Monthly Archives: October 2012

Just missed a jazz night

Walking a different way today, on side streets; I saw the most interesting – and a bit hidden – shops, restaurants and little specialty schools, such as music, dance and a little theater.

It was a restaurant across from a park that piqued my interest. It was called The Bohemian Jazz Club – the name alone called to me.

As I approached the front door, a young man walked out, and I said, “I didn’t know about this place. No one told me”, as if he were guilty.

He laughed and said, “well go on in”.

“Will there be music tonight?” I wanted to plan my night in that place.

He asked someone and they said no. Well, that’s too bad because this is my last night here, and jazz music would be a perfect send off.

Inside, my disappointment waned as the reception room was full of shelves with thousands of old books – some classics and it was fun to stroll among the shelves.

Then room by room the place was filled with antiques: typewriters, old radios, juke boxes, hats, instruments and even a grand piano where two women were sitting, using it as a bar. There were two other piano’s in use holding other antiques.

The walls were papered with jazz and other musicians, young, old, classic and bluesy. There were old movie stars hanging in frames, from Mae West to Mary Pickford.

I saw James Dean, Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and on and on all over the walls, without an empty space left.  There were posters of concerts and news releases and even a poster about the sinking of the Ship Titanic.

It was dark, and even at that, there were people sitting reading and doing their homework.

I couldn’t have seen it all if I would spend one complete day there. However, one thing I didn’t see, that I actually looked for, was a poster about the Monterey Jazz Festival (MJF).

One of my favorite events to cover when working as a reporter was the MJF.  I was grateful to be part of the media who could stroll around and take in various musical venues during the jazz week in Monterey.

I think if the Bohemian Jazz Club had one more tiny space left on a wall, I’d send one of my reviews and maybe a photo or two.

Tonight I pack because I have a bus trip tomorrow.

Jeronimo in the neighborhood?

You never know what you’ll find in any given day. But I’m open for surprises.

It has been a habit of mine, when I don’t have much of a daily plan, to take a street and walk as far as it will take me. And after that, another street and do the same.

This has taught me a lot about various neighborhoods and how they can change in a matter of a few steps from opulent to fortune-less.

Yesterday, I walked all the way to the river and found statues and buildings I hadn’t seen before, that lined the shiny stone path away from the business section. There was one shop that was open and it was Sunday, and it sold chocolate. I went in and sampled a variety of chocolate and purchased some. I know now what gave me a stomach ache this morning.

Then, I walked the opposite way, and when I got close to my neighborhood near the park where the birds sing all night in the trees, I heard what sounded like gun shots or fireworks. Then I heard drum beats, so I followed the sound to a crowd of people watching a parade.

There was a solemn-sounding marching band, several priests in black robes, lay people in full red gowns, and young men swirling, smoking, sweet-smelling incense. Then there was a statue of the Arcangel San Rafael being carried on a platform by people who are hidden under it. It appeared to be floating down the street.

Parade

 

I stopped and took a photo and then a video of the production. There was a man standing near me, and on a whim I spoke to him in English and asked him what it was all about.

“It’s some sort of tradition in Granada. I’m not quite certain.”

“It’s a religious one, I can tell that with the priests,” offering my two-cents worth.

And then I saw men with dark suits and official looking military or diplomatic-type badges, and appearing very important standing to the side watching.

“Have you seen the Jeronimo?” He put his fingers to his lips and kissed them, singling his Italian heritage.

“The Jeronimo?” Hmm, the only Jeronimo I knew about was an Apache American Indian, but I kept that thought to myself.

“Yes, the Jeronimo. It’s a monastery…just down there. Walk to the end and turn right, it’s on your left.” He kissed his fingers again.

After taking enough photos I followed the Italian’s suggestion and walked into the cathedral. It was opulent to stay the least, and here I am now kissing my own fingers.

Where priests of the 1600s walked in St. Jeronimous

The monastery has two cloisters, each built around a garden.

The walk way and the rooms possibly where the priests have lived in the past were dark, open spaces and a feeling of reserve came over me, until I ventured into the worship room, and I was overwhelmed.

The high ceilings were covered with paintings, and the archways and all along the walls. The background for the main worship area are sculptures covered in gold leaf.  The construction began in 1504, and I observed many square stones with names of priests who must have lived there from the 1600s.

The richly decorated Renaissance interior features coffering, scalloping and sculptures galore. The monastery worship area certainly offers a backwards look through the early years of Granada and the opulent era, where gold met architecture.

Cherubs on the ceiling

 

I walked through it and really wanted to lie down and take photos of the ceiling, for you don’t see art that beautiful unless you’re in a museum. I have a special liking of cherubs, so I did my best to get close ups of them. I leaned back as far as I could without breaking my neck.

Ah, I love cherubs

When I walked out of the monastery, the parade and the sound of the drums and horns had continued on down the street toward another neighborhood.

 

 

 

Need to edit but I’m tired: good night!!!!

Fleeting friendship and almost missed castle

Like I have posted here earlier, fleeting friendships are born and like a cloud, they disappear.

I looked forward to the trip to The Alhambra – which means “red castle” in Arabic – and as it was said by many people, the tickets are hard to get, some have been reserved months in advance. However, there was one opportunity left for me and that was to be at the opening gate long before it opened at 8 a.m.

The ticket manager, who I have mentioned before is a teacher who wants to teach in California, told me to catch the first Alhambra bus at 7 a.m. in order to get in the front of the line. A few people without advanced tickets would be able to get in, only in this way.

Getting up early means I wake up nearly every hour on the hour until it’s time to get up and dressed.

So by 6 a.m., I was on the way to the bus that would be in front of the large cathedral.

t was dark when I left and remained dark until about 8 a.m.

 

On the way to the bus stop while the coffee shop gets ready for the mid morning crowd

From 6:10 a.m. until about 7:45 a.m. I roamed the street up and down. There were no coffee shops opened, but there were many young people who I assumed were walking to college classes. Then a couple walked up; and we discussed as much as possible the bus stop and then she began in English – for she lived for 5 years in New York City, as did her husband did for 8 years.

Then another lady joined us. It was Ana, who is from Argentina and is fluent in English as she is an English professor in her country. We boarded the bus and then kept each other company – all four of us under the couple’s umbrella – as it rained hard while we waited for the magic 8 a.m. hour when the gate would open. Once we got into the gate with our tickets, Ana and I went one way together while the couple went another way. Ana and I found a hotel on the way to the site and went in and sat down in the lobby. Old fashioned photos and mirrors, pottery and statues sat on shelves before us as we sipped our coffee from porcelain cups and saucers. After standing in the rain for nearly and hour and an hour before that, my legs needed a rest.

Then Ana and I began our tour in the rain, first in the watch tower and other buildings, and a museum. After about two hours of climbing up and down steps, I avoided the very last steep corridor up to the top of the tower, and sat down instead. I saw Ana wave to me from above. Believe me, I saw enough of the views from the tops of staircases and platforms to make me happy. It felt good to sit down on steps.

In the garden

 

 

We saw gardens of rain dropped roses and other flowers in bloom on the grounds, which is near The Cathedral that is located in the centre of the muslim area and dates back to 1523.

The word General-life – a garden of paradise – was granted by the Catholic Monarchs to the Granada Venegas family.

Moroccan tile

 

 

“I’ve seen enough. If you have also, then I think it would be fine to leave.”

“Wait, I think we’ve missed something.”

“How can you say that? We’ve been walking and climbing for two hours.”

Ana asked a man standing inside the Cathedral, and I observed him discussing something with her and describing a direction.

She came back to me and announced that we missed the most important site, the Alhambra castle.

“What? Wasn’t that what we just saw?
“No, it’s over here.”

We walked over to a spot that I had seen earlier that was cornened off to the public, and she pointed out a live of people with umbrellas.

“That’s where we want to go.”

We went right up to the front of the line to show our tickets and the ticket taker told us our tickets had run out of time.

That was a surprise to me, and to Ana, as well. Then she remembered that the couple mentioned to pay close attention to the time on the ticket or we’d miss out on seeing the castle.

The ticket man told us we could go to an office and get the time extended. Well, to make this shorter, we walk-ran up stone walks, down and up steps, in and out of buildings, asking questions, getting lost, until we found the tiny office.

The lady in the office asked Ana why we were late getting to the castle, and Ana told me later that she just said we were so enamored we what we say that we lost track of time. She’s good!

So, we got up again to the front of the line and to everyone’s dismay in the long line, we were told to go ahead and go into the castle. I thought for sure, we’d be punished and told to get in line again.

Inside the La Alhambra castle in the Lion's room

Well, to tell you the truth, if I had missed The Alhambra castle I would have kicked myself all the way back to America. How stupid would that have been?

The Alhambra was a fortress, a palace and a small city, and features elaborate moroccan interior, with tile work on walls, filigree on the ceilings and arches, pillars, baths in a series of courts. There are pools, a lion room, with water squirting out from the lions.

filigree in the castle

 

 

The  Alhambra dates back the the 24th century and is the work of the kings, Yusuf 1 and Muhammed V.

Since the 16th century the palaces have been designated the Casa Real Viejo – the Old Royal House in order to distinguish them from the Christian buildings.

The Alhambra has three divisions that are often found in Moslem palaces: a reception salon and the royal apartments called the Chamber of the Lions, as previously mentioned. This is the work of Muhammed V.

 

More filligree

 

Arab Baths – symbolic of the city’s religious turmoil centuries ago. The baths were built by the Muslims for their belief that water was a symbol or purity. Christians believed this to be decadent and heathen-like so most of the baths were destroyed.  The Moorish life in Granada gave social importance to the day-to-day live in Arab-era Granada.

Ana, while we walked in and out of the area of baths, told me there were Muslim baths now in Granada with steam rooms and other amenities.

After we indeed, had seen all there was to be seen, Ana and I went to a restaurant near the grounds and had chicken, gazpacho and wine. And then we got on the bus, which dropped us off where the bus picked us up bright and early that morning. We said goodbye, and that is the end of another fleeting friendship.

Tile on a pillar

Back on the bus

Yesterday I hopped on the bus again to see what I missed yesterday when the young woman from China and I got the giggles.

We traveled through Granada and saw how the history of the city was formed through the cultures of Morocco, gypsy folks, Jews and  Spaniards.

Before I got to the bus, a woman approached me and pushed a twig of sage up to my nose. What could I do but admire it’s smell and assure her that it was lovely.

Then she took my hand and began to tell my fortune in some language mixed in with Spanish. She could have told me that in one hour I’d turn into a monkey, for all I know. But she smiled, so I figured she saw a good life on the palm of my hand.

I thanked her and began to walk away. She held out her hand to be paid.

“No, I didn’t ask for anything, so my answer is no, and goodbye.”

She went on to another person. There were several gypsies like her I saw today, including what I thought was a sweet trio of three generations of women sitting in a small courtyard. They looked so sweet that I smiled at them and said good morning in Spanish.

They smiled and all three held out their hands for some money.

It’s  a multi-cultural city, with many nationalities represented.

Purchase your own flamenco dress and ole around your kitchen

We drove past the University of Granada and learned it enrolls around 80,000 students. The modern language department, alone, receives over 10,000 international students each year.

The  campus was founded in 1526 by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

We also learned from the bus automatic guide that the city has a long history of a Jewish and an Arab community, as well.

Many sites demonstrate the mosaic Moroccan art and even stones in the sidewalk represent mosaic art, and in the many buildings, mansions and palaces.

mosaic art on the sidewalk

 

I learned that the flamingo music, such as I heard the other night originated from Morocco, and after all, why not? Morocco is only across the bay in a short ferry ride.

 

 

Giant ants

We drove past the well known and popular science building, where I took a photo of giant ants crawling on the wall outside of the museum.

 

The bus also took a turn around the stadium where bullfights are held and where bulls are humiliated before they are stabbed to death. (A little bit of my bias here, if you don’t mind).

 

The bull fighting arena from the outside.

“Granada Will Live Again”

Granada, I’m falling under your spell,

And if you could speak, what a fascinating tale you would tell.

Of an age the world has long forgotten,

Of an age that weaves a silent magic in Granada today.

The dawn in the sky greets the day with a sigh for Granada.

For she can remember the splendor that once was Granada.

It still can be found in the hills all around as I wander along,

Entranced by the beauty before me,

Entranced by a land full of flowers and song.

When day is done and the sun touch the sea in Granada,

I envy the blush of the snow-clad Sierra Nevada,

Soon it will welcome the stars

While a thousand guitars play a soft Habanera.

Then moonlit Granada will live again,

The glory of yesterday, romantic and gay.

And soon it will welcome the stars

While a thousand guitars play a soft Habanera.

Then moonlit Granada will live again,

The glory of yesterday, romantic, gay Granada.

By ALBENIZ, ISAAC

Fleeting moments of friendships

The people I meet on this journey come into my life in fleeting moments, but  become lasting memories. There were two people like that today, not counting the street dancer.

I wanted to check out the Cathedral, to see the beauty that has been promised by several people, but also to find the place where I would catch a bus to Alhambra on Saturday morning.

On the way there, I passed several venders of interest. First the darling little elderly lady, wearing a cotton dress and an apron, selling flowers on the corner. It is my bet that she’s been successful at that corner business for years. She caught me taking her photo a couple of times and even mugged a bit for the shot.

The lady vendor

There were several stalls, each with fifty or more baskets of tea, herbs and spices. One basket had cannabis root. I asked the vendor about that, and he says it’s not to smoke, it’s to drink and it would help you sleep.

Seen at a stall of over 50 herbs, teas, spices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

spices

Further on, an accordionist played and another man sat next to him moving his arms around and jiving as best he could while seated on the stone walkway.

A fellow with an impressive movie camera was recording the music. It was too good of an opportunity to miss, so I got my recording working, as well.

When the bearded guy on the ground saw me filming, his arms moved faster, then he jumped up, pushed his cane away and began flaying his arms around, slapping his leg and his shoe, snapping his fingers, clapping his hands. His long white beard went one way and his head went the other. He performed for the camera and even did a bit of ‘dirty dancing’ for my benefit. Then, the poor old guy got tired and sat down. It wasn’t a cold day, but it looked as though he had on several layers of sweaters and jackets. He must have turned up the heat inside of all that clothing.

The accordionist didn’t stop, he continued to smile, enjoying the moment. I put some coins – probably about $2 in the hat and walked on.

 

The Cathedral was closed until 4 p.m., just like nearly everything in Spain closes until the magic hour of 4 or 5 p.m. when stores open again and people move about on the street until late at night.

I saw the Hop on Hop Off bus and went up to talk with the woman who seemed to be in charge. She told me how much it cost and that the ticket would be good for two days, I said thanks, but no thanks.  But then, I turned around and said, “ok, why not?”

There is nothing but time in my day, and those buses take you all over town, so it was the thing to do at that time.

The lady and I got into a conversation about traveling, jobs and going after what you want in life. She is a teacher, on leave from teaching due to economics in Spain and is happy with the job working for the bus company, selling tickets and answering questions all day from people like me. She is fluent in English. “I want to do something different. I wish I could get a job teaching in California either English or Spanish for a school year,” she told me.

We talked for quite awhile until the bus came and more people lined up behind me with questions.

Manages the hop on bus; wants to teach in the U.S.

 

She told the bus driver to take good care of me, and she handed me a map of Granada.  I can’t help it: I looked at it and announced, “Oh, I’m in Spain?” Well, talk about breaking the ice with people, that did it.

 

I got my seat, plugged in the ear phones and followed the automatic guide and the map. There was a young woman from China sitting close to me, while others were up above on the seats upstairs.

She moved to another seat where she could see better and smiled at me. I did the same. We began to talk, and when we got to Alhambra she walked there with me. We couldn’t get in without a ticket and the only way to get one is to be there at 7 a.m.

We stuck together the rest of the trip and laughed a lot.

“You are like a naughty little girl,” she told me when I snapped a photo of a lady who’s hairdo reminded me of a rooster. It was maroon-orange and stuck out all over her head.

Well, encouragement like that just turns me loose.

Laughing girl

Isn’t it fun to meet someone and immediately start laughing. We were two little girls in grade school.

She is from China attending college but doesn’t like it. She told me the professor she has for English is boring. Her English is very good, and her Spanish is even better. She wants to change schools.

“Why aren’t you in school today?”

“I don’t want to go.”

“Why?”

“It’s too boring. I want to change schools.”

“Oh, so your taking a day off, then?”

“Yes, something like that.”

Then the bus arrived again from where we had stopped and continued until we reached the Carthusian – a former community of monks. The bus driver told us the last bus would arrive at 5:10 p.m. and it was 4:50 then. So we walked up the steps to get inside but was informed there would be a fee to pay, and since we didn’t have enough time we decided to just go back and wait for the bus.

“Oh, no, the bus is here already.”

“Can you get down there and tell him to wait for me?”

She took off down the steps and over the rough stone walkway, got on the bus and waited for me.

The bus was ten minutes early and was ready to leave when she got there.

I told her it was important to trust yourself and not rely on what anyone says, that I had missed a bus one time because of wrong information.

On the way back to where our trip originated, she admitted to have been on the round trip that day three times, and had even slept on the bus. Not only that, it was the third day she made the same trip.

“Do you know about the local buses? You can get one and take it around the city as well?”

“Yes, I’ve been on all of the city buses.”

When we parted she gave me a hug. “That was fun. I hope to see you again, sometime.”

I sensed a lonely young lady.

A new idea for breakfast (desayuno)

I have been enjoying this since being in Spain and finally remember to post it.

Take a hunk of good French bread, drip olive oil all over it, and then put pureed tomatoes on that. That’s a Spanish breakfast.

The tomato puree is simple, just crush up fresh tomatoes and with the juice spoon it over the olive oil on the bread. It’s really good.

 

I have seen people take a fresh tomato and rub it on the bread.

A night to remember

It was a night to remember.

The street where I'm staying

I headed out at a little after 8 for a 9 p.m. flamenco concert and as I got closer to one of the city squares, very near where I’m staying, screeching noises got louder and louder. It sounded like a thousand carts of some kind in need of oil on the wheels. It got louder and louder, until I could no longer hear the crowd of people, who by then were headed into stores for shopping. The noise was hard on the ears – it was that loud.

What could that noise be? Then I was right under the noise, for it was in the trees near the square and fountain.

“Are those birds I hear?” I shouted to a young guy standing near the square in English and he replied back in English, which surprised me as much as what he said.

“Yes, they come here every night. They nest in the trees.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“All the time.”

“I mean for years? Or months?”

The man who looked to be around thirty years old responded: “As long as I can remember, and I was raised in this town, the birds have been here at night.”

The sound and the idea that so many birds would congregate on one central place and make so much noise, and always at night, just amazed me. Everyone else seemed not to notice – for there were stores open, and things to buy.

The nearby square, fountain and bird nest trees

 

That wasn’t the end of the amazing night, however, for I continued on down the walkway to another bigger square. I’ve been on this one several times today. It is very wide and covered with lime stone rock tiles and decorated in between with a red rock of some sort and also marble and another black stone. The whole square and very long walkway is shiny, and, while it is beautiful and unusual, it is somewhat slippery if you’re not careful.

Pathway through town

Now, after hearing birds and walking to the building for the concert it was time to go in and find my reserved seat.

Someone helped me find the correct one, and around 9:15 the concert began with two chairs sitting in the middle of the stage, with microphones set before each chair.

Two men were introduced. Flamenco guitar music began, and as it did for two and one half hours, the guitar sets the scene of the story, with an introduction/solo, then the singer begins the story in passionate and energetic singing. There were many singers and various styles of presentation, but most began by sitting, until the passion in telling the story became so animated that, most singers ended up standing. Some couldn’t help but stomp their feet to the beat.

The music slides around the scales, not in a typical eight note octave, but somewhat like opera.  But in flamenco,  the singer passionately expresses himself until he reaches the peak of the story and that is when the clapping begins. Toward the last part of the concert, as the music became even more passionate, people began yelling ‘ole’.

Jose in Vitoria told me once that Spanish people cry when they talk, and move their arms and they are so passionate. I saw what he meant, for the men who sang nearly cried over the story they told in song. The final singer held a note so long I thought he might faint. That brought the crowd to their feet in a standing ovation.

There were many acts with singer and guitar, and then a dancer came on the stage and her feet moved faster than a train on a track. She picked up her black skirt and lace ruffle, and then moved her hands up in the air, with fingers that had a life of their own, and she held a serious, very serious look on her face.

The concert went on for two and one half hours.

The packed house was a fundraiser for a group that serves a mentally retarded population. There were several clients enjoying themselves in the audience towards the front of the stage.

After the concert I walked back to the hostel, passing a few people and a few passed me. I came upon four drunk Brits heading somewhere after lifting a pint or two or more.

It is safe here late at night, and even some restaurants were open to serve dinner.

When I sat inside the theater and saw the painted ceilings and decorated walls, plush, comfortable chairs, and the music began, I remembered how blessed I am to be on this journey.

posted two items below

There are two items for today: one a note from Yanira and the next one about Granada. L.