Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ola Oso

Ola, Kids,

That's Spanish for "hello" and "oso" is Spanish for "bear." Now I can growl in two languages! The picture above is of the group of writers Miss Elaine and I traveled with on this trip to the La Mancha area of Spain. We started our trip by visiting the birthplace of the writer Miguel Cervantes. If you look carefully, you'll see I'm sitting next to the statue of Sancho Panza and my bear friend is sitting next to a statue of Don Quixote. These are the main characters in Cervantes' masterpiece, "Don Quixote."

We headed out into the countryside to find locations that Cervantes would have known well. This inn was built in the time of Cervantes (around 1600).

There aren't very many wind-powered windmills like this anymore. They were once used for grinding grain. Some of them still work and are on display during special celebrations. The arms would be covered with fabric called "sails." I'm sitting by a modern sculpture of Don Quixote. He thought the windmills were giants and tried to joust with them.

This is a very old walled city with a castle. I think it looks just like a fairy tale.

The city of Toledo is very old -- over 2000 years old. It had just quit raining when Miss Elaine took this picture. Can you see the rainbow? Toledo was an important city in Roman times. In the 8th century, it was captured by Moors (Muslims), then 200 years later, recaptured by Christians. In spite of this, it is famous because Jews, Muslims and Christians all lived here together for a significant period of time. There is a lot of Moorish influence in the architecture, making the city very beautiful. One of my favorite spots is another very old city -- Cuenca (pronounced kwen-ka) is built on a plateau between two rivers which have cut deep gorges around the city. The houses above date back to the 1500s. They are called "hanging houses" because they hang over the edge of the cliffs. Miss Elaine and I stayed in a centuries-old monastery that has been turned into a luxury hotel. This was the night-time view from our window. You can see the bridge across the gorge and the historic area of Cuenca on the other side.

Spain is very beautiful and the food is wonderful. I want to go back -- and so does Miss Elaine.



P.S. Please keep reading -- I've tried to catch you up with my travels since Miss Elaine has been so slow about putting pictures on my blog!

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