Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Virgen de la Paloma August Festival in Madrid

"Madrid's history and tradition cannot be understood without its famous "verbenas" or open air festivities, three of which are being held in neighbouring districts on successive dates during August. The party gets under way with the San Cayetano festival (2-8 August) in the Rastro/Embajadores area, followed by San Lorenzo (9-11 August) in Lavapiés, and ends with the biggest and most important of all, La Paloma (12-15 August) in La Latina".

"These celebrations have a strong community spirit and are an inseparable part of the real Madrid, one that holds dear its traditional image as a party-loving, sociable city with one simple aim - to have a good time. And of course, it extends a very warm welcome to anyone wanting to join in. The programme of events typically includes children's games and competitions, card tournaments, performances by bands and pop groups, tapas routes and the procession honouring the saint or virgin in whose name the festival is being held".  Source:  August Fiestas

Ron and I went to see the attractively decorated streets in La Latina with its narrow streets and large square in the oldest area in Madrid.







It was then still too hot to continue  walking around and so I took refuge in the nearby Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, while Ron went back to his place.

The imposing and recently restored baroque Basilica de San Franciso el Grande, is one of Madrid’s grandest old churches. Its extravagantly frescoed dome is, by some estimates, the largest in Spain and the fourth largest in the world, with a height of 56m and diameter of 33m.

Read more : http://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/madrid/sights/religious/basilica-de-san-francisco-el-grande#ixzz4HWALxVrL

It was only a thirty minute tour and soon I was outside again bearing with the hot weather.


I came across the City Museum of San Isidro el Labrador. Of great historical interest (though not much to look at) is the ‘miraculous well’, where the saint called forth water to slake his master’s thirst. In another miracle, the son of the saint’s master fell into a well, whereupon Isidro prayed and prayed until the water rose and lifted his master's son to safety.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/madrid/sights/museums-galleries/museo-de-san-isidro#ixzz4HWDgUcZj



Although eager to stay longer, the museum had to close at 7 pm and it was time for me to leave.  I came out to see the  Humilladero square.  Some assign the origin of the name of the square to have been a place where  those convicted of a crime are "humiliated".

Source of photo:  google
People were already crowding by the square and the many open air bars set up specially for the festival enjoying their beer and tapas.  But I was not in for further walking around nor willing to wait when the air is cooler and people emerge in their Chulapos (traditional Madrid dandies) dancing chotis.
Source of photo:  google
I was craving for a cold Horchata de chufa, a Spanish alternative to ice cream and is made with the unique tuber named chufa (tiger nut) also known as earth almonds. Accompanied with a Napolitana bikini (pastry with cheese and ham), it was a delightful combination. 


I passed by the flower market in the Tirso de Molina square.  I was tempted to buy some fresh flowers, but I was afraid that they would get limp on the way.  It was already a pleasure to see an array of beautiful flowers in bouquets of different shapes and colors.

Source of photo:  google
Before I could get to the bus stop to head my way to the train station, a couple of tourists stopped me to ask for direction as how to get to the Rastro, the most popular open air flea market in Madrid. Although only open on Sundays, and being a Saturday,  the tourists wanted to trace their way so as not to miss the Rastro the following day. Casually, it  was just the next parallel street to where we were, but of course it was not easy to ask for directions when you only speak in English. And with a thank you of appreciation, they happily went their way,

And that ended my day!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bonding with the Calvelos

It is always a joy to be visited by family, and to have the opportunity to tether ourselves in relationships with each other and connect ourselves to past and future generations.  And it does not seem to matter whether you have not met before, somehow blood relationships provide the gravitational pull of belonging to one big family. And that makes bonding a truly wonderful experience, when we feel the oneness.

Meeting Ate Aurea, Armin, Mary Ann and Elmer was like having known them forever.  There was that instant beautiful feeling of belonging.  There was no need to break the ice, that did not seem to have existed among us. We had our bienvenida dinner in a local restaurant in Madrid called Taberna La Carmencita. Everybody enjoyed the traditional Spanish dishes of callos, calamares en su tinta, roasted organic baby lamb...

Source of Photo:  Armin
After dinner, we took Ate Aurea back to the hotel since she was tired, while the rest of us went around the Center passing Plaza Mayor, posing by the famous Restaurant of Sobrino de Botin,

Source of Photo:  Armin


Source of Photo:  Armin
The Madrid symbol Oso del Madroño "the bear and the strawberry tree"   Obviously, Armin had documented herself before coming to Madrid, and she was eager to take a picture of this famous monument in Puerta del Sol, where every year, Madrileños celebrate the coming of the New Year.

Source of Photo:  Armin

This is the origin of the street numbers in the city, kilometro zero "Km O".  It is located in Puerta del Sol.

Source of Photo:  Armin


Source of Photo:  Armin

Then we headed to the Mercado de San Miguel,  a gourmet tapas market, with over 30 different vendors selling a wide variety of freshly prepared tapas, baked goods, even portions of paella, beer, wine, and champagne also being available.  It is within walking distance from Plaza Mayor. Luckily, there were not plenty of people at the time and we could freely move around to see the different tapas.

Source of Photo:  Armin


Source of Photo:  Armin


Source of Photo:  Armin
The following day, they had a tour of Toledo and Madrid and we caught up with them in the afternoon almost for dinner in Desengaño, 13.

Source of Photo:  Armin
Source of Photo:  Armin

Source of Photo:  Armin


After dinner, Ate Aurea again decided to stay in the hotel to have an early rest from the day's tours. The rest of us  had a quick car ride around the city after going to see Retiro Park.

Crystal Palace - Source of Photo:  Armin

Artificial lake  - Source of Photo:  Armin


With Crystal Palace in the background - Source of Photo:  Armin

The following day,  I offered to go to the hotel early to accompany Ate Aurea to the Botanical Gardens while Armin, Mary Ann and Elmer visited El Prado and the Reina Sofia Museums. 

Source of Photo:  Armin

Source of Photo:  Armin
Ate Aurea was not keen on seeing paintings and much less to walk around without being able to sit down and rest when she wanted to.  El Prado was not well equipped with sitting areas but in only some areas are they provided.  Ate Aurea preferred to go to the garden where she could identify some of the plants and flowers.  I took the opportunity to get to know her better.  We all  gathered for lunch in the O Pazo de Lugo.

Source of Photo:  Armin
This time, Ate Aurea decided to stay with us.  She wanted to meet Beatriz, who was coming later to join us.  We went to go shopping first for some of the family's needs including some toiletries for Ate Aurea from an exclusive perfumery shop in Madrid, Santa María Novella, where they sell the best handmade soap from Florence.  Elmer found the Spanish espadrilles shoes from Castañer, while Armin and Mary Ann bought special fans from the famous fan shop in Madrid, Casa Diego. They also found some sandals at good prices.  Mary Ann caught in time the mistake of a salesman in selling her shoes that came on sale for 10Euros less  which although is usually returned in the same way that the purchase was made, which in her case was paid by credit card, she was able to get a cash refund.  It was quite an effort to make sure that everyone got to buy what each one wanted and at the shortest time possible.  I sent Armin to go to El Corte Ingles, Elmer to the optical shop to look for frames for eyeglasses, while I went to accompany Mary Ann to Casa Diego (and to buy the famous Napolitanas, or creme pastry), not realizing that later I would need to accompany Armin to the same Casa Diego store. In the meantime, Ron and Ate Aurea went ahead to have churros and  chocolate in the Chocolate House nearby.  Elmer and Mary Ann followed after while I went to pick up Armin, then we joined the rest for churros and chocolate.  

It was while we were leaving the Chocolate House that Beatriz arrived and we all left  together to visit the monument of Jose Rizal and his "Last Farewell" plaques in both Spanish and Tagalog.

Source of photo:  Armin
We had dinner in T Gastrobar after Armin and Elmer had their fun taking pictures of Sancho Panza and Don Quijote in Plaza España.

Source of photo:  Armin

Source of photo:  Armin
Finally, here are pictures  in the Botanical gardens in loving tribute to Ate Aurea for having chosen to spend some time with me and introducing to us her family.

Ate Aurea is a bright, charming, witty lady, who can surprise you  with her quotes when least expected.  Like when she said:  "Watching tv makes you dumb", the reason why she does not watch tv too much.  Or when suddenly, she feels the need to say a beautiful prayer while we are on the road. She is so lovingly spontaneous and can laugh so hard that when she does you can't avoid joining her in her laughter.  It was a real pleasure to have been given the opportunity to bond with her. May there be more opportunities in the near future.

 





Source of photo:  Armin
Having known Armin, Elmer and Mary Ann, has been very satisfying and it was a real pleasure to have spent some precious time with them.  Hope to see them soon again if not in Madrid, in some other parts of Spain or elsewhere.

Friday, August 05, 2016

No More or Many mores...

Yesterday would have been 42 years since I got married with Nick.  And though  he passed away last March 31, 2004 and is no longer with us physically, it has been many years since then that I keep on celebrating our wedding anniversary.  And yesterday was not going to be different.


For me, I find that even in death, wedding anniversary is still a significant occasion to remember some of the beautiful moments our family had and the wonderful children our marriage has brought about.  So despite his death, wedding anniversary will not be such thing as "no more", for as long as the rest of us are here on earth, we will always remember that there will only be "many mores."

I decided to cook and celebrate at home  in memory of the past event.  At first, I thought of celebrating it in a Pinoy Restaurant in Madrid, but it was too hot and I did not find it convenient to make Ron pick me up and then to bring me home, nor to take the public transport either.

Ron came with Beatriz for dinner with a bouquet of flowers which as I opened the door to receive them popped up from behind the hands of Beatriz.


I asked Beatriz to set the table with an extra plate for Nick to honor him, and Ron quickly remarked that another plate should also be added in the temporary absence of Mel, to make her be present despite the distance.  And he placed a girlish picture of Mel on the table, the one that Mel left in Ron's room many years ago.  I also placed my wedding picture with Nick.

  

  


While we were eating, we connected with Mel by Skype through Ron's cell phone as I related some anecdotes in our wedding. It was funny that the priests and all those assisting the mass had laughed in support of Nick as he struggled to say the marriage vows.  It was a simple wedding with less than 50 guests, although we could have invited more since our godfather footed the bill.  Ron took several albums from wedding pictures to as many as we could browsed.

And then it was time for Mel to go to bed and Ron and Beatriz  accompanied me for a quick walk before they left Sanfer.

To celebrate, or shall I say commemorate,  significant days even when our loved ones have died may be a dread since their absence feels magnified, but this should not be the reason why there should not be "many mores" to honor and remember our loved ones.

We set aside time for reflection and sad emotions, but also leave a little space for joy.