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Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

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…

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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An ornate bell tower on the terrace

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One of the twelve Apostles overlooking the city

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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…

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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.

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A typical street in the ancient Jewish quarter

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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.

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The entrance to the Synagogue

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

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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.

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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.

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The charming courtyard of Casa Andalusi

 

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There were many more serene courtyards and fountains full of fresh flowers throughout the site.
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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.
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Exquisite leather work.

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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.
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and I had to demonstrate
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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.
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The courtyards held an assortment of large pots. I was told if I didn´t behave, I would be put in one!
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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.

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Battlements surrounding the Alcazar

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King Alfonso XI greets visitors to the Alcazar

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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.

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

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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.

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Outside entrance to the Royal Bath House

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Entering the bath house in the basement

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Star shaped skylights for light and ventilation

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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.

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Interesting 16th-century frescoes

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2nd or 3rd-century sarcophagus

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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?

 

During the visit of my aunt and her friend, we took a bus trip to the Andalusian city of Cordoba, about five hours from where I live in Spain. Originally built by the Romans, it became an important location during the Moorish occupation. The ancient city of Cordoba held some of the world´s first known universities and medical schools. The fascinating architecture throughout the city reflects the Moorish, Jewish and Christian cultures.

It is easy to get around this charming city as it isn´t very big and you can easily walk everywhere.  The narrow cobblestone streets are lined with whitewashed buildings and patios decorated with colourful flower pots. Every time we turned a corner, we were confronted with another remarkable church, museum or interesting edifice. We took many pictures. It will take more than one post to share all we saw in these three amazing days.

Many buildings are decorated with flower pots

It took us a while to find it but we eventually walked down the street of flowers, or Calle de Fleurs which is the most photographed street in Cordoba and found on many postcards.

The Calle de Fleurs with the Mezquita in the background

The Mezquita is the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, a UNESCO World Heritage site. There has been a place of worship on the site since the mid-sixth century when the Visigoths built the Basilica of San Vincent, the city´s main Christian Temple at the time. When the Muslims arrived in the eighth century the building was divided and used by both communities. It was later expanded to accommodate the growing Muslim population. In the twelfth century when the Moors were defeated by the Christians, the conquerors were so impressed by the opulent Mosque, it was uncustomarily kept intact and a Catholic cathedral built around it. Walking under the Moorish arches and viewing crucifixes, statues of saints and paintings depicting biblical stories, I was moved to tears as I felt the historic affiliation of art and faith surround me.

Inside the Mosque-Cathedral

The Moorish arches

An example of the ornate ceilings

A gorgeous stained glass window

A display of ancient Bibles

My guests enjoying the Mezquita

The original Mosque doors restored

The cathedral was consecrated in 1146 and has been used as a Catholic church ever since. They were preparing for a Corpus Christi parade and celebration that evening which we were lucky enough to witness, making our visit even more special.

Preparing for a religious celebration

Visiting the Mezquita is magical and these few pictures don´t do it justice. Here is a video from the official website. Don’t worry if you don’t understand Spanish, the views are gorgeous. https://mezquita-catedraldecordoba.es/

You really have to see this place to believe it!!

The city of Cordoba is a reminder of how Spain has willingly adopted the history and cultures of its many invaders over the years to become the unique country it is today.

More pictures of Cordoba to come.

 

 


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