Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bongo does Spain - Vaya Fancy News!

Bongo loved Granada. Andalucia is a taste of the Arab lands beyond the Levante, without leaving a more conventional environment, and with delightful hills just like in Springfield, Vermont. The Pension San Joaquin, housed in an old home behind thick walls and tall ancient doors hung with bronze hands that allow the caller to announce his or her presence by striking their delicately purchased bronze apples, located on Calle Mano de Hierro, was our base camp in Granada, just a few blocks from where Isabel and Ferdinand rest, and a short walk from La Puerta de Elvira. The rooms were emminently adequate, priced nicely, they came with exotic balconies and silly european fittings, the interior patios were fun to encounter, and the owners were always on hand to help with advice or directions.

In Granada, some of the hilly stairstepped streets shelter treats from fairy tales.

The same streets offer impromptu venues for enterprising musicians and their fans of all ages, Granada loves the guitar after all.

Back in Valencia once again, Bongo was stunned by the wonderful work of the restorers in revitalizing the exquisite Art Nouveau central market building, the Mercat Central, nestled in beside La Lonja (the 15th century Silk Exchange), sittin in about the same place where buyers and sellers have met since Roman times.
Bongo was also stunned by the variety and beauty of the offerings presented by the many shopkeepers who have held spots here for many years, sometimes passing them from parent to child, provisioning generations of Valencianos and curious tourists - but he preferred to meander about the vegetable aisles, for obvious reasons.

Wandering then further up into the Gothic Quarter, to hunt for the Plaça del Negret and the perfect café con leche or caña, depending on just how long the hunt took, Bongo got sidetracked, and just outside of the Plaza Redonda he came upon a trendily outfitted wedding party lolling about in front of the church of Santa Caterina.

In Valencia, when one has the luxury of time, upon coming across a wedding in progress, one always waits on the wedding party in order to enjoy the free fireworks that always welcome the new couple as they leave the church for the first time, yes Gladys, in Spain they set off real life, heavy-duty, black powder firecrackers, great ropes of them, a vast and stormy concatenation of explosions that wake the pagan gods and amuse children and goats, who then explode themselves in shrieks of delight.

The hats were a parade in themselves, and the lady dressed a la Manola was hypnotic even in the loud sunshine of a late-summer day. Indeed, all were smart enough to watch for the while it might take before the fuse was lit, but our little table called us to come and sit under the orange trees and beside the curling water of the Negrete´s quiet fountain, and we moved on without waiting to see the young men dancing in the black smoke of the firecrackers.

It´s not exactly Springfield, Vermont, but Bongo Loves it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Valencia by the Sea - Bongo does Spain

Fancy news indeed - from the thirteenth floor overlooking the Mediterranean Bongo takes in a salty air that reminds him of the days of seaborne traders, marauders, pirates and other adventurers who found places like Cullera and Calpe along the coast South of Valencia to be ideal harbors of convenience and of easy defence, not to mention comfortable for those who chose to stay. Spain was once the breadbasket of the Roman Empire, and Valencia was once the bread basket of Spain, the rich agricultural lands that are cultivated right up to the beach and right up to the most modern parts of town are testiment to that fact. It isn´t Springfield Vermont of course, it is a vacation after all, but Bongo feels almost at home here, except for the huge and distant vistas cross the cresty late Summer Seas, except for the charming lasses buzzing about on Vespas, except for the late night glasses of Virgen Malaga at after'hours flamenco bars.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer is a good time for mudders! Fancy News!

There is something to be said for the fun of driving around like mad in a late-twentieth century internal combustion vehicle that has been modified to produce the most fun from motive force derived from the burning of fossil fuels and otherwise at the expense of the environment.

You really have to stop and think about it, is it any worse than building and using two or three new scrubber-less coal fired electric generating plants? That may be a difficult question to answer, but if one asks if driving this thing around like a bat out of hell is more fun then building and using two or three new scrubber-less coal fired electric generating plants, then the answer comes a bit more easily - this mean little mudder is way more fun.

Yes, here in Springfield, Vermont, City of Lights and Official Home of the Simpsons, here in this charmed locale that is the fairest jewel of the Upper Valley, here it is still possible to have fun with internal combustion.

But please, mind the Moose and spare the Chipmunks!