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We’re famous!

MONTECRISTO magazine’s online version featured a story on innovative laneway design, and our Grandview Laneway is mentioned!  Very good company, and very prestigious press.

Laneway_Grandview2

100 days of solitude

Well, this was….unexpected?

Whatever I was forecasting for 2020, this wasn’t it.  And I know it’s the same for you.  We just could not have imagined the changes we would be put through.

It’s like watching a movie showing the “future” of the 20th century.  No one imagined cell phones, or having instant access to information anywhere, anytime through the world wide web.  Carrying cameras, movie cameras, movie studios in our pockets. Drones affordable for average folk.  No one got streaming music and movies.  Or the gig economy. Or how inexpensive and extensive foreign travel would be.  Or how we wouldn’t get flying cars.

Who, in 1970, would have imagined people would STILL be marching against systemic racism?

For myself, I’ve been knocked out of the comfortable life I’d built for myself. For two years after I retired I had been looking after our youngest grandchild (la belle princesse) every Thursday.  We would go to a playgroup and hang out at the park and I really loved it.  But she started full time daycare and just like that I was not needed.  No more getting up at 5 am and going out to the suburbs; (quiet sob) my time was my own.

But it wasn’t.  I had signed up for Tourism Vancouver city host volunteering, and so once a week I would approach touristy-looking people near the cruise ships dock, and offer directions and maps and suggestions.  I loved it!  I wore a nice uniform.  The people I helped were grateful, my fellow volunteers were all well-travelled and well-informed about the rest of the world.  I had so much fun that I was soon doing it twice a week.  But the cruise season ends at the end of September, and thus so would the volunteering until Spring.

So I signed up to do some temporary office work.  I loved that, too!  Going to different industries, using my old skills.  And if I didn’t like the situation, I’d just ask not to be assigned there anymore.  I made money, which I put away for our planned trips to foreign climes.

But now….

I am staying two meters from the grandchildren, even when I get to see them.  Or, if I’m babysitting them while their Mom is out I wear a mask — no cuddles. No volunteering this year, all the cruises have been cancelled and the border has been closed with our nearest neighbour and biggest tourism customer.  And as for temp work, the few jobs that are available are going to younger, braver workers. A trip I had planned to Great Britain with my sister has been cancelled. Our usual hostelry in Penticton will not open this year, so we’ve cancelled that trip as well.

This is not an uncomfortable life, and I realize how privileged I am that I am able to live it. But I could never have guessed things would turn in these directions.

For us, some of these changes like delivery of pet food and specialty foods will be more or less permanent for the immediate future, we’ll have to forgo our trips to Granville Island or West Broadway on transit.   What other changes?  Who knows?  Maybe voting by mail-in ballots. More and more online shopping.

I had thought we’d be getting grocery delivery until the vaccine comes out but when I asked my husband if there was anything he wanted added to the list, he looked off into the distance and said “I’d like….to go to the store.” He knows I am still very apprehensive of going into any sort of crowd, but he said he’d take it on.  The heavy stuff we can still get delivered like liquids and canned things, but for produce, meats, bakery and deli items, he’s ready to head into the fray, masked and cautious. That’s great news because it’s difficult to get exactly what we need when ordering, you can never get unusual items like bavarian meat loaf or English bangers, and there’s so much waste from what we over order.  Add in the cost of the delivery and we’re throwing money away.

What changes can we all look forward to? Fewer brick and mortar stores?  Better take out and delivery meals from restaurants? Architectural changes so every home has a space for a home office to accommodate more people working from home?  Apparently electric bikes are selling like hotcakes as we all try to get outside without crowding each other (and we live in a very hilly part of the world, with the older crowd trying to get back on the bike after abandoning it).  Will our traffic patterns change? Will offices be redesigned to avoid face to face meetings?  Will people work longer hours but shorter weeks because they don’t have to commute hours each day? What about education?  Health care? Fashion?

Who can say what things may come?

OSWALD CABEL (RAYMOND MASSEY) STANDS AS RAYMOND PASSWORTHY (EDWARD CHAPMAN) LOOKS THOUGHTFUL AS HE LEANS ON HIS HAND AS CATHERINE CABEL (PEARL ARGYLE) AND MAURICE PASSWORTHY (KENNETH VILLIERS) SIT IN THE BACKGROUND

 

Oh Dad, Dear Dad

Of course I’ve been thinking a lot about my father lately.  It’s Father’s Day, after all, and Facebook keeps reminding me of all the times my father appeared in my Father’s Day Posts.  All the online and TV ads mention dear old Dad.  The media is all about the Dad.

But I would have been thinking about Dad without all this, because of the marches and the protests about police brutality and the knowledge that racism is part of our country and our heritage. 

My father would be 97 this July if he hadn’t passed in 2013; he grew up during the Depression, and that was a very racist time.  Black dogs were frequently named “Ni**er”.  The only screen actors of colour were forced to perform burlesques of white prejudice like Stepin FetchitAmos and Andy were white radio actors who perpetuated stereotypes of black indolence.  

But of course, there was no immigrant group or religion that could not be denigrated with a single word.  Kike. Chink. Mick. Dago. Wop. Bohunk. Frog. These were terms that were used every day by “nice people”. 

Yet somehow, Dad wasn’t racist.  He wasn’t prejudiced against “others”.  He didn’t seem to view people of other races and religions differently.  

He had a regular customer during his cab driving days in the late ‘40s who was gay.  He always asked for Dad because he knew Dad would treat him like a regular customer.  Wouldn’t beat him up or try to rob him.  Treated him like a human being which unfortunately was rare in those days.

The only time I saw my father angry at his mother (and my grandmother could be exasperating) was when she used the term “darkies” in front of me. He once caught some of us children taunting a local young lady of questionable virtue.  He told us that we must never mock people no matter who they were.  He taught me the phrase “Rather to be pitied than scorned.” Not everyone has the same choices and opportunities that we have.

I don’t know why Dad wasn’t prejudiced.  It’s not something we talked about.  I don’t know if he just mixed with a lot of people from different cultures and came to realize the value of each person.  If he did I don’t know how, pre-WW2 Vancouver wasn’t known for its cultural sensitivity and integration.  But Dad escaped that snare.  

What that meant for my sister and myself was that we never heard about “Chinese drivers” or “Jew bankers” or “Sneaky Japs”, or “Dirty Indians”; things other people said every day.  If you’d accused them of being racist they would have been aghast!  What about their (insert minority term here) friend?  Racism, like white privilege, was often invisible, only displayed behind closed doors.

Not that Dad liked everyone!  Far from it.  He once worked with a lad so incompetent that he referred to him as “Charlie Stupid.”  I don’t think I learned his real name, but it wasn’t Charlie.  All my friends liked Dad, he could stand about two of them.  As for the rest, he would just roll his eyes to the ceiling if I mentioned their names.  There are still people who tell me they felt my Dad was a good friend to them.  He tolerated them, but he was always polite to them.  

He avoided those people because they were unpleasant or humourless or hypocritical (the worst sin in Dad’s eyes).  Their nationalities or religion had nothing to do with how he felt.

So thanks, Dad!  I won’t say I’m not a racist — who among us can truly say that?  But I try to be the best person I can be.  And I think he would appreciate that.

 

Food delivery roulette

Anyone who knows me (or has seen me) knows that I love to eat and I love to cook, and both these activities are super important during our isolation. It’s very comforting to have a nice meal every day, just a little oasis of normalcy in these chaotic times.

We are relying on food pickup and deliveries these days, with the occasional trip to the grocery store

The first delivery I received at the end of March contained no eggs, and had substituted skipjack instead of albacore tuna (who can tell the difference?  DH) and of course there was no toilet paper.  So when our supplies ran out, and the next pick up scheduled for over a week away, I had to go to Superstore in person.

Fortunately, being old has its rewards and the store is open only to the elderly and disabled from 7 to 8 am.  DD said she would give me a ride so we set out at dawn for the store.  It was the first time I had left the house in a week.  I was overly excited, ridiculously so.

Give me my groceries!

And that’s how I found myself staring at a cooler full of meat and thinking “no bangers!  What is this?  Soviet Russia?”  There were dozens of types of sausages, but no bangers.  And the only ground beef was in big packages.  Definitely not as bad as the previous week, when DH went to a supermarket to find that the only meat available in the cooler was chicken gizzards and hearts.  But still, I had my heart set on some nice bangers and mash……

But I digress.  Because this isn’t about bangers and mash it’s about security of our food supply.

So far, so good.  In our home we did run out of some items but we’ve been really good about staying out of the stores. DH wanted to make hamburgers for dinner the other night and I made our own buns, and mayonnaise, and even baked onion rings.  Yes!  Just like the pioneers!

We are not crazy about supermarket coffee, because we drink decaf and there are very few mainstream coffee brands with good decaf.  But JJ Bean sent us some out of the goodness of their hearts because I ordered it online.

The only worm in the apple is that sometimes delivery orders are cancelled, seemingly capriciously.  And you never know if your order has been cancelled until the time it’s supposed to be delivered, so you can’t plan ahead.

And we know that there may be food shortages of some items in the future due to disruption in the supply chain.  And some have likened this to the shortages during the last war (WW11 I mean, not Afghanistan).  But that’s ridiculous.

For one thing, Canada supplied half the meat consumed in Britain during the war, and that led to shortages here and there, and eventual rationing in Canada.  In just one year, 1942, coffee, tea, and sugar were rationed here in Canada.  Imagine getting through a disaster with limited tea and coffee and no cookies! Butter was rationed, starting the widespread acceptance of margarine as a substitute. The loss of Japanese Canadian farms in the Fraser Valley meant some crops including strawberries were ruined.

More information can be found here.  Seriously, check it out, it’s very interesting. Because we were coming off the great Depression, and because the first of Canada’s Food Guides was published, even under rationing people could be eating better than they ever had.

Thanks to the people who are on the job making sure we are getting our food, from the pickers to the packers to the truckers to the cashiers, everyone is risking their health to make sure we can be fed.  And safe.

 

 

Wartime thinking

I was watching The Darkest Hour last night, and drinking scotch in solidarity with Winston Churchill.  I’m sure I’m not the first to think (and hear) that our experiences during the COVID 19 pandemic are similar to those of people during World War 11.

Well, yes.  But mostly no.

Yes, we have a common enemy.  And we all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens. And it’s going to be a sacrifice of one sort or another.

But things are a lot better today than they were then.  I realize that I’m supposed to look back on those times as being somehow nicer, kinder, when people were more cooperative and could count on their neighbours. But those nice, kind people stood back as thousands of their neighbours were rounded up and sent out of the city, and sometimes out of the province, to what amounted to concentration camps just for the crime of having Japanese ancestry.

Also polio.

My mother left the rural community of Aldergrove to work in Vancouver for the telegraph exchange in 1943 or 1944.  I sometimes wonder how her life was different than mine.

Clothes, for one.  I can go online and order anything I want and it will be brought to my house for my approval.  At the beginning of the war in Canada:

Everyone was given a book of 66 coupons to use to buy new clothes for one year. For example, a men’s shirt cost 16 coupons. This reduced to 48 coupons in 1942 and 36 in 1943.

By mid 1941- silk was no longer available since it was used as the material for parachutes. Therefore, women rushed to purchase all the silk stockings available.[1]

In fact, later in the war, Saba’s, a ritzy store that specialized in silk and other expensive fabrics, had a regular riot on their hands when 500 women stampeded the store to buy 300 pairs of nylon stockings (luckily, no one was hurt). Nylon was just as rare and special as silk.

So clothes had to last as long as they could.  They were darned, mended, rehemmed and remade until they were ready to fall apart, and then they were remade into something else.  None of this fast fashion of today.

And clothes were borrowed and shared.  In the boarding house where my mother lived girls would often exchange clothes to have a “new” look for a date.

So let’s do a little wartime thinking.

So let’s take this opportunity to think about how we mindlessly shop for clothes until we have closets and drawers overfilled with cheap, disposable outfits that we never wear.  Let’s start thinking about how much clothes really cost, think about buying fewer pieces and wearing them more often.

 

 

Plague journal

Apparently William Shakespeare and Isaac Newton wrote some of their best stuff while under quarantine for the plague.  I think I can do better than those two dilettantes, so here goes, my own Plague Journal.

I knew it would come, eventually, when I heard about the “flu-like disease” epidemic in China.  People compare this to the Spanish Flu, which travelled around the world in two years.  We all knew it would come to us somehow.  It was all a matter of time. Like smallpox  Or polio.  These bygone diseases would spread through a community, sometimes decimating it.  Our time would come.

When the first cases appeared in Vancouver, just 3 weeks ago, my son and daughter-in-law asked me to stay home and not accept any temp jobs.  I assured them that I would go to the hospital at the first sign of illness.  Of course there were no more temp jobs available.  No one was letting a stranger into their spaces. And the hospitals were already filling up.

Just 10 days ago I attended a choir recital “starring” my oldest grandchild.  I had half-heartedly considered not going, but ….. I rode a crowded bus, bought a coffee at the crowded Starbucks, and sat in a crowded church and listened to those adorable children’s harmony, and watched them perfect Os with their little mouths.

But I don’t do that anymore.  I stay home. And I have been for a week.

Our government closed borders to those from stricken countries, then to most countries, then to all countries. We were urged to avoid gatherings of more than 200 people, of more than 50 people, of more than 10 people.  To stay home. Our neighbours to the south…..not so much.

I thought it summed up the different approaches to the difference between how the pandemic is being managed in Canada and the US to see how the leaders handled press conferences on St. Patrick’s Day. Our PM standing alone in front of the house where he is in a self imposed isolation. The US president crowded by other people on a dais in a closed room in close proximity to the press.

For 12 weeks, their president said that it was a hoax, that it was not serious, that the US certainly had enough tests for the virus, enough ventilators, enough beds in privately-run hospitals.  All were safe.  We wondered why he was so blind to the situation, but of course, we were naive.  The government of the US was downplaying the pandemic to prop up the stock market for long enough for a privileged few to sell their stocks before the crash.  I have never heard of anything so disgusting.  Oh wait, there was that one store in Manhattan who was selling bottled water at a highly inflated price to rescuers on 9-11.

We may see worse before the end of this.

What is our situation now?  I can only speak for myself and my husband.

We are fine.  We are better than fine, luckier than most of our neighbours.  I am retired, and those checks will continue to pop into our bank account whether we leave our house or not. He works for himself, his clients may be in Richmond or in Denmark. He provides voice production, delivered online to his customers.  I bank online, shop online.  Tuesday I awoke to a box of cat food lying outside our door beside the daily newspaper.  Monday a delivery of groceries will appear to feed us through the week.  If I need to top up throughout the week I can go to a local store that is offering special early-morning shopping for seniors. We venture out across the street to the government liquor store as we need to, keeping our distance from our fellow shoppers and dousing ourselves in Purell before we wash our hands at home.

Coffee might be a problem.  We like Starbucks ground coffee, and the local outlets are likely to close in the next few weeks.  We may have to substitute grocery store coffee.  A small price.

We know how lucky we are. I am taking an online guitar course.  I download new books for my Kindle.  I may finally watch the Marvelous Mrs. Maizel.  Yesterday I was contacted about checking my CPAP machine and reviewing my needs.  I explained that I would not be dragging the machine to their office on the bus, and was told that all data could be delivered from my machine to them by BlueTooth!  Fantastic!

We’re not exactly the citizens of Eyam during the plague. But we’re doing our parts.

Home Again

Yes, we made it home again.

Our last morning in Paris (well, CDG) we got up at 6 to be out of our pod by the deadline of 7.  I had a so-so sleep.  I use a CPAP machine when I sleep, and apart from having no distilled water to use in the machine, there was no hard surface to put it on near the bed.  So I woke up several times.  This is one of the reasons why travel when one is younger is often easier.

We showered and headed out.  In the fluorescent-lit Yotel guest “lounge” (how can it look so depressingly grim?  Are fluorescent lights even still a thing?) we found a very sad cold breakfast (American cereal and cold toast) which was only available if one had a voucher, which thankfully we did not, because just a short walk down the terminal we found a nice little cafe with excellent coffee and real croissants.  We started back to the rail link we’d taken the night before to the Yotel and were intercepted by a polite lady who directed us to a security desk (for the time of day the people there were remarkably cheery, the gentleman who checked out our backpack was singing “Baby Shark”) and then onto a shuttle and back to Terminal 2A and the Air Canada wing.  I managed to fit some shopping into the morning, as I found many of the same souvenirs I had seen at the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe at the airport shop.

We had quite a wait, but we managed to survive by reading and watching our fellow travellers.  Then onto the plane to Montreal. We had good seats and enjoyed the flight.

We landed in Montreal around 1-ish in the afternoon and looked forward to about a 3-hour wait for our flight to YVR.  Not enough time to go into the city and have a meal, just enough to wander around Pierre Trudeau Airport.  We would have to feed ourselves for this leg of the trip, so decided to buy sandwiches from one of the outlets in the airport for a sky picnic once we were on the plane. We got the usual announcement that the flight was fairly full, so would someone like to check their bag for free?  I volunteered and got us bumped up from Zone 6 to Zone 3 when loading and also learned that the flight would be delayed for an hour.  We heard two stories, one was that there was a problem with the plane and it would have to be replaced;  and that the pilots were trapped in Ottawa with bad weather.  We had gone through something like this before, the pilots can only fly within a certain window and if the flight cannot take place within that window they need to find substitutes.  Which they did, only they had to come in from Toronto.  So we’d be taking off around 6 pm, about 1.75 hours after our original time.  Air Canada apologized about a hundred times and then gave us meal vouchers which was quite decent of them.

We’d already bought our picnic, but others were very happy to get the vouchers.  Airport food is expensive.

Speaking of which, when we were aloft (the pilots got there around 5:45 and we took off around 6 pm) we opened our lunches.  DH had bought a ham and cheese sandwich and some Doritos.  I had bought a sandwich where the ingredients listed included ham, bacon, cheese, chicken, hard-boiled egg, tomato, lettuce and gherkin.  There may have been more (possibly peanut butter and jelly).  I wondered if they just labeled all the sandwiches thus and one would get two or perhaps three of these ingredients.  Nope.  They were all in there.  And it tasted……weird.  But I would have eaten the armrest at this point so I soldiered on.  The potato chips were good, though.  Next time I’ll likely just buy something on the plane, we didn’t save much by buying in the airport.

We landed in Vancouver late but not horrendously so, breezed through customs (no line ups anywhere, not even the rest rooms) and got to baggage claim just as my suitcase rolled around.  Then we lined up for a cab.

The line-up was decently short, and they have a new system now where each section of the Lower Mainland is given its own fare, with maps posted along the line-up to explain how much you’d pay.  Naturally, our home being so far away from the airport, ours is $40.  But that’s fair, and we were happy to pay it, being somewhat pooped when we got here.

We loved our trip, we had a wonderful time in each of the places we visited, and of all that occurred only one incident was not great (Frankfurt Airport).

Customer service is so important when we can choose to go virtually anywhere on earth for our vacations.  For an example of how NOT to do it, DD has written of her less-than-stellar experiences (also in Germany……hmmmmm).

We are content, looking back on our travels, and looking forward to planning our next trip.

And looking at our souvenir.

The Eiffel Tower was the first thing we saw from our plane coming into Paris, the real kick-off to our vacation.

Europe – Day 17 – Seville and civility

Ha!  Funny story.  Some time ago, my sister and I travelled to Great Britain flying standby.  All went well with our flights until we tried to get home.  Oh, it was explained, we could hardly expect to get a flight to North America because it was a Bank Holiday.

We had never heard of a Bank Holiday, which is some random 3-day weekend thing the Brits do every so often.  If we HAD heard of a Bank Holiday it would not have occurred to us that everyone needed to fly to North America for a long weekend.

This amusing tale sprang to my memory last night at midnight, when all the bells in the nearby cathedral started ringing.  For Corpus Christi, a major Catholic holiday.

The lesson is:  Check out the holidays where you are going because they can really affect you.  Like all the shops will be closed tomorrow.  And all the roads in the centre of town will be closed for processions.  Plus all the streets are blocked with little shrines.

Sure enough, the bells woke me up the next morning at the crack of 7.  We packed our suitcases and then skipped out for a quick breakfast and it was time to check out.

I can’t say enough about the Hotel Dona Maria.  Originally a private home, it’s been turned into a delightful hotel, antiques everywhere, and SO convenient to everything you want to see.  Plus, the fantastic rooftop, where we could partake of a refreshing swim in the afternoons.

And a refreshing beverage in the evening.

and a view of the Cathedral Square as night fell and the lights came on. And the swallows swooped and the sky turned from blue to indigo to black.

The rooms in the hotel are so comfortable and homey!  The service is great.  This is the exterior, actually on the street Mateos Gago.

the street — so charming!

This is OUR ROOM with the aforementioned BALCONY!

Each room has a plaque beside the door. What does it mean?

If we ever find ourselves back in Seville we will come back here.  What a hotel, not just accommodation, it’s an experience!

But we did have to leave today.  As DH led me, silently weeping, from the lobby, we turned and found ourselves in the middle of the Corpus Christi celebrations in the square outside the Cathedral we’d visited yesterday.  (BTW when we arrived on Saturday we saw some people headed for the Cathedral dressed to the nines — men in tails!  women in $500 shoes!  Turns out it was a football star getting married and no, we didn’t see the Beckhams although they were there). We saw some of the celebrations of Corpus Christi today, including life-sized statues being returned to the Cathedral from the parade:

Random saint.

And bands swarming in the side streets tuning up their instruments. DH also got a good video of the bells in the tower swinging out over the square (not available here).

But the crowds were so packed we could not force out way through the masses of celebrants.  So, luckily, after all our tours in the area, we could head in another direction and still find our way out to the Torre del Oro where we could get the Airport Shuttle.  We were HOURS early to the Seville airport, as we had to be out of the hotel by noon and I didn’t trust my abilities to deliver us to the right gate at the right time.

But we made it!  And flew back to Paris.

I’m not hip to the machinations of these smaller airlines (Vuehling in this case).  When I checked us in yesterday I had to pay for seats, so I paid for the swank seats.  On first and off (no sky-bridge on the Paris end, a staircase and a shuttle).

The countryside reminds me of flying over Great Britain, that is, every square centimetre of land is accounted for.  So unlike our flyovers in Canada with hundreds of square hectares of wild country.  But let’s face it, both France and Spain fit populations larger than Canada’s into spaces smaller than our province.

Charles de Gaulle Airport is huge.  Like gigantic.  Titanic.  Frighteningly large. We have been here before, flying from Frankfurt and finding our way into the city of Paris.  But this time we were headed for the Yotel.    This is a hostelry set up for the business commuter.  Short on charm and long on efficiency.  We knew we were going to get a totally different experience from the Dona Maria.  But I was a little…….if not disgruntled, certainly far from gruntled.

First, finding the place.  We landed in Terminal 3, but we had to make our way to Terminal 2.  Hey, no problem, we did this when we landed.  So we hopped on the rail shuttle.  There we were in Terminal 2E  and just had to get to 2L.  We sought out a nice person in an orange vest who told us we had to go through security.  Which we tried to do.  Then we got another person in orange who had to ask another person who told us to go through the police kiosk, then catch another rail shuttle, then walk through another terminal and then get to our hotel.  The Yotel.

We Found it!  Fantastic.  I had booked this room knowing it was rather …. spartan.  It’s certainly efficient.

Your faithful blogger trying to check in for the last leg of our trip.  There’s a bed.  And a TV. (only news channels) And….a drop down desk.  And a shower (glass walls! with curtains).  No space to hang up your clothes.  No furniture but the bed.  Transparent panels between the “bed room” and the “shower/toilet”. And there’s a check out time of 7 A. M.!!! But I’m so intimidated by the size and complexity of CDG airport that I’ll be happy to be out of the room and  over to the terminal at least 2.5 hours before our boarding time.

Must hit the (comfortable) bed.  It’s nice to know that the last night we are spending in Europe is in a place we’ll be happy to leave!

 

 

Europe – Day 16

Our last full day in Seville!  We were tired but still ready to give’er.  We got up and had a hearty breakfast at a local place decorated with real stuffed bull’s heads.  For real.

Then we went to join our tour of the Cathedral and the Alcazar.  We had Pablo as our guide and two nice Americans and one nice lady from the Netherlands as our tour companions.  First the cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral standing, and 3rd largest cathedral in the world.  It was built on the site of a mosque that more or less fell down in an earthquake so it’s square rather than cruciform. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, full of beautiful art and statues and paintings and yanno, catholic stuff.

The altar

The ceilings are very high and very gothic

Verified (by DNA) resting place of remains of Christopher Columbus, famous world explorer and all-round jerk

Baptismal font, still in use

Nice pipes

La Giralda tower, side with no scaffolding

Saints Junta and Ruffina, early Christian martyrs, who show up several times in the cathedral.

All the big statues are out of their niches and on litters to be carried out in procession tomorrow, Corpus Christi, and the altar is decorated with lots of white flowers.  Very impressive indeed.

This area will be action central for Corpus Christi tomorrow. Last evening a nattily attired band marched through the square, practicing

We did not walk up Giralda tower because I’m still wobbly after yesterday.  One of our members did, the bells were ringing the whole time and she was in a massive crowd so I’m not sure she really enjoyed herself.

We then had a quick tour of the Jewish quarter of Seville, which we had seen during our walking tour (and also during our tapas tour) then on to the Alcazar.  I thought it had been built during the Moorish empire in Spain but actually Pedro the 1st (the Wise or the Cruel depending) had built it to impress the Moors from Grenada.  He certainly got it right.  It’s very beautiful, all high ceilings and tiled walls and floors.  It’s been built built up over the centuries, added onto by Charles V in a slightly different style, etc. But it’s been maintained meticulously, maybe it’s because it’s still the residence of the Spanish Royal Family when they are in Seville.

Inside the Alcazar, with many courtyards

The view from inside to a courtyard with a long water feature and orange trees planted on each side. Trees and water = paradise.

Interior of the Alcazar

Another courtyard

Painting that decorates the chambers where applicants for trading licenses for the New World would be heard.

Part of the original outer wall, now part of the courtyard

An interior chamber

There’s no doubt about it, the super-walk yesterday is playing havoc with my leg joints, and we’re likely going to spend the rest of today lolling by the pool.

The pool was cool and refreshing, the deck warm but breezy and comfortable.  What a lovely afternoon.

Afternoon in Seville

We showered and headed out for dinner.  Then we got an ice cream cone and headed to see the preparations for Corpus Christi over by the city hall.  But the streets were jammed.  Little shrines had been set up and we could not make our way through.

The Archbishop’s Palace is all bedecked with velvet banners

Now it’s 11 pm.  The streets are still packed.  People are having dinner beneath our window, in sidewalk cafes.  And the bands have just stopped playing in the square outside the Cathedral while a drone circled above, modern technology capturing ancient traditions.

Tomorrow should be…..interesting.

Europe – Day 15

I can’t believe our time here is nearly at an end.  What a trip we have had!  Each place more magical than the last.

Today we had a wake-up call scheduled for 6:45 AM so we could meet our friend/tour guide Peter  for a trip to beautiful, legendary Cordoba. We gulped down some hotel-room coffee (which was very good BTW) but nothing nearby was open so we couldn’t get any breakfast.

We got to the train station in good time, but not quite good enough to spend precious minutes in the long lines at the coffee bar and Macdonald’s.  So we boarded the train and headed east.  After an hour and a half through the Spanish countryside we got to Cordoba and started walking toward the old ancient part of town. We were grateful that Peter took us into a nice modern coffee shop and introduced us to tostados Spanish style.  That’s a large slab of terrific bread, with olive oil, crushed tomatoes and shredded ham.  Quite a substantial breakfast.  Then it was off! A walk through some of the streets of Cordoba, and….

First stop, the Alcazar!  The site where Romans, Moors, and Christians lived. (All pix thanks to DH, Cal Koat)

The view from atop the tower.

A walk toward the entrance.

See those flat stones set vertically in concrete?  They are all over.

Part of the tower structure

Just SOME of the fountains

Roman mosaic displayed in the castle.

Alphonse the 13th. See the book? He could READ so they called him the Wise.

Statues of Ferdinand and Isabella meeting world famous explorer and all-round jerk, Christopher Columbus

Orange trees (a continuing theme)

Then we walked down the water to see the Roman Bridge.

That’s the same river that flows through Seville, Guadalquivir

The reproduction of a water wheel, there were at least 3 on the river.

They put a new top on the Roman gate.

We had a quick tour of Tower of La Calahorra across the bridge from the gate.  The museum inside tells and shows the history of Al Andalus, the Moorish nation that existed in the middle of Spain for hundreds of years.

Then a stop for a snack at Santos Bar for a beer and a tortilla.  A tortilla is not, as you may have supposed, a Mexican flatbread, but rather a potato omelet.  It was great and just the thing to keep us going.

It was on to the Mezquita.  Originally built as a mosque by the Moors, it was remade into a cathedral when the Christians (re)took the territory.  (The Visigoths were there before the Moors, they were Christians, but also had two different religious factions fighting each other.  Peter told us all about it.) So you have a cathedral INSIDE a mosque. There’s also some plexiglass in the floor so you can see the original Visigoth church under the current structure.

Beautiful Muslim calligraphy and sculpture

The original interior arches, still in place.

The exterior

Part of the Christian cathedral

The altar and ceiling

Then it was lunch at a very nice restaurant where we split two entrees between us and had some wine and sat down.  Because Peter may not look like a world class athlete exactly, but that man can WALK! It was such a pleasure walking through the deserted lanes and byways of Cordoba after the packed sidewalks and busy streets of Seville.  Quite a change.

Cal and walking partner, Peter.

We walked around Cordoba and saw so much of the old part of town:

A typical Cordoba house with traditional shades.

A large public square surrounded by private homes where loud processions are held. Why am I walking like Prince Philip?

Saint Rafael. An Archangel, so pretty important!

A Roman temple!

We then went to the Palacio de Viana to check out their beautiful gardens and patios.  There are 12 patios and one garden, all with tinkling fountains, gentle breezes, and wonderful flowers, plants and statuary.

It was the perfect end to a wonderful day, and we think we walked over 20 kilometers all told around this fascinating city.  We made it back to the train station and zipped our way back to Seville through the golden Spanish afternoon.

We took a cab to the hotel because all four of the feet on DH and I refused to walk anymore, and the route allowed us to see the preparations behind the city hall for Corpus Christi, which is taking place this weekend.  The city bands are already preparing by marching through the streets and playing. The sound pours up from the cathedral square.

Then I collapsed into a chair and decided I had to get this all down before I forgot a second of it.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Seville and Spain!

 

 

 

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