Debra and I decided that it was past time that we took a trip to Portugal. So, in March 2018, we did just that. We spent the first week of the trip in the lovely, small Algarve-region town of Faro.
The Algarve region is enormously popular in the summer months, notably with British tourists anxious to trade cold drizzle for drenching sunshine. Like I mentioned, we were there in March – well before the throngs hit the beaches. Which suits us just fine. We’re not really beach people (although many of our closest friends are) and we like the weather when we travel to be what some consider cool. Eighteen to 20 Celsius (64-68 Fahrenheit) is ideal.
It was a touch cooler than that most of the time we were in Faro – and we had steadily pounding rain all of one day – but we didn’t mind. Besides, we had the place practically to ourselves – from a tourist standpoint. Which is better than fine with us, particularly as the Portuguese people are almost universally pleasant and accommodating. (I even managed to think of the pickpocket who lifted my wallet in Lisbon as a nice fellow – remember? If you missed that post, you can find it here.)
So we spent much of the week strolling and exploring. This post is dedicated to some of the shots we took doing that – things you probably won’t see in the Algarve promotional material for tourists.
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.
While 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.
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”
Gaudi’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:
The structures are unpredictable, both as to shape and as to material.
If you’ve spent any time on social media these days, you’ve seen posts of “7 Days Black and White Pictures – No People – No Explanation.” I decided to post some black and white pictures of Paris from 2009. Just because.
And, since I have this contrarian tendency to flout arbitrary rules and because 8 is a Chinese number of good fortune, I posted on Instagram and shared to the With the Barretts Facebook page for 8 days. (By the way, if you want to see the “official” With the Barretts Instagram account, where Debra posts beautiful pics, go here.)
But – since y’all are my favorites – I decided to re-post the pics here on the blog. And I’ve added a couple shots, too. Also just because. So, here they are:
Black and White Pictures from Paris 2009
People tend to fantasize about Paris on clear Spring days. But it’s beautiful in the Fall haze, as well.
Recently, I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with my son. It’s a trip that we’ve been talking about for years and it was an amazing, transformative, massive experience. No doubt it will be the subject of many posts. Today’s travel lagniappe is from that trip: before we began the trek, we visited a Peruvian Women’s Weaving Cooperative where indigenous people create beautiful woven textiles of sheep, llama, and alpaca wool.
Peruvian Women’s Weaving Cooperative
The outfitter for our trip – G Adventures – sponsors a foundation that, in turn, sponsors these cooperatives. Unlike many of the “shopping opportunities” that are foisted upon you on some tours, this one felt authentic – a genuine chance to experience and foster a traditional way of life.
Interestingly, despite the rustic and rural setting,