Tag Archive: Zaragosa

Abuela Con Nieta

Traveled with my nieta over the holidays — her first time in Europe. We based ourselves in Madrid but made 3 night trips to Paris, Barcelona and San Sebastian. Paris was at the top of her list but she ended up loving San Sebastian best and Barcelona second best. I wasn’t surprised.

She loves visits to the art galleries and spent lotsa time there. And I mean lotsa time! San Sebastian has no museos in the league of Louvre nor Prado, but she digs the vibe in this Basque city so much that I’m convinced she can live there.

Traveling as abuela y nieta, our pair must have invited some attention. Or at least we were marked. Or perhaps SHE was marked. More than once, I was asked “Donde esta la chica?” She’d always find a vacant seat on the train where she can more comfortably sit, or stray away from me while we’re in line. She’d get free admission to some museos when the man at the window would ask if she’s a student. No student ID nor passport copy, but she gets in free or at a discount while her abuela pays the regular rate. She’s out of her teens now but still acts like a child like when I couldn’t get a decent shot of her without her tongue sticking out or her crinkling her nose.

Our vacation lasted a full month. She’d tease we didn’t quarrel as much as expected and laugh. I was happy to show her around, much that museos and art galleries were coming out of my ears. She discovered she’s a good dishwasher and that she easily forgets things. I discovered I can appreciate street and urban art too. We share food preferences and love bubblies. She likewise shops like me — quick, decisive and wise. Ahem.

I am certain “art appreciation” was the highlight of this trip. I have seen how she spent for art materials and art books, more than she spent for those fashion stuff. For sure, she has set her sights on a return trip knowing how she has enjoyed this holiday.

While in Madrid, she found time to meet with her friends now studying there. It was amusing to see her playing tour guide cum photographer. Their photos speak volumes on how much they enjoyed each other’s company, sticking tongues and all 😜 She loves Spain. And judging by how she’s been painting lately, mi nieta is inspired. 💕👩🏻‍🎨🎨

Travels with #aponimamu:(Just click on the link)

Around Paris

Louvre and Centre Pompidou

Bohemian Paris

Touchdown, San Sebastian

Txikiteo in San Sebastian

The Playas of San Sebastian

Traveling Paintbrush of Anna

Museo Guggenheim (Bilbao)

Museu Picasso (Barcelona)

Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid)

Museo Thyssen-Bornemizsa (Madrid)

Gaudi and Ciutat Vella

To Montserrat and Back

A Pleasant Moorish Surprise

Not Segovia, But Alcala de Henares

Street Art In Spain

Some Musings and Ramblings:

Abuela Con Nieta

Happy Thoughts for Anna P

If I were traveling solo, I’d likely NOT pay much attention. But my nieta drew me closer to urban art. In my book, they are pure and simple graffiti. Except of course for the open air sculptures in brass or bronze. Not so, says my artist-nieta. So I looked closer. Yeah, there’s an element of “intimacy” in such a public art expression. A connection of sorts. Some make sense, others don’t. Like this piece in Barcelona near Parc Güell. A pair of eyes to “guard” the shop. A closer scrutiny reveals they’re Albert Einstein’s eyes. Or this piece in Zaragosa near the Mercado Central, just a few meters from the Plaza del Pilar. Shop for the bad kids? Hmmm. And it was Christmastime when we found this.

There is an area called La Tabacalera in Madrid. A venue for self-expression but we failed to visit the area as it rained, snowed or hailed the last few days of our Madrid stay. That would have been interesting. But walking home, we weren’t deprived of Madrid’s rebel spirit and creative permissiveness. The shops either sported these graffiti, or someone sneaked in to express himself while no one’s looking.

Atocha Station has some interesting artworks on display just outside the station’s Arrivals area. And there’s Tupperware — a hipster bar frequented by young locals. The bar’s front displays some artwork that changes from time to time.

In San Sebastian and Zaragosa, we found many walls, doors, defaced with graffiti. Like spray-painted Swastikas, Hitler images, or just plain messages.

I can imagine shadowy characters sneaking in with their stencils and spray paint cans, finishing the job in a few minutes lest they get caught. Mind you, my nieta was having all these crazy ideas herself to a point she had a stencil ready and a can of spray paint. Yay! Time to go home.

Early Tuesday morning, we took the train to Zaragosa. Just a quick visit to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar, La Seo del Salvador and the Palacio de la Aljaferia. As the train chugged through towns blanketed in white-out snow, we braced ourselves for low temps as we reached Zaragosa. We could feel the cold almost touching our spine as our hands touched the train’s glass windows. Beanies and mittens on!

From the Zaragosa-Delicias Station, we hailed a cab to take us to our hotel. Dropped our bags in the hotel and stepped out almost immediately to hail another cab to drive us to Plaza del Pilar where the Basilica and La Seo stand across each other. Walking in this cold weather was not an ideal option. Upon reaching the Plaza del Pilar, we found so much going on there. Looks like some festivity just ended (3 Kings, I bet) and the decor, Christmas booths, kiddie rides are all being dismantled and packed away. But the entire Plaza del Pilar is sooo quiet. Hardly a crowd. We had a field choosing where to eat in the restos lining the square.

No photography was allowed inside where gaping is a common occurrence. The chapels, the dome, the vaulted ceilings, the many antique and art pieces are simply mind-boggling. Between the Basilica and La Seo, we were “churched out”. I’ve read somewhere that La Seo’s interiors are even lovelier than the Basilica’s. I do not disagree. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos to prove this comparison.

But what surprised us most is the Palacio de Aljaferia. We walked from the Plaza del Pilar to here. Surely, the Aljaferia is one of the finest examples of Hispanic-Muslim art, or Mudejar. This style was later copied at the Alcazar in Sevilla, as well as the more-visited Mudejar masterpiece in Alhambra in Granada. I have been to both and the garden and palace similarities are unmistakable. The series of arches, carved ceilings, the elaborate and intricately designed windows and doors. It is hard to imagine this 11th century structure was a woeful sight in near ruins despite being declared a National Monument of Historical and Artistic Interest in 1931. Then UNESCO declared its Aragonese Mudejar architecture a World Heritage Site.

Having visited this Islamic palace, I am awed by its grand design — the oratory, the portico arches, the wooden and coffered ceilings, the tiled pavement, the corridor, the lavish plaster decor. No wonder this architectural wonder became the Palace of the Aragonese monarchs after Zaragosa was recaptured from the moors.

Mi piquena Alhambra. Odd that it actually was the prototype for that grand palace and gardens in Granada. But Mudejar art in Aragon truly flourished in its time. Magnificent is an understatement. The palace is a good introduction for those who have yet to visit Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada’s Alhambra.

The Palace of Joy. It was. It is. Its beauty does not overwhelm. Its grandeur does not intimidate. Impressive, without being so imposing. It’s a palace not intended to impress, but meant to be enjoyed. Both Moorish and Christian monarchs who took up residence here must have felt the same.