7.21.14 History, all around

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walking through the charming city of Valencia

I never thought I’d find myself in the coastal city of Valencia, Spain–I didn’t even know of Valencia if you want to know the truth of it–and yet here I am, loving every minute. We’ve walked and walked and walked, climbed ancient church bell towers, been on tours where we heard such comments as built by the Moors in 700 (which I cannot get my head around), looked out from the towers that formed the entrance to this walled city in the 11th century.

Wow. Just wow.

7.19.14 Walking Madrid

A thousand miles. That’s the estimate Tim and I arrived at when we calculated how far we walked to cover the sites on our list for the first full day in Madrid. And still it was not nearly enough, there is so much to discover in this magical city. I was most captivated by the Goya frescos at the chapel of the San Antonio de la Florida, an unassuming little church that proves you can’t judge a book by its cover.

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Of all there was to see, I was awed by this angel in blue.

Of all there was to see, I was awed by this angel in blue.

We were also wowed by Parque del Retiro and its botanical gardens. You could spend hours wandering here and never want for something interesting to see. And in fact, we did.

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7.18.14 Barcelona to Madrid

I’ve never been on a train before, unless you count Tweetsie Railroad when I was three. So the trip across Spain via high speed rail was a thrilling one for me. I loved the three hours spent looking at the Spanish countryside–which, I have to say, did not look anything like I expected–but I also loved the very experience of the train. And when we deboarded we were in Madrid!

the train, the train!

the train, the train!

three girls in a taxi

three girls in a taxi

Madrid

Madrid

 

What a very cool way to spend an afternoon. How lucky I am to be on this trip!

Day 3

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We took a tour via a rooftop bus, an adventure that was both hot and informative. The main stop was Gaudi’s jaw-dropping La Sagrada Familia, noted in Lonely Planet as “a symphony of religious devotion.” Not an understatement. Begun in 1882 and still unfinished—with tons of work going on when we were there—I simply could not believe my eyes. Color, texture, imagination, movement, Sagrada is not only a demonstration of Gaudi’s genius but a religious experience of epic proportions. Believe me when I say my iPhone photos do not do it justice.

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7.15.14 Arriving in Barcelona

I couldn’t sleep on the plane I was so excited to land in Barcelona. Who doesn’t dream of a getaway to Spain? But for me there was more. I knew this would happen the moment Eliza got out of class and made her way to Placa de Catalunya, where Tim and I would be waiting.

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A mighty fine moment, for sure, after six weeks studying abroad. But then there was this, which also made my heart sing. Eliza’s besty, Katie, is in Spain with us, and as the two of them headed away from us and back toward Eliza’s dorm, I marveled at their confidence, their maturity, their grace.

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What a summer this has been.

And we’re off!

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ready to roll!

We’re going to retrieve Eliza, Tim and I, to bring back from Barcelona my sweet college Senior. The fact that she didn’t need bringing is irrelevant; would you pass up this great excuse to traipse around Spain? I’ve made a commitment to stand down a bit from technology–can you believe I didn’t even bring my big-girl camera?

Nevertheless, I hope to share the journey with you, my Daily Grace friends. A photo a day (taken with my iPhone, no less) with a quick blurb about what I found most beautiful about the day.

Let’s hope I find WiFi acuerdo? I hope you will join me here!

Thunder Moon

big-ol-moon

Isn’t it lovely to live in a world in which you can walk up your driveway, turn around and discover this surprise? It’s just what happened to me yesterday, and the wonder of it all nearly took my breath away.

Then I learned from my friend, Cindy, it’s called the Thunder Moon. Native Americans gave July’s full moon this designation because it appears in the month of storms. It is also known as the Buck Moon, since male deer sprout new antlers during this season. Making it all more magical, this year’s moon is at its closest point in its elliptical rotation around the earth, making the moon appear bigger and brighter–particularly when viewed close to the horizon. That makes it the first of three Supermoons this Summer.

What a grand gift it is to have a great seat for this remarkable performance of nature. What a demonstration of the miraculous.

Looking for Potential in the Ordinary

We spent the holiday weekend in Florida, a trip I never mind making. I love a road trip, after all, love loading up the car and heading down the highway with our dog, a couple of great audiobooks, a pile of magazines and a stash of knitting. My sweet husband drives, and I am most content to be the passenger for a while, responsible for nothing more than keeping myself entertained on the long drive.

That’s particularly easy now that I’ve studied with Mary Bentz Gilkerson, an artist who takes (intentionally) mediocre photographs of unremarkable landscapes and paints them into glory. I’m not exaggerating when I say Mary’s example of looking for potential in the ordinary has totally transformed the way I look at the world around me.

(If you don’t know Mary’s work, check it out here. Then sign up for her Daily Painting emails. It’s a little gift each afternoon to see what she and her palette knife have created.)

Inspired by Mary, I spent much of the drive snap snap snapping out the window with my iPhone’s camera. I rejoiced each time the landscape changed. Then on the way home, we hit standstill traffic on I-26 and Tim took a quick turn off the Interstate and onto Highway 6. I could not believe my good fortune.

Thank you, Tim. Thank you, Mary! Thank you for opening my eyes to all that is there, just outside my car window.

 

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