More fishing in the waters of Loreto Bay

Fishing the protected waters of Loreto Bay

I have not been updating my blog as much as I should lately. A demanding schedule at work, my fishing addiction, and the World Cup have kept me from working on my blog. The good Summer weather pattern has settled in. The weather predictions are more accurate this time of the year and the wind remains calm for the most part. This allows me to go out fishing more often. I am passionate about fishing and it is something that distracts me from my other interests and responsibilities. I will try not to bore you too much with fishing stories but expect a few. Here are more images of a fishing adventure in Loreto in the state of Baja California Sur, Mexico. This location has some incredible beaches too. I will let the image captions do the talking.

 

Pescando las aguas alrededor de las Islas Coronado y Del Carmen

No he podido escribir mucho en mi blog últimamente. Demandas del trabajo, my adicción a la pesca, y la Copa Mundial me matienen alejado del ordenador. El Verano y el buen tiempo ya estan aquí. Las predicciones meteorológicas son mas precisas y el viento se mantiene calmado. Esto me permite salir a pescar todas las semanas. Mi pasión por la pesca es algo que me aparta de mis otros intereses y responsabilidades. Intentaré de no aburrir con muchos cuentos. Por aquí les dejo unas imágenes de un viaje a Mexico. El lugar es Loreto en el estado de Baja California Sur. Un lugar con unas playas preciosas.

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A beautiful beach opens up to the waters of Bahia Concepcion

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Looking south at Bahia Concepcion. The bay is located just south of Mulege a few kilometers north of Loreto on Transpeninsular Highway No. 1.

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Even Sea Lions need their siesta. Don’t get too close or they will wake up kind of grumpy.

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Another view of the granite boulders around Isla Coronado.

The bait boat worked overnight to make sure they had plenty of bait to sell

Bait boats work overnight to make sure they have plenty of frisky live bait to sell in the morning. The bait motel in the water holds Sardinas and Jurelitos.

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Guess what’s for dinner? Tasty Pargo of course. This Snapper has some sharp teeth.

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I love this boat. This panga was a large, comfortable, and seaworthy boat that runs on little fuel. It has a shallow draft too.

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This is how I like it – no other boats around.

The Petit Palais, the Grand Palais, and Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

It was here that I discovered street photography during a visit a year earlier. As I said before, Paris is an excellent city for street photography and anywhere you look, something interesting is happening. A local friend recommended a visit to the museum at the Petit Palais. Free admission to the permanent collections convinced me that it would be a few hours well spent. So the next morning, we started our day like always by hopping on the metro and climbing up the stairs to be surprised by a new arrondissement. We took metro line 1 from our location on the east side of the city. A direct trip took us to our destination at metro Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau. As soon as we emerged from underground, we noticed something unusual happening around the plaza. There were lots of models and photographers all around the place. After taking a few photos there, we crossed Avenue du General Eisenhower and started walking south down Avenue Winston Churchill. Just as my friend explained, the name of Petit Palais is a misnomer because there is nothing petite about this enormous palace. However, the name becomes clear once you see the other gigantic palace across the street. The much bigger structure is named the Grand Palais. Hopefully I captured some images of the grandiose architecture of both palaces. However, I was quickly distracted by the action outside the Grand Palais. It turns out that Paris Fashion Week was going on and I stumbled upon an event at the Grand Palais. Lots of photographers and paparazzi were waiting for the models and celebrities of the fashion world on the steps of the Grand Palais. Somehow I blended right in with my camera and was lucky to capture a few images. Models, fashion designers, and fashionistas were leaving the hall. Photographers were competing for good positions in order to photograph the celebrities. The models cooperated with the photographers by posing for them when requested. The ladies looked very elegant. In some cases the photographers were also very interesting subjects themselves. Here are some images of Paris Fashion Week 2013.

Una breve experiencia como fotógrafo de modas

La ciudad de Paris siempre me pareció ser un lugar ideal para practicar la fotografía de calle o documentaria. Fue aquí en esta ciudad donde descubrí este estilo de fotografía durante mi primera visita. Un amigo residente en la ciudad me sugirió visitar el museo del Petit Palais. La entrada a las salas de colecciones permanentes son gratis. Transportarse en metro es muy facil asi que saltamos en la linea 1 al este de la ciudad y muy pronto llegábamos a nuestra parada en metro Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau. Tan prontos subimos a la calle, se notaba que algun evento ocurría. La plaza se encontraba llena de fotógrafos y modelos. Luego de tomar algunas fotos, cruzamos Avenue du General Eisenhower para bajar por Avenue Winston Churchill. Tal y como mi amigo mencionó, el Petit Palais no tiene nada de chico. La razón por ese nombre solamente se puede entender al ver el otro palacio frente a la calle. El Grand Palais es mucho mas grande. Espero haber tomado fotos de la arquitectura de estos palacios tan espectaculares. Pero la verdad es que reconozco haberme distraido un poco con el espectáculo frente a la entrada del Grand Palais. El evento que se llevaba a cabo resultó ser el Paris Fahion Week. Diseñadores, modelos, y fashionistas salían justo en ese momento. Los fotógrafos y los paparazzi les esperaban frente a la escaleras del Grand Palais. Aproveché y rápidamente me convertí en otro fotógrafo mas de los muchos que competían por una buena posición para fotografiar a las modelos. En varias ocasiones las modelos pararon de caminar para posar frente a las cámaras cuando los fotógrafos se lo pedían. Las chicas eran muy profesionales y elegantes. En algunos casos los mismos fotógrafos eran muy interesante. Por aquí les dejo algunas imágenes de las modas de Paris Fashion Week 2013.

 

 

 

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Sometimes it is all about the shoes

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Some photographers focused on shoes

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Waiting and texting

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Simple elegant checkered dress

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French dogs love Evian water too

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Even the photographers are fashionable

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A couple of tourists checking their map outside the Grand Palais

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Fashion designers, models, and fashionistas leaving the Grand Palais

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Another simple elegant dress

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Texting on the stairs of the Grand Palais

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Accessories are important too. This photographer asked for a photo of the purse.

A look at the Madrid metro

A Madrid metro station is never too far

Nobody believes me when I tell them how much walking is involved when visiting Spain. The city of Madrid seems to have been made for walking. As a matter of fact, the whole country was made for walking. I prefer to walk all day long. The more you walk, the more you need to keep going. You will not want to stop. I have to admit that my city exploration was frequently interrupted by a quick stop for a glass of Ribera del Duero or a cold beer at one of the tabernas that I described earlier in my last blog entry. If all that walking makes your feet hurt and you get tired, you can always return home in the metro. Let me show you a few of the metro stations that you will find along the way. Stations are conveniently located in every neighborhood. It may sound a bit strange but navigating the metro routes is actually a lot of fun.

More info here on the Madrid Metro homepage.

 

Si te cansas de caminar siempre puedes tomar el metro

Nadie me cree al contarles cuanto se camina al visitar a España. La ciudad de Madrid parece estar hecha para caminar. En realidad, siempre he dicho que España es un país para caminar. Yo prefiero caminar todo el día. Se camina tanto que no van a querer parar de caminar. La verdad es que muchas veces mi camino se interrumpía por una parada en alguna de esas tabernas que describía en mi blog anteriormente. Siempre es bueno recargar las pilas con una copa de Ribera del Duero o una caña. Si con todo ese caminar se les hinchan los pies o se sienten agotados, podrán regresar a casa en el metro. Si me permiten, les demostraré algunas de las estaciones del metro que encontrarán a lo largo del camino. Encontrarán una estación muy cerca en cada barrio. A lo mejor les suena un poco extraño pero me parece muy divertido navegar el sistema del metro.

Mas información aqui en la Web de Metro Madrid.

 

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Plaza de España is on the west side

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Numerous Asian stores are located on Calle Leganitos which connects Plaza de España to Plaza Santo Domingo.

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Opera station in front of the Teatro Real and Plaza Isabel II at the end of Calle Arenal

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Christmas street lights were going up all over the city center

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Late afternoon sun makes these majestic buildings glow

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Banco de España station at night looking at the Metropolis building

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Climbing the stairs out of the Sevilla station

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Companies fight for a piece of Sol station. Sol station is now Vodafone Sol while construction continues on Apple’s new flagship store at the same time that a new Sony smartphone is advertised.

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A very busy station in one of Madrid’s most colorful barrios. The station is located next to a university library and the Teatro Valle Inclan.

Las Tabernas de Madrid

A few of the colorful Tabernas around Madrid

You will be pleasantly surprised when walking the streets of the center of Madrid. Colorful Tabernas seem to pop up around the corner in any neighborhood. Some of my favorite neighborhoods are the Barrio de Las Letras, La Latina, or Lavapies. Sometimes you have to be courageous in order to walk right up to crowded bar and ask for a beer or a cup of wine. You really have to find a tiny space between the crowd and move right in. Don’t forget that your drink will come with a free Tapa. If all the walking around has made you tired and hungry, go ahead and sit to eat the day’s menu. Pay special attention to the photos hanging in the walls. You may recognize a famous actress, politician, bullfighter, or writer that frequented the establishment. Here are a few of the colorful Tabernas I found while walking some of these neighborhoods.

Las coloridas Tabernas de Madrid

Al caminar por la ciudad te sorprenderás con las coloridas fachadas de estas Tabernas. Aparecen al girar por cualquier esquina de los barrios de la ciudad. Mis barrios favoritos son Lavapiés, La Latina, y el Barrio de las Letras. Se necesita un poco de valor para arrimarse a la barra cuando el lugar está lleno de gente. A veces hay que esperar un poco para que se abra un espacio. No se olviden que su bebida sale con una Tapa gratis. Si todo el caminar los ha cansado y el hambre aprieta, siéntense y coman el menú del día. Presten atención a las fotos en las paredes. A lo mejor reconocen a alguna actriz, político, torero, o escritor famoso que frecuentaba el establecimiento. Les dejo con imágenes de algunas Tabernas que me encontré caminando por la ciudad.
 

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Taberna La Dolores is located at the end of the Barrio de Las Letras.

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Taberna Real at the end of Calle Arenal is near the Teatro Real theater.

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Taberna La Bola is near Plaza de Oriente

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Taberna Los Pescaditos is located in the Barrio of Lavapies

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Taberna La Daniela is not far from Plaza Mayor on Calle Cuchilleros

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La Chata is on Calle Cava Baja in the barrio of La Latina

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Casa Alberto, founded in 1827, is one of the oldest bars in Madrid

Walking in the wine country of La Rioja

An old medieval church in the middle of wine country

One of my favorite places to go walking is among the grapevines. When I travel to Europe I always fit into my schedule a visit to wine country. I had the opportunity to do so when I visited the small village of Sajazarra in Spain. Months earlier while researching cities for my trip, I found a great place to stay. This small village is located in the province of La Rioja. The town is tiny and it consists of only 13.84 square kilometres (5.34 sq mi) and a population of around 137 people. The village is near a corner where three autonomous regions meet – La Rioja, Castilla and Leon, and the Pais Vasco. The Ebro river is not far and the city of Haro is the biggest around here. All these villages live off the wine they produce. Another small town seen in the distance at the foothill of the mountains is the village of Cellorigo. The population of that town is 13 people. I love small towns and any of these villages makes a great base for exploring the wineries around here. I wanted to witness the vendimia or grape harvest but I was early and that would not occur for a few more weeks. One afternoon during one of our walks, we found this small church. It used to be the church for the medieval town of Cillas. That town was abandoned in the 14th or 15th century. Excavations in the area revealed several tombs.  I will have more on our wine country adventures soon but for now I leave you with these images.

Sajazarra se encuentra en la región de La Rioja

Creo que uno de los mejores sitios para caminar es en medio de las viñas. Siempre que viajo a Europa trato de visitar regiones vinícolas. Durante mi ultimo viaje a España, tuve la oportunidad de visitar el pueblo de Sajazarra en La Rioja. Meses antes de mi viaje, investigaba mis rutas y encontré un lugar fabuloso donde quedarme por unos días. Este pequeño pueblito consiste de unos 14 kilometros cuadrados y tiene una población de 137 habitantes. El pueblo se encuentra cerca de tres regiones autónomas – La Rioja, Castilla y León, y el País Vasco. El río Ebro pasa cerca de aquí y la ciudad grande mas cercana es Haro. Todas estas villas viven de la producción de vino. En una de las fotos podrán ver un pequeño pueblo en la falda de la montaña. Ese es el pueblo de Cellorigo. Su población es de 13 habitantes. Usando uno de estos pueblos como base, podrán explorar las bodegas de la región.  Yo quería presenciar la vendimia pero me encontraba un poco temprano y no empezarían a recoger las uvas hasta unas semanas mas tarde. Echamos a caminar una tarde y dirigiéndonos al norte, nos encontramos con esta Ermita. La Ermita de Santa María de Cillas era la parroquia del pueblo medieval de Cillas. Ese pueblo fue abandonado en el siglo 14 o 15. Excavaciones en su alrededor revelaron varios sarcófagos.  Mas adelante les contaré mas acerca de nuestras aventuras por estas tierras de vino.  Les dejo con unas imágenes.

 

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Looking north toward the mountain range of Sierra de Cantabria

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The Ermita is located up on a hill

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The south side is the main facade

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The great afternoon light is quickly disappearing.

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Historical information is posted on site. Click the image to read more.

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You can barely see the small town of Cellorigo at the base of the rocky mountain on the left.

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Walking among nature’s finest

Frigiliana in the Axarquía region of Spain

East of Malaga and north of Nerja

The village of Frigiliana is located about 50 km east of Malaga in southern Spain. The village is  very close to the coast and the town of Nerja. Excellent beaches are just a short drive away. This region is known as the Axarquía. That word is of Arabic origin and means “territory located east of a great city and dependent on it”.
When I arrived, it was clear that I was going to have to get lost in the narrow streets in order to capture some good photos. Frigiliana’s origin can be traced back to the Phoenicians and Romans but the current layout of the village is mostly due to the arrival of the Moors. The traditional Moorish architecture has been preserved thanks to conservation efforts. The town is a maze of narrow streets and steep hills with traditional white buildings.
After wandering the alleys of the Barrio Alto one afternoon, I wanted to stay late into the night so I could capture some night photos. I knew that once the night came, those streets would take on a totally different look. The few street lights came on and the place was surrounded in mysterious light. Near the church plaza, a few steep stairs go up Calle Zacatin. This is one of the most emblematic alleys of the Moorish Barrio. I climbed a couple of stairs and planted my tripod right in the center. I metered and composed my photo when suddenly the church around the block finished service. I was in the middle of a long exposure when I heard people coming behind me. The exposures would take a few seconds and I could not stop people from climbing the stairs and getting home. It occurred to me that I should incorporate these people into my images. I am not a street or portrait photographer I said to myself, but a real photographer deals with what they have. I waited for people to clear the street later so I would have plenty of other images to choose from. As it turned out, the image that looks best is that with the old man climbing the stairs. It is an image that makes me think about the history of this place and all those people who walked these streets before and all of those that will walk them in the future.

En la region de la Axarquía al este de Málaga

El poblado de Frigiliana se encuentra a 50 km al este de Málaga en Andalucía. El pueblo tiene playas cercas en la ciudad de Nerja que es donde me estaba quedando por unos días. Esta comarca se conoce como la Axarquía. Esta palabra es de origen Arabe y significa “territorio situado al este de una gran ciudad y dependiente de ella”.
Al llegar me dí cuenta de que iba a tener que caminar mucho y subir varias cuestas para poder tomar buenas fotos. Frigiliana fue poblada por los Fenicios y los Romanos pero su arquitectura y trazado de las calles se debe a su conquista por los Arabes. La parte mas alta del pueblo se conoce como el Barrio Alto y se compone de edificios blancos con callejones estrechos y cuestas muy empinadas alrededor de un monte.
Luego de callejear una tarde, decidí quedarme hasta el anochecer para tomar fotos de noche. Al caer la noche, los faroles le dan un aire misterioso a estos pueblos. Fue así que me encontré frente a la calle mas emblemática del pueblo. La calle del Zacatín es un callejón peatonal compuesto de anchos escalones que suben una cuesta. La luz me gustó mucho y decidí pararme con mi tripode para tomar un par de fotos. Mientras enfocaba y calculaba la exposición, la iglesia terminaba su misa y los feligreses salían. Alguna gente subía por el callejón y me interrumpían las fotos. Tendría que esperar a que se despejara la calle. Pero se me ocurrió que un verdadero fotógrafo tiene que entendérselas con cualquier situación. Debería integrar la gente en mis fotos. Luego al revisar mis fotos me daba cuenta que las tomas mas interesantes incluían a los paisanos. Mi foto favorita es esta donde un viejito subía las escaleras del callejón. Es una imágen que me hace pensar en la historia de este pueblo y en toda la gente que ha caminado por esta calle y que caminarán por ella en el futuro.

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Looking north towards the Barrio Alto.

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Looking to the southeast

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Typical small apartment with terrace.

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Pedestrian street in the Barrio Alto

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Old man climbing the stairs in Calle del Zacatin

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Old lady going home after church

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Callejon de Las Animas translates to Alley of the Spirits

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Bar Virtudes is a busy spot in town

Mercado San Miguel in Madrid

Mercado San Miguel is located near Plaza mayor

Mercado San Miguel is located near Plaza Mayor in Madrid’s historic center. It is not the typical market that you find throughout Spain. It is an upscale market that attracts lots of tourists but it is worth visiting. I am sure you will find something to satisfy your hunger. I wandered around looking for a quick bite to hold me until dinner. I ran into sushi, seafood and beef from Galicia, hamburgers, sidra and Cabrales cheese from Asturias, a wine bar, sangria made with Port wine, a good variety of croquetas, chorizos, jamon, olives, and all kinds of pastries and sweets. Of course you will also find the traditional Pintxos, Montaditos, and Tapas. My favorites were the croquetas de gambas or shrimp croquettes. Always ask for the local markets whenever you travel. They are full of tasty surprises. Madrid is a big city and it has many more traditional markets. I will talk about some of these markets soon.

These are some of my favorite markets:
Mercado Central de Abastos de Jerez
La Boqueria en Barcelona

Una gran variedad de Pintxos, Montaditos, y Tapas

El Mercado San Miguel se encuentra cerca de la Plaza Mayor en el centro histórico de Madrid. Este no es un mercado típico como los que encontrarán por España. Es un mercado mas lujoso que a pesar de atraer muchos turistas, merece una visita. De seguro que podrán encontrar algo para quitarles el hambre luego de tanto caminar por la ciudad. Aquí encontrarán sushi, mariscos y carnes de Galicia, hamburgers, sidra y queso Cabrales de Asturias, vinos, sangría hecha con Porto, gran variedad de croquetas , chorizos, jamón, aceitunas, y toda clase de postres y dulces. La variedad de Pintxos, Montaditos, y Tapas es casi infinita. Les recomiendo las croquetas de gambas. Siempre pregunten por los mercados centrales cuando viajen. Encontrarán muchas sorpresas sabrosas. Madrid es una ciudad grande que cuenta con varios mercados tradicionales. Pronto les contaré de algunos de estos mercados.

Estos son algunos de mis mercados favoritos:
Mercado Central de Abastos de Jerez
La Boqueria en Barcelona

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The main entrance at Mercado San Miguel

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Jamon Iberico de Bellota

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All kinds of Olives in this corner

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Steaks, Hamburgers, and even Sausages at the Meating Point

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Fresh Sangria prepared with Porto Wine

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Another view of the glass windows

Cirques Calcaires in the Parc National des Pyrenees

Cirques are rock formations carved by glaciers

A summer vacation brought me to Lourdes in the south of France a couple of years ago. After spending a day in the city, I was more than ready to go hiking in the mountains. The Pyrenees are just a day trip away from the city. I purchased an organized excursion that would bring us to Cauterets for half a day. The bus drops you at the entrance to the Pyrenees National Park office. Cauterets is located about 32 km (20 mi) southwest of Lourdes. Here you can take a ski lift to the Lac de Gaube and also see the Pont d’Espagne stone bridge over the river. This is a great starting point for many hikes. The shoreline of the lake and surrounding slopes are covered with glacial rock formations. That excursion turned out to be nothing more than a bus ride that I could have done on my own. The bus driver only spoke French but I was able to communicate using signs and my watch. We only had 2 hours to do it all. We had to stand in line to get tickets for the ski lift, the lift would take us up to a trailhead where we had to walk another 20 minutes to the lake. We really had to run in order to see the lake on top and the bridge below. The situation was aggravated when we lost precious time as the ride up in the ski chair suddenly stopped halfway up the mountain leaving us dangling in the air for about 15 minutes. Time was ticking but the view was spectacular.
I wanted to see more of the Pyrenees so I was glad I contacted a local guide a few months earlier. When I arrived in Lourdes, I called her to arrange a full day excursion. The day trip would take us to see 3 different Cirques. These are circuses or arenas carved on mountains by eroding glaciers. The glaciers have disappeared exposing the remaining valley and the surrounding circular rock formations. You really feel like walking into an amphitheater. It was a long day and we had to also run in order to see it all. The Cirque de Gavarnie was our first stop for the day. We had to hike almost one hour to reach the Gavarnie Waterfall which at 422 meters is the highest waterfall in France. The second stop was the Cirque de Estaube where we had the opportunity to hike along the shoreline of Lac des Gloriettes. This is an artificial lake formed by a water dam. Finally we drove to the Cirque de Troumouse for a short visit. We returned to Lourdes just as the sun was going down and the light was getting interesting at the end of the day. The mountains are beautiful but you need to be in place early or late in the day for good photographic opportunities. Our adventures in the Pyrenees were not over as we would return the next day to follow the Tour de France.

Un territorio protegido en la frontera de Francia con España

Aproveché mis vacaciones de verano para visitar la ciudad de Lourdes en el sur de Francia. Luego de ver la ciudad, los Pirineos estaban cerca y quería ver algunos de estos picos. Lourdes se encuentra muy cerca de los Pirineos lo que hace posible una visita de un día. Terminé comprando una excursión de medio día que nos llevaba a Cauterets a unos 32 Km de Lourdes. La guagua los dejará a las puertas de la oficina del Parque Nacional de Los Pirineos. Aquí comienzan muchos senderos y se puede ver el puente de piedra conocido como Pont d’Espagne. Una silla de ski sube a los visitantes que quieren ver el Lac de Gaube. Este es un lago rodeado de formaciones glaciares. La excursión resultó ser nada mas que un viaje en bus que cualquiera hubiera podido hace por su cuenta y de esa manera contarían con mas tiempo para ver el lugar. El conductor del bus solo hablaba Francés pero logramos comunicarnos. Contábamos con dos horas para ver todo. Había que hacer cola para comprar boletos, luego tomar la silla de ski hasta la cima donde comenzaba un sendero que nos llevaba al lago. Caminar este sendero toma unos 20 minutos. El tiempo no nos daba y terminamos corriendo mucho. La cosa se complicó un poco más cuando la silla de ski se paró y nos dejó colgando sobre la montaña por unos 15 minutos. El tiempo corría pero la vista era asombrosa de verdad.
Siempre había deseado ver estas montañas asi que unos meses antes me habia puesto en contacto con un servicio de guía de montaña. Al llegar a Lourdes, les llamé para organizar una excursión de un día completo. Visitaríamos los 3 Cirques más famosos. Los Cirques son como arenas o circos en las montanas que han sido cortadas por la erosión de los glaciares. Les dará la sensación de entrar a un anfiteatro al acercarse. Fue un día largo y también terminamos corriendo. La primera parada nos llevaba al Cirque de Gavarnie. Aquí se camina un sendero por una hora hasta llegar a la cascada mas alta de Francia. La cascada de Gavarnie cae 422 metros.  Luego visitamos el Cirque de Estaube donde pudimos caminar alrededor de el Lac des Gloriettes. Este lago está formado por una represa. La última parada sería el Cirque de Troumouse. Ya se hacía tarde y estábamos cansados así que no caminamos mucho aquí. Pronto llegó la hora de regresar a Lourdes. Nos despedíamos de los Pirineos justo cuando la luz del sol comenzaba a saturar los colores. Porqué sucede esto siempre? Hay que planificar bien para estar en el sitio correcto a la hora correcta para tomar buenas fotos. Las aventuras en los Pirineos no se acabaron ese día ya que volvimos al día siguiente para seguir la acción del Tour de France.

Veronique is a reliable tour guide who speaks English and Spanish. You can contact her thru their website at Detours-Pyreneens.

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The Gave de Gaube near the Pont d’Espagne

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Long hike up to the Gavarnie waterfall.

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The Gavarnie waterfall is barely seen here in the center.

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A lakeside Café with a great view.

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The Lac des Gloriettes and the Cirque d’Estaubé under harsh early afternoon light.

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The green valley at the base of the Cirque de Troumouse was our final stop

Peregrinos in El Camino passing through Pamplona

The Way of St. James as it passes through Pamplona

Ever since visiting Santiago de Compostela in Spain a few years ago, I have become very interested in the Way of St. James. Whenever I cross paths with El Camino, I immediately gravitate towards the magic and the mistery of El Camino. The stories of perseverance of its many Pilgrims are very inspiring. I found myself in the city of Pamplona and as soon as I walked into its historic center, I started running into Peregrinos. While walking around the north end of the city, I wandered into the best preserved medieval door in the city. The gate at the Portal de Francia, as its name indicates, is the gate to France. Many Peregrinos start walking in St. Jean Pied de Port in France. They cross the Pyreenes and arrive in Pamplona here. While I stood around looking to photograph the scenery, I noticed lots of Peregrinos walking up the ramp to enter the city. I got the courage to approach many of them and ask them about their hike. I always ask Peregrinos about their home country. I was surprised to see them so tired and yet so friendly and in good spirits. I did not want to interrupt their pace but this location was a great spot to approach them. Usually they arrive here after 3 days of walking which included crossing the mountains. They are tired but happy to finally arrive in the fist major city along the Way. One of the stories that impressed me the most was that of the two Korean friends who met along the Way. One was from Korea and the other one lived in Philadelphia. They did not know each other before the journey but met at a hostel and decided to walk together the rest of the way. Some like to walk in solitude while others make friends and walk together. I met people from all parts of the world including Japan, Italy, China, Australia, France, Germany, England, Venezuela, Spain, and USA. Everybody was in a good mood and were willing to share their experience. Later that afternoon, while walking in the center of town, I saw two girls walking with their dogs. They clearly looked like Peregrinas and I had to talk to them. They were friends from Austria who decided to walk the Camino with their dogs. Hostels do not usually accept dogs and have a limited number of beds that fill up quickly. Because of their dogs, they were having to camp at night. They spent the night camping outside of town and suffered a very cold and rough night.
The next day I took a bus to Puente La Reina which is a small town about 22 km Southwest of Pamplona. It is also an important town along El Camino and I had a chance to meet more Peregrinos there. Here are some Pilgrims that I met along the Way.

Peregrinos en el Camino Frances pasando por Pamplona

Desde que visité la ciudad de Santiago de Compostela hace unos años, me ha interesado mucho todo lo relacionado con El Camino. Las historias y relatos del Camino parecen mágicas y misteriosas. Admiro a estos caminantes que demuestran tanta perseverancia. Cuando pasen por la ciudad de Pamplona, rápidamente se encontrarán Peregrinos ambulando por las calles del centro histórico. Mientras caminaba por el sector Norte de la ciudad, me encontré frente a la puerta medieval del Portal de Francia. Esta puerta, tal y como lo indica su nombre, es la salida o entrada a Francia. La gran mayoría de los Peregrinos comienzan a caminar en St. Jean Pied de Port en Francia. Cruzan los Pirineos y llegan a Pamplona por esta puerta. Me detuve para intentar tomar fotos de las montañas al norte. Pronto observé como grupos de Peregrinos se acercaban y subían la rampa entrando a la ciudad. Tuve el valor de acercarme y preguntarles acerca de su caminata. Siempre les pregunto sobre su país de origen. Me sorprendía verlos cansados pero muy dispuestos a hablar por un momento con un extraño. No quería interrumpirles mucho pero esta rampa parece ser un gran lugar para detenerlos y hablar con ellos. Normalmente llegan aquí tras caminar 3 días. Me contaban que el primer día era el mas duro ya que cruzaban los Pirineos. Andaban cansados pero felices de llegar a esta gran ciudad. Uno de los relatos que mas me cautivó fue el de las chicas Coreanas que se encontraron en un hostal en El Camino. Una de ellas era de Corea y no hablaba mucho Castellano o Inglés. La otra residía en Philadelphia. No se conocían antes pero decidieron caminar juntas el resto del Camino. Algunos prefieren la solitud mientras otros prefieren hacer amigos y caminar juntos. Me encontré gente de todas partes del mundo. Japón, Italia, China, Australia, Francia, Alemania, Reino Unido, Venezuela, y Estados Unidos estaban representados. Parecía que todos la pasaban muy bien y no les molestaba compartir su experiencia. Luego cuando andaba por el centro del pueblo, observaba a un par de chicas caminando con sus perros. Parecían Peregrinas y también les pregunté. Resultaron ser de Austria y decidieron caminar con sus perritos. Los hostales no aceptan perros ya que el espacio es limitado y se llenan rapidamente. Nadie acomodaba sus perros y se vieron obligadas a acampar por la noche. Pasaron la noche en el campo afuera de la ciudad y pasaron una noche muy dura con mucho frío.
Luego al otro día, tomé el bus rumbo a Puente La Reina. Este pequeño pueblo queda a unos 22 Km de Pamplona. El pueblo es un importante punto de encuentro en El Camino ya que aquí se juntan dos rutas – el Camino Francés y el Camino Aragonés. Tuve oportunidad de conocer mas Peregrinos caminando por el centro. Aquí les dejo con algunas imágenes de Peregrinos.

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A pair of Peregrinos walks thru the commercial center of Pamplona

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Another pilgrim arriving in Plaza del Castillo in the center of Pamplona

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These two Korean friends met along the Way and decided to hike together.

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Another group of Peregrinos arrives at the Portal de Francia

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After losing track of each other, Peregrinos are happy to see each other again

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Peregrinas arriving in town with their dogs

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Leaving town with their dogs

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Peregrinos crossing the Puente La Reina as a rain storm nears

Jamón y mucho más – some Spanish delicacies in Madrid

Food for thought around the holiday season

As we turn our attention to food and celebrations this holiday season, I just can’t forget some Spanish delicacies that I ran into while visiting Madrid. The truth is that after traveling throughout Spain for a while, I was getting bored with the same flavor profile. If you stay in rural towns for a long period, the gastronomic monotony will drive you insane. I found myself searching for spices, curry, and soy sauce in all the wrong places. Vendors at the markets were looking at me strangely. So when I finally returned to Madrid at the end of my trip, I was very excited to find international cuisines again. Madrid is a modern capital with a good diversity of ethnicities and plenty of international restaurants. I was glad to find Sushi, Indian, Vietnamese, and Thai food again. However, I am back at home and it is not always easy to find typical food from Spain. I miss having a Jamon store right around the corner. I miss the Sidrerias with their wonderful Chorizos and Cabrales cheese. I miss the Lomo de Orza, the Carrillada Iberica, and the Cheese Cured in Olive Oil. Not to mention fresh fish like Rape (Monkfish), Dorada, Zama, and Sardines. What can I say? Now that I don’t have all these, I am craving typical Spanish food. I will be talking more about food soon but now I leave you with some great food choices you may find walking around Madrid.

A veces no se aprecia lo que tenemos

Ahora que celebramos las fiestas navideñas, no me puedo olvidar de unos manjares fabulosos que encontré caminando por Madrid. La realidad es que luego de viajar por zonas rurales en España, uno comienza a aburrirse del mismo sabor. La monotonía gastronómica me desquiciaba. Andaba buscando especias, curry, y salsa de soja por todos los rincones. Los vendedores en los mercados me miraban de un modo extraño. Así que al regresar a Madrid al final de mi viaje, me alegré de encontrar comida internacional una vez más. Madrid es una capital moderna y cuenta con gran variedad de inmigrantes y cocinas internacionales. Me encontraba a gusto una vez más al encontrar comida India, Vietnamita, Sushi, y Tailandesa. Ahora que no es tan fácil encontrar los productos Españoles, me doy cuenta que me hacen falta. Ya quisiera tener yo una tienda de Jamón a la vuelta de la esquina. Me hace falta una buena Sidrería con sus Chorizos a la Sidra y Queso Cabrales. Me hace falta el Lomo de Orza, la Carrillada Ibérica, las Chistorras, y el Queso Curado en Aceite de Oliva. Y no me mencionen pescado fresco como el Rape, la Dorada, la Zama, y las Sardinas. Ahora que no lo tengo, lo necesito. Pronto les hablaré más de comida pero ahora les dejo con algunos productos que encontraba al caminar por Madrid.

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The Churros from Chocolateria San Gines are the best.

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Tasting a variety of Olive Oils

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Pimientos de Padron seen thru the glass at a bar near Madrid’s Plaza Mayor

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Paella negra made with squid ink.

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Olives stuffed with Mussels and Boquerones en Vinagre

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I had good luck finding good steaks this time.

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Bollitos preñaos are bread rolls stuffed with chorizo

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Steak tartare burgers at Mercado San Miguel

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Sweet temptations are plentiful too