Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Spoils.

Only when a torero performed especially well, and only with the crowd's approval, the president of the bullring will wave a white kerchief in appreciation. This is the sign for the torero's assistant to cut off the bull's ear as a reward.

Hard to see, but in the his left hand this fighter is holding the bloody stump of an ear in triumph. In a moment he will toss it into to the crowd in appreciation for their cheers.

I did not catch it.

Monday, May 27, 2013


The prologue.


The fight.

The victor.


The clean-up.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Day at the Fights.

A cruel and pointless past-time, it amazes me that a western European capital that prides itself on all of its liberal and left-leaning policies still engages in public displays of animal slaughter.

Naturally, that didn't stop me from attending a fight and having an interesting experience while there.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Under the Sun.

The largest city in southern Spain, and what was once the major trading center for the Spanish colonies in the Americas, Seville today is still a bustling city but more focused on tourism than exploitative, extraction based trade policies with the western hemisphere.

This parasol made mostly of wood and glue, hovers over a plaza just outside of the old city. Construction went four years and almost $70 million over budget, but that was back when Spain had money.

Now it's just another beautiful piece of public art, that also acts as a perfect symbol of the unchecked growth and spending of the housing bubble that will be felt for the next decade.

Friday, May 24, 2013

And Yet.

Much as the swastika was once upon a time not associated with the Nazis, these white cloaks were (and in Spain still are) NOT associated with the KKK in any way. These are traditional cloaks worn for Easter celebrations.

 And yet.

And yet, there is basically no way that this doesn't look totally creepy to me. No way.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Camping Out.

Based in the Spanish island of Mallorca, Camper shoes was founded in 1975 and is now sold around the world. They have several stores in Madrid, but the one closest to our house was recently remodeled with this strange wall display.


I was definitely not scared out of my mind that these shoes were going to suddenly come to life like something out Willy Wonka and starting kicking me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


 I was only able to spend a day in the southern Spanish coastal city of Malaga, it was my loss.

Continuously inhabited for more than 2,800 years, the harbor is literally layered in history. The Phoenicians, the Romans, the Moors and since the reconquista in 1487 under Spanish rule.

This view from the port looks out past the modern facility and shopping area to the Catholic palace which is still connected to the Islamic castle, bordered by the Phoenician walls with a Roman amphitheater at its feet.

Also, Antonio Banderas was born there.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pint Sized.

Naturally no visit to Dublin would be complete without a stop in the Guinness storehouse (aka brewery). The entire facility takes up several city blocks, and within is a seven story museum/visitor center built in the shape of a pint of Guinness.


On the very top floor, with a view out over Dublin, we were served a complimentary pint by a very nice young bartender - Carolina, a girl from Spain who came to Dublin a year ago to find work and improve her English.


The perfect pint. After the initial pour, one must let the foam settle for a full 120 seconds before topping off the pint. The clover art in the foam is optional.

Monday, May 20, 2013

On the Shore.

Just another gorgeous Irish castle along the way. This one has been restored and hosts feasts open to the public in the summer. But book your seat for the summer 2013 feast now, they fill up fast.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sheer Luck.

 At the incredible Cliffs of Moher. We lucked into sunshine and gentle winds, rather than the rain and gusts that are so often there. Lydia informs me that an important part of Harry Potter is filmed at the base of one of the cliffs.


Every year dozens of people fall off, or throw themselves off these cliffs. I was feeling quite uneasy as it seemed like someone visiting the morning we were there was trying his best to fall. Fortunately for us and for him, he didn't fall.


Monday, April 15, 2013

All Aboard.

Cross country bus travel in the US is accomplished by the riding the 'hound. Greyhound that is.

In Ireland one can cross the country by bus as well. But you'll take that journey in a bus adorned with an red Irish Setter.

So I suppose that means that your bus ride in the US will be faster, but the ride in Ireland will be better to accompany you on a hunt. Or is better for hugs.  Sure, we'll go with that.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Two more from Cork.  I'll always fall for clever (or not) word play.  And below is small scene from the English Market, in operation on the same site since 1788.  Pictured is a selection of olives and other pickled foods.  Not pictured, the booth around the corner that sold incredible smoked salmon, trout, mackerel and mussels.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Side by Side

The old and new side-by-side in Cork, Ireland. A fairly common sight in Spain as well, for someone from a relatively young country as the US living in Europe the contrast never really gets old.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


By the time I'd zoomed in several times, the photo didn't come out great; but you get the idea.  Two animals looking down on us from the very top of the ridgeline.  They stood in place for quite a while and allowed us to take pictures and get out the binoculars as well.

I'm not positive, but I think these are Western Spanish Ibex, a somewhat rare breed of mountain goat.  Photo below of the they look like close up.

Spanish Ibex - Capra hispanica © John Muddeman Not my photo.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Much like in the Swiss Alps, the Spanish have built a series of refugios (literally - shelters) along their trail system.  A great place to get out of the cold, have lunch or even spend the night if your own a longer trek.  This particular refugio even had a small bar serving beer and coffee.

Friday, March 8, 2013


A beautiful, but cold, early morning hike. Just 45 minutes north of Madrid, the Guadarrama hills get quite a bit of snow each year. This area is a national park and climbs quickly along a stream.

Did I mention it was cold? It was cold. But the frost melted quickly and left me with a chance to see several of these tiny frozen pools.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


It should not have come as any surprise, what with the history of overlapping cultures, but I found myself marveling at the Spanish Flameco songs, and how very much they sounded like Muslim calls to prayer or Jewish songs.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013


A detail on the side of Charles V's castle built in the middle of the Alhambra after the "reconquista."  These were interspersed with the more traditional lion heads.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Islamic law requires that one wash their hands and feet before daily prayers, a chance to cleanse the body before cleansing the soul I suppose.  Every gas station along the highway in Saudi Arabia had a prayer room with a small area to wash hands and feet attached.

The former mosque at the Alhambra Palace had a steam bath for those going in for prayers.  Given the choice, I'd probably rather be in the spa.

A look up at the steam vents in the ceiling of the old bath house.

Friday, March 1, 2013

More Details.

Much Islamic art is based on the concept that it is forbidden to create images of humans or animals, and thus there is a great focus on calligraphy and other abstract design.

 Inside the Alhambra, a few details of the wall engravings.


Walk into room. Tilt head back. Stare at ceiling. Don't move for several minutes. Continue to have no idea how they built this room. Repeat


Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Details.

The palace is covered in intricately carved walls, and is also open to the sky. These little birds have made themselves right at home.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013



As the Catholic kings of Spain fought to take control of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims, the last holdout of the great Islamic Emirate was the Nasrid palace at Granada, the Alhambra.

After the Muslims (and Jews) were all killed, converted or fled from the peninsula the Catholics got right to work destroying much of the artwork in the palace.

Spread over several acres, the palace and its surrounding grounds have been partially restored and are now a World Heritage Site.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


All employees must wash hands after DJing pizzas.

(Also, gross.  Is this making anyone want to eat at this place?)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Good God.

Down a side street in Granada, having a drink and a snack. The bar's interior was just every so slightly religious-themed.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Pyrenees. (Without war elephants)

They say that Hannibal marched his army of war elephants over the Pyrenees and later through the alps to attack northern Italy. Tough guy (and tough elephants).

It took us about six hours to drive from Madrid up to the mountains, and we had the benefit of several tunnels cut into the mountains and an all-wheel drive Japanese car.

Deep in the Spanish Pyrenees, about 15 miles from the French border, we spent a long weekend at Baqueira Beret, the largest ski resort in Spain. The mountain is actually three mountains, and was way more than I could cover in just two days on the slopes.

Great snow and lots of opportunities for steeps and cliffs. It snowed the entire time we were there (which is not a bad thing in my book), but it means now photos from the actual slopes. After a day of skiing, Lydia and I drove through the valley with a few stops along the way for pictures.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dam Staircase.

Well you know, because dams are cool looking. But also, because of the stair case dug into the rock facade. They weren't so much worried about hand rails at that point.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lost Highway.

In this case, I was literally on a highway and lost; nothing to do with the movie that Geoff is still upset about watching with me 15 years ago.

Anyway, if I had to be lost, at least it was a nice sunset.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Not an original photo, or even an original thought, but the Pantheon is like, Whoa. How'd they do that?

 And even more so, how'd they do that almost 2000 years ago?