Saturday, September 29, 2007

To adapt - To adjust

After returning from a trip whether it be to Europe, to the United States or even a short trip into Southern Brazil, I always find myself not depressed exactly, but with a heavy, distraught feeling of need to re-adjust to Rio. On the surface this does not seem to make any sense. Rio is a beautiful city, in fact
Central Rio..........................................................Central Madrid
the farther away you go, the better your view and the more beautiful the city is. I always look forward to returning. My question here is really about adjusting or adapting and why I would have to RE-adjust on every return. If you look at the meaning of these two words they are basically the same. In fact the dictionary uses the word adapt to define adjust. Adjust (1) to adapt or conform (as to new conditions) and adapt (1) to make fit (as for a new situation) often by modification. This did not help me to understand my feelings, but down a bit at the bottom of adapt there was a section that said.... adapt implies modification according to changing circumstances and adjust implies bringing into a close and exact correspondence or harmony.
Based on this definition, I realized that I do the adapting part well. I can go to the cramped and chaotic supermarket and still remain polite, take a taxi to catch the bus to Friburgo, take the bus to go to the mall and sleep to the sound of buses shifting gears and horns of taxis protesting closely shared space, but I think that I have never adjusted.
There is no feeling of peace, of being at home, of being in harmony with my surroundings. I am always aware of being the stranger on the streets, anything I say in Portuguese marks me as 'Estrangeira' just as the blouses I wear or my sensible shoes, my broad shoulders and long stride do. Maybe speaking the language would bridge some of this need to adjust, it might bring some sense of harmony, but I fear it won't. I fear that only a life in your own country, among the major things that make home home can bring back any feeling of really belonging.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Last day in Spain

Yesterday morning, we left the hotel in Santiago de Compostela at 4:45 am and arrived in the Madrid apartment at 9:30 am. Camillo went back to bed for a nap and I walked to the Prado/botanical gardens. I wanted to re-take the photos I did in 'RAW' mode last week. I was concerned that I will never figure out how to save those photos and thought it best to try again.
It took me 45 minutes to walk down to the museum. I didn't get lost exactly, I was taking photos of the buildings along the way and just went walking a bit out of my way before I realized I wasn't on the same street anymore. The streets here are like a series of circles, interlocking like cogs on a gear, if you don't go fully around to the other side of the circle, (which is usually a nice fountain or statue that you need a photo of), you end up changing your direction. ANYWAY, I found a sign post with an arrow pointing me the right direction so I was never lost. You have to remember that I need the extra exercise, so I felt good about going for a little out of my way.
The botanical garden here is just as good as Rio's. Rio's is more of a nature walk, natural settings and Madrid's is a formal French garden setting. In Madrid's garden, the Dahlias were at the end of their bloom, but I was still able to find a few fresh blossoms. Some of those above, the white one in particular, were the size of footballs. Fantastic! Madrid also has the better green house than Rio. It is divided into 3 sections, tropical rain forest, subtropical and desert. I was in the tropical forest when the afternoon 'rains' came, I had to protect my camera but managed to catch the end of the misting humidity.
If anyone has interests in more cactus, tell me and I will send separate desert photos. I never realized the variations of cactus - and I was raised in Arizona where the gardens are made up of succulents.
My walked back to the apartment was only 15 minutes, getting back in plenty of time for a rest with my feet up before Camillo was ready for lunch.
I have loads more to say but don't want to put anyone to sleep so will stop now. We leave tomorrow morning and will be back in Rio by Monday evening rush hour. I will have class on Tuesday and Wednesday then we will return to Nova Friburgo for a long weekend. I look forward to getting home - this means it has been a perfect vacation.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Return to Santiago de Compostela

I got a note on the blog that we sound like we are having a lot of fun, but where are the photos of us? I take a few of Camillo now and then but only once in a while give Camillo the camera to take one of me.... but today to prove to you that we are here and, yes, we are having a great time, I have included photos of Camillo joining the Pilgrims at the finish, me enjoying lunch. Camillo with his video camera in front of the Cathedral and .... my contemplation of the view from the Park Alameda (a garden with huge old Oak trees high above the city.) with one of my intellectual friends at the end of the afternoon. We had left the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela until last and it was not the highlight of this visit. To me it was the most commercial of all the churches and Cathedrals we have visited - anywhere. They didn't charge for us to go in like many do, but it was definitely set up to move the tourist through, and not for quiet thought and appreciation.
The city is charming, well maintained and easy to enjoy. Today we viewed the cathedral, walked the small side streets, ate and took a train ride (little bus-like train) around through the streets to try and see all that we could see. For example the train went through the university campus, this is something that was too far out for us to walk to see. The university has a beautiful tree lined campus and some unusual designed buildings.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Galicia - Day tour of the region!

Tour to Ourense in the Galicia region of Spain. Drop off point, pigeon enjoying the famous thermal waters, Gloria of Santiago Cathedral, view of the Canyon above the river Sil, San Estevo de Ribas do Sil Benedictine monastery (mostly rebuilt in original 10th century style, is now a Hotel), Chestnuts imported by the Romans to feed their soldiers now in bloom, and San Pedro de Rocas. Good Night!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Santiago de Compostela

Oh my aching feet! We walked up hill and down, for 3 hours today – after a lunch of roasted pork ribs and potatoes, very crusty bread and a robust (I am being nice) red wine. Maybe the feet are suffering from having the body weight more - when going up hills and up the stairs of two museums?
The buildings in old part of this city remind me of Ouro Preto, Brasil, elongated windows framed with granite, churches with double bell towers and some Portuguese words used in shop windows. Apparently they speak a Galician dialect here that is a strong mix of Portuguese and Spanish.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spain - another day

This entry will be short, I am tired and to full of wine to write something interesting. I made several mistakes today, first when at the Museo National del Prado and the Real Jardin Botanico, I took my photos in 'RAW' mode - instead of .jpeg in .nef. I had never heard of this before but it is an option on my new Nikon D40x. At lunch the other day, some young (cute) techy type guy was telling me about 'RAW' and I went into the menu on the camera to see if I had this option, and without realizing it I must have changed my camera to this mode. My photos (I hope) are not lost but I may have to buy a new editing program in order to read the photos. I am using Camillo's computer now and will not try to download the program while here - so you will have to wait for those photos. Second, I convinced Camillo that we should go into a supermarket that is underground, around the corner from the apartment. You can not imagine the culture shock of this market compared to Zona Zul in Rio, or even worse the ABC Barateiro in Nova Friburgo. There were all sorts of foods, organized, clean, no long lines, and no baskets clogging the checkout lines. AND last, I did not take a photo of this wonderful place once past the fish counter. So you will all just have to take my word for it. Maybe I can go back - but I won't be able to buy any thing - I hate loosing my treasures in customs in the Rio Airport - they always seem to catch me with food in my suitcases - my eyes are probably always shifty with guilt. Ginger V

Monday, September 17, 2007

Madrid - Retraction

I have to apologize - print a retraction. Apparently the Cathedral of Madrid - Nuestra Senora de la Almudena was started in the late 1800s and finished, after delays from wars and loss of funds, in 1993. Camillo ask the man running the elevator to the Cupola for some information, and was given 'bogus information' about the construction. To compensate for my lack of correct detail, I am including some additional photos of the cathedral.
ginger v

Spain - food and drink

SO FAR this trip I, surprisingly, don't feel like I have overeaten. Breakfast has been either scrambled eggs with toast and coffee, or a 'bakery' which is a pastry filled with a light cream. Lunch has been a soup (with chickpeas), crusty breads and a light wine or a sandwich made with thin slices of Serrono ham, Spain's answer to parma ham - no mayo, no butter, no excess calories, just bread and ham - can't be fattening. I am probably in a state of denial - we'll see. I want you to see some of the food we have eaten 'with gusto'. Yesterday, Silverio made for us his 'world' famous Paella, a rice and seafood dish that sold in every restaurant here, but the best is
when Silverio makes it at home. The sea food available is the best looking I have seen anywhere. Just about every street we have walked has had a store selling hams and sausages, breads, chocolates and other sweets, or wines. Camillo's favorite here seems to be Tortillas - not like Mexico's but more like a quiche - made with eggs, onions and potatoes, usually it is served plain on a plate, today in Toledo it was on great slabs of bread.... I didn't eat this so WAS not fattening for sure. GingerV

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Travel in Spain - Part II

I will back track a bit so that you can see some photos from our morning walk yesterday morning. This trip we are staying in an rented apartment instead of a Hotel. So far we like this option very much. Our rooms are on the backside of the building with no view, but is very quiet with not noise from the street. So quiet that we almost slept through the prearranged meeting the morning before going on the wine tasting tour. But I don't intend to tell you about this.
The architecture, in the building surrounding the square were we are staying in the old town center, is in the French design - five stories with symmetrical fronts, and wrought iron balconies. The street and the buildings are clean and meticulously kept.
The opera house is of a simple design compared to many opera houses. The Royal palace which is across a formal garden from the Opera house is of pure white marble with a backdrop of red roofed buildings and at a distance a faded view of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
The church that sets beside the Royal palace - as we found out after paying to visit its cupola - is just 14 years old. It opened 14 years ago after 114 years in construction. the interior and its stained glass windows are distinctly modern in design. Not a disappointment by any means, with its basic basilica design, just not the traditional church of Europe that we are familiar with.
The view of Madrid from the Cupola is well worth the 4 euro in entrance charges. We off to another dinner.... kisses all

Checking in From the US

I`m sitting here in front of a borrowed computer which always makes me feel a bit disorganized and uncreative. I did take photos of some of my favorite people today. I would love to post them but that means I would have to plug something into somewhere which is too much of a challenge for me today.

So, let me say hello from San Francisco, California. The weather has been perfect and the wine lovely. The Palace of Fine Arts remains as beautiful as ever.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Madrid Spain

I don't know if I can be coherent or not, I am suffering either jet lag or 'Beth and Silverio Lag.'
We have been in Madrid since Thursday morning. The new airport is Fantastic-Futuristic, including the line waiting for taxis. The airport experience from start to finish took about 2 hours.

Thursday night, the start of the birthday fiesta, we went to the Plaza Santa Ana for wine and tapas.

On Friday morning to vineyards with tour, wine tasting, and tapas, and more tapas. Friday afternoon was a quick tour of Segovia and the Anzar,

all with Beth directing and keeping us -more or less- on a schedule.

Camillo and I walked the local streets in central this morning, had breakfast, took many photos of the Royal Palace, a church that is apparently only 1 year old, and watched the people in the Plaza Mayor - all at a more leisurely pace. Now Camillo is in catching a nap and I will soon follow. Tonight is Silverio's birthday dinner. It starts at 9:00 so I suspect we will be up most the night with food and drink.
Nap Time!