Saturday, June 6, 2009
Home from Green Spain
We've just come home from Spain. My Bill's twisted knee kept us from going to Santiago de Compostela and Portugal, so our vacation was 3 weeks instead of 4, but all pleasurable. In Madrid on the first night of our trip we found the loveliest neighborhood centered around the Plaza de la Paja. An oasis of calm in a busy city, folks sitting out in their lovely plaza, nearby the roses of the Jardin del Principe de Anglona, and the comfy permanent armchairs set into the pavement of the Plaza de Alamillo, where we ate the most exquisite Mexican food at the Taqueria del Alamillo. And the next afternoon and evening I was able to take Bill to one of my favorite places from my visit in 1984--the small city of Aranjuez where we heard a wonderful concert in the Royal Chapel of the Palacio Real.
We had a great time visiting with Ruthie and Eddie in Valencia and Denia, where they have their beach home. Then we headed north to Zaragoza and finally to San Sebastian, the place we enjoyed so much in 2003, and which didn't disappoint us. We got to know more neighborhoods this time, the Antigua and the Gros neighborhoods. It rained for 3 days but we didn't care. Falling asleep at night hearing the waves was blissful. And we went back to the Museo Chillida Leku, another oasis of green.
Bilbao was a much more interesting city than we expected. We had 2 nights there instead of the 1 night we had planned, as we had to regroup once Bill had messed up his knee. We especially enjoyed our lunches at the nearby Cafeteria Henao, which was not a cafeteria in the American sense of the word, more like a classy businessman's bar, with terrific food served at tables with white tablecloths.
Once we were able to rent an automatic vehicle for slopoet to drive, we set out into the countryside, lunch in the amiable village of Comillas, stops at the beach of the Oyambre, landing for 3 nights at the Posada del Valle in Collia, a little paradise in the foothills of the Picos. One day we spent at the beach where Bill partook of fabada and I had shrimps, garlic and "gulas"--these tasted like noodles, except that I figured out later the noodles were really...baby eels, or maybe not. Even further checking reveals that baby eels (angulas) are actually quite rare, but that "gulas" are processed fish pressed into spaghetti form. All scrumptious whatever it was. The next day we drove up to Covadonga, where a basilica commemorates the warrior Pelayo's victory over the Moors--the setting was really breathtaking.
Our last adventure was to stay one night in Oviedo, a most beautiful city with clean streets, lovely plazas and parks, and whimsical sculptures (of Woody Allen, for example), as well as more serious historical ones, at practically every few 100 feet. A woman taxi driver drove us up above the city to see the two very ancient churches (both built in the 9th century), San Miguel del Lillo and Santa Maria del Naranco. And I joined thousands of soccer fans in the town square cheering on the local team (Real Oviedo) with blue balloons, bagpipers, accordionists, fireworks, and the singing of many songs, including the team's anthem, Oviedo Adelante!
Soon we were back in Madrid and flying home to scruffy Queens. The United States, almost a backwards country, old trains and buses very unlike Spain's sparkling new equipment. But our home in Guilford is welcoming, and Bill's knee is mending. Nice to be back.