Winter 2011/12 - Spain and on to Egypt
By early December 2011, after a nice Thanksgiving and wonderful times with family and friends, it was time to be 'on the road' again. So, we left Arizona and traveled to Philadephia, on to Madrid, and then by train to Cordoba.
Andalucia again welcomed, charmed, enchanted, informed and delighted us!
First, Cordoba offered us our first opportunity to dust off our pequeno and rusty Espanol; sip wonderful vino, tinto y blanco; eat good food; take walks through charmingly narrow calles; and delve into this city's deep history.
From there, we traveled by bus through rolling hills covered with rows of gnarly, grey-green leaved olive trees to Ecija, the small town where Linda, a lifelong friend of Hilarie's, lives and teaches Ingles. We spent four days catching up on news, meeting her friends, and exploring this town that in Roman times was a very important place.
Another bus took us to Sevilla, Andalucia's capital and largest city, for a week of more good vino and food, walks, and history plus amazing works of art - painting and sculpture - and architecture.
Moving on, we rode the train through rolling hills of olives, valleys filled with orange and lemon groves, through villages, and on into rugged mountains. The train emerged into the coastal plain and into Malaga, a seaside city with a long history of Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, Moorish and Christian cultures.
Here, in Andalucia, we are enjoying the Christmas season in a whole new way, and one that pleases us immensely. The rest of the population seems to be happily enjoying their Navidad, too! There were ...
Amazing lights tht arched over the streets and the plazas, especially in the narrow walkways of the old cities;
The pedestrian shopping streets were packed with folks, shopping or just enjoying the scene;
Belen (Nativity) scenes were in most churches and in some public buildings. Many were quite sizable and elaborate, and included models of the surrounding town as well as the stable itself. These were much visited and often had long lines of folks waiting to see them.
Special stalls selling figures and structures to be used in creating Belen scenes en casa.
Cafes and tapas bars were filled with celebrants enjoying the seaon with friends and family. In the streets, impromtu groups of local musicians played music of the season for all to enjoy.
In Sevilla, there was an amazing sound and light show projected on the facade of the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall). In Malaga, on the Plaza de la Constitution, we listened to a brass ensemble play music of the season and later in the Iglesia de La Saguario we listened to the choir sing Spanish hymns, White Christmas (en Ingles) and ending with a gospel song, all to great applause!
As we discovered these wonders, we were impressed that the focus for most folks was the religious significance of the Navidad - a pleasant feeling for us.
We stayed in Malaga through New Years and then flew to Barcelona for a short visit.
From there we flew to Cairo, Egypt to begin our slightly delayed visit to that wonderful country.
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