Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beautiful Galicia, Otra Vez

It's hard to believe that we arrived in Spain 8 days ago. Time flows by in a different way, even though we bring work with us. The trip is long, we arrive exhausted, but we have rituals along the way. The trip is more than 24 hours (door to door) and spans two days. We leave Saturday morning, have a long stretch in Dallas/FW Airport, where we have battered and fried green beans and a glass of beer at TGIF, waiting for our next flight. We arrive in Madrid around 10:30 a.m. Sunday, and have a lunch of smoked salmon, bread, and wine, then fight sleep while waiting for our connection to Santiago de Composetela. We arrive in Santiago a little after 5:00 p.m. and collect baggage. Our friends, Terri and David,  meet us, drive us back to our house in Trasulfe, where we "turn on the house" (electricity, water, gas-tank connections, etc.), then we all go out to eat at a restaurant in Monforte, called O Pincho, where we split delicious raciones. (Rations are smaller than dinners, bigger than tapas.) 

Here's a picture of Terri and David from last summer (we haven't yet gotten around to pictures of friends on this trip.) As soon as we got to O Pincho, we woke up and had a great time catching up on news, eating rations and drinking the house wine. The next morning, waking with the sun (about seven-ish), eating lunch at 2:00 p.m. and dinner around 8:00 or 9:00 p.m., Rajan and I realized we'd fallen into Spanish time right away, with very little jet lag!

Friends and neighbors tell us it was a continually rainy winter, but our first few days were sunny. There was the usual morning mist and intermittent sprinkles through the day that vanished in afternoon heat. Still, we felt free to bring out our patio table and chairs. Then things changed.
The small pasture across the sheep
path in front of our gate. The thin
tree in the foreground is a volunteer
peach tree that so far doesn't bear.

A neighbor's pasture below ours.
See those little fruit trees? The storm
blew all the petals away. No fruit
this year. 


After four beautiful sunshiny days, on Thursday afternoon a fierce hailstorm struck. First thunder rolled and roared for about an hour, and then hail beat down for about thirty minutes. This was the result :
These aren't snow drifts. Just lots and lots of hail.


I wanted to put a video here, with all its great sound effects, but I couldn't get my video to play. (I've sent to Google for help.) But this should give you some idea.
On another note, we've been making a point to walk at least two miles a day. In about a year, I want to walk a portion of the Camino that ends in Santiago. (One item on my bucket list.) I won't be able to make it to Santiago, but a friend informed me that if you walk 100 km, you can get a certificate. That's about sixty miles. Next spring I'd like to do about 30 miles, and then in the fall of 2015 do the second set. So far, a few times we've parked at Gadis, one of the big supermarkets at the edge of Monforte, and walked up to the Parador.
Here's the Parador, seen from the Gadis parking lot.
Below is Gadis, seen from Parador, to give you and
idea of how far we walk.
Gadis, where we parked, seen from the Parador: See the thin pale blue
stripe about two thirds up in the middle? Above the center green? To the
left of that is a teeny yellow sign. That's Gadis.

Other walks have been along country roads. Beautiful nature walks, really. This will give you some 
idea: The picture on the left is an example of most of the scenery here. 


The picture to the right is of a pretty church in Toiriz. We don't have pictures yet of the stork nests, but on tall posts nearby, there are two separate stork nests, and we sometimes see one of the parent birds feeding the baby birds. All you can see is the upended body, so we aren't quite sure how big those babies get. Hopefully we'll get a good photo sometime soon.



And now, it's time for a walk! But stay tuned, because the next post will be about a wonderful Fado singer we heard Sunday night. 


Meanwhile, if you have special items on your bucket list, I'd love to hear what they are.






Friday, April 4, 2014

Back on the Ship

The book has been sent to the contest. My last art club session was yesterday. Tomorrow we leave for Spain. But first, one last post about the cruise on St. Lawrence River, which continues to be quite a highlight in our travels.

Greeters to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
(I personally love the sound of
bagpipes. They always sound so . . .
eerie and haunting, full of "story".
Our bus driver and tour
guide. Unfortunately, I
didn't get his name.



Our fourth day out, we docked at Halifax, Nova Scotia and were immediately reminded of Nova Scotia's Scottish connection. Bagpipes and kilts everywhere. Even the tour guides met us in kilts, as two busloads set off for Peggy's Cove.
Peggy's Cove seemed a wild and desolate place. I've always been captivated by fog and mist, no doubt to stories I read when I was younger. Mysterious and magical things happened in foggy locations. I love Lighthouses, too, so this one captured my imagination completely:

A wild an desolate place.

Desolate, yes, but beautiful.

A magical place where anything
might happen. 

And a warning of what could happen!

And there was an official greeter to the cove as well, complete with kilts and bagpipe:

Official bagpipe greeter.
I did think it was a cold job
on a foggy day like that.

But he kindly consented to
a photograph with me.
And then it was time to board the bus again and travel to Fairview Lawn Cemetery. Why a cemetery? A whole section of it contains graves of 120 to 150 of the unfortunate passengers on the ill-fated Titanic. (The numbers vary from report to report.) I've seen several movies through the years about the Titanic, but nothing quite prepared me for the rows upon rows of markers. Some had only a number, since the body could not be identified. You can read more about the Titanic HERE and HERE), but here are some of the pictures we took at the cemetery: (Though many of the passengers were never recovered; just "buried at sea".

Entry to the cemetery.

Directions to that section
And this is what met our eyes:
there were rows and rows like this!

Some inscription were so
 moving, like this one.

And this one, too.

But this onemoved me the most.









There were so many like this.

Just numbers. Heart braking!





           







After that, we returned to the ship for eats and socializing and various leisure activities. The following day we went to Bar Harbor, Maine, but that will have to wait for another day, as the next few posts are going to be from Spain and Portugal. 

I was never particularly a cruise person before, but this one converted me. Of course, we were iin great company, as well as seeing great sights. And when I get back to posting about Bar Harbor, I'll include a recap with pictures of the great crowd of friends we traveled with.

Meanwhile, I hope you have enjoyed the bits and pieces of this cruise so far. And if you know any special facts about the Titanic, I hope you will share them. That is an event that continues to have such a grip on my conssciousness, and the public's as well.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Apologies for the Long Silence

I'm polishing up a collection of stories to enter in a contest. I should be "back on ship" next week, after I send them out. I certainly miss posting and hearing from you.  But, as they say, "First things first."

Till then, happy writing to you.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Great Post for Writers

I'm working on another writing project, so for those of you who are waiting for the next cruise stop (it's coming!) check out Anne R. Allen's wonderful post about writing slow in this speed-driven age HERE:  Great insights (and great sanity about writing, I might add.)

Enjoy, and hope to see you soon back on the ship.



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Back to the Cruise - Nova Scotia

Between the holidays, a writing assignment, and cold viruses, I got way behind in my blogging, which was a shame, because I wasn't finished with that cruise in October! And that cruise hasn't been finished with me. It is still one of the most enjoyable trips to share. And so, here we are again, back on the Cruise.

After Quebec City and Prince Edward Island, our next two stops were in Nova Scotia.  The first was in Sydney, and this was what was awaiting for people, when we disembarked in the cool morning for the various tours. Some were all day, some were half day, some by bus.

Vicky Kiker and I had chosen the walking tour around Old Sidney, and our tour guide was waiting for us. I am very sorry that once again I didn't get her name. she was very good, and she took us to several old buildings and churches and gave us a little history of the area.

"Nova Scotia" means "New Scotland", and it was renamed such after a number of battles were won and lost and the area had been through several hands. Originally it was part of Acadia, which was a colony of "New France" and included New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, parts of Quebec and Maine. You can read a little more about it on my other blog, Victorian Scribbles, HERE.

It was fascinating to see these old buildings: Jost Heritage House Museum, one of the oldest residential buildings in the city. St. Patrick's Church, the oldest standing Roman Catholic Church in eastern Nova Scotia. Cossit House Museum, where we learned a lot about life in early settlement days, and St. George's Church and Graveyard. St. George is Sydney's oldest building.  I didn't get a good picture of St. Patrick's Church, but here are some pictures of the other buildings:
One of the oldest residences.

There was a delightful
 tour guide inside.

And our walking tour guide
kept us informed every
step of the way.














We entered two homes, The Heritage House and the Cossit House Museum. To tell you the truth, when I look at these pictures, I'm not sure which photos were from which house, but you can see the consistency in how the women dressed. The one on the left told some very witty stories about life way back then. But I enjoyed both tours, and I loved the furniture in those old buildings. 
The beds actually didn't look
 so comfortable.
Teller of funny stories.


The more sedate housewife.


But the dining area had charm.



I liked the fireplace.

Maybe the study? I don't know. It's
bigger than my office space, I know
that.

Before long, it was time to go
 back to our own ship.
And these model ships were in one of those museums.
Such workmanship!



Every detail so complete.
But not before I got a picture
of Vicki with our tour guide.
The tour guide explained her dress: It was a French style for that period. Many maids who came over to the colony were French, and that was the clothing they knew how to sew.

There was still quite a treat to come after we got back to the ship. Our wonderful leader had arranged for everyone to walk over to the Governor's Pub for a delicious lunch. Now, I had every intention of getting pictures of the building, the staff, etc ., like I did the day before when we had the lobster lunch in Prince Edward Island. But all of that was whisked out of my mind by the suprise treat of a lifetime.

The Barra MacNeils, a famous Cape Breton family group of musicians who sing, play, and dance Celtic music, performed at the Governor's Pub that day.

My husband and I adore Celtic music, and was this group fabulous! (We bought two of their CDs.) Before I go any further, let me give you their official website where you can learn more about them, and here's a YouTube that lets you hear one of their performances. (Listen to it all the way through, and you'll get a taste of the kind of music we heard.) Then enjoy the pictures below that my husband took as they played at the lunch. (I don't even remember what I ate that day, I was so into the music!)

Haunting on the fiddle.

Great singers, both.

Sad song, here!
Great keyboard artist.

Another song to break
your heart.

Great singing together!


And just before we left . . . Hey! Who is that guy? You know the one I mean . . . 
The one next to the guy on the left . . . second from the end . . .



It's our fearless leader!

I hope you enjoyed this little trip to Sydney. Next stop will be Halifax. 

On another note, do you like Celtic music? Who is your favorite band
 or singer? And if not Celtic, what is your favorite kind of music?






Friday, January 17, 2014

Blog Break Until February 1st.

Dear Blog Friends,

Right now I'm working on a writing project that has a deadline. Please come back February 1st. Meanwhile, I'll still surf around, reading yours and commenting.

Thanks so much for your patience.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Joyeux Noel




This is a re-post of a post from three years ago about two DVD's, one a favorite opera, and the other a foreign film, both set in the Christmas season, and both set in Europe. The first is an opera set in Belle Epoque France; the latter is a 1914 war story that really is an anti-war story.

The opera was one I've written about before (when Sacramento Opera performed it in Spring of 2010): Puccini's La Boheme. In this case, La Boheme, the Movie, stars Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon as Mimi and Rodolfo. Both their voices are lush and lyrical, as if the composer wrote the music with them in mind, and their acting brought the story alive. All the cast was good, and the costumes and sets made scenes seem like impressionist paintings in motion. This is such a layered story, each time I hear and see the opera, I have a new appreciation for the breadth of understanding Pucci was able to convey in the music. I marvel how composers achieve on musical scores what I struggle to achieve in just words. I can never can see or hear this opera too many times, and I plan to buy the DVD.

The second movie was Joyeux Noel, a 2005 film that was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film. The individual stories highlighted were fictitious, but the over all story is based on a true happening on a Christmas Eve in 1914, in the theater of war, rather than in an opera theater: Scottish, French, and German troops agreed to a cease fire, and put down their weapons to celebrate Christmas Eve, even warning each other of planned shellings the next day and offering refuge in each other's trenches when the shellings occurred. For all three military groups, the only thing that saved troops from being tried for treason was the fact that 200 or so in each case would have to be tried. Instead, all the participants were transferred to other fronts to make sure it wouldn't happen again. It was a remarkable film, and a story I won't forget.

So here it is, the New Year, and the Christmas message hovering still. Best wishes for the coming year, and for a time of peace, when people can be united again in their common humanity.