Tag Archives: Compostela

Seville’s Real Alcazar

We had a full day here in Seville, covering prehistory through today!

We began by exploring the Real Alcazar, which was originally a Moorish Palace complete with an outrageously large harem. It was later converted to a citadel serving as part of the fortified wall of Seville. During the 500 years of Islamic rule in Sevilla, meaning “Letters of Light”, this palace thrived. When the Christians conquered the Moors and King Ferdinand rode into town victorious, he was handed the key to the palace. Much of the palace was replaced, or “remodeled”later. It is an excellent example of blending the styles of art and architecture,  and it is a visually stunning treat. The Palace is a series of courtyards and open air rooms heavily decorated in the white on white, geometric designs, interspersed with Arabic writing.This complex yet restful work is set off by a blaze of colorful tiles with an infinite variety of patterns. The double arches lead from one room to another, and into open courtyard spaces flawlessly. There are fountains and little channels of water every where. It is much like the Alhambra in Granada.

The gardens are an amazing combination of geometric patterned hedges in fragrant plants, a riot of jasmine and wisteria, orange and lemon trees, tall slender palms, and a canopy of shade from lacy deciduous trees. There are secret  little corners with fountains,  ducks splashing in the ponds. Doves coo and magnificent peacocks stroll nonchalantly around the grounds. It is a quiet oasis in the middle of bustling, noisy Seville.

www.theartistsjourney.com

Advertisements

Gothic Cathedrals and Moorish Mosques

The tomb of Christopher Columbus (Seville cath...

Image via Wikipedia

We spent most of the day in the gigantic Cathedral. It is the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, and its designers recognized the fact that future generations would possibly think them mad. It is, counting Christian Cathedrals of all periods, the third largest in the world surpassed only by St. Peter´s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. It is a collection of magnificent rib vaults, stained glass, inlaid marble floors and priceless paintings and sculpture. There is enough gold and silver in there to sink several ships, and the wood carvings on the choir and pipe organs defies belief in its beauty. It was intended to be gilded, but is so much more beautiful and understated in its natural finish. It is here that Christopher Columbus is entombed, carried by figures representing  the four original provinces of Old Spain.

The most fascinating part of the Cathedral to me was the bell tower, which actually was part of a 12th Century Mosque. The beautiful Mosque was demolished in a fit of “We won, you lost” attitude after the reconquista when the Moors were driven out of Spain. This is a beautiful Cathedral, but the question haunts me, “Wouldn´t it have been just as beautiful if it was built next door and the Mosque was allowed to remain?” this attitude of crush the looser is wrong today as the radical Muslims wage jihad, and it was wrong when the Christians did it in the Crusades and the Inquisition. I wish we could learn not to do that. Spain shows us how, in many ways, the blend of societies and art forms can be more beautiful than any of them standing alone. Yet here is a victory Cathedral over the remains of something that was once holy to another group. It was really a thought provoking day, and as we stood at the top of the bell tower looking out over this city that has seen so much it seemed very powerful.

We toured around the city for about an hour on an open air bus, then hit the tapas bars for snacks magnifique! The wine in the grocery store, a really nice Templarinillo red, was only 1.15 Euro per botella! And the wine at the sidewalk cafe where we had tapas was 2 Euro per glass, also a very smooth Rioja.

So that was our day……I cannot believe it all happened today. We will crash and do something equally great tomorrow, then our stay in lovely, light filled Seville will come to an end.

www.theartistsjourney.com


Seville

We had a beautiful day in Seville, blue skies and temperatures in the upper 80´s. We strolled to the tourist office and found that nobody knows anything about getting a Pilgrim´s Credential. We were directed to a Backpackers Hostel in the old Triana district on the other side of the river. We found cute, soft white puppies playing fetch with abandon, cafe con leche in quaint side walk cafes, flower filled balconies and beautiful tiles gracing white, yellow ocher and cinnamon colored buildings. Palm trees and trellises of deep purple Wisteria in full bloom, their scent perfuming the air.

In this quarter bordering the Guadalquivir River there stands a 12 sided tower, originally a part of the Moorish town fortified walls, called the Torre del Oro, or Golden Tower. It is said to have been covered in golden tiles, and it also held the riches from all of the Americas in the Age of Discoveries. This is the city that Columbus and other explorers set out from and returned to, via the Rio Guadalquivir, discovering new worlds and changing the course of history forever.

We found the little hostel amid all of this visual candy and got our Pilgrims Passports, or credential del Peregrino.We bought 2 each because it will take us so long to walk the entire way. At the end of the day we stumbled upon a door in the Cathedral which we were allowed to enter. No tourists allowed, but as Peregrinas we were able to enter a beautiful and serene chapel decked out in Silver with Mary in primary attendance. We found the priest to stamp our credentials for the beginning of our journey, and there was a man who was very distraught because he wanted to begin walking tomorrow and had been frustrated in not finding a credential. Even the Cathedral does not supply them, and the priest could not tell him where to get one. I opened my purse and gave him my second credential. It felt like the right thing to do, he was most grateful and surprised, and the priest immediately declared it a miracle. So there will be a man named Peter in Australia, who will say “I don´t know who she was, but this Pilgrim gave me her credential, and I was able to be on my way.” I felt honored to be able to help a fellow Pilgrim and that it was really the right thing to do. I know I will be able to get another one somewhere, and I feel good about giving back a little bit of goodness to the Camino. When we finished our reflections in the Chapel, Peter was waiting outside with a most anxious look on his face. He rushed up to me, saying, ” You did not have to pay for this, did you, Love?” I told him one Euro only, kissed him on both cheeks and wished him a Buen Camino. Sigh. If only real life could work this way! I think I saw Santiago smiling.

www.theartistsjourney.com


Arrival

We have arrived safely in Seville after a long trip. The first thing I did was to throw my ticket in the trash at the Seattle Airport 10 minutes before departure. Oops! It was in a slot my hand would not fit through, but lucky for me the garbage can was not locked. I am an experienced traveler! Our first Camino miracle occurred when we actually made our flight from Madrid to Sevilla even thought we arrived over 2 hours late. Then our walking sticks, which we had checked through, made it too.

We walked around the bustle of old town Seville in 80* sunshine, the palm trees swaying in the breeze. The sweet, strong scent of orange blossoms is everywhere and the bitter oranges brightly decorate every plaza. Tonight we walked through the tiny streets of the Santa Cruz district with hundreds of people out for a warm evening stroll. We had an excellent glass of Rioja wine, Croquettas and a beautiful salad crusted in sea salt with avocados. We were surrounded by elegant wedding dresses, vibrantly colored flamingo dresses, and polka dot shoes in the shop windows. Music and the lingering scent of orange blossoms and rosemary floated on the warm air. Open air dining in March!

Abrazos y Besos


We Are On Our Way!

I have packed everything that I will need for 2 ½ months. I carefully considered each item, knowing that I can buy any pharmacy needs in Spain.

I wear almost exclusively ExOfficio travel clothing because it is practical and stylish. These clothes are wrinkle resistant, weigh only ounces, and  dry in a minimum of time. These features are really important when you are washing by hand and do not have a dryer, as is typical in most other parts of the world. For example, I bought several types of Sports Bras, and the ExOfficio was dry overnight while one brand took 3 days to dry!

I chose black and khaki pants, shoes, and skirt. This way I can add color with different t-shirts. I separate my things into categories such as “Sleep” or “Underwear”. I then pack them by category in 1-gallon plastic ziplock bags. This allows me to dump everything out on my bunk when I get to an Albergue and quickly see what I need. It also offers waterproofing and keeps your clothes looking less wrinkled.

This system makes it very easy to find what you want quickly, instead of rummaging through your pack and getting frustrated. It is quite amazing that all of these things fit easily into my backpack that I will carry on the plane, and later the entire length of Spain. The black bag on the right has the items I want to access on the plane, but it easily fits into the top of my pack. The only items that I will be required to check through are my trekking poles and pocket knife. This provides a good feeling of security because I know that all of my carefully selected, lightweight, broken in  equipment will arrive safely for the journey.

I now need to turn my mind toward the Camino and away from my busy life. It is good to think of walking through the countryside each day, carrying everything that I will need. I look forward to this new adventure with gratitude and a sense of wonder.

Buen Camino!

Packing list

Clothes
3 pairs underwear
2 sports bras
4 pairs socks/ different weights to allow for foot swelling
3 fast-drying T-shirts
1 pair silk boxer shorts (or something to sleep in)
1 long-sleeve, lightweight travel shirt
1 long-sleeve , lightweight T-Shirt
1 pair long travel pants
1 pair Capri-length yoga pants or other comfortable walking pants
1 travel-weight skirt
1 waterproof and windproof jacket
1 long-sleeve fleece jacket with a full zip
1 pair rain pants
1 pair gloves
1 “Buff”or scarf
1 OR brand wind stopper” ski hat
1 sun-blocking hat
1 pair hiking boots
1 pair alternate footbed liners for your boots
1 pair Crocks

Accessories
1 water bottle or hydration system
1 small nylon shoulder bag or daypack: count the ounces!
Sunglasses/ reading glasses
1 pair earplugs
1 small fast-drying travel towel + washcloth
1 mini headlight
1 small sewing kit with 3 or 4 safety pins
1 stretchy travel laundry line with 4-6 plastic clips and a sink plug
1 small clock or watch that you can read in the dark
1 pair nail clippers
1 pocketknife
1 scallop shell: purchase in Spain or France

Toiletries/First Aid (See also “Purchase in Spain,”)
1 travel-size shampoo
1 small soap
1 toothbrush
1 small toothpaste
Dental floss
1 small sunscreen for your face
1 razor
1 set tweezers
1 chapstick
1 small bottle ibuprofen
Personal medications
A few Band-Aids / needle for blisters

Other items
1 well designed backpack
1 backpack rain cover
1 sleeping bag with waterproof stuff sack or sleep-sack for summer
1 pair trekking poles
1 “portable bathroom”
Several zip-lock plastic bags
1 journal and pen
1 camera, extra batteries, charger and plug adapter, extra memory chips
1 phone and charger
1 guidebook to the Camino / Spanish phrasebook

Art Materials
1 sketchbook 8 ½ “ Square
Small selection of Colored Pencils, 2 black pens, 1 eraser, 1 mini pencil sharpener


“Pilgrim Blessing” by Macrina Wiederkehr

May flowers spring up where your feet touch the earth.

May the feet that walked before you bless your every step.

May the weather that’s important be the weather of your heart.

May all of your intentions find their way into the heart of the Divine.

May your prayers be like flowers strewn for other pilgrims.

May your heart find meaning in unexpected events.

May friends who are praying for you carry you along the way.

May friends who are praying for you be carried in your heart.

May the circle of life encircle you along the way.

May the broken world ride on your shoulders.

May you carry your joy and your grief in the backpack of your soul.

May you remember all the circles of prayer throughout the world.


It is another Camino miracle!

As I am preparing to walk the Via de la Plata this spring, the Camino is working its magic for me already. My friend and I walked the Camino Frances in spring of 2008, and one of our most memorable stays was at the 300 year old house associated with St. Francis of Assisi in Tosantos. Two very wonderful men, Taqui and Jose Luis, were our kind and giving hosts. During our brief stay, we just felt secure, loved, vulnerable, open, embraced, and comfortable in a way that is hard to define. What a gift was given to us! From the fresh flowers on the tables to the communal cooking, the walk to see the church of our Lady carved into the hillside, to the prayers for those who had gone before us, it was just perfect.

Up to that point I had not been praying that much. But leaving the prayer for my son, Justin, opened the flood gates. I had been carrying the weight of his illness for a long time. For several days Tannis and I would just look at each other and say with a smile, “Look at the atmosphere those 2 men created!”

You meet these incredible people on the Camino who change or touch your life.  You think, “How sad that I will never see them again and be able to tell them the profound impact that they made on my life.” The Hospitaleros (volunteer hosts) give so freely of themselves, never knowing if those pearls of kindness that they cast out ever take hold. As in our “real lives”, we all just keep on trying.

My journey in 2008 resulted in writing a book which incorporated the drawings that I did each day. I wanted to share that imagery with fellow Pilgrims, and perhaps inspire others, who might otherwise doubt themselves, to walk the Camino. Recently I got an email from a woman who had bought my book and was inquiring about purchasing the original drawing of the house at Tosantos. A flurry of emails later, it happened that not only does she know Taqui and Jose Luis very well, but Taqui was visiting her here in the Seattle area. They came to my home, and I got to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Can you imagine, I not only got to see him, but in my own living room half a world away. Who says miracles don’t happen here and now? I am so grateful to be able to tell Taqui that he made a difference in my life, and I am pretty sure the lives of many other Pilgrims. The work they do is so important, and it is strengthening the global community in such a hopeful and peaceful way. I look forward with great anticipation to the day I will be a Hospitalera myself, and in some small way contribute to the energy and spirit of the Camino.


%d bloggers like this: