13 May 2012

Spring...thy name is in fact Summer

I have experienced our first Spring in Madrid. I had envisaged lovely blooming trees, fresh winds with sunny skies for a couple of weeks until the dreaded heat of summer. Now, I recall from a previous blog questioning where Winter was. When it came, it lasted for about 6 months, but really, we were, it appears, blessed with not too freezing weather. I however decided to tempt fate twice, you know Karma is and her wicked ways.

Spring arrived and stayed for 28 hours.

This past Monday, we were at a maximum of sixteen degrees, nice jeans and warm tops weather. Tuesday morning was a bit chilly, but by lunch time it was thirty five degrees. To say that I was a pool of ungainliness in boots and jeans is an understatement. Luckily it appears that most Spanish people also missed the 28 hour “Spring is here” warning, and were caught unaware as well. So this is seemingly not written in the Spanish manual somewhere.

Now, spring in South Africa was always my favourite time of the year, where we lived we had some nice thunderstorms, blooming Jacaranda trees and generally just nice warming up weather.

In Madrid, I am now (in Summer I assume) being assaulted by a plague of mosquitos, weird flying black bug things that suspiciously look like small birds, creepy crawlies with weird hook looking bits at their front (or their back, who knows, I don’t take time to examine them before I squash them), flying (drifting?) white fluffy things that look to be the pollen of a very odd tree but which is causing me to cough like a chain smoker and birds who seems to think it is a national sport to screech the entire day.

In addition hereto, the red dogs are really suffering with this weather change. Now, they are, within 100 meters from Casa Engela dragging their feet, their tongues lolling on the boiling sidewalk. It’s not their fault their crazy human parents insisted they move the northern hemisphere, where their red bodies are thinking it’s now winter and as such their winter coats are growing.

So, whilst I am grumbling up and down the steaming sidewalks with two not too over excited red dogs, I am not noticing the beautiful red, purple and yellow flowers, nor the amazing shades of green everywhere, nor the interesting wildlife that suddenly are appearing on our farm – walk roads. Oh who am I kidding, of course I am. Damn this country which is becoming my second home, I am not even afforded the opportunity of being overly irritated…wait, I see a killer mosquito…

8 May 2012

The days are just packed

Yes, for those of you who know Calvin and Hobbes, I am guilty of plagiarism since I stole this title from one of Mr Watterson’s books, sorry Mr Watterson. For those of you who do not know what the heck I am on about…Google it.

So the Engelas set of on their very first adventure into the Spanish northern countryside, on our own, with a little help from our Tom-Tom and our dictionaries. The red dogs also went on a holiday, to the best dog hotel in the world. I however think that we may have had a better time than they did, although maybe only a little.

As such, months of planning, buying books and reading maps, culminated in our short getaway. We went to Cantabria, an area which it appears quite a number of Spanish people have not visited before.  To say that it is a wonderful part of the country is a serious understatement, it is truly beautiful, beautiful countryside, beaches and snow-capped mountains. Best of all worlds to my mind. 

To give you an idea of what the area looks like, I, of course, include some photographs.

This is Comillas. I can only state that I will willingly live there.

One of the beaches on the way to Santander.

Another beach, one is spoilt for choice here.

In Santander, on one of the piers, these statutes are dedicated the young girls and boys who dived into the ocean to catch coins that people threw at them. I think it is a bit sad really.

Santona harbour, which is an old working harbour and still has seamstresses on the docks fixing the fishing nets!

On the way to Picos de Europa, Iglesia de Santa Maria in LebaƱa. This beautiful church is still in use by the local people. Love the Arabic influence.

And then Picos de Euorpa, a view from Patos, where we not only fell in love with this town, but also encountered our first cow sale.

We did however encounter a couple of things which, ever after just over a year, we seem to forget. Many tourist sites close at 2PM, for lunch of course or, for some unbeknownst reason, are only open Mondays to Wednesdays. Why, I have no idea. I am beginning to think that either these places are part of some cult group of employees / employers who refuse to work, or somehow I again missed that part of the Spanish manual. Many restaurants and bars only start serving food after 8PM. 

Also, for the first time, we saw strange things being done to trees, as you will see on the picture below. You will agree it is beautiful, but, admittedly, weird.

So, based on our adventure, I can say that my host country has so much to offer in terms of tourism, places to visit and places to fall in love with, it will awake the travelling bug in all of us!