The Puente de Triana in Seville is an iconic bridge on the River Guadalquivir that connects the Triana neighborhood with Seville’s city center. Sometimes called the Bridge of Isabel II, it was built in 1852 during the reign of this Spanish queen who came to the throne as an infant, but was later deposed in 1968 by the Carlists, who refused to recognize a female sovereign.
The Triana district is located on an almost-island between two branches of the Guadalquivir. The residents are called trianeros and have their own traditional pottery and tile, a thriving flamenco culture, and their own festivals.
This photo was taken shortly before the start of the parade held on the Fiesta de los Reyes Magos (Feast of the Three Kings). Melchior of Persia, Gaspar of India, and Balthasar of Arabia magically appear simultaneously in villages, towns and cities all over Spain at dusk on January 5 and throw out handfuls of candy to the hundreds of children (and adults) who follow them in the streets.
Ascent to O’Cebreiro
Travel host Rick Steves describes it well: “Perched on a high ridge, the impossibly quaint hobbit hamlet of O Cebreiro welcomes visitors to Galicia — a hilly, damp, green region in northwest Spain that feels vaguely Irish. O Cebreiro is a time-warp to an uncomplicated, almost prehistoric past, when people lived very close to nature, in stone igloos with thatched roofs. With sweeping views across the verdant but harsh Galician landscape, O Cebreiro (pronounced oh theh-BRAY-roh) is constantly pummeled by some of the fiercest weather in Spain.
“O Cebreiro smells like wood fires, manure, and pilgrim B.O. The village is shared by two groups: a few simple townspeople, who cock their heads quizzically when asked about newfangled inventions like email, and weary Camino de Santiago pilgrims on an adrenaline high after finally reaching Galicia. O Cebreiro marks the final stretch of their month-long, 450-mile pilgrimage to the city of Santiago de Compostela, along the Camino de Santiago (or Way of St. James). The town’s dogs bark at each other territorially from across the street, completely ignoring the backpackers who regularly trudge through town.”
Ponferrada is the last major town on the French route of the Camino de Santiago. Surrounded by mountains, it is dominated by a large Templar Castle, built in the 12th century. King Ferdinand II of León donated the city to the Templar order in 1178 to protect pilgrims on their way to visit the tomb of St. James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela in western Spain. The Templars were there for only 20 years, however, until their order was disbanded and their properties were confiscated in 1311.
Ponferrada is still a popular stop for pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela. Once one of the most important pilgrimages in the Middle Ages, it has regained popularity in recent years for those seeking to walk in the steps of medieval history.
The Albufera is a freshwater lagoon on the Gulf of Valencia in eastern Spain. Once a saltwater lagoon, it was converted to freshwater by the 17th century as the sand bars that separate it from the Mediterranean began to increase in size.
This natural park, noted for its rich flora and fauna, was memorialized by the Spanish novelist Vicente Blasco Ibáñez in Cañas y Barro (Reeds and Mud) in 1902. He describes the conflict between those who made a living by fishing eel and the farmers who began to slowly fill the lagoon with dirt to plant rice, for which the area is now famous.
Surface area is 52,200 acres
It is an internationally important wetland for birds
Fishing was legally recognized in the year 1250
Rice growing has been important since the 18th century
La Ruta de la Pasa
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust
In Andalusia, Axarquía raisins have been internationally famous for centuries, due to the region’s exceptional climate and fertile lands that favor the best conditions for vineyards. The Ruta de la Pasa (Route of the Raisin) follows a 38-mile road with the best raisins in the world. Beginning in Torrox, the first stop is Vélez-Málaga with its notable bodega, followed by the beautiful white village of Almáchar, which is reached after passing miles of slopes laden with vineyards.
From there the road climbs to El Borge, a town with narrow, steep streets and the best raisins and figs in Málaga province. The next town, Cútar, where the photo at the left was taken, features raisin products sold at any residence in the village. Locals will invite you to sample their wares, which include a delicious, sweet wine and tortas de leche (milk cakes).