We spent the two weeks
leading up to Christmas in southern Spain in the cities of Seville and Granada. The
Spanish take the meaning of Christmas seriously. It was refreshing to be
in cities where the streets were lit with ornate banners of colored lights, but
Santa and Frosty the Snowman were a rare sight. Many shops still closed for two
or three hours in the afternoon and on Sundays.
Linus sums it up best in A Charlie Brown Christmas:
In this deeply catholic
country, holiday outings include visiting multiple elaborate Nativity scenes
in churches and store windows. There were "living Nativities" with
livestock (camels, cows and sheep!) and actors to be found as well. The star of
the show, baby Jesus, does not appear until Christmas morning - and then it’s
time to make the rounds again.
Families also created elaborate nativity scenes at home. The outdoor Christmas markets were filled with stall after stall selling every miniature you could imagine. There were humans, angels, animals, food, tools, mangers, and buildings and even blazing electric stars. In some cases, price was no object - we saw a $900 elephant!
|Here's one style of Nativity you could create at home...|
|And here's another. I take my hat off to Playmobil for this one|
Then it was on to Granada - the perfect ending
place for our Spanish explorations. What a proud city with a deep and colorful
history. The ousted Moors and the conquering Crusaders formed much of what
remains surprisingly well preserved in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other
occupiers and immigrants across the centuries added to the exuberant art,
music, and Flamenco dance scene. The massive Alhambra Palace was a kaleidoscope
of color and texture – a massive labyrinth of rooms each more ornate than the next!
|A bleak winter garden at the palace gets a pop of Persimmon|
Our home in Granada was
perched on a hill in the old town and offered a panoramic view of the Alhambra.
Here’s the link: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1754593.
Once again - we tackled what seemed like hundreds of ancient, irregular stone steps going either up or down the hill to reach the building. But the labored breathing is worth
it when we finally find our front door (not always easy) and discover
the charm and often-great views that come from going up!
|The dramatic view from our balcony in Granada|
|Our trusty all-terrain REI bags have done heavy-duty on stairs and stones|
We finished our stay in
Granada with an impressive holiday performance of Handel’s Messiah in a concert hall overlooking the sparkling city below. A fitting finale.
Our experiences continue to
motivate us to live like locals in each city we visit. Once we have settled
into each new home, we take our host's recommendation list, grab a map and explore our neighborhood.
take a walking tour – and many times those are free with a tip for the guide at
the end. We shop at the nearest grocery store, cook most meals in (especially trying regional recipes), read book
after book, stay current with the news, play Scrabble and backgammon pinch each
other often to make sure this dream is real.
|It is a pleasure to shop everyday |
Next up is Paris
for a week and then a stay at our friends home in Compiegne to celebrate the
holidays with our daughter Mary, her husband Gregoire and our youngest grandchildren,
Colette, Marcel and Jacques.
|Wishing you a Happy New Year!|
Blessings of the Season to
Debbie and Michael