Madrid, Pt. 4

Not only is our host Diego a super-nice guy, he’s given us some great advice about stuff to do in Madrid. This morning we took his suggestion to go to El Museo Geominero, a geology & mineral museum next to the School for Mining Engineers. It was an outstanding synthesis of vast simplicity, natural beauty, and hard information in an elegant building. Only a stone’s throw from our apartment. It rocked! We dug it. Mine this video…

Madrid, Pt. 3

For food and fun, here are two places one might miss…

Just off the Plaza Mayor (with its many tourist restaurants) is the Mercado de San Miguel, a renovated market hall where there are many little shops with all kinds of cuisine. A kind of culinary event space, it is great for an extended & varied lunch extravaganza.

The “Madrid Rio,” or parks running along the Manzanares River is a must do, especially with kids on bikes. Not only is it a huge area of bike paths, contemporary landscaping, amazing playground structures, skateparks, pumptracks, and outdoor cafes, it is a great example of urban renewal (the road along the channelized river was put in a tunnel underneath, and the space then used for parks, etc.).

IMG_5420 IMG_5421 IMG_5422 IMG_5423

Madrid, Pt. 2

The Prado and the Royal Botanical Garden

The Prado is one of my favorite museums because it has one of my favorite paintings, The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch and it features one of my favorite artists, Francisco Goya. Unfortunately, unlike the museums in Paris, they don’t allow photography. Nonetheless, I captured a few images (particularly liking the sculpture of the veiled woman [similar to one in the Louvre]).

Outside the Prado is the Royal Botanical Garden featuring many plants that were brought from the New World in the time of Spanish exploration and colonization. Fortunately, they do allow photography. How do you like the slideshow?

IMG_5432 IMG_5433 IMG_5451 IMG_5453 IMG_5454 IMG_5455 IMG_5456 IMG_5457

Madrid, Pt. 1

We left Bordeaux for San Sebastian, then Charlie & I returned the car in Biarritz the next day (to avoid a one-way fee in another country) coming back by bus. Spent a nice afternoon in San Sebastian enjoying the view from Mont Igueldo, walking along La Concha beach, and having dinner in the old town.

The next morning we left early by train for Madrid where we are staying in another AirBnb. We were met by a very nice host, Diego, who strolled with us around the neighborhood pointing out restaurants & shops and discussing his work writing algorithms for satellite imagery. The next day we walked to the Palacio Real, the Plaza Mayor, the Gran Via, the Retiro, and came home on the Metro. (Serendipitously, we arrived at the Royal Palace right in time to see their version of “the changing of the guards.”)

IMG_5402IMG_5409 IMG_5417 IMG_5428

Donostia – Three Videos

Here are three clips taken within a kilometer and an hour. The first is the sun through a glass of water on a table atop Mt. Igueldo. The view was spectacular, but do you see what I see (in SloMo)? The second is of some boogie boarders along the wall next to La Concha beach. The third is Charlie & Veronica on some sculptural playground equipment (in time lapse). What do they have in common?


At the end of 1980 during my junior year of college, I lived in Bordeaux for about three months learning French before going to Togo for the rest of the school year. I remember it being old & rainy. I don’t remember any French people jogging, nor the city as fun & vibrant as it seems now. There was a huge and very ethnic market outside the big cathedral, there were hundreds of people strolling (& jogging) along the pedestrian street of St. Catherine’s and along the Garonne (Gironde), and there was an amazingly huge & fun carnival set up in one of big open areas in the city. We only stayed two nights, but had a great time…

IMG_5249 IMG_5259

More Morvan

Here are some miscellaneous shots from Burgundy and around our AirBnb in Montjouan. The archeological site is at the Gaulic settlement of Bibracte atop Mont Beauvray (and the video is driving from it). Next door to our farm house was another very pretty one owned by some Parisian Buddhists.  The Cafe Tabac is closed, an indicator of the decline in the region. (A neighbor told me that once there were 20 farms in the area, now only two.) The “Cave” key opened our basement, and classic dungeon of a room featuring at least one live bat. 
IMG_5202 (1)
IMG_5215 IMG_5216 IMG_5224 IMG_5238 IMG_5239IMG_5035

The Art of Living

Our AirBnb in Montjouan is taken care of by Janna & Jacques, artists who have a school and studios in the village of Larochemillay. Their school is call Roche Culturelle (Here’s the French version of their website: Not only is the village charming, their house (formerly a convent, then the vicar’s house), school building (a church school), and garden elegant, but the set up they described (one week of school followed by one week free through the summer only) seems ideal. We were given a tour by Jacques one day, had a drink/chat with Janna on another, and both times got to meet some of their interesting art students (seemed like mostly professional adults). It appeared that they have mastered the art of living…

IMG_5179IMG_5240 IMG_5245 IMG_5246 IMG_5247IMG_5176 IMG_5177


One day we drove north through the Morvan to the hilltop village of Vezelay, started by Benedictines about 1000 years ago. (Here’s the French Wikipedia ref.) The abbey is famous for having a relic (looks like a rib) from Mary Magdalene which we found in a gilded receptacle in the crypt. In this slideshow, I focused on the capitals of the columns in the basilica since each is unique and seems to tell a story.

IMG_5087 IMG_5128IMG_5131 IMG_5132 IMG_5135 IMG_5136 IMG_5139