Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Hello friends and family,

I want to send you Seasons Greetings today because we'll be on the move again and not sure of internet access in the new home before Christmas. Didn't want you to think I/we forgot about you!

More on the new home next post, stay tuned!

Trimming orange trees
What a lot of trimming they do, the air was redolent with orange smell! I suppose this will happen all over the city before they blossom.

Weather has been low to mid-twenties here and sunny most days, still nice for sitting out in a cafe. 

Short, short, like I am, post this time!

Cheers to you, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat, the computer cord eating cat, (two down since we've been here! and only mine, not Bruce's)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Jamon Museum and Monastery in Monesterio

Bouganvillia from the gardens previous post.

Vegetarians please pass by the description of the Museum and go directly to the monastery part of this post, where the pictures are! 

Ivan drove us one hour north from Sevilla in Monesterio, a charming village, to the Jambon (ham) museum, here is the link  it has an English button. Yes, friends there is a museum devoted to ham. Jamon Iberico is a very large part of life here in the Province of Sevilla. The industry employs thousands of people from farmers to factory workers and every self respecting bodega has hocks hanging from their ceilings for patrons of the restaurant. The museum is very modern and interactive with it's guests showing videos and explanations of the process of breeding, raising the pigs, what they eat, prime black ones feast on acorns which gives the flavour to the meat. Videos showed the old family method of slaughter and curing and the new mechanized methods. Every single part of the pig is used from the head and down to the tail and I'm quite sure I wouldn't eat some parts! It was a very informative and enjoyable visit. More information in this linkón_ibérico

Ivan's parents had recommended a restaurant for lunch and the intended one was opposite the one we at at, oh well, food was good anyway. There was a  dog who came to mooch lunch had his act down well, tilting his head and being cute, he certainly was but his act didn't wash with us, no human food to animals is my policy.

I bit into a piece of sausage and one of my teeth broke! Darn and not pleasant although I was quite upset thinking of the dentist visit to come I tried not to let it ruin the day for us all. Subsequent visit to the dentist was easy, he just glued it back in! No guarantees how long it will stay but at least I don't have a hole in my smile now. 

We drove to the monastery which seemed to be perched at the top of the world, truly! A long winding narrow road going up and down, steep cliffs on one side and few guard rails! Along the way we saw farms with cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, horses. As we got to the top it was a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains! No pictures because of the haze that hovered over, but truly we were at the highest point and it was amazing! Birds of prey, not sure what kind, hovered over the mountain in flocks, beautiful to see them soaring above us, not so, for whatever animal they were searching for below.

I wouldn't want to live there, no windows.

The monastery named Monastery de Tentudia de Calera De Leon is currently under restoration, although some modern parts have already been added like bathrooms and glass to the atrium. There was talk of making it into a parador, the upscale hotels here in Spain but that fell through and now talk of making it into a luxury B & B location. 

The atria 

Website, no English, I am unclear about it's future, and maybe the Spanish people are as well, but it is being worked on and it is in a beautiful if slightly remote location. Another link which explains it's history, translated.

There was a battle and the currently loosing side prayed to the Virgin to "stop the day" and as legend goes, the sun did stop setting long enough for them to win

In the early thirteenth century, during a battle against the Arabs, the master Pelayo Perez Correa, master of the Order of Santiago, came to see that night and did not get the victory, implored the Virgin screaming: Holy Mary, stop your day!. And tradition has it that the sun stood still on the horizon to allow the Christian troops to victory. The master ordered to build a temple for Santa Maria de Tentudía.

The Sainted Maria that stopped the sun from setting

After we stopped at a jambon outlet to buy for Bruce some packages of it and a sausage he liked, I'm not too keen on either, I bought a bottle of wine, natch. Ride back into Sevilla showed us the smog layer hanging over the city, there hasn't been any rain for a long time to clear it off, but also the hills in-between with the red coloured earth on the berms of the highway were lovely.

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

We're in Sevilla and a Lovely Tour through Gardens

Yes! We're back in Sevilla, palm trees and tile works

Firstly, apologize for not posting in a more timely manner. We've had some glitches around our accommodations but are working through them which takes time on our part, I won't bore you with the details.

Flight from Frankfurt to Sevilla was a bit difficult, two people had cat allergies, that's never happened before so we had to relocate seats and in Madrid there were no attendants to get us to the gate so I grabbed a wheelchair and hoofed it as fast as possible to the furthest gate in the terminal but we made it!

We went to our past watering hole/bodega to see Alonzo, Manolo and Freddy. Freddy has gone to Bolivia! Manolo welcomed us, but Alonzo was ecstatic to see us, kept saying I’m so happy you are here, this is your home (casa) you are my friends, gave us hugs and Spanish kisses. What a guy! We had tapas, of course, really felt like home the flavours were wonderful! Being Sunday there were lots of people, families with their children dressed the same, girls with bows in their hair and dresses, boys with shorts, many dogs of course. It was a pleasant cacophony of sound and movement on a sunny, warm day. Lovely to be back in Sevilla again for the colours, the friends, the warmth, well, just everything I suppose. 

Ivan took us to his neighbourhood, which is Castilleja de Guzman, showed us his home which is lovely and we went to lunch at a rather trendy looking place called Momentos. Family run operation, the food was excellent and we ate under lemon and orange trees.

You know who these blokes are.
Ivan's friends, three fellows, one a banker/real estate person and two others bought a former ceramics factory in Triana and we saw it today, all the way up to the (European) second floor on both sides, factory and flats. Very rough, an investment for them. The ceramics studio looked like the people had left work one day and just not returned, moulds of Sevilla life, example a flamenco dancer, and drawings, just beautiful even in raw form! The flats are rough, will take some renovation to get them livable but they would be good as smallish residences. Prior to the meeting we took the opportunity being in Triana and close to the large market there to get Bruce a plate of oysters and I had my first this year Cruzcampo, beer that is locally brewed. A good day and very interesting to see the factory!

We are getting reacquainted with the neighbourhood and local people in it and it’s lovely! 

Ivan took Ryan, Angela and ourselves back out to his town Castilleja de Guzman to the palace gardens there. The site is named Colegio Mayor Santa Maria del Buen Aire. Owned by the City of Sevilla and formerly used as a college but closed now.

Roses don't smell but are beautiful.

 The grounds are viewable only by appointment with a guide. This is from the University website, which they haven’t updated. If interested look up Jean-Claude Forestier, he designed many famous gardens and true to his name.


The Santa María del Buen Aire gardens, designed by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, a famous landscape architect, were built in 1929 as an addition to the former palace which now houses the residence. In 2004 the Andalusian government declared them a natural heritage site.

These gardens are not just two hectares of plants, pergolas, fountains and balconies, but are also of great architectural interest in terms of landscaping. These gardens offer a wonderful natural surrounding for both studying and relaxing, as well as great views over the whole of Seville."

Our guide was really great, she spoke slowly in Spanish and either Ivan or Ryan translated for me, Bruce understood most of the presentation. It was about an hour of walking through the garden on moss covered pathways. The gardens have not been maintained well but retain a stately beauty on three levels. As we wound our way around our guide explained the history, showed us drawings and pictures and explained about the plants and trees. The site is on a hillside that overlooks the City of Sevilla and the hills of olive trees between. 

Darn it!!

Vandals had gotten in on the weekend and destroyed large planters in an area around what was a fountain. Why?!! This is “fun”? The unfortunate fact is that the planters will not likely be restored.

After the tour we had a relaxing lunch at Momentos under the orange and lemon trees. Great day!

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat