Saturday, December 30, 2017

España Experience: People, Points of Light, Paella

As the week crept closer to Christmas Day, we continued to enjoy just being together. We walked in the little neighborhood every day. It became cozy and familiar. We were told about these discount shops called "China" and found reasons every day to go, even if it was just for dish detergent. I noted on one walk that a building was named my daughter's name.

One priority we certainly had was to meet up with some of our old friends from Turkey, now living and serving in Málaga. Their kids graduated from our school, and they were faithful supporters of all we did in starting the school. It was just so good to hug them and enjoy a meal together.

I had also researched any concerts or ballets in town for the time we would be there. We really don't have access to much of that, so we try to find things when we are out of the country. Sadly, The Nutcracker would not be in town, but I did find Handel's Messiah. I went online and bought us tickets in the nosebleed section! Little did I realize just how much that night would feel like "Spain time." Everything here opens in the morning, closes in the afternoon for a siesta, then reopens and stays open until late at night. The concert started at 9PM.

We met our friends from our home church and walked downtown some.

It was so interesting! This is not a statue; it's a person!

While downtown, we timed it so that we could see the 6:30PM "light show" set to music. While in Scotland, I saw that there would be a light show, so I kept it secret and just managed to get the family to the right spot when it would start. Little did I know that when the lights and music began, it would move my kids so much they started to cry. We just don't hear Christmas music in Turkey. I didn't realize how much it would mean to them. So, I knew we wanted see this. They first played "Joy to the World," which is one of my favorites. I especially love the line, "He rules the world with truth and grace; And makes the nations prove, the glories of His righteousness and wonders of his love." Indeed. They ended with Feliz Navidad, which was so fun.

Here are the kids and their new friends who call this city home.

After the lights, they took us out to try paella. Wow. It was tasty, but so very different. CC said it is a lot like a trail mix where you have to not just throw a handful down your throat. You have to make sure there are no parts with shells. This was a tasty rice dish with the day's catch throw in, so you would occasionally find a clam shell or a big prawn with the head on.

After dinner, we went to the concert. About the time it started, we all got sleepy. About five minutes in, Big Ben and Sweet Cheeks were sound asleep. I realized that night I have only ever heard "portions" of The Messiah. This was the full one. It went until midnight. Yawn.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

España Experience: The Fountain of the Lions

At some point prior to coming to Spain, CC remembered that he had done a report in elementary school on the assigned country of Spain. For CC, elementary school was in the 1970's. As this era was prior to the Internet, he researched his information in encyclopedias. There was a picture of something in The Alhambra in the encyclopedia article, which he used as a basis for a drawing he did. He felt that if we went to The Alhambra, he might even remember what he drew. As he glanced through the brochure, he recognized it. "I know what it was. And I know where it is. It's in a building called "The Palace of the Lions." He decided it would be our final stop (as it is really the most amazing of all the buildings). 

We got to the entrance and were denied entry, as the ticket clerk stated that when we purchased our tickets, we were assigned a certain time to see that one building, and we were long past it. Indeed the exact same thing happened to the family before us. The fine print on our ticket did give us an assigned time, but we had absolutely no idea, as there were scads of buildings to see and it was not specifically mentioned when we bought our tickets. She would not budge. Disappointed that he would not see the "one big thing" of the entire grounds, he deposited us at the grounds Cathedral (and we did not complain about sitting for the first time all day and being among statues of Jesus) and quickly hiked all the way back to the front entrance. 

He returned and said, "Let's go!" The ticket agent would not budge, until he said, "We traveled a long way to see this. ¡Por favor!" He pretty much can't be refused (at least not by me) when he talks like that. So, she reissued the tickets and grumpily sent him on his way. He did a Turkish gesture of humility by kissing the tickets and placing them against his forehead, which of course, she had absolutely no idea what he was doing. We've done all kinds of Turkish things here, and I am quite sure we look crazy. Anyway, we hustled there, and our speed was well worth it. 

Every wall, every ceiling, every cornice was carved in this beautiful Moor design. 

And then we came to the Fountain of the Lions, what he had drawn when he was about Big Ben's age.

It was the perfect ending to our day, and we were all happy that Papa was given new tickets and could show us the actual place he had drawn about 42 years earlier!

I really had no idea what to expect in Málaga except that it was a beach town. I heard there were day trips nearby, but the bounty to see within just an hour or two away has been a joy!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

España Experience: The Palace of Charles V

The Alhambra was vast. I could post for weeks on all the different buildings, structures, and gardens. One that was quite impressive was "The Palace of Charles V." Since this was originally a palace for Islamic sultans, he wanted to build something on the grounds that represented the conquer of Christianity over Islam (in the year 1526). Charles V was the grandson of the monarchs that completed the conquer. It was built in a Roman-like style and reflects the Renaissance style of the time.

It was marvellous to see. Columns, arched entries, small carvings throughout. We continually noted the craftsmanship of men who had no modern equipment.

After exiting there, we went up to a tower that was used for military protection. We had this beautiful view from up top.

And I had kids enjoying it all with me!

I kept trying to take a picture of these flags and this bell...from all kinds of places. And then I realized we were going to the top of this tower, and I could get exactly the picture I wanted.

It's hard to describe just how beautiful it was up there. It was a natural place for a palace, both beautiful and strategic. I imagined King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella meeting Christopher Columbus there. I imagined what it would have been like to actually live there. I told CC that if I had been a princess there, it would have taken me an entire day just to walk the grounds!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

España Experience: Alhambra "The Pearl Set in Emeralds"

Alhambra was breathtaking. It reminded us very much of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul (built for the sultans), but this had gorgeous gardens all over it!

What a history it has! First built as a small fortress in 899AD, it was later constructed to be a sultan palace in the mid 13th century. It was taken over by the Spanish King and Queen in 1492, then allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries (with squatters occupying it). Napolean partially destroyed it. It finally attracted the interest of some British intellectuals. Through all the renovations and additions, a theme of "paradise on earth" was carried.

Mountains, fruit, roses, nightingales, and fountains. The Moors called it "The Pearl Set in Emeralds" because of all the green trees surrounding it.

You simply could not take a bad picture at Alhambra.

Especially if he was in it....

Everywhere we turned there were gardens, fountains, streams, reflecting pools, fruit trees.

I suppose this picture ended up being my favorite.

Monday, December 25, 2017

España Experience: Sierra Nevada

Merry Christmas from Spain! Praying your day is holy and happy, as we celebrate the first coming of Jesus and look forward to the second!

While in Southern Spain, CC decided he really wanted us to go see Alhambra ("Crimson Castle") in Granada, just a 1.5 hour drive from where we are staying. It was built as a sultan's palace in 1238. It became a Christian court in 1492 (the year Columbus sailed the ocean blue) for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and was indeed the site where Columbus was pardoned for offences in the New World. He felt it was a must-see for the kids, so rich with history and still standing!

I brought some grading and reading to do in the car. That was a waste of space. The drive was so beautiful that I could not take my eyes away from the windows.

As we neared Granada, we had our first glimpse of the Sierra Nevada mountains, perpetually covered with snow. At certain points, we could see the palm trees around us with the snow covered mountains ahead of us.

I wanted to climb this mountain and step inside this white church, but the car kept moving.

I snapped several pictures through windows, while moving. Most of them I deleted, but I did manage to get this favorite.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

España Experience: Downtown

We've found a nice balance of some days going to see things and some days staying at home. Yesterday I found the girls happily watercolor painting scenes of Spain on the back porch. We are trying to keep this trip low key enough to allow CC to work some, have plenty of rest and down time, and yet take advantage of seeing this beautiful region of the country since we are here.

One day we drove to downtown Málaga to see the Picasso Museum, which we heard was free for kids. Málaga was his birthplace. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but after viewing so many of his works, we decided his early works (those prior to the cubism which made him famous) were, in our opinion, more impressive. Big Ben also had an opinion that he sure liked to paint unclothed women in weird shapes. We had to remind him to stop giggling, but in reality, some of the works were giggle-worthy.

We walked for just a few minutes in the downtown area and saw the Cathedral of Málaga on the outside. It was beautiful.

I shot this picture with a setting that only picks up the red. I have been amazed at all the poinsettias everywhere! There is a poinsettia "tree" on our street! I never knew that plant could grow into an enormous tree. I'll snap a picture for you.
And tomorrow will be Christmas Day!

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