Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pictures of Spain 1950 & 60s

I thought it might be fun posting pictures from my childhood in Spain. I have been slowly going through my dad's things since he passed away and occasionally find pictures from then. If I could complain I'd tell him he did not take enough pictures of Spain!! Anyway here are a few.

My brother with my his dog Guerrero, my friend David and me with my dog Chatita on our balcony at Calle de Castellón de la Plana 1, Madrid

Me in our living room of our apartment.

My brother standing at the intersection of calle de Castellón de la Plana and calle de Oquendo

My mother with Red Skelton when he visited Madrid

In front of a friends house on calle del Turia up the street from Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

From the movie set "55 Days in Peking"...still looking for picture my dad took of me standing in front of the "US Embassy". I got Charlton Heston's autograph soon after this when my parents threw him a party!

One of the more interesting persons I ever met, Madame de Beaufort. She was a French Basque from a town called called Guéthary, France. She was in the French resistance during the war and had some really good stories to tell. Her daughter was the head of the French news service in Madrid.

Our maid Carmen (who first told me about the Camino) and her friend Mercedes sunning themselves on the balcony.

When we left Spain, my parents paid for Carmen's wedding. I am trying to figure out where this was. All I remember was it was near the Commodore Hotel. Sad thing was her husband turned out to be a alcoholic and they had a bad marriage. Such a shame, she was one of the sweetest people I ever knew.

Hotel Teina Cristina in Algeriras, where we caught our ship the Vulcania when we left Spain.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Background to Our Camino

Our Camino is a dream come true for me. My father was a diplomat and I had the good fortune to live in Spain between 1956 and 1963. I first learned of the Camino from our maid. I think I was about eight or nine years old. My brother, who is six years older than me, had sneaked a smoke in the bathroom and my dad had noticed the smell. Of course, my brother was not going to fess up and I did not want to get him in trouble so I lied to my dad. My parents went out for the night and our maid proceeded to lecture us about how bad it was to lie. She was so convincing how bad the sin was that I got scared that God was going to punish me that I started crying hysterically. To calm me down she told me I could one day walk the Camino and God would forgive me. Over the years, I questioned her about the Camino and decided I needed to do it sometime in my life. I never forgot, about ten years ago, I read an article about the Camino and the desire was rekindled. I shared this with my wife and we decided we would walk the Camino when we both retire. My wife retires 1 February so our adventure is about to begin

I thought it would be interesting to quote from a 1957 Fodor’s Modern Guide to Spain and Portugal about the Camino.

“Pilgrimages are obviously of a purely religious character. Two of the most famous Spanish Pilgrimages are those to the Black Virgin, a statue of mysterious origin located in the Benedictine Monastery on the sacred mountain of Montserrat, 32 miles from Barcelona, which takes place on April 27th and on September 8th; and that to the supposed tomb of Spain’s Patron, Santiago (Saint James the Apostle) in Santiago de Compostela, 41 miles from La Coruña, on July 24th-25th.

The Pilgrim’s Way, right from the 500-mile distant French frontier, is still marked with ancient shrines, hostels and bridges erected to help the stream of footsore and fasting men and women who, for 600 years, came to visit the tomb of Santiago.”


“There can be no doubt that Santiago de Compostela is the holiest place in all Spain, and has been so since the Middle Ages, when it was one of the three great centers of pilgrimage for Christianity-Rome and the Holy Land being the other two. So important was the flow of pilgrims to the spot where lay the remains of St. James, the patron saint of Spain, that other countries of Europe than Spain were dowered with fine churches or monastic buildings to shelter the travelers, studding the Pilgrim’s Way across Europe to the shrine, but certainly nowhere were those structures as fine as in the city of the saint itself.”


“The feast day of St James, July 25, is Santiago de Compostela’s big moment, but a moment which begins with the night before and continues for a week or so. This is the time to come (making sure you have hotel accommodations first), if you want to participate in the fiesta. It is definitely no the time to come if you want to be able to move leisurely about the cathedral and the ancient city."