Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rome was great but very cold.


Yeah Rome was terrific, despite the freezing temperatures. So, of course we all caught colds. But, well, Rome was worth it, definitely worth it. The best thing about going in January (nobody else went, of course) was that there were no queues, noone on the Spanish steps, but then noone to contemplate from the Pincio.
Being with Eladio with his eclesiastical and classical background was better than any guide: he knows all the Popes, all the Emperors and their order in history and the greatest plus of all is his knowledge of mythology - a great help when it comes to admiring the statues.
What did I like best, apart from the pasta, the pizzas and the wonderful latte coffee? Definitely the Vatican; the Sixtine Chapel. But what really made me choke with emotion was the "Pietat" by Michaelangelo in St. Peter's Church.
No trip is without its hitches and my hitch was losing my vanity case on the way out (an attractive red Samsonite one with loads of expensive cosmetics). One of us left it at the airport. What gave me faith in the Italians was the miracle in getting it back at the lost and found office the day we went back. Who would have believed that?
A big thanks to my friends Marta, Julio and Fátima for all their advice, suggestions and recommendations. I had prepared a very comprehensive programme but without some of their help our trip would not have been such a success. The best tips came from Julio on pre reserved guided visits to the Vatican museums and pre reservation of tickets to the Galeria Borghese.
PICTURES: To prove how empty and cold Rome was, see the picture of me in St. Peter's Square.
See also how romantic our trip was - Mari Carmen and I with roses (I made Eladio buy them from a poor Bangladeshi man) at the Fontana di Trevi.
A great moment for Eladio was seeing the statue of Giordano Bruno, the heretic at the Piazza Campo d'Fiori.
A moment of relax - Roberto and the hat he had just bought, again at Piazza Campo d'Fiori.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

So we went to the theatre

Hello again.

On Friday we were invited by friends of ours (Pedro Delgado and Ludy Blanco) to the theatre. We went to see the most famous Spanish operetta (Zarzuela) called La Verbena de la Paloma, by Tomás Bretón. We hadn't been to the theatre for many years and this was to the beautiful "Teatro de la Zarzuela". The house was full and we were lucky to have a box to ourselves. It was a real change in our routine and we have decided we shall be more theatre minded and go again soon.

This work is set in the Madrid of the 19th century and is a mixture of love, comedy and wonderful music.

Afterwards we went to dinner at the Cenador del Prado nearby. All in all a lovely evening. Now we've got Rome to look forward to - Yes, we are off tomorrow.

Cheers everyone/Masha

(History of the Zarzuela: In 1657 at the Royal Palace of El Pardo, King Philip IV of Spain, Queen Mariana and their court attended the first performance of a new comedy by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, with music by Juan de Hidalgo. El Laurel de Apolo traditionally symbolises the birth of a new musical genre which had become known as La Zarzuela - after one of the King's hunting lodges, situated in a remote countryside thick with zarzas or brambles)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Family outing to El Pardo

Today we drove to El Pardo, a town 7km from Madrid to see the Palace. It was the first time since my Father has been here that we have been out together as a family - all 5 of us. The sun shined brightly against the snow on the mountains which was a lovely setting for our visit.

The Palacio de El Pardo is really the old hunting palace of the Kings and Queens of Spain. Today it is also where most state visits are accommodated - quite luxurious I must say.

However its greatest fame is having been the home of Francisco Franco, the ex dictator of Spain from 1940 until his death in 1975. The family apartment within the palace is now a museum and has been untouched since his death. Very revealing were his bedroom (twin beds in quite a small room and a place for praying) and the bathroom refurbished in 1973, not to mention his study where he must have signed all the famous death sentences!!

After the nearly 2 hour guided tour, we walked out into the small town in search of somewhere to have lunch. Funnily enough we ate at a restaurant, "El gamo" where Eladio and I had been at least 15 years ago.

Pictures to illustrate this post are of the girls, my Father and me outside the palace (Oli first left, Grandpa, Susi and me) and Eladio and I in a good close up. The camera was good to us and we both look years younger - probably thanks to the sun glasses.

Great day all in all. We must plan more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Roman Holiday in January

Well, I'm not exactly Audrey Hepburn (nor a Princess) and Eladio is not Gregory Peck but we are still going to enjoy a short holiday in Rome.

Yes, Rome. Many of my girlfriends know this is the one destination I don't know in Europe and that I have always wanted to visit. So, yes, we are going to Rome on the 22nd Jan for 6 days with our friends Mari Carmen Vinuesa and Roberto. One of the advantages of being out of work is that you can plan a holiday or break whenever you want.

I'm not surprised Iberia is laying off staff and that travel agencies around the globe are shutting down and this is because people rely more and more on Internet to purchase their trips.

Many thanks here to www.edreams.es for the cheap flight and to www.booking.com for the reservation of a 4 star hotel at a bargain price. And all from the comfort of my own home.

Rome, here we come.

All the best/Masha

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The last day of Christmas

Yesterday was the last day of Christmas, "Reyes" or Epiphany. It went off with a bang, although the Kings didn't bring anything to our house this year. I think it's because they are a bit cross with their competition, Father Christmas.

We started off the day with a lovely breakfast, including toasted "roscón" in the dining room.

Then José Antonio (Eladio's next brother down - another philosopher, God help us - and his closest perhaps) and his son, Juan (Eladio's Godson) came to join us for dinner as this year they were alone. Miguel, my nephew, had gone back to his job in London and Dolores, his mother had g0ne with him for the Sales (oh no, not Harrods, but more likely the charity shops she has a great penchant for). And, of course, Sarita (guapa) is in China.

We used up the last of the crackers and actually had a very English roast meal (I love multi culture!!). Here's a picture of Juan and José Antonio wearing the cracker crowns.

Today Eladio took down the tree and all the Christmas decorations which is very sad indeed.

So Christmas is over and now we all have to recover from the overeating (oh dear (oh shit actually), it's now time to diet again seriously and to concentrate on my 3 projects (losing weight, finding a job and selling this house).

Hope you all had a great one; we certainly did.

Lots of love/Masha

Happy New Year everyone.

And so, once again, our family got together with Eladio's family to celebrate the New Year in León in the Asador de Amancio. This year we were 27 people, with only 2 or 3 members missing, notably Sarita (guapa) who is studying in China, many miles away - Happy New Year sweetie.

As usual the table was divided into 2 generations: the grandchildren (ages ranging from 34 to 14 -Roberto to Alicia!) and the "children" (ages ranging from 60 to 40) plus the Grandmother, Ernestina and my Father, Courtenay. One person was very much missed this year, Antonio, Eladio's Father who died in May. God bless his soul.

And I wish us all a great New Year. I hope, at least, that this year will be an improvement on last year.

All the very best/Masha

So you can see what a good time we had, here are some pics:

Left to right: (Miguel (my beloved nephew who lives in London and works for the Morgan Stanley bank and will go far in life) with my daughter Susi chatting at the dinner.

Right: Paula, Oli, Laura, Alicia (my beloved God daughter) and Sophie (a cousin of mine from Paris staying with Alicia in León on a cultural exchange).

Centre: Myself, my Father (thoroughly enjoying himself - notice the pink cheeks!) and Eladio.

Bottom left: The girls in masks very appropriate for the occasion.