Falling

A sampler of Spanish coast and mountains from this fall’s trips:

couldn't get enough of that with the mar de nubes behind it

September in the Picos de Europa, with a stunning view of el Naranjo de Bulnes.

cave

October on the Asturian coast after another good hike in Picos

sonabia

and a week later further east to Cantabria, also gorgeous.

doble salto

November brought an autumnal hike in the Sierra de la Demanda, with a stop at the cascadas de Altuzarra.

Bad news and good news

The bad news is that Madrid has never looked uglier than now. The streets are strewn with trash thanks to a nearly 10-day strike by the city street cleaners and garden maintenance staff to protest planned layoffs of more than a sixth of the current staff and salary reductions for the rest. The whole thing started with a demonstration on the 4th of this month, which was followed by some of the workers deliberately throwing trash (opening trash bags waiting to be collected) on the streets to call attention to something they, understandably, find completely objectionable. While I don’t agree with the tactic of pouring our carrot peels, bags of dog poop, onion skins, and chicken bones all over the place, I empathize with their outrage. Somehow the whole thing is very symbolic of what’s happening in Madrid and Spain at large—lots and lots of rubbish.

Image

On the bright side of things, we have the peonza, the spinning tops that are driving kids crazy all over Madrid. Somehow it’s refreshing to see kids gathered around to see a top spin, trying to balance it on their noses or throw it the air. At school, the primary-age boys and girls have all got one, and I’ve seen them spinning in metro stations and on street corners in Lavapiés. Yes, these kids are the smartphone and tablet generation, but it’s comforting to see such a relatively old-fashioned thing take hold, however briefly.

Winter shots

Lest you think I’ve abandoned ship, I’m coming back to you with a photographic representation of 2013 so far on the Iberian peninsula. The crisis is deepening, but life goes on.

Winter holidays were in Portugal. We ate incredibly well, thanks in no small part to places like Cervejaria Ramiro and the generally amazing seafood and sweets the country has to offer.

cervejaria ramiro

Lisboa continues to enchant me.

lisboa

And there are so many other parts of the country to explore. We spent time in the hills and villages of the Serra da Estrela before heading back to España.

serra da estrela

This winter was cold and snowy, to my complete delight. There’s nothing like being in the Parador de Gredos during a good snowfall

parador de gredos

and exploring the surrounding area without even getting in the car.

gredos snow

Hiking trips in Madrid were frequently foiled by bad weather (not for lack of snow!), but trips elsewhere proved successful. The Sierra de Aralar was in full splendor before the rains of March set in (and we escaped the continent!).

navarra

A nearby Navarran village provided an unexpected lesson in cheese-making at the hands of an artisan.

cheese-making in navarra

We were also rewarded with a spectacular weekend in the Montaña Palentina, where we could see over the whole expanse of the Picos de Europa from the top of Peña Prieta

desde la cima de peña prieta

and even got a bit of culture with an excellent guided tour at the ruins of a Roman villa in Saldaña.

villa romana la olmeda

Here’s to spring.

Pura Vida/The Ridge

We saw this documentary a couple weekends ago and, if you’re in Spain and near a place where it’s being shown, see it. You don’t have to like mountains, you don’t have to know the story. I went to a talk with the director tonight and he said they’ve just gotten word that it’s going to be shown in a bunch more countries, and at some point will make its way to New York. Keep your eyes out!

Why I don’t tire of Asturias

Mountains: The central massif and the Naranjo de Bulnes from the Puerto de Pandébano in Picos de Europa.

Food: Fabada asturiana. And that’s not to fill this post with pictures of everything we ate.

Coast: Playa de Torimbia, west of Llanes.

These photos are from a four-day trip we took to Asturias at the beginning of the month.

The last of the beach days

This is Bolonia, a small town with a stunning beach and a fantastic view of Morocco on the Costa de la Luz. It was formerly a Roman settlement called Baelo Claudia, and has the ruins to prove it. We swam, explored the dunes, and ate fish there this month during a long weekend in Cádiz. We spent the rest of the time in Cádiz capital, where we were happy sleeping at Pensión España, breakfasting with churros and the locals at La Marina, and tapeando in the Barrio de la Viña, especially at El Faro.

Madrid mornings

This weekend I had a strong hankering to hang around Madrid, get stuff done, and do some madrileño things. Above you can see nine images from the two mornings I spent out and about in the barrio. (I mean morning in the Spanish sense, that is from when you get up [pretty late] until when you have lunch [earliest 2 p.m.]).

A number of those are taken in the Mercado de San Fernando, where we enjoyed cañas and tapas and window shopping Saturday morning before heading, via the gone but not forgotten Centro Social Okupado Casablanca to Bar Benteveo for their delicious lomito.

Sunday morning included an errand at the Rastro, where I spotted a banner citing the current fight over public education, and a walk through nearby streets before some tapas at one of Madrid’s oldest tabernas.


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