Sunday, May 29, 2011

We're back! And ready to Blog!

Starting May 10, Charlie and I took a cruise from Barcelona to London, and just returned last Thursday.  Unfortunately,  my blogging plans were disrupted, as I caught a virus, and was pretty sick for awhile.  Not fun, but that's life... I did enjoy the trip at least part of the time; and saw some beautiful cities. Barcelona was lovely---wide sidewalks and thirty foot tall shade trees (they looked like they had all been planted at the same time).  Everyone seems to walk in Barcelona, including school children, of which there were many.   It was nice to see so many young children walking around the city.  The cross walks all have uniform walk signals that go on on a regular basis, so that it is easy to cross the street, and the wide sidewalks make it pleasant to walk.  We saw the Sagrada Familia cathedral, a must see on your bucket list.  It was started in 1895, and is not complete.   I am attaching a picture which gives you an idea of the iconoclastic nature of the cathedral.  (The building to the right is a school built by the architect for the children of the workers.)

We then saw Gibraltar, still a British territory, and a very British town.  We saw St. Michael's cave, a huge cavern so large concerts are given inside.  Stalagmites and stalactites were sawed off to make room for a hospital in World War II, and you can see after 60 years, tiny 1/4" long stalagmites starting to form again.  In other areas where the stalags were not cut off, they are enormous--up to fifty feet long;  so the insignificance of our time on earth was brought home.

Cadiz was a lovely little city with purple flowered trees smelling like rhododendrons, a lovely beach area, narrow streets and ancient buildings.  It seemed like a good place where you could forget the rest of the world, and just relax and enjoy the quiet life.

Lisbon was also beautiful,  but it had a lot of graffiti.  We ate Belem pastries--justifiably world famous.  It is a tart shaped crispy crust, with a luscious vanilla custard inside.

A few days abed, and I felt well enough to enjoy London.  The weather was perfect, and the flowers, particularly the roses, were all in bloom.  Inner London was immaculate, no graffiti, spanking clean red buses and no trash.  People were enjoying the parks; they were crowded with people of all ages.  Dogs were allowed unleashed in the parks with their owners , and the dogs were all extremely well behaved.   I asked the taxi driver if there was no graffiti because of the royal wedding, and he said, no; there is never any graffiti.  He thought it was because of so many cameras in the city.  He said there were more cameras in London than in Moscow or Beijing.  He said if you put the wrong trash out,  you have the police knocking on your door.   Is that the price to pay for cleanliness?  I am not so sure. 

A couple of general observations:  25 years ago when I first went to Europe,  I could tell the Americans from the natives.  Now, everyone dresses alike, except that Europeans still wear different shoes--thinner soles, and pointier.  No clogs, and few running shoes.  Europeans also dress somewhat more modestly and neatly than Americans:  when I got back to Logan,  I realized that American girls are wearing much tighter jeans, and they all looked sloppier.  I also rarely saw anyone in Europe who was even modestly overweight.  I think the walking has a lot to do with it.  Americans need to exercise more.

I have several pent up blog posts, which I will post in the days to come. 

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