Sunday, April 25, 2010

Last day

Whitney trying to smile knowing we were catching a plane home the next morning. She insisted on a photo by the statue of Don Quixote.
The main souveneir we brought home was this original watercolor of a Basque mountain town we found in an antique shop in Bilbao.
We have been planning this dream trip practically since the day we got married. We made the most of our week and a half covering more than half of Spain and seeing wonderful people and amazing sites. On the flight home we commented that it was our second honeymoon and a dream come true. Now Whitney can put faces and places to my stories. The first time I went to convert people I didn't know, this time I succeeded in converting Whitney...she agrees that Spain is the most beautiful place she has visited.

Our last day in Madrid. Pictures of the Temple of Debod (an Egyptian temple now in central Madrid), the central plaza, and a restuarant displaying dried pigs legs. (mmm...jamon serrano)

Our stop in Valencia (town on the Mediterranean coast where the Valencia orange started). The gate of the city, a HUGE paella (rice dish) and a shot of the central plaza.

Semana Santa in Bilbao and Barcelona. This is their Easter parade. Very foreign to us Americans, but the most serious and sacred of Spanish religious events.

The Mediterranean Sea, Whitney and perhaps the most famous apartment building in the world (built by Gaudi), and the Christopher Columbus statue in Barcelona (where he returned to after discovering America).

Day 8- Barcelona

The Sagrada Familia (Sacred/holy family) Cathedral in Barcelona. This was definately the most ornate and beautiful of all churches we saw. Started in the 1800's by Gaudi, the completion date is set for 2030. The cubist sculptures were amazing...I guess I do understand modern art a little.

Day 7- Vitoria/Zaragoza

We made a bathroom break in Zaragoza on the way to Barcelona. Really cool city with a huge Byzantine inspired cathedral, a roman wall, and really expensive ice cream cones!

Our stop in Vitoria or Gasteiz, the capitol of Basque country. Whit posing at a few downtown spots near the gate and meetinghouse for the ETA.

Day 6- Basque Country

The Plaza de Toros in the town of Pamplona, Whitney training for the running of the bulls (on the very street where it occurs) and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world in San Sebastian near the Spain/France border.

Our little abode in Bilbao, the Hotel Carlton and the Guggenheim museum. Now I can check this one of the list, but I still don't understand modern art...I kept thinking to myself that our FHE art was just as good.

Day 5- Bilbao

Whitney's Castle! (actually, the Castillo de Butron). She made me promise her to buy this one day...I better get a raise.
Anyway, this is a genuine medieval castle outside of Bilbao near the mission home. It is even complete with a mote and surrounding forest. We didn't see a dragon, but as we drove away I seemed to have the damsel in distress in the passengers seat.

Day 5- Covadonga

Whitney and I at Covadonga, a beautiful cathedral and monastery in the mountains of Spain. This was the site of the start of the reconquista.
Notice the picture of Whitney with her new friend (she was a little camera shy). Is it just me or does Whitney's countenance shine brighter?

Day 4-Oviedo

The city of Oviedo in Asturias. Land known for sidra (apple cider), large mountains (Picos de Europa) and being the only part of Spain not conquered by the Moors. Also, this town has received the Golden Broom award for being the cleanest city in Europe.

The rain does not fall on the plain in Spain, but here in Galicia. This is the 3rd most important pilgrim site in the Christian world next to Rome and Jerusalem. Check out the wind and rain...what a reward. You can see the pilgrims braving the weather.

Day 4-Santiago

This is the end of the "Camino de Santiago" where pilgrims finish their hike across France and Spain. Here James the apostle was buried and we recieved forgiveness of our sins for visiting during a holy year!
Afterward we had a delicious traditional Galician meal of seafood.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

If you have ever eaten a Chocobon you know why Whitney is smiling...imagine the most heavenly pastry (a napolitana--think chocolate filled croissant) completely covered in a thin layer of decadent chocolate. I know the picture doesn't look like much but if you taste it you will never forget.

Just being able to spend 2 days in this city made the trip worth every penny. Some of my favorite people in the whole world! Felipe and Ana Veronica on the left and Christian and Dora on the right. It was so fun to spend time with them as friends and it made me so happy to see these people now running the branch in Ourense. Forever friends.

El Escorial. This is a medieval/renaissance Palace just north of Madrid. You can tell from the picture how big the place is. Amazing they could build something so massive so long ago.

Madrid Spain Temple and Ian at the MTC in Madrid on temple square. We showed up Saturday morning when all the missionaries were out proselyting so there was no way to get into the MTC; however, we got lucky and I talked to a cleaning guy who let us in. Usually people are trying to break out of the MTC...I had to break in!

Whitney at the Atocha train station in Madrid where we picked up our car. We put about 3500 kilometers on the car by the time we turned it in.