Kaffe Challenge


The Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee met at the Four Dogs pub for our end of the year lunch. Since our children are grown and not underfoot all summer, we don’t actually end our meetings in June anymore. But lunch is always good and it’s time to reveal our challenge quilts. Karen set the only challenge rule. Make something using Kaffe Fasset Fabrics.


Oh my gosh is Karen’s quilt beautiful! She had to construct the fabric by piecing together different colored sections of Kaffe striped fabric. Can you believe she is going to give this quilt away? Not to me unfortunately.


Andra had fun choosing fabrics from all the color ways but brought it all together with the burgundy solid. Simple quilting on my longarm was all that was needed.


Susie was the overachiever this time. She actually made three quilts!  Our next challenge is to use solids and stripes. This quilt could make a repeat appearance.  Against the rules, tho. No double dipping allowed. 


Susie also made this soft colored quilt for a new baby gift. These are all Kaffe fabrics too, but what a different look.


We all lusted after Peggy’s beach bag. Love the shading light to dark. I could use a bag, Peg. When are you teaching us how to do it? We promise to behave ourselves. (Not!)


Michele did a great job with the contrast between light and dark. Not so easy with Kaffe fabrics which always seem so similar.


Joan’s quilt just blew me away! She used my Quilting in Layers technique to quilt all the black and white background squares. 


She fussy cut circles from the Kaffe fabrics and hand appliquéd them onto the blocks. Her appliqué is incredibly perfect and each circle is so beautiful and interesting. I could look at and admire this quilt for a long time. 


I think Ginger’s quilt used the Kaffe fabrics beautifully. My favorite colors, too.


Nope. Not Kaffe fabrics. Patty didn’t have time to participate in the challenge this time but she brought Show and Tell. 


I quilted this gift for her niece. Lucky niece! Patty pieced those zig-zags with impressive precision.


So this is my Kaffe challenge quilt. Purple is not usually a color I would select, but I do like the way the quilt turned out. 


I was short on time and clearly copied the pattern from SpringLeaf Studios pretty exactly. This was one of those instant download patterns I found on Etsy that you print out at home. It was a fantastic pattern! Super simple, clear instructions. Yardage for 4 different sizes. Optional versions of the quilt. Different design variations using value and color variations. And a black and white layout of the quilt to color in for exploring choices. Wow. All this for a measly $8. 

And the pattern seller graciously refunded my money when I accidentally hit the ADD TO CART button multiple (like maybe 7 or 8… whoops) times. 

U. S. A.!


It’s great to be back home! I almost burst into tears when I saw my container garden lettuce. Salad and more salad, I’m so excited! I thought the little seedlings would be dead from lack of water or bolted 3 feet tall. Apparently there has been a lot of rain while I was gone. 

I jumped on doing laundry right away but other than that, I’ve been lolling about, ignoring the gathering plume of “Stuff I Have To Do After Vacation.”  I was way behind before I left and now I’m hopelessly way behind.

The Piper must always be paid. Sigh.

Munich


We are taking the long way home– by way of Germany. Gary has a chemical conference to attend. After a really long train ride from the airport, that involved getting off the train to board a bus due to some “track incident” — do you see a pattern here? We checked into the hotel and headed for the nearest beer garden.


I considered various options for touristing around Munich the next day while Gary was working. Walking in this beautiful park in old town was relaxing. I found a park bench, a frozen chocolate coffee drink and read my book. So grateful I didn’t have to train into town! Or anywhere else. 


When Gary got back, we walked the few blocks into the old section of Munich, looking for a dinner restaurant. We just missed seeing the figures dance around during the chiming of the hour on this glockenspiel. 


A whole lotta years ago, Gary and I were in Munich on our honeymoon trip.  He says we had a beer at this iconic Hofbrauhaus. I don’t remember! Maybe because we had a lotta beers in a lotta hofbrauhaus’es.


This is a busy place with a great Oom-Pa band and dirndle costumed Fräuleins serving steins of beer. 


You would think this gorgeous ceiling would trigger a memory. I’m checking my old photo albums at home– was I really here as a newlywed or has Gary made it up?


Spätzle for dinner, the German equivalent of mac-and-cheese comfort food. And a salad. And a pretzel. Ahhhh….no meat! Now if I can just find a gelato for desert. 

Bye Bye Bocadillos


Our last day in Spain, we both want a final taste of our favorite foods. Check out those sandwiches, or “bocodillos” in Spanish. In the U.S. you would buy a paper cone of French fries to accompany your sandwich. In Spain you get a cone of different kinds of sausage slices! They are crazy for meat and seafood here, haven’t seen a green vegetable or salad in weeks. And whole grain bread? Forget about it.


In this shop you choose the ham, “jamon iberico” for your sandwich. The longer the meat is cured the greater the depth of flavor and the price. I have trouble looking at those hooves…. Since Gary is asking so many questions, and the server doesn’t understand a word he is saying, we both get a tiny sliver of each to taste. Delicious! Gary ordered the expensive one– hey, it’s our last day. Just wishing for some lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mustard and mayo on mine tho.


Gary is looking longingly at these hams for sale. Don’t even think about it unless you want to gift the Customs Agent at the airport. Even if it was possible, that hoof is not going in my suitcase. 


While The Carnivor is in ham heaven, I’m heading for desert. Oh my gosh! The gelato! I need another week to work my way through all the flavors. 


I always go for the straciatella, vanilla with shaved chocolate bits. 


The way they display the ice cream is so pretty. I intended to get a picture of my dish, gelato scooped into a flower shape, but I started devouring it before I remembered. 


We walked down La Rambla, looking into the expensive shops, people watching, listening to music from street buskers, playing cello and flute, enjoying our last tastes of Barcelona.


To cap the evening, we went to a flamingo concert. The stage and audience was small and intimate, the performers intended to represent members of a gypsy camp, singing, clapping and stamping feet, playing drums and guitar. The guitar music was just amazing.


The dancers!  It was impossible to capture a photo, their feet moved so fast but mostly because I was completely mesmerized. I kept thinking, the next dancer, I’ll take a picture, then I was enthralled and too caught up in the passion and music. I even tried to take a video but I kept watching instead of filming. 

A perfect end to our trip to Spain. I have had a wonderful time in this fascinating country and I hope I can return someday. 

Adiós España. Muchas gracias. Ha sido fantástico.

Montjuic


Gary is “Gaudi-ed” out. He has a limited number of hours for touring art, architecture and museums, and his meter has clicked off.  So we are going to the top of Montjuic today. I’m a little weary (make that a lot weary) of public transportation. First, walk several blocks to the Metro Station, ride four stops, get off and walk through confusing tunnels, go up and down several flights of stairs, make too many frustrating mistakes that involve re-tracing confusing tunnels and several flights of stairs and finely— transfer to correct Metro line. Ride a whole more bunch of stops. Walk up several flights of stairs to the surface– I’m starting to feel like a mole.

Ok– where is this dang funicular? The map says it’s right here. Walk several blocks this direction, walk several blocks in another direction. How can you miss seeing a funicular going up the side of a big mountain, when the sign says it’s right here? If we were on the Amazing Race, we would have lost the million dollar prize. Gary is great at figuring out the maze of transportation and I’m pretty good at spotting signs and where to go. But we are totally stumped. 

Thank goodness we aren’t on reality TV because the solution is to grab a seat at a cafe, order a beer and a bocodillo. And ask where the bloody funicular is. WHAT! The funicular is underground? Retrace steps back to the funicular sign, at the Metro station, go down several flights of steps, through the tunnel to the funicular

Might they have mentioned that the funicular is connected to the Metro?


You have got to be kidding me. The funicular only goes up halfway, then you take a ski lift, called the Teleferic, to the top of the mountain. Which isn’t running today because the workers are on strike. 

Might they have posted a sign at the bloody funicular that the bloody teleferic was not operating today?


It’s been a day. It’s too early for another beer and bocodillo. It possibly was too early for the first one, but hey, it’s Spain. We admire the view (halfway) up Montjuic, which is what we came for. 


We walked all over the beautiful park and saw the city of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea below. Gary tentatively suggested we walk on up to the top. Really? Let’s think about this. They have a bloody ski lift to transport you up and down. How much fun do you think walking up and down is going to be? My legs are tired, my knees are killing me, my “wandering aimlessly” meter has clicked off. Did we go to the top?

Of course we did.


The mountain of Montjuic was planned to be Barcelona’s great cultural park. At the beginning of the Catalan Revolt in the 1600’s a small fort was erected around a lighthouse which had stood on top since medieval times. 

I told Gary, after sweating two water bottles worth of about a billion stone stairs to get here, he owed me the 5 -Hour-Everything Included- Complete Detail- DELUX TOUR for Two

Lucky for him they didn’t have one.


This fortress is to Barcelona what the Bastille was to Paris or the Peter and Paul Fortress to Saint Petersburg.


Both a citadel and a prison, generations of captives have awaited their sentence. From the tower of Montjuic, a black flag would be raised, signifying execution. The fort was used in more modern times during the Civil War of 1936, 4 Vickers coastal artillery pieces were not enough defense to prevent thousands of deaths from the fascist Italian raids.


Ancient to modern, Castell De Montjuic was fascinating and worth the sweat and exertion. 

I could not believe my eyes at the first set of stairs. A city bus. The kind you take a seat on and ride down the mountain. There sure weren’t any dang buses on the way up. We didn’t know where the bus went…exactly… but for sure it was DOWN. And that was good enough. 

When we got back to the city it was clearly time for a glass of cava, Spain’s local “champagne.” I want to raise a toast to Henry Ford. The personal automobile was a brilliant, bloody genius, invention. 

Segrada Familia 


Today was all about the cathedral, Segrada Familia, but of course we fortified ourselves first with cafe con letche and pan de chocolat. You know what happened to those before this second cup.


I wonder how long it took Antoni Gaudi to design the incredible detail for this church.  We opted for the audio tour so we could understand the description and explanation but as always, I have more questions after the tour than before we started. It’s impossible to convey the magnitude in pictures or words so I’ll just mention a few of my favorite things.


The cathedral is built in the shape of a cross with what will be the main entrance still under construction. The opposite bars of the cross depict Christ’s birth and death. The top of the cross is all about the resurrection.


The stories high towers seen from the outside are configured to direct light into the interior. Gaudi said, “There is no better painter than the sun.”


The stained glass windows were very modern in composition. Instead of portraits of saints, they were abstract color “patchworks,” cool colors on the eastern side, shading light to dark, top to bottom.

 

Warm colors of the setting sun were along the western side and the colors also progressed towards the front of the church, on both sides, blending into the greens of nature. Gaudi would have been a heck of a quilter, huh.


The soaring pillars reference tree forms, branching for structural support. Gaudi wanted worshippers to feel a connection to the natural world and conceived the inside as a great forest. 


When I get home, I’m getting a book on the Segrada from the library because this is where Gaudi really loses me. The ‘parachute’ over the alter has a specific name that I don’t remember. And I definitely don’t understand electric lights, grape clusters and figs hanging from the edges, and it was so small. 


Shouldn’t the Resurection be the main point? The alter beneath the crucifiction was very small with no ornamentation. This part is complete as Gaudi intended. I am left pondering…


Exiting the church, opposite Jesus’s birth on the other side, the story of crucifiction and death is the subject. 

Gaudi moved into a small house on site when overseeing the construction of the cathedral. On June 7, 1926, Gaudí was taking his daily walk and was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness. Assumed to be a beggar because of his lack of identity documents and shabby clothing, the unconscious Gaudí did not receive immediate aid. Eventually a police officer transported him in a taxi to a poor hospital where he received rudimentary care. By the time the chaplain of the Sagrada Família, recognised him on the following day, his condition had deteriorated severely. Gaudí died on June 10, 1926 at the age of 73.


Does it seem like all we do is eat and drink? In Spain, the main meal of the day is eaten around 2 o’clock, with several glasses of wine or beer. I think Gary could eat dinner any time of the day (or twice a day) but all I want is a salad and I’m really craving a bag of potato chips. Both seriously hard to find in Barcelona.

Casa Gaudi


Tickets for anything “Gaudi” sell out quickly and you need to reserve online days in advance. You are given a timed entrance which is a good thing because the home Gaudi lived in is very small. Gaudi worked on the Segrada Familia project while living here and now it is a museum, explaining how he lived, evoking his personal life as well as showcasing furniture and objects he designed.


Gaudi wanted some privacy around his home but said a fence was too high and exclusive so he built a vine covered pergola around the perimeter.


There are gates designed by Gaudi as exhibits on the property. I think this looks like modern forms of sunflowers. 

 

I’m in love with this gate–inspiration for a quilt.


The interior was a mix of Gaudi’s actual living rooms and museum exhibits. Double sink in the bathroom, pretty forward thinking.


Often, Gaudi would design the furnishing to fit the architecture of his client’s homes. I thought the fretwork on this chairback would make a nice quilt motif. I’m really missing my studio, sewing and quilting.


After touring the home, we walked all over Park Güell. The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing development , the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, after whom the park was named.  There were 60 lots planned for luxury homes, with incredible views of the city Barcelona and Mediterranean Sea, set high on a mountainside with cooling breezes. Only two houses were built, Antoni Gaudi moved into the “show” house and lived there for 20 years. 


What the heck were people thinking? I can not begin to imagine what a home would be worth here today. No mention of why the home lots didn’t sell but Gary speculated that it was too far from the city center, in a time with poor roads and transportation and what was considered the    wealthy sector. You can see the spires of Segrada Familia in the center of the photo and apparently Gaudi didn’t have difficulty getting to work every day. 


Well, it was a good thing nobody bought the new neighborhood because now tens of thousands of people can enjoy the park and the monuments Gaudi designed.


There are buskers playing music, performers and venders of all sorts.  


At the highest point in the Park, Gaudi situated three crosses to remind people that man cannot top what God creates. It’s quite a climb to get up there and the last part is steep and stretches have no guardrail at all. Did we go to the top?


Of course we did. 

It was plenty scary with people deciding it was too dangerous to continue up and trying to come back down, white as sheets, insisting on clinging to the wall, forcing ascending people toward the edge with no hand rail. Grrr. I’m getting too old for these challenges. I didn’t dare snap a photo at the top. I’m reminded that woman doesn’t like tumbling down what man has built without safety considerations.

Barcelona


We are so lucky the storms held off and we didn’t have to walk the Camino in the rain. Leaving cold and wet Santiago for warm and sunny Barcelona, perfect timing.


We checked into our hotel and walked a few blocks, thinking about finding dinner. I turned the corner and caught sight of the Segrada Familia. It took my breath away. I’ve seen pictures of the Cathedral, Antoni Gaudi’s formidable work in progress, but it was so much bigger and grander than I could have imagined. 


It’s really hard to get a good photo, the cathedral is so massive. 


Huge, sky-high cranes work above, extending the towers and construction is visible everywhere. In 1882 the cathedral was begun by architect Francisco Paula de Villar. A year later, Gaudí became involved when Francisco resigned as the head architect. Taking over the project, Gaudí transformed it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

Sagrada Familia’s construction progressed slowly because it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950’s. The cathedral is expected to be completed in 2026, 100 years after Gaudí’s death.

We reserved tickets to tour the interior of the cathedral day after tomorrow.


I saw this enormous paella dish, had to be 3 feet across, in a restaurant along the Camino in Galicia, but I have been saving the taste for Barcelona. 


Tonight is the night! Absolutely delicious. Sitting in an outside restaurant, having dinner and a glass of wine, gazing at the Segrada Familia, this is how I imagined experiencing Barcelona. 

Santiago


We started out before dawn with our headlamps on. Fourteen miles to hike and the day will be hot, especially when walking through the city streets of Santiago, and a storm is predicted in the afternoon.


I understand how contemplative this journey can be. It’s easy to let my mind wander and think deep thoughts as I walk through the eucalyptus trees. 


I’m not ready for the end of the Trail. I wish I could walk the Camino in the Pyrenees, Pamplona, Sarria and Leon. Really, I could just transport up to Saint Jean Pied de Port right now and start at the beginning.


It isn’t long before we reach the Santiago city limits. 


There is a lovely park with statues and monuments related to the Camino. Pope John Paul commemorated the walk of Saint Francis of Assisi on the Camino.


Via con Dios. 


Now we follow the shells in the pavement through the suburbs.


Thunder rumbles overhead, walking the narrow streets of old town Santiago.


It was quite disappointing to arrive at the Cathedral of Saint James. The entire front facade was encased in scaffolding and blue construction netting for extensive restoration. I couldn’t see a thing and had to borrow this photo from Google. It is still majestic and an emotional end of the journey for many pilgrims. The sacred relics of St. James lie beneath the cathedral’s high altar in a silver coffer. Since the Middle Ages it has been the custom of pilgrims to pray with their fingers pressed into the roots of the Tree of Jesse below Saint James, and five deep indentations have been worn into the marble as a result. At the beginning of the Pilgrim Mass in Santiago de Compostela, a list is read out of the number of pilgrims who have been received in the Pilgrims’ Office in the last 24 hours, where they come from and where they started their pilgrimage. 


We were much too late to attend the Pilgrims Mass but Laura and Tim take their Passports to the Pilgrim Office to be authenticated. Along the way, pilgrims must obtain two stamps a day from designated churches and other official sites and they must walk the last hundred miles.


Success! Laura and Tim are both granted their Compostela.


Time for serious celebrating. Lots of things are going on in the enormous square around the Cathedral. Folk dancers, bagpipers, street artists, lots of venders have souvenirs for sale.


We sat on the massive stone stairs on the back of the cathedral and listened to an orchestra.


All along the Camino, we tried traditional pilgrim and regional food. St. James almond cake, bean soup with turnip greens, fresh bread and green olives. Gary developed a serious taste for bocadillas– sandwiches with Iberian ham and cheese. I was doubtful of pulpo, octopus! grilled and served in a smoked paprika sauce, but Gary is game for anything. I just put those ugly tentacles out of my mind and tried a bite. Delicious! Really! We polished that sucker right off. (I know…I just couldn’t resist!)

Travel is for enlightenment and gastronomic discovery, right? I don’t want any experience to pass me by!

Arzua to A Rua


Fresh croissants, just pulled from the oven with cafe con letche. I really could get used to this!


The guidebook says today’s hike will take us through rolling fields and woods. There are ample places to fill water bottles, like this very old piped spring. 


The enterprising owners of this beautiful stone house set up a “serve yourself” coffee and snack bar.


Gary does not pass up any opportunity to have a coffee. I may never get him to hike the Appalachian Trail again! I think this is a modern corn crib. The Camino is a very social experience. There are hundreds of hikers from all over the world and everyone talks to everyone, dispite the many different languages. There are groups of high school kids hiking with teachers and college students walking together and couples and singles and people of all ages. I’m especially impressed by the older folks– ok, older than me. I met a lovely lady in her eighties that only walks a few kilometers a day. Bravo to her!


We passed a man sitting out in front of his house carving these hiking staffs for sale. Many had the scallop shell carved in the wood. 

The scallop shell is one of the most iconic symbols of the Camino de Santiago and today it is used, along with the yellow arrow, to guide pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela along its many different routes. Painted on trees, sidewalks, tiles, etc… the scallop shells, help travellers find their way.


There are many stories, legends and myths trying to explain the ancient link between the scallop shell and the Saint James Way. I have taken so many photos of shell tiles decorating houses. The scallop shell is said to be a metaphor, its lines representing the different routes pilgrims travel from all over the world, all walking trails leading to one point: the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims all have shells tied to their backpacks. 


Sometimes the walk takes us on stone pavers through tiny farming villages.


It’s a hot day and we are greatful for shady lanes bordered by yellow broom plant.


I can’t believe how quickly we can walk 18 kilometers, about 11 miles. We check into our small Pension Casa Da Fonte, only 5 rooms here, and take a shower and rest. All the restaurants and shops are closed until 7 pm. It’s really hard to get used to this schedule, but in Spain, no one eats dinner before 7 or 8 o’clock. It’s still daylight at 11 pm!


This is the breakfast room but our bedroom looks much the same with stone walls at least a foot thick. There is no air conditioning but it is surprisingly cool. 


Right next to the Pension is a restaurant and bar. Tonight we ordered a pitcher of sangria to enjoy outside under the shade of a huge chestnut tree.


Gary ordered the Coquilles Saint Jacques, fitting for a pilgrim.


I fell asleep in A Rua to the sound of water filling a stone trough. And woke up to roosters crowing in the back yard. Sometimes I feel I am in a time warp but would you believe we had Wifi! What a lovely place to visit.

 Peregrinos


Yesterday we flew from Madrid to Santiago and took a bus to Melide to join our friends, Laura and Tim. Last summer, Laura hiked with her sisters, almost 500 miles from the border of France on the Camino de Santiago, The Way of Saint James.

Every year thousands of pilgrims, or “peregrinos” in Spanish, set out from popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, a few by bicycle. For some it is a religious pilgrimage but many are hikers who walk the route for other reasons: travel, sport, or the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land. Also, many consider the experience a spiritual journey to remove themselves from the stresses of modern life or just a vacation adventure. 

Gary and I are excited to walk the last few days of the journey as peregrinos.


This won’t be at all like hiking the Appalachian Trail. You can get a pan de chocolate and a cappuccino To Go. Try finding that on the AT!


The first part is through shady forests of oaks and eucalyptus trees.



There are purple fox gloves and calla lilies everywhere.


It’s so hard to choose a few photos. It’s beautiful everywhere! Notice we aren’t wearing huge backpacks– that’s beautiful! We don’t have to carry much at all because we walk through villages frequently. We will stay the nights in “albergues.” Some albergues are hostels with bunks but each accommodations is different. We have reservations for private rooms with baths. For 3 Euros, we have arranged for our luggage to be transferred along the way. 


We hadn’t even walked a few kilometers when we come to a small fruit stand. 


Fresh peaches, raspberries– see the cup in Gary’s hand? A small coffee for about 50 cents.


Laura is a great tour guide and I have questions about everything. 


The local people use these as decorations on their houses.


This cafe has a large one. Laura told me this area is farmland and these were used as corn cribs to dry corn for animal feed.


We saw old corn cribs on farms as well that must have been used in past years.


The guide book says this boulder bridge over the River Iso dates back to medieval times.


This was interesting. A little stream filled the reservoir and the water circulated out the other side. It looks like a hot tub but we speculated it was used for washing laundry. The slanted sides would be perfect for scrubbing clothing.  


We walked from Melide to Arzua, 14 kilometers, about 8 miles. The day was such a mix of ancient and modern, forest, field and farm, village, and the town of Arzua. I heard many different languages spoken by the peregrinos. I learned to smile and say “Buon Comino,” which literally means “good path,” but mostly, “good luck and happy travelling”.  

Avila


Just a few miles from Segovia is the village of LaGranja, our home for the night. We wanted to experience one of the 90 state-run Spanish hotels called paradores.


The paradores are luxury hotels in restored Castles, Monasteries, Convents, Fortresses, Manor Houses and Palaces. They range in price and types of accommodation and amenities but many are quite inexpensive compared to American standards. 

The Parador de La Granja, is located in the Casa de los Infantes, constructed in the 18th century by Charles III to house Princes Gabriel and Antonio. I don’t quite understand why a nursery for two babies would be built away from the main castle. And why the heck did they need soooo many rooms?


I can say I totally enjoyed my elegant, enormous suite and dinner in the restaurant completed the full experience.


We took a stroll to view the castle, a few blocks away, illuminated at night. 


The next morning we enjoyed a leasurly breakfast. Gary had huevos Benedictine and I can’t get enough chocolate croissants and cappuccinos. There are so many churches in addition to the big cathedral and today seems to be First Holy Communion Sunday. It is so fun to see the little girls in their long white dresses and veils. Whole families are dressed up and pose for pictures on the steps. On the square and in front of the churches, small ensembles play a variety of music– everything from show tunes to chamber music. 

I’m going to read about St Teresa of Avila. My real name, though I don’t often admit it, is Theresa spelled with an H, so I know this isn’t my saint, but I’d like to know more about her and the walled city of Avila. 


The wall is amazing! If you pay 5 Euros you can climb up to the top and walk about 1 and a half kilometers around. Not for us today– it’s cold and windy. 


The view from the wall is probably spectacular but this is good enough. 


They should film an episode of The Amazing Race here. The teams would have a hard time, trying to find their way down tiny, twisting, confusing streets. There’s a lot of real estate enclosed within 1 and a half meters of wall. Gary has been searching for a beer for at least an hour!

Segovia


Gary and I rented a car so we could take some day trips from Madrid. He scoffed at my suggestion of getting some Euros before we left the USA. After spending more than a frustrating hour trying to figure out how to change the Navi from Spanish to English, we started driving. Immediate panic– Toll Booth ahead– What! No Euros! Out of nowhere, Gary pulled two single Euro coins from his pocket. He must have discovered these just laying around our house. The charge? Two Euros. A good omen!

We discovered on the road to Segovia, the toll booth machines take credit cards. Nice to know. Of course we now had Euros, because the Metro machines wouldn’t take the credit card. Well, a good reason to travel is for enlightenment, right? 


The aqueduct in Segovia was amazing! I need to read about the engineering of how this worked. The little information available is all in Spanish. 


Segovia is most famous for its historic Roman aqueduct, it also boasts an impressive castle and cathedral. We decided to admire the cathedral from the outside and tour inside the castle.

The Alcázar of Segovia is said to be one of the several castles that inspired Walt Disney.  The first written record dates back to the beginning of the eighth century. 


The halls and salons are decorated with mind numbing different styles spanning the hundreds of years of habitation. Much of the furnishings and surface treatments are restored but some are original historic pieces. Tapestries survive pretty well and suits of armor certainly last through centuries! 


I loved the ceilings. Many a quilter has been inspired by intricate floor or ceiling patterns in cathedrals and castles. I won’t be piecing fabric like this anytime soon tho.


The formal gardens could provide quilting motifs as well. 


Touristing requires lots of energy. Time to enjoy a glass of vino tinto and taste Segovia’s gastronomic specialty of cochinillo – roasted suckling pig at Meson De Candido. Gary and I split a single order of the pork, served as very tender shredded meat.


Right next to us was a table of 8 people, clearly celebrating something special. They were served the entire pig! 


We watched enthralled as this man, with a gold embroidered sash draped around his neck, came out of the restaurant and delivered a stirring speech to the celebrating diners. As he spoke the last words, none of which we understood, he picked up the plate and used it to chop the roasted pig into portions, taking care to preserve the snout and ears. Then, in a grand gesture, he crashed the plate to the cement floor, smashing it to pieces and everyone at the table stood and cheered and clapped! Wow! I didn’t see that coming!

The party went on to enjoy their feast but this important dude– Grand Server of the Roast Pig?– we don’t know what to call him! Shook hands and posed for photos with many other diners. On the walls of the restaurant, we saw framed pictures of this same man in his younger days,  with Cary Grant, Sofia Loren, and other celebrities and international dignitaries through the years. 

All kinds of enlightenment today!

GB and H


Good-Bye, Pennsylvania.


Hello, Madrid, Spain!


It’s very important to hydrate after a long overseas flight. Gary and I napped at our hotel for a few hours and then took the Metro into Plaza Mayor to see the sights. 


Madrid is famous for beautiful architecture and the opera. Sitting next to the opera house, we watched the orchestra musicians arriving, carrying their instruments. 


I’m not sure if the singers we encountered were really practicing arias for the performance, or if everyone sings opera here, walking along the side streets. 


I convinced Gary that we needed to go to at least one of the three art museums. I chose Reina Sofia because there is a special exhibition, Pity and Terror, Picasso’s Path to Guernica.  


The exhibit was amazing. The painting was created in response to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country village in northern Spain, by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italian warplanes. Upon completion, Guernica was exhibited at the Spanish display at the Paris International Exposition at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris and then at other venues around the world. The touring exhibition was used to raise funds for Spanish war relief. The painting became famous and widely acclaimed, and it helped bring worldwide attention to the Spanish Civil War. It is now regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history.

The mural is enormous! Viewing hundreds of artworks Picasso accomplished before painting Guernica, and seeing the sketches and studies done in preparation, was a view into the vision, method and life of the artist. Incredible. 

I don’t think Gary has recovered yet…


It wasn’t hard to find a good restaurant to discuss the art we saw. We wanted to try some tapas, especially the jamon iberico. 


It was delicious but I didn’t expect literally “on the hoof.” 


We chose a tasting platter with a glass of sangria. A fitting toast to our first day in Spain. 

Two Quilt Days


Quilt Bee met at my house this week. We have all been so busy this Spring, not much Quilting has happened. 


At least Andra had Show and Tell. She brought this large top for Susie to longarm quilt. 


Watching Susie audition quilting thread colors is an education.  She makes her customers happy at Quilts on Wawaset.


Which thread color do you think would be best? At first I thought a light gray but we all liked the pink and also the light blue. It’s surprising sometimes, your first choice on the cone isn’t what you like after you pull thread across the different fabrics.


Can I just say, the key lime pie was delicious. Next time I make it, I’m making two! I agree with the Barefoot Contessa, make something, buy something. So Fresh Market made the salted carmel cookies. Sometimes We Do enjoy deserts … well, all the time, since there aren’t any calories at Quilt Bee. 


The other fun event was the annual auction and luncheon at Calico Cutters quilt guild. The door prizes alone were awesome. I won this Layer Cake! I’m looking online to see if I can find some yardage of the fabrics.


Gary knew I was at the auction so I texted him, “I bought a Bernina sewing machine.” I got an immediate response, WHAT? YOU NEED ANOTHER SEWING MACHINE ? Hey wait– this from the guy who needs multiple different angled pitching wedges? Really? Just don’t hit the ball into the sand trap in the first place, right?  A few months ago I upgraded my machine and he is well aware of the thousands of dollars new Berninas cost. But he doesn’t know that Bernina makes an inexpensive plastic “starter” machine, the Bernette, that would be perfect for my little granddaughters. It’s not often I can put one over on Gary so I even asked him to carry the box in from the car. He figured from the size and weight that I hadn’t taken out a bank loan. Hehehe! Gotcha!