Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Escorial dos

So today pictures of Escorial itself. This was were the kings of Spain ruled for many years (they also seemed to have a high mortality rate judging by how many were in the crypt the self guided tour took us through with out an option.)

28 miles North East of the outskirts of Madrid. El Escorial was the seat of power in Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was apparently also a monastery at some time. I believe it, the place was HUGE. The current royal palace is located in the heart of Madrid.

Escorial is a very small town situated on a hill. In the distance it is possible to see the towers of Madrid. This picture looks off in a general Madrid direction (Madrid is a little to the left). You can see a royal swan, some royal olive groves, and far in the distance Madrid's reservoir (which is Madrid closest 'beach')
Real gold crowns!

Very French gardens

The center is an Apricot tree

Monday, August 29, 2011

Las Sierras

This past weekend my Sister in law and her partner Marc, came from Barcelona for a visit. I really like both of them and it was good to see them. Getting to know the Spanish side of my family is a very good side benefit of living in Spain.

They rolled into town on Friday and we spent a very agreeable afternoon eating tapas and going to the Prado museum. Where we saw the regular collection, and it was wonderful.

The next day......
We went out if the city and into the mountains. I love mountains. I missed the mountains. If I had to pick one or the other, beach or mountains, I would pick mountains every time. These mountains surrounding Madrid are part of the Spanish Sierras. These first two pictures were taken romantically from a gas station.
The climate is remarkably like Colorado. It was very odd to think of Colorado and then see a old stone wall or Spanish style farmhouse in the middle of the countryside.
Our goal for the first part of the day was to explore Escorial. Which housed the kings and queens of Spain for many years. It is a small town located in the mountains North of Madrid.
We went early in the day, because later that evening the "Vuelta a España" (Tour de Spain bike race) was going to end there. Here is a picaresque scene with some non racing bickers on the route hours before the race was due to end. Actually we did not leave the city soon enough and were detoured for some reason down the last 10 kilometers of the track on our way out.
Here was the official ending of the tour (the other side of the arches).

Anyway it was a very lovely city and I could not get enough of the mountains that reminded me so strongly of home.

We surprisingly found the above tree in a park. It is surprising because it is a giant sequoia.

So tomorrow more about the royal palace and photos of it, but until then enjoy my new mountains.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Unpacking at last!

Sorry for the radio silencer, as of last Wednesday I finally took delivery of my household items from the US. Their journey was 2 days short of 3 months, and arrived the day before the Pope rolled into town.

The past week has been a frenzy of unpacking. We did not take much with us to Spain, but even so it filled our little apartment to bursting with all of the boxes. Luckily Europeans are remorseful when it comes to hidden storage spaces. It was by far the smoothest unpacking I have ever done, sure part of that could have been the small size of the move. But mostly it was the pay off of the seven weeks I had to get our life packed up. It took forever to pack, and here is why:

  1. I had a complete list of what was in every box. Every box was numbered on multiple sides. I made a condensed list for insurance. Every box was than labeled with our names, destination and move number.
  2. Every box was packed to the gills to prevent negative space. If you have moved a lot you know that it is the negative space that allows things to be crushed by the weight of other boxes.
  3. I packed every box so that, as much as possible, they would withstand: heavy loads, intense heat, and humidity. For all of you knitters: all of my yarn and wool was wrapped very tightly in unmarked newsprint. The tighter it is lowers a chance of  friction which can cause felting. Also the newsprint was a good humidity control and gave a strong paper smell that worked as a bug deterrent.
  4. Every item packed was mentally weighed for it's 'worth'. For example: "can I replace this?" "Is this item easy to get in Spain?" we did not bring over anything we were keeping out of guilt or misplaced sentimentality.
When we first saw the state of the boxes, our hearts sank they were in pretty bad shape. Almost everyone looked like that had had a very rough journey. A lot of them had the corners crushed in slightly, some had huge gashes down their sides, some had obvious forklift holes!

I am VERY happy to report that so far there were only two broken or crushed items! (Some boxes went into deep storage right away and have not been opened.)

I am hoping that I do not need to do that big of move again for a long time - maybe ever. If I have to though, I will be well prepared. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Small details

I have not been posting much lately because I have a crippling homesickness and I did not want to whine. Since I have not lived in the State that I consider home for quite some time, this stabbing homesickness is surprising to me. After all I have my husband and my kitties with me, and shortly, I will have the household goods that I shipped from the US here as well. That should make it 'home' but it does not.

I can see now how Madrid will become home in the future, but now it is the very smallest details that can bring homesickness back to me. One of the biggest adjustments for me is that I have never lived in a big city. I have lived in large cities in the US, but those cities were spread out. Here, I am in a more 'built up' area than I am used to. 
My most recent bought of homesickness was brought on by the rain. It stormed here for the first time we were in this apartment, and as I rushed to the window to see just how strong the storm was, I realized that I judge the strength by how much the leaves of trees are whipped around.

I can not see any trees from my window, and I suddenly felt trapped and very far away from home.

It is the small details that makes up not fit in, be homesick, or even enjoy things. 

One really good thing about living in a big European city IS the sheer amount of small details. On a walk that DH and I took through a nearby neighborhood we saw this little guy decorating a fence of a church:
Looking up at the top of the gate you can just make out an abstract dragon face, I have no idea if they did that on purpose, but I hope that they did.

Small details make the difference in knitting too. I have just finished a pair of socks! they have the Cat Bordhi's tomato heel construction. The little detail of the heel make the socks fit so much better, look nice, and they are super easy to knit without dragging around a pattern.

What small details are effecting you?

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Yesterday DH and I walked to the local stadium, Santiago Bernabeu, home of the Real Madrid futbol team. We walked there knowing that they were opening the doors for the first practice of the season, and that it was free to get in the stadium. This picture can not even begin to capture the size of the line. If you squint and you think you make out heads in the distance you are right. This was a line that snaked back on forth in a parking lot the size of a VERY large store...and this was only maybe half, of the line.

At a temperature of 38C, no shade, and not being fans of this team. We decide to skip seeing the stadium. Yesterday was only a practice, today Barca plays Real Madrid in that stadium. Apparently it will be a full stadium...with twice as many people. I believe it, the buses were parked a 1/2 mile out from the stadium as early as 2pm. This is the first game of the Season, and between two of the best teams in Spain. Barca of course is the best team in the Europe.

Futbol is power here, I bow to the power. We can hear the horns from our house.

Go Barca!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More signs of inspiration

From my walk through an adjoining neighborhood on Sunday, enjoy.
Man with a swordfish advertising a mobile phone, so RANDOM!

Really cool bank detail

An iron lion head fountain. It was not hooked up to water and the other side of this column is rounded, and holds advertisements. The current one is for the smurf movie. The lion looks oddly contemplative.

"We escape generality. Genius crew" How cool is that poster? It was posted on a random service elevator.

The side of the random service elevator, with a stunning mural.

To the Spanish - this means "children's play area". This sign make me think of designated space to  preform  infantile acts.

You can not see it well but this sign has stitches in it's words. It think the sign says something to the effect of "stitch more/big". It is a store sign and they do sell yarn.

Nice font

I love tiles and mosaics, so this was a nice find. It is the aptly named "bad luck cafe" because it was out of business.

A sign made out of post-its, with the English word "Nude"...classic. By the way I am pretty sure that they meant nude the color, judging by all of the beige garments inside the shop.

Two posts

Today I will bring you two posts.
The second post will be the originality planned silly post. I will post even though I feel it inappropriate today because to not do so would mean that the terrorists have won. DH calls them "hooligans" I do not. They have terrorized, so I am calling them what they are.

I am totally in shock about the London riots this morning. I was raised by an anglophile and I guess I consider England my ancestral home, although only some of my ancestors are from there. I have always felt safe in London.

London is the biggest city in Europe, followed by Paris, followed by...Madrid.
There has been many riots in Spain recently, and for the same supposed reason. The youth are underpaid. I am fairly young, but even I know that this is not how you go about getting better paid.
Edit: hmm I seem to have found a link that suggest it was because of a death of a young man. It is a link that you can find out how to help out the clean up if you are in London.

People have been hurt physically, emotionally, and financially by these riots.

Next week we have a world leader coming into town.

I do not feel so young, because I am scared, and youths think that they are immortal.

My heart goes out to you London.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cañmazo inspiración

My friends can tell you, that during the last couple of years I have found that there is one color I can not resist.
 AHH golden rod mustard'y goodness. I actually refer to this color as "Kryptonite" because I am powerless against it's charms.

The very week after the move I went into a local boutique/fabric store and was pleasantly surprised that they just got some yarn in. I had seen this yarn before in Barcelona at "All you knit is love". I had bought some then because it was completely made in Spain (grown, dyed, spun), also because I loved how they wound it.

I call it the yarn sausage.

 I bought two skeins, it is not the softest wool in the world and I am hoping that means that it is durable. I was told that this golden one was dyed with natural dyes. The other skein is a natural brown fleece color flecked with white. I of course could not resist my kryptonite and the fact that they were completely made in Castilla Leon region.

OK fast forward to Tuesday when DH and I went out to run errands and I convince him that he needs to come into the local needlepoint/fabric store with me to check it out. I was struck with inspiration....they had rugs made out of giant cross stitch!
I used to do a LOT of cross stitch as a kid, and lately I had been thinking of what I can make using this technique. I let the idea brew in my head for a few days and suddenly it came to me....stranded colorwork charts! Stranded colorwork is unlike regular knitting, for some reason the two colors pull the stitches into a square shape. So I ran to the computer and download my favorite norweigan star chart, worked some math, did a drawing, and I am well on my way to make a doormat.

What do you think?

I think the next one will be random shapes made out scrap yarns.

Friday, August 5, 2011

He is coming! Flee the crowds!

He is coming.
The Pope will stop traffic shortly.

(which is actually a week August 16-21 2011)
happens in Madrid this year.

For months (ok, so the whole time we have been here) we have seen the signs:

 They are everywhere on every single church/cathedral. But I am not ready.
I have never lived in a big city before. In the past, if someone important come to visit in the city I lived in there was enough urban sprawl between me and the VIP that I could hardly tell.
Yesterday I went downtown to do some craft shopping. I can not believe that I did not notice at first the number of police officers.! Also, even though Puerta del Sol is always crowded, I must have been really focused on my shopping to fail at first to notice that this: --->

<--- Had turned into this. The protesters are gone!
They have been there as long as I have been here. There was a big protest a police brutality incident that happened in Barcelona in early June. Then there were more protest about the unemployment rate in Spain.

Even though last week there were less 'residences' then the above picture (taken in mid-June), there was still some 'homes' in the square. Yesterday there was none. There were street crews cleaning and at least 50 police officers in the plaza. I hope the protesters were moved peacefully.

I took this photo from my bus stop, and just as I put away my camera three police officers took aside a 30 something year old man with a backpack for questioning. As my bus took me home I saw that the cleaning crews were out in full force, and that a stage was being built in front of the Palacio de Ciebles.

I have no idea what kind of crowd the second annual World Youth Day will bring into Madrid, but I for one and not going downtown again for awhile.

I live a 20 minute bus ride from the center, and there are "No Parking"for the event signs further out North then where I live!

What really makes my blood run cold? We should finally get our household goods from the US to us...the week of the 15th.
Wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A walk back from the store

I went to the BIG supermarcado by me today because I needed cat litter. It is about 1.5K away from my house (about 8 blocks). 

On the way home I kinneared some scenery pictures on the way back. I want to show my neighborhood, but not to draw more attention to myself that I already get (I in no way, look Spanish...not even if you squint). Apparently I can not kinnear levelly (it is really hard too) and I am actually surprised that only two prices were off just sky or tops of trees (I left those out). The two level photos are ones I took brazenly.
Alcampo is a Spanish chain store, that has a lot of selection.

Lot of nice wide sidewalks, small park to the left.

A soon to be neighborhood Recreaction center

These small snack stands are everywhere and are permanent structures


It rained last night for the first time in about 2 months, maybe it will rain again.