Springtime in Seville

Springtime in Seville

You want to go to Spain, perhaps visit several cities, and you’re wondering which cities and what time of year. Make Seville – the heart of Andalusia in southern Spain – one of the cities. And go in late March or early April. Springtime in Seville is a delight.

Southern Spain can get quite hot in the summer, with many days topping 100 degrees. In March, though, it is as pleasant as you could wish for – warm enough to be comfortable in short sleeves during the day and sometimes cool enough for a light jacket at night. But the real reason to choose that time of year for your visit is the smell.

Orange Blossoms

Orange tree and cathedral towerWhile you’re strolling the cobblestone streets during springtime in Seville, the scent of orange blossoms is everywhere, sometimes so strong that it’s almost intoxicating.

Thousands of orange trees line the streets of Seville and in the early spring, they’re all in bloom. The oranges, themselves, are not edible.  The Moors brought Seville Oranges to Spain  a thousand years ago and, unlike more modern varieties, the fruit is bitter. It makes wonderful marmalade, though, and most of it is harvested and shipped to Britain for that purpose.

 Springtime in Seville – Festivals

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Gaudi Casa Mila or “La Pedrera” Lagniappe

This lagniappe post is a visit to the rooftop of the Gaudi Casa Mila or “La Pedrera” in Barcelona.

You might remember the post that we did back in February 2017 featuring Gaudi’s Park Guell. You can find it here. Rebecca at Artsy found it and reached out to us after reading the post

Here at With the Barretts, beautiful things – architecture, furnishings, art, nature – mean a great deal to us. So, Debra and I were delighted that  Rebecca found our post and wanted to make sure that we had seen Artsy’s Gaudi page. Please go take a look at it here. This post is our way of saying “Thanks” to Rebecca and Artsy for helping make art accessible to everyone. Is that a great mission, or what?

Gaudi Casa Mila or “La Pedrera”

Casa Mila RooftopGaudi’s spectacular apartment building, Casa Mila – colloquially known as “La Pedrera” – was mostly closed for interior renovation when we visited in 2014 but the rooftop was more than worth the effort and price of admission.  As with many – even most – Gaudi sites, it feels like an alien landscape, complete with otherworldly sentinels:

"Sentinel" ventstacksThe structures are unpredictable, both as to shape and as to material.

Glass-capped towersThey invite you to indulge your whimsical side. Continue reading “Gaudi Casa Mila or “La Pedrera” Lagniappe”

Many Paths – Journey Lagniappe

Many Paths

You may have noticed a lapse in posts. I spent a couple of weeks in Peru hiking the Inca Trail with one of our sons – something we’ve been talking about for years. Right before I returned, Debra flew to France with a couple of dear friends for a “girls’ trip.” The schedules just worked out that way. Life With the Barretts means adventures down many paths.

But I’m back and she’s coming back and we’ll be back on track, just as soon as the jet lag abates.

For now – here are a some teaser shots from Peru – a little journey lagniappe.

Path inside Saqsaywaman, above Cusco
Path inside Saqsaywaman, above Cusco

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10,000 Steps Through the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery

Time Travel – Hong Kong 2009 – 10,000 Buddhas Monastery

Today we’re journeying back in time, up a mountain, and through the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong.

It’s mid-March, 2009. We’re in Hong Kong, enjoying a trip that Debra won (yes, that’s what I said – she won) courtesy of Central Market, a wonderful up-scale food store in Texas, and Intercontinental Hotels.

[There is a story behind her winning the trip – aside from the fact that she is a lucky lady – but that will have to wait for another day. Trust me, I took something like 1,200 pictures on that trip, so there is a lot of material for posts. I’ll tell you the “winning story” in connection with one of them.]

We see something in a guidebook or somewhere about a place called the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery. How can we not be intrigued? So we go and find it.

10,000 Buddhas – But What’s an Arhat?

The 10,000 Buddhas Monastery is on the side of a small mountain. The Wikipedia site –  you can find that here – says that you access it by means of “431 ‘steep steps’ … surrounded by statues of arhats – the Buddhist equivalent of saints who have achieved enlightenment.” Since it’s 2009 and if Wikipedia is even a thing, we’ve never heard of it, we don’t know anything about the 431 steep steps. Or the arhats. (I’ll call them “arhats” in this post since I have the benefit of 2017 research. But back in 2009, we don’t know anything about them.)

We figure out the steps pretty quickly.

Beginning of the ascent
The beginning of the path. It gets steeper.

 

We’re not sure what the arhats are, but they’re pretty cool.

ascending path and arhatsEach one is different – not just in facial features, like the terracotta warriors – but in dress, demeanor, and personality. And degree of weirdness. More about that later. Continue reading “10,000 Steps Through the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery”

Hermitage in St. Petersburg – Wishes for Your Thursday Travel Lagniappe

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia is an amazing place. We don’t have time today for a full visit – one day, we’ll do that. It’ll be worth it. But for now, let’s just indulge a little local legend for your Thursday Travel Lagniappe.

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg
Hermitage Facade
It is enormous

Originally the Winter Palace of the Romanov family in Russia – from Peter the Great to Nicholas II – the Hermitage in St. Petersburg is an immense, sprawling museum. The building is actually several buildings but there is no way to tell when you leave one and enter another. It boasts over 1000 rooms and they’re all huge – like a couple of thousand square feet, each. The whole thing covers several city blocks.

And every inch of it is impossibly ornate.

Ornate staircaseSomeday, when we do our full tour, you’ll be able to see the scale and grandeur of the place. For now, the picture above should give you some idea of what I’m talking about. Continue reading “Hermitage in St. Petersburg – Wishes for Your Thursday Travel Lagniappe”

Cannon Beach Haystack Rock – Lagniappe for a Thursday

It’s summertime in Texas. And I’m dreaming of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon.

During Texas summers, the mercury challenges or shames the century mark every afternoon; even the mornings discourage more than a slow walk. Every year about this time, “Tell me again why we live here” becomes a common greeting.

Last year on a trip to Portland, Debra and I rented a car and drove over to Cannon Beach for a few days. It’s a glorious place, reminiscent of Big Sur but with an easier, more contemplative style. Haystack Rock, a massive chunk of stone, commands the shoreline at Canon Beach. In the picture below, it helped us welcome the sunrise during a barefoot stroll along the cool, damp sand. It’s a bit of lagniappe for your Thursday morning.

Haystack Rock at sunriseHere’s hoping that, wherever you are, your days are peaceful and pleasant. And if it seems too hot to breathe where you are? Well, just close your eyes and imagine that you’re some place else – like strolling past Haystack Rock at daybreak – where there’s a bit of a chill and the mist from the surf hangs in the morning glow.

Until next time –

Dan