A day job trip and summer vacation with Mrs. GUARDIAN is the reason we have offered so little to our readers the past few weeks. By way of apology, here is an expanded post with “my vacation” photos.
It was 14 years ago when Oxford University law student Davina came to America and spent a month with the GUARDIAN editor to learn more about her passion for photography and journalism. The German citizen is now 34, gave up law, does some free-lance TV production and owns a magnificent farm outside Bordeaux, France. Her dream is to board and train horses–she currently has three equines and spends most of her time running the farm from her vintage Fiat tractor. She is a happy woman.
When we checked into a hotel at the medieval village of Santillana del Mar, Fernando the desk clerk and member of the family who owned the place took one look at my passport which showed a birthplace of Michigan and declared, “I lived there for three years.” The family hospitality and atmosphere of the hotel prompted Mrs. GUARDIAN and I to stay three nights. The tiny village in northern Spain is what “walkability” is all about.
Driving our four cylinder diesel Ibiza rental car through the Asturian countryside of Northern Spain was a joy as we reveled in the beauty of farmhouses decked out in bright colors with potted flowers in almost every window. When we stopped to make a photo of one particularly impressive window, Maria Jesus appeared and waved. A few seconds later she was outside chatting excitedly in Spanish about her garden as Mrs. GUARDIAN, the horticulturist smiled and understood most of the exchange.
Then there were the pilgrims at Puente la Reina south of Pamplona with its ancient Roman bridge along the Camino de Santiago. A recent movie about “The Way” prompted the trip. Trekkers from around the world make the 500 mile walk through southern France and northern Spain for various spiritual reasons. It is part religious, part hippie, and part intellectual. If you are into history, fitness, new friends, solitude, crowds, adventure, or art it’s worth learning about.
Despite hours and hours of “people watching in Paris, Delta airlines and its partner Air France proved to be a miserable experience. For the most part staff were polite, but the business of “code sharing” and a multitude of carriers using assumed names and flight numbers is a traveler’s nightmare. We arrived at Bilbao a day late and on the return trip our bags were three days late. No wonder Delta ranks so low on the customer satisfaction scale!
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