It’s been twelve days since I last posted on this blog, the single longest hiatus in a full year of traveling. I’ve been juggling full time touristing and a particularly full on time in our job search. The former takes up time, and the latter the kind of energy I would normally spend on blogs. But the most intense has likely passed so it is time to get back on the horse.
As a way to catch up this single post contains all the many things I wanted to blog about in an enormously condensed form. Click each photo to read the associated caption and get the gist of the last fortnight.
A rare, notable and considered exclamation from Fiona that an aeroplane looks nice, or more specifically “cute”. This was an Embrarer E190. And a great ride it was.
A previously unmentioned part of our Cappadocia adventure. Underground cities dating back ~2000 years. Most significantly used by Christians hiding from invaders and including a system of burning torches, lit for roving hordes. Very Lord of the Rings.
Ephesus: incredibly impressive and well restored Greek (then Roman) city.
The library at Ephesus, especially impressive.
Archeologists multiplied Roman theatre capacity by 10 to estimate city population (Ephesus therefore 250,000). I have considered the same approach for modern cultural pinnacles: cricket grounds. The rule holds well until cities hit about half a million.
Barcelona was a stellar introduction to Europe. Its spirit is best shown by its enthusiasic adoption, indulgence and championing of Gaudi, an artist who was truly before his time.
La Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, the masterpiece of Gaudi. Estimated date of completion 2026.
Inside La Sagrada. Designed by Gaudi to represent his understanding of Catholicism. Also matches my understanding of Catholicism: appealing in some parts, and mystical, but some parts actually ugly and others that just don’t make sense.
We met this guy in La Guajira, Colombia where we travelled to the very top of South America. Then we visited him, and his outstanding family winery, outside of Barcelona. Reunions like these are always fantastic. More so when you get the inside scoop on a seriously impressive winemaking operation.
We have missed the many cats of Turkey. These guys are some of the few we have seen in Spain.
This table was named for its most famous occupant. It is not clear why Che Guevara was dining in such a bourgeois establishment while visiting Spain. The most popular dish on the menu was “rich man’s paella”.
The Stuff in Europe is beautiful. Things to buy with quality, style, panache. And look all so pretty lined up like this.
Both Barcelona and Madrid offered excellent winter weather. Crisp with bright blue skies.
We really enjoyed this Dali in the Thyssen Gallery, Spain. For all those who have dreamed of tigers coming out of pomegranates.
Spain is unparalleled in its public engagement with art. Here’s one example. One more notable that I am yet to capture is the scores of primary school kids touring Spain’s great works, and mostly paying attention as they are explained to them by enthusiastic hosts.
Fiona decided to join the trend and interact more with the paintings.
Madrid is super stately. Here is the Royal Palace. More on this soon, but they are in the running for the best Royal Family ever, having steered Spain towards democracy as the Franco dictatorship faltered.
More stately in the central square.
Madrid has fewer widely recognised landmarks than say, Paris or London. But this is one of the most famous, a little bear hanging with a strawberry tree. Fiona is a fan, as you can see.
So many excellent pork products. Stellar antidote to three months in the Muslim world.
Tapas are awesome.
La Movida Madrilena, literally, the movement of Madrid, refers to the crowds who fill the streets and plazas in the evenings and weekends. A super example of the life you get on the streets in European cities.
Toledo is a pretty Medieval town a half hour on the train from Madrid. Used to be the capital. Now just quaint and awesome.
More Toledo, and light that gets painters excited.
What you can’t see here are the many excellent knife shops.
We took a trip to visit Fi’s old host family in Colmenar Viejo.