Ten Things That I Want To Do In Spain This Time

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Ten Things That I Want To Do In Spain this Time

“There is no nightlife in Spain. They stay up late but they get up late. That is not nightlife. That is delaying the day.” Ernest Hemingway

1.Most of us have at least a short list of places we want to see before we die.. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is one of my places. I used to walk my dog near Frank Gehry’s house – on purpose. I’ve still never seen him. Modern art, pinxtos  Frank Gehry and the Basque region in one place sounds perfect.

2. Visit Guernica at the Reina Sofia and  the Velazquez and Goya paintings at the Prado I grew up with the Guernica by Picasso at the Museum of Modern Art. It was the painting that helped me to make some kind of sense of war – or at least understand that grown-ups didn’t understand it either. I often went to visit it. When I left NY in 1980, the Guernica went back to Spain and now resides in the Reina Sofia.  Seeing favorite paintings are like visiting old friends.  There is no art that touches me more than Goya’s Black Paintings. The dark, twisted, painful scenes have stayed with me, long after I left the museum,. 

3, Have some gazpacho and hot chocolate and churros (at San Gines) in Madrid.

4. The Camino de Santiago  is a medieval pilgrimage route ending in Santiago de Compostela in the northwest region of Spain. It is a bucket list thing for me to do the walk. Taking one, two, or five weeks (depending on where you start walking) to walk across the beautiful and diverse landscapes of northern Spain is a transformative experience and a great immersion into Spain as well. Since we will be nearby, we will try to walk a few of days of it. 

5. Eat at some Michelin restaurants in San Sebastián. San Sebastián purportedly is the city with the most Michelin starred restaurants per capita globally. The highly recommended Michelin starred restaurants in and around San Sebastián include Arzak,  Mugaritz, Martin Berasategui, Asador Etxebarri, and Akelarre.

6. Sample pinxtos in San Sebastián and Bilbao. Pintxos are Basque-style tapas known for being extra creative and delicious.

7. Walk through the Albaicin and Sacromonte areas of Granada. There are many neighborhoods in Andalusia where time seems to have stood still. Sacromonte is the original Gypsy quarter of Granada. High up on the hillside above Albaicín, many locals still live in dappled white caves carved out of the rock. The Albaicin is a  squashed-together network of winding cobbled streets, whitewashed old houses and jasmine-scented squares perches on the hillside on the other side of the Darro River from the Alhambra.

8.  Watch flamenco and listen to Spanish guitar in Granada. Flamenco in Spain is a fascinating tradition. It’s everywhere you look in Madrid. Flamenco is a constant presence and the souvenir shops are all selling polka-dot dresses and castanets. The dance started in Granada and the best shows are here. 

9. I have been to the old hammam in Istanbul  (baths) so I know how great they can be. Hammam Al Andalus is built over the old Arab Baths in Granada and I am booking my appointment before I go.

10. Eat tapas in Granada and Madrid. Small in size but full in flavor, there is a huge variety of tapas to try in Spain. The small bites give you chance to try many different kinds without feeling stuffed.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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My Top Ten Sunrises

“ Living on Earth may be expensive but it includes an annual free trip around the Sun.”

My Top Ten Sunrises

Sunsets are easy.   You are usually awake and can make a  plan.  “Lets  have a drink and watch  the sun set over the Ocean, the River,  the Volcano, the Old City,  the Rainforest  etc.”  They are usually social.  Sunrises in my life  are fewer,   accidental and  sometimes seen alone. My goodbye to a city  is often at sunrise.  I  take a lot of early morning flights .

1. Machu Picchu, Peru   My plan was to meditate at sunrise on Machu Picchu.  By 4:30AM , the road into  Machu Picchu becomes Disneyland on a crowded Sunday. .   It wasn’t easy to find a quiet place .  Machu Picchu is in the clouds. The sunrise is cloudy and rainy most of the time.  Still, the eery light hitting Machu Picchu  in the morning  feels very spiritual.  We will never  know why  Machu Picchu was built and who lived there but we know that every morning they saw this same sunrise.

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2.  Mount Masada, Israel   When I was in college,  we climbed   Mount  Masada.  It was very hot and very dark. At the top,  there was  water and a ladle that everyone drank from (I know we didn’t have Aids then, but we did have germs!!) It is still the best water, I have ever tasted.  We sat down to watch the sunrise .  The guide told us the story of the Jews  surrounded  by the Roman army. We reflected on their choice to kill the women and children themselves before the Romans got up there.   It was a somber sunrise.

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3. Venice, Italy    My kids and I were taking a boat to the airport  in the dark as the sun quickly rose over Venice. The colors change with every light and shadow and it is truly the most beautiful city in the world .

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4. Havana, Cuba   Leaving Havana in darkness, thirteen years ago,  I was filled with a lot of emotions.  My daughter had performed at the Cuban Ballet Festival. We had no information going in and had no idea what to expect.  It turned out to be one of  the most amazing experiences of our lives.  The dark streets were filled  with humanity going to work.    They were crowding the bus stops to get on the few running buses .    People were selling snacks.   The sun rose over  the busy streets and faded colors of the buildings. It sparkled off the water hitting the  Malecon ( sea wall) and shined on the old cars from the fifties.    I took an imprint in my memory because I knew when I came back and Fidel was gone it would be different.

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5. Barcelona, Spain   was the opposite experience.  It was summer and the city was crowded with tourists. As I drove to the airport at sunrise, the streets were filled with students and young people  who had been out all night, dressed in their club clothes. They were all  on Las Ramblas, trying to keep the evening going.

6. Perissa Beach (black sand), Santorini, Greece   I also had been out all night and now we were sitting on  the beach .  A large Pelican stood next to us, waiting for the restaurant to open for breakfast, as the sun rose over the black sand beach.

7. Gamboa Rainforest, Panama   We came into the hotel at night and everything was very dark .  At sunrise,  I saw and heard the sounds of the  amazing rainforest for the first time.   The sunrise is nature’s alarm clock.  I got up every morning  to lie in my hammock and have a  coffee (best room coffee called Puro –I brought some home) and listen to the sunrise .

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8. Cervina, Italy    Sometimes a sunrise involves a decision.  I was seventeen and it was my first trip to Europe. I  had gotten up to ski from Cervina to Zermatt, Switzerland.  We had to bring our passports. (it was so WW2) As the light of day broke,   all we could see was the white of a  huge snowstorm.    I went shopping in Milan instead.  I can be flexible.

9. Bangkok Thailand   The sun rose just  as  we pulled up to Suvarnabhumi Airport.  There was no one  outside  except for two monks wearing saffron robes and sandals. They were leaning up again the modern steel and glass building of the airport. The sunrise reflected them in the glass.

10. Yufuin, Japan    It was our last morning and we wanted to use the onsen (mineral baths) . I was the only American in the ryokan (probably in the town)  I decided not to wear my kimono and just go in my pajamas and a jacket. It was outside and very cold.    To my surprise, the pre dawn bathhouse,  was filled with Japanese women in kimonos  or showering. It was 32F degrees and I just  couldn’t shower outside.  .I jumped in as the sun rose in the sky.  I made so many cultural mistakes that morning (including coffee before breakfast)   Luckily, the Japanese are  very polite.

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Brooklyn, NY    When I was growing up,   my favorite place to see the sunrise was to go to Kennedy Airport and watch the planes take off .  After the sunrise, we would have breakfast there.   I wondered when I would be a person, going to some exotic location on an early morning flight.

Fly Safe

JAZ

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Things I’ve Learned In Spain

“ When Columbus started out he didn’t know where he was going, when he got there he didn’t know where he was, and when he got back he didn’t know where he had been. “                               anonymous

Things I’ve Learned In Spain

Two out of the three bullrings in Barcelona have been converted to shopping malls.

Don’t eat fish in Barcelona on Mondays because the fishermen don’t go out on Sunday.

Rebaixes and rebajas mean sale in  Spanish.

The security at the Alhambra was not the best. Twenty-one out of the twenty-two ruling Sultans were murdered.

When a bull kills a bullfighter, both the bull and his mother are killed. (bad genes).

Olive oil cures everything. If you are sick, it will make you well. If you are fat it will make you thin.  If you are short, it will make you tall.

Ole comes from the Moslem Allah is great and Hola comes from the Moslem come with Allah.

If you have no sense of direction, trying to find the Beaux Arts Museum in Seville during siesta time in 107-degree heat, is probably not a good idea.

Christopher Columbus was quite the wild and crazy guy.  Today, he would have been in the movie business.

Many great cities in Europe have a Jewish Quarter, where they have killed the Jews but saved their buildings.  Spain has them.

Las Descalzas Reales is a working monastery in the center of Madrid near the Gran Via and Puerta Sol. A large number of wealthy women seeking refuge from bad marriages in the sixteenth century joined the convent. It became one of the wealthiest convents in Europe with an amazing art collection. Despite the wealth, the sisters had taken a vow of poverty and by the mid twentieth century they were living in starvation among a sea of art. The state intervened and opened it as a museum. The tours are in Spanish and given by the nuns who still live and work there.  You can figure it out and understand words like Titian and Brueghels, while watching the nuns  tend to their vegetable garden. It is a very tranquil place in the midst of a very busy city

The effects of inbreeding can easily be seen in the Velazquez paintings of the royal family in the Prado.

No one really knows why Goya painted those “black paintings.”  No biographer really knew Goya. He was the painter of the court and the painter of the people. He had no rival in life. Were the paintings a result of the Spanish Civil War – a decade before? His deafness or serious illness?

It is always my first stop at the Prado.

Bullfighting can be watched on TV in Spain . The close-ups and slow reenactments of the bull being tortured and killed are quite gruesome.  I have questions about the Spanish culture. (Of course, the thick hot chocolate with churros for breakfast does make up for it)

El Rastro is the oldest and most crowded  flea market in Spain (Madrid).  Once home to criminals and rogues  , now it is just pickpockets. The Nineteenth century writers Hilario Penasco and Carlos Camabronero wrote “There in muddled heaps, appear side by side a militia uniform and a chipped crockery set, a portrait of the Duke of La Victoria, a carnival cape, a mantilla and an eighteenth century swordsman. Therefore, the father of the household, the amateur actor, the industrious wife and the antiquarian will always find  at the Rastro something that answers their needs to satisfy their pastimes.”

My thpanish is tho much better thinthe I have been here. (they lisp because the King of Spain had a lisp so they all had to speak like that-it stuck!)

You can make a meal of tapas ( best with Spanish sherry or red wine (tinto).   You can go around eating tapas  and then have  a big Spanish meal at 10:30 at night. If you walk into a restaurant before 9:30 you are the only diners and  clearly  tourists.

I love  going to La Boqueria in Barcelona ( the big fruit and vegetable market  ) on Las Ramblas for a light lunch  ( they do breakfast but i cant eat like that for breakfast) at Bar Pinoxto.

Antonio Gaudi was very short for someone with such a huge imagination.

The Church of the Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882 so don’t complain about your renovations.

Gaudi’s influence is all over Barcelona and if you are walking down a side street and see a house that looks like his, it probably is.

They have Museums of Ham in Madrid.  You eat ham even when you don’t know you are eating it or expect it.

One of my favorite modern art museums in the world is the Reina Sofia in Madrid.  If you only have time for one museum in Barcelona go to the Joan Miro Foundation on Montjuic and skip the Picasso (his early works) and MACBA.  I tell you this because I already made this mistake.

There are no words to describe the Mexquita in Cordoba and pictures don’t do it justice. It was originally the second largest Mosque in the world. In the twelfth century it was reclaimed by the Spanish and turned into a Roman Catholic Church. The blend of architecture is confusing and amazing. My personal opinion is that it is sad that both religions can’t use it because it is a history of two religions.

There are way too many Corte Ingles in Spain ( a department store like Nordstroms) as in, turn left at the Corte Ingles and then turn right at the next Corte Ingles.

Grathiath,

Viajen con cuidado

JAZ

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