from her archives that brought back memories for me of our seventeen years in Spain. Easter is a big festival and is an occasion for all the family to take to the streets.

Semana Santa: Easter in Spain by Darlene Foster

The week before and including Easter is called Semana Santa here in Spain and is the largest religious festival of the year. Elaborate processions take place throughout the week in most cities and towns. During Holy week religious sculptures are taken out of the churches and paraded through the town to the main cathedral. Some of these precious sculptures,created by well known Spanish artists, are hundreds of years old. They are mounted on floats called pasos, surrounded with flowers and candles. Portapasos (or float-carriers) wearing traditional costumes, carry the heavy floats through the streets lined with spectators. No large trucks transport these floats, only…

View original post 913 more words

There are just so many things to see and do in Barcelona that it’s impossible to see everything in one visit. Every time I go, I discover something new and exciting. I took my out-of-town guests to this fascinating city last summer where we visited Mount Tibidabo, the highest point in Barcelona, and loved it!

DSCN9714

The charming blue tram

Getting there was part of the fun. We first took a bus, then a pleasant ride on a quaint blue tram with a friendly driver that took us through Barcelona’s most affluent residential area. The well-loved blue tram has been in operation since 1901 and still has that old world charm with dark wood seats and ceiling.

DSCN9824

Beautiful homes from the window of the tram. Note the gorgeous wrought iron fence and gate.

The tram only took us halfway up the mountain. To reach the top we had to board a vintage funicular. We entered the colourful contraption with trepidation but decided that if it had been pulling folks up to the top of the mountain for 116 years, it must be OK.

DSCN9726

Dubious funicular to the top of the mountain

Once safely delivered to the top of Mount Tibidabo, we were greeted by a classic amusement park built in 1889. Overlooking the vintage rides and fast food kiosks, the impressive Temple of Tibidabo built in 1902, stands proud. Also known as the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is adorned with a golden bronze statue of Jesus with outstretched arms as if giving a benediction to all of Barcelona.

DSCN9743

We had a quick look at the old Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and other childhood rides but decided not to go on them. Our prime interest was the church.

The interior of the church was impressive with many works of art, murals, statues, mosaics and stained glass windows.

DSCN9755

Many awesome icons inside the church including a Black Madonna and Child.

DSCN9757

I loved the details like this iron door infront of  a private chapel

DSCN9758

DSCN9806

Mosaic floor depicting the story of the loaves and fishes

An elevator took us up to the terrace offering amazing panoramic views of the city, port and coastline. As we walked around the entire circumference we enjoyed close-up views of large stone statues depicting the twelve Apostles posted at intervals, ornate bell towers and intricate carvings.

DSCN9801 (2)

An ornate bell tower on the terrace

DSCN9774

One of the twelve Apostles overlooking the city

DSCN9787

Another apostle, with a fabulous view.

Stone stairs took us to more levels until we reached the top under the golden statue of Jesus. It was amazing. The wind blew, the sun shone and we were delighted to have had this experience.

DSCN9771

We worked our way to the top via the spiral stone staircases.

DSCN9781

More intriguing details. In the foreground is the top of a gate made to look like a flowering plant.

DSCN9815

After enjoying a nice lunch, I had yummy deep-fried artichokes with aioli dip and an iced coffee, we bought a few souvenirs and took the funicular, tram, and bus trip back to our hotel in time for another exciting outing.

DSCN9744

Visiting Mount Tibidabo with good friends made it all the more enjoyable!

I am a guest on Sue Vincent´s blog where I share information and pictures of a unique sanctuary I´ve visited here in Spain. Sue´s blog is very interesting with many great posts. Check it out.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Spain is well known for its fascinating cathedrals such as La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, The Mesquite in Cordoba and the Cathedral of Seville to name a few. Besides the well-known religious structures, there are many smaller places of worship tucked away in villages, mountains and locations not often frequented by tourists. I love discovering these as they have their own distinctive personalities and are certainly worth a visit.

Sue has graciously agreed for me to be a guest on her blog so I can tell you about a few of these lesser known churches in Spain we have discovered, not far from where we live. One of the most unique being the Sanctuary of Santa Maria Magdalena near Novelda, in Alicante province, only an hour drive from our place.

Although I love scouring old sites, this delightful example of Spanish Art Nouveau, was built between 1918 and 1946, so…

View original post 1,211 more words

I hope you are not getting bored with my visit to Cordoba but there was so much to see and do in this fascinating city.  I must tell you about our visit to the Jewish Quarter and the fabulous museum we found there.

Cordoba Jewish Quarter

The walls surrounding the Jewish Quarter in Cordoba

The Jewish Quarter in Cordoba, or Juderia as it is called, is a walled area surrounding a complex network of narrow streets lined with white buildings. With a quintessential Andalusian flavour, it is a perfect place to wander around and soak up the atmosphere.

DSCN9082

A typical street in the ancient Jewish quarter

DSCN9092

At the centre of the quarter is the Synagogue. It is one of only three original synagogues remaining in Spain. The building, built in the Mudejar style, dates from 1315. It was converted to a church in the 16th century and then held the Guild of Shoemakers until it was rediscovered in the 19th Century.

DSCN9093

The entrance to the Synagogue

DSCN9083

The interior includes restored walls revealing plaster work with inscriptions from Hebrew psalms and plant motifs.

DSCN9086

DSCN9088

The Jewish community played an important role in the history of Spain and flourished in Cordoba during the Moorish times when the city was the centre for commerce, prosperity, education and religious tolerance. Unfortunately, in 1492, during the Spanish Inquisition, people of the Jewish faith and the religion itself, were expelled from Spain. A sad part of Spanish history.

DSCN9128

Wandering the peaceful little streets and alleys, we came upon a sign on a door, Casa Andalusi. Intrigued, we decided to check it out. Were we in for a treat!

Once inside we were welcomed by a cosy and cool courtyard with the pleasant sound of water from its fountain,  a mixture of Arab-Spanish music in the background and the faint scent of greenery and fresh flowers.

DSCN9096

The charming courtyard of Casa Andalusi

 

DSCN9102
There were many more serene courtyards and fountains full of fresh flowers throughout the site.
DSCN9106
It was a typical 12th-century Andalusian house filled with medieval Islamic furniture and decorations. The blend of Andalusian and eastern styles gave it a certain charm and transported you back to Arabic times.
DSCN9113
DSCN9123
DSCN9095

Exquisite leather work.

DSCN9101

A leather globe of the world as it was known at the time. Amazing

I found one room, dedicated to the making of paper out of rags, very interesting.
DSCN9109
and I had to demonstrate
Cordoba
We were able to go down below the current house where we found items from the old houses of the Jewish quarter including a well and an unearthed Roman mosaic floor, proving just how old the site is.
DSCN9115
DSCN9121
The courtyards held an assortment of large pots. I was told if I didn´t behave, I would be put in one!
Cordoba5
This museum proved to be a gem tucked away and not on many of the tourist maps. We were so pleased we found it. It was the perfect end to a long, but fun day.
I hope you enjoyed the trip to Cordoba with me and my wonderful travel buddies.

 

 

After spending a morning at the amazing Mezquita, enjoying a delightful lunch and checking out the cute shops we ventured to the Alcazar, a medieval fortress of the Christian Kings, rebuilt in 1328 by King Alfonso XI. The word Alcázar means palace in Arabic. It was the residence of the Christian Kings when they stayed in Cordoba and was one of the primary residences of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Significant historic events were planned in this palace including the discovery of America. It was also the headquarters of the Inquisition and later served as a garrison for Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops in 1810. This intriguing place with a colourful history is now a World Heritage site.

DSCN8999

Battlements surrounding the Alcazar

DSCN9003

King Alfonso XI greets visitors to the Alcazar

DSCN9024

The round tower is the Tower of the Inquisition, added in the 15th century. The Main Tower in front was a place for the Inquisition to carry out its public executions.

DSCN9032

The gardens are a relaxing place to wander, with a wide variety of plants and trees overlooking stone fountains and large ponds

DSCN9053

Well kept gardens

The Moorish style Royal Baths are situated in the basement and are thought to have been built by Alfonso XI. The skylights in the shape of stars provided light and ventilation. The walls were made from hardened clay and some of the original marble floor slabs are still visible.

DSCN9047

Outside entrance to the Royal Bath House

DSCN9049

Entering the bath house in the basement

DSCN9051

Star shaped skylights for light and ventilation

Cordoba6

Inside the bath house. I may be touching a wall Queen Isabella touched.

Interesting 16th-century frescoes hang in a hall which housed the former chapel of the Inquisitions. A collection of Roman mosaic art and a sarcophagus from the 2nd and 3rd century that once belonged to a wealthy Roman Mansion, discovered under Corredera Square in 1959, are also on display.

DSCN9010

Interesting 16th-century frescoes

DSCN9007

2nd or 3rd-century sarcophagus

DSCN9026 (2)

Roman mosaic art discovered under a square in Cordoba

The Alcazar was yet another remarkable place to wander around and take in the history as we stepped back in time. Seeing places like this makes the history we learned in school come alive. It is no longer just stuff from textbooks but actual events and places. Queen Isabella walked these hallways, touched these walls and probably bathed in the bath house while deciding whether to fund the voyage of Christopher Columbus, which ultimately changed history. This is why travel means so much to me.

More to come as we visit the Jewish Quarter and a cool museum in Cordoba.

Thanks for travelling with me.

 

I was invited to be a guest on Jan Moore’s site Work on Your Own Terms

Jan’s site is dedicated to helping women enjoy meaningful work that fits their lifestyle and providing mentorship on midlife reinvention. Check it out, you will find it interesting.

Photo by Donna Cluff

Daydream Believer: You Can Be One Too

by  | Jul 17, 2017

I met Darlene shortly before she and her husband moved to Spain from Canada. I asked her to share a follow-up on her life Abroad and how it came about.

Guest Post by Darlene Foster

I can´t remember when I didn´t have the urge to travel and experience new worlds. My dear grandmother bought me a colouring book featuring children from around the world in traditional dress. I loved that book and wished, with each page I coloured, I could visit these places one day. Studies have proven daydreaming is good for young people because it plants seeds that often become reality. Of course, those dreams don´t come true without hard work and determination.

Read more here

http://workonyourownterms.com/daydream-believer-you-can-be-one-too/

Do you believe in daydreams?

 


click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Pig on Trial

click to purchase

Join me on Twitter

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,972 other followers

Archives

Goodreads

click to read review