Saturday, September 27, 2014

A piece of bread will buy a bag of gold‏

The phrase is not in the Bible, but was taken from Revelation 6:6 where it basically says a day's wages will be required for enough wheat to make a loaf of bread. The phrase itself is commonly quoted as from the Bible but actually came from the 1969 song "I wish we'd all been ready" by Larry Norman (later re-done by DC Talk). Linda Mosher. 

In my own way, let me put it this way.  Yesterday, I went out about past 7 pm to buy meat for my week's cooking.  I went to the market, and browsed in four supermarkets (good that three were close to one another) until I found what was interesting for me to buy.  It was not until 9 pm when I was done and took a bus home.  On the way, there was a baby of 15 months that kept on crying, but it did not sound like he was in pain.  The mother looked quite uncomfortable.  I decided to ask if the baby could eat a piece of bread.  When I learned he could, I offered a piece of bread, which the mother gladly accepted by cutting the tip.

And her baby was just too happy to grab it and eat it just as quickly as it reached his hand.  The baby looked at me, as if to say "thank you, I was hungry and you fed me".  Surely, there are instances, when a piece of bread will buy a bag of gold, maybe not to the extreme but who knows?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Flea Market in Railway Museum

What was there to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon?  The best option at that moment seemed to visit the Railway Museum where they put up a flea market.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and being outdoors was an enjoyable spree.  Ron came to meet me at the train station. He came on a rented electric bike, one of those that is popularly used around the city where you can rent by hours and return it in a metered bike parking. Immediately, we took the subway to destination.  There was free entrance on this day and the place was bustling with people all eagerly looking  or buying some stuff.  Before we entered the premises, I took some pictures of old cars and a train.

As we entered the enclosed premises, we saw the below-under among other things.  The place reminded us of the Portobello market in London.   It was curious to see so many things that people used to have, but now no longer find any need nor good use for them, that is why they put them for sale.  But there were also new stuff that are done by artisans with very creative ideas.  Likewise, on sale were homemade mermelade, cheese, fruits snacks and sausages.  The guy taking a picture of his family inside a picture frame, was quite an eye catcher.  The pictures were mostly taken by Ron.

The atmosphere was accompanied with live music that was relaxing at the same time that it added to the cheerful displays as we walked around the premises. Really nice. There was also a short train ride for the kids and the grown-ups to accompany them. And food like pizzas with natural ingredients just like the "good" hamburgers were also sold.  We tried the portions of pizza, and for 1.50€ for a tiny bit, it was expensive but worth it.  We came late to try the hamburgers, they were finished when we got to the stand.  But the samples were tempting.

We took some other train pictures.

Ron couldn't resist riding a promotional van. Whereas, I was also tempted to buy a cute key chain with photo holder (for 2€ why not?) and two bottles of homemade mermelade of mandarine with nuts and mandarine with red pepper.  In addition, Ron also bought a curious light bulb with regulated illumination.


We ended up renting a car to go home to have dinner and for Ron to gather his weekly supply of office lunches.  But we will surely go there again to hunt for curiosity items before the cold weather sets in and diminishes the fun of going through the market items.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Weekend Trip to Albarracín

Ron and myself went to Zaragoza last Saturday by Ave train and from there rented a car to go to different towns from Albarracin and Teruel in the eastern side of Spain.  It took us 1:20 mins. from Madrid to go to Zaragoza.

Teruel is regarded as the "town of mudejar" with numerous buildings designed in this style. (Mudejar is a style of Iberian architecture and decoration, of the 12th and 16th centuries, strongly influenced by Moorish taste and workmanship. All of them are comprised in the Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon which is a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

We stayed in the Gran Hotel Botanicos, which is very well communicated to the center, with every place of interest of walking distance.  It has modern facilities, like the toilet cover that with a slight touch closes automatically.  The sink stoppage is closed by pressure, the blinds go up and down with buttons control. The shower with two types of showers, hand, a smaller one, and the head shower, a big one. But the best thing about it is that from its fifth floor there is access to the upper street level and it saves one from climbing up all the stairs.  It also has a wide view of Teruel from the 7th floor.  Here is what the room looks like. 


After checking in, we decided to go immediately to Albarracín, the former capital of a Moorish kingdom (Taifa). It is a small town which has preserved all its Islamic and medieval flavour. Its old quarter has the Property of Cultural Interest designation. Albarracin is a beautifully preserved medieval village, about thirty minutes away from Teruel.

The main thing that surprises visitors who arrive at the town of Albarracín is its imposing fortified enclosure, whose perimeter is far larger than the area of the urban centre.

We arrived in time for lunch and we decided to stop by the road in a restaurant called "Asador Albarracín".  There was a set menu for 15€ per person and the food was excellent, and so was service.  The first plate included, grated mushrooms and thistle stalks, for me and raw cod salad, for Ron. For the second plate I had roast leg of lamb and for Ron, roast pork .  For dessert, I had soft creme with toasted caramel on top, while Ron had flan, both were done in house.



While we were eating, and that was soon after we entered the restaurant, rain poured like cats and dogs with thunder included.  It stayed that way until after we have finished eating. But like any of those summer rains, they did not last all day.  We dared the rain with our umbrellas (I brought my rain jacket, but Ron did not) after waiting some time for the rain to pour less.  We had arranged for a walking tour so we had to look for the meeting place.  Because of the rain, only Ron and myself joined the tour, which was an excellent opportunity for us.

We went inside the Albarracin cathedral first.  It is now under construction for several years and pending of donations as it remodelates one section from another; whereas the exterior has been completely reformed.  It was opened specially for Ron and myself and we were shown around given with all of the detailed explanations. Lucky us!!!  To see the picture of the cathedral follow this link:



The restoration is a long process.  Some parts of the walls were scraped and they found the paintings shown above on the walls.  An extraordinary finding which is now under reconstruction.

The guide walked with us through the main parts of the town, which we were able to view without the complications from rain.  Somehow, the sky connived with us to give us a pleasant tour.  Some of the interesting places which we saw (and visited again later on our own) are here below:







Notice the pebbled streets with the reddish colored tiles of rodeno, the proximity of buildings with one another and the layered floors of houses with the basic foundation smaller than the upper floors.  Likewise peculiar are their doorbells as well as the forms of their rain drainage.

The Julianeta House


"The House of Julianeta" is the most emblematic building of the popular architecture of Albarracín. It is a house of plaster and wood, of surprising construction irregularities, vertically inclined seemingly unbalanced; popularly compared with the "Leaning tower of Pisa",  which retains the characteristic elements of the peculiar structures of Albarracín.  It has been converted into artists' workshops.

The steep streets stand out, among which the Plaza Mayor square is situated. The Town Hall is located there, providing an amazing lookout point over the Guadalaviar River.

On the way back to the car, here are the pintoresque photos:


Before leaving Albarracín, we passed by a bar called El Molino del Gato.  It was built in the 15th century and it is located near the village and next to the Guadalaviar river. It used to be one of the most important mills along the range of the mountains. It was owned by the Bishop and here the city tithes were collected.  Although they only serve common drinks, it is a quiet place to relax.  Through the transparent glass on its floors, you can view the waters of the Guadalaviar river as it flows.

Albarracín, one of my favorite small towns from what I have visited in Spain.  A charming place where not even the torrential rains, the pebbles that dragged the mountains to the steep streets, the pieces of the roof which possibly chipped off because of the rain, nor the slippery paths prevented Ron and me to enjoy its spectacular corners and views. It is a difficult place for me to forget and I will always have fond memories of my visit in Albarracín!