Saturday, September 22, 2007

Spain: Seville, Giralda tower at night, 2006

In 2006 I took a trip to Seville, Spain to observe the famous Feria de Abril or April Fair. This traditional celebration of spring comes only two weeks after the city has celebrated another huge festival, the observance of Semana Santa or Holy Week. There are so many traditions revolving around the Feria that it takes a book to describe them all.

April is a good time to visit Seville, not only because of the Feria but also because of the comfortable temperatures of that season, with highs typically in the 80s. Seville can get really hot in the summer, and 110 degrees Fahrenheit is not uncommon.

The most famous building in Seville is the cathedral, with its adjoining Giralda tower. The cathedral is huge - one of the largest in the world - and features artifacts of all kinds in addition to the altars, stained glass windows and other things you would expect in a church. The tower is actually older than the cathedral itself, as it dates back to the 13th century and was originally a Muslim minaret. The original top was destroyed in an earthquake and was eventually replaced by an ornate bell tower in the 16th century, but it blends well with the rest of the tower. The picture gives a good idea of how well lit this part of the city is and in particular the Giralda tower.

See my webpage on Spain at

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Puerto Rico: Exploring the Interior, 2007

Some of Puerto Rico's tourist booklets encourage the visitor to "explore beyond the shore." One of the ways to explore is by taking some of the twisting mountain roads. The "Luis Munoz Marin" panoramic route, named after a former governor of the island, crosses the length of Puerto Rico from west to east, and would take a few days to cover well.

I started on the western side near Mayaguez and continued to the areas directly north of Ponce, which was manageable in an afternoon. For me, the highlights of the trip were the cute churches and other buildings, the quiet, the abundant plant life, and the occasional view of coffee fields and valleys.
I even ran into a young man on horseback.

I stopped at a local bar in the area between Maricao and Yauco and was told that a great time to visit Puerto Rico is during Christmas time, when the whole interior explodes in music and celebrations.

See my webpage on Puerto Rico at