Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Long and Winding Road

Ever since we returned from Galicia, I've been immersed in immediate activities like:
1) a visit from a special nephew; 2) spreading the word about my new book, Dragonella; 3) getting a TB test and getting fingerprinted in order to teach my volunteer art class at the community center—a new requirement this year, and 4) renewing my driver's license. We've only been home three weeks and two days, and it feels like we've crammed 6 months into that time. 

 1. the visit with our nephew was great, although much too short, and we do hope he'll bring his wife next time. 2. You've probably all heard enough about Dragonella now.  3. Good news:  I don't have TB, and I do have good fingerprints. (The fingerprints were a lot of work, though, because really, I have terrible fingerprints from years of gardening and cleaning house without gloves. I failed my first test two weeks ago. But drinking lots of water daily and rubbing Neutrogena into my finger and thumb tips several times a day did wonders. Fingerprints passed yesterday! Yay.) And 4. I passed my written test yesterday for the driver exam, which was super important: My current license expires in 8 days. (Yes, it's true: Sagittarius is a sign that procrastinates.)

Which brings me, finally, back to our trip to Galicia and the topic of today's post: "The Long and Winding Road." Actually, there are a lot of long and winding roads in Galicia. The picture above is just one of them. Here are a couple more:

But the particular long and winding road of the title goes up, up, up into the mountains to a casa rural and an ancient,  famous monastery—Mosteiro de Santo Estevo. We don't have a picture of that road, because we were too busy having adventures on it.                                              
Even though this monastery has beckoned to us for years and appears on a poster at our favorite coffee shop in Escairon, Circulo O Saviñao, we've never dared venture up the mountain to see it. Rajan loves to photograph ancient churches, but we both hate narrow roads that drop off on the sides here and there. Then we met Irene and Ian, who have a casa rural—Casa Santo Estevo—right behind the monastery. Since we had lunch with them on an earlier visit in Monforte (our choice), we decided that on our next visit we should go to them.
Casa Santo Estevo: Very old, and very

Most of the drive wasn't all that bad, although there are no pictures of it because Rajan was focusing on driving and I was gritting my teeth and gripping the door. (Even "not all that bad" feels kinda bad to me.) But we got to a crucial point that can only be described as a hairpin turn — one going up an incline. Not fun. 

Once arrived, however, we had a lovely visit. The casa rural is beautifully furnished with cosy touches, the rooms all overlooking beautiful vistas. Behind Irene and Ian, you can see vineyards on the far slopes, and Rajan took a couple pictures of the area, vowing to come back and take more. Here's one of us, too, trying to look nonchalant about the hairpin curve waiting for us on the trip back. (These are from my camera, since Rajan hasn't given me the CD of his shots yet.) 

And so we headed back — and missed the turn. Which brings me once again to the title of this post. On the way out, we saw a turn that we were sure could not be IT. We were wrong. So we toodled merrily along for a stretch and then realized the road was 1. getting narrower, 2. getting muddier, 3. winding more and more around shrinking and muddier bends that went who knew where?

Luckily I had put Irene's phone number in my mobile, so we stopped and I called. She said they had seen us go the wrong direction, and Ian was already walking in our direction. When he arrived, she arrived soon after (both by foot). She knew the turn-around spots and directed us — Ian drove, thank goodness! On the way back, he picked her up, and took us past the curve we had dreaded, to a spot in front of the monastery itself, which also was a nice level area from which to drive back home.

And then they gave us a tour of the grounds! We'd been dying to see that building up close, and now there we were, walking around the grounds with friends for tour guides.

This is a very famous monastery. You can see an overall picture of it HERE: The huge rose window is considered the largest rose window in Europe (yes, larger than the ones in Notre Dame in Paris!)

My shots don't give you a view of that window or the entire building — you'll have to go to the site above for that. I did take these to show other aspects of the church/monastery, some parts of which go back to the twelfth century.
(The S in the picture at the left is for "siglo", which is Spanish for century).

Even then, these pics don't begin to convey the size of this building. It's enormous.

Rajan is into black and white photography and wants to go back again with his film camera and take some more pictures of both the building and the spectacular views all around. We have a plan for that, though: Park on a lower level in a good turn-around spot, turn around ahead of time, and walk up the rest of the way.

How about you: Do high, narrow, winding roads make you nervous? Do you like historic buildings? Old churches? Has November been a "crunch" month for you?

Since the big day is tomorrow, have a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope it's filled with love and laughter and good eating. 


Sharon said...

You were brave to tackle those narrow roads and heights. I would have been gritting my teeth too on the floor, head covered, but the drive was so worth it. BTW congratulations on your new book :) Wishing you much success in getting the word out! Not easy, as I'm finding out.

Kenda Turner said...

Your stories from Galicia are always interesting, but this one sounds particularly adventurous! Thanks for sharing :-) And yes, I love historic buildings and old churches. We visited some beautiful places on our trip to Spain five years ago. Great memories and lots of pictures! Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving. Any Spanish dishes planned?

Elephant's Child said...

I love historic buildings and old churches. And suspect that very few of 'today's buildings' will stand the test of time (or deserve to).
Not good on narrow, winding roads (pretty as they are).
And I cannot garden in gloves and don't clean in them either so my finger prints are probably suspect.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Sharon, I am really not brave at all and am so glad the return trip was easier than expected. Meanwhile, thanks for the good wishes about Dragonella. I do have a couple of school visits coming up, happily, and I'll be able to sell books at one of them. The other will just be reading to the kids, but I can leave cards.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Kenda, I'm glad you enjoy hearing about Galicia. I remember you talking about visiting Spain. It's such a beautiful country — and so varied in the different areas! No, our Thanksgiving usually involves Indian food. My husband is from India, and we joint cook some really delicious recipes. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Elephant's Child, you are so right about the longevity (or lack of it) of today's buildings. What amazes us when we go to Spain is how some of those buildings are hundreds of years old, and bridges and some buildings that go back to the Romans are still standing. Re: the fingerprints: If you ever find you need good fingerprints, remember that Neutragena on them and drinking lots of water really do work!

Rosi said...

The scariest road I've ever been on is the Going to the Sun Highway in Yellowstone National Park. I almost had a nervous breakdown.The monastery looks like it was worth the trip.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the heads up!When our airplane travel days are over, we would like to see more of the US, and we will definitely avoid the Sun Highway in Yellowstone! We are unashamedly chicken. We don't do Highway 1 to Mendocino anymore, either—not since we went to manual shift. Uh-uh.

Kate Larkindale said...

Looks like a beautiful place and worth the scary drive to get to.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Kate. Beautiful, yes. Worth the scary drive? Uh . . . we'll walk that last stretch next time. But at least we discovered we can do that, so I know we'll get more beautiful pictures next time.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Elizabeth, love to see your Galicia posts. How are the sales for Dragonella?

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rachna. I don't post about Galicia as much as I mean to, but I'm glad you like it when I do. My publisher tells me Dragonella is doing well. How are your own publications doing? You haven't mentioned them for a while, but I think you had several stories published. I've been enjoying your tweets giving hints to one of your books, but I'm not sure which book.

Mirka Breen said...

Even the name, "Galicia," conjures another century. Thank you for taking us along.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Mirka. Galicia has a long and winding history as well as long and winding roads! You really do step into another time and place.

Sandra Cox said...

What an adventure in beautiful scenic surroundings.
You've broadened my horizons, I had no idea you could fail a fingerprint test. Chuckling. Since I too garden, I'd probably fail it also.
Glad TB was a nonissue.
Enjoyed the post, Elizabeth.
You, have a day filled with sparkle.
How's book sales going?

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi Sandra, thanks for stopping by. Re and earlier failure to get fingerprints: I asked, "What do the police do about criminals' fingerprints? They must be worse that mine." Answer? "Criminals have the best fingerprints; they don't work." (That had me chuckling for quite some time. Re: book sales? Okay, I think. My publisher says Dragonella is doing well. I have some school visits coming up, too. Have a great rest of the week and week-end.