Our trip to Spain was at the very beginning of the World Cup, and people didn't seem too excited yet. Apparently Spain has a propensity for clutching at the last minute, so perhaps sports fans were trying not to get their hopes up. I'm sure by the time the last few games happened, the country was much more involved, but when we were there they lost at least one game.
So the World Cup was NOT a big part of our trip. However, eating, drinking, seeing incredible art, architecture, the Mediterranean, ancient churches built on top of mosques and synagogues, sidewalk cafes, hilltop castles, and generally enjoying ourselves were.
We spent four days in Valencia and six in Madrid, where we spent time with Luis, a scientist who collaborates with Paul and who was a perfect host. He met us with a shopping bag of maps and guidebooks and he'd carefully labeled the museums that would be open on Monday (since many of the major museums were closed that day and it was a day we spent on our own). He and his lovely wife Julia took us to dinner four nights, to Segovia and a fantastic lunch one day, encouraged us to take the train to Toledo (where we saw the 16th-century embroidery at left), and made sure we had the best, typical Spanish food and wine. It meant that we had the opportunity to eat and drink things we wouldn't have otherwise, and to see places he recommended that we might have missed. It was a reminder to me of the importance of being a great host for out of town (and especially out-of-the-country visitors).
I loved the old part of Valencia and it was great fun to go to the ocean, but one of my favorite things was to go to the Prado and the Reina Sofia museums in Madrid. Art history was one of my favorite subjects in college and to see in person so many of the artworks I studied was very fulfilling. Seeing Picasso's Guernica was a highlight at the Reina Sofia Museum, but so were this and other costumes created by Oskar Schlemmer, for The Triadic Ballet in 1924.
I bought very little while in Spain, but what I did buy were special textiles (surprise!). A shop very near the Reina Sofia Museum, Dimo, had row upon row of gorgeous silk scarves, all hand-painted. I asked the shop owner if knew about Etsy and left him the URL. And I left with a scarf—it was extremely tough to choose, but I picked one with a geometric pattern in greens, purple, and brown.
Rather than write a travelogue, I think the next post will be simply photos...stay tuned for some of the inspiring details.