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