up the coast: Jazz at the Parador

up the coast: Jazz at the Parador

After debating about it all week, we decided Friday morning to make the trip to Javea for that week’s Jazz at the Parador program.

Some time spent online, and tickets for the performance were booked. It was a little expensive to stay at the Parador, but breakfast was included, and we wouldn’t have to taxi to and from the concert. There was a bit of concern because the tram line was under construction from Calpe through Denia, so we would have to use the bus to get to Teulada, then taxi to the Parador in Javea.

A quick packing of backpacks and a bag of snacks and we were off!

Tram 1 from our own Plaza Luceros – running uncharacteristically late. A ticket purchase in El Campello to get us the rest of the way. Change to Tram 9 in Benidorm. Switch to bus in Calpe. Dropped off in Teulada at a roundabout. No taxis to be seen:

Teulada bus stop.JPG

We wandered down the street until we found an open restaurant, where we had wine and beer and had the waitress call us a taxi. 20 euros later we arrived at the Parador.

A quick bite in the café/bar, then a quiet half hour or so in our room before we headed downstairs for the concert.

After visiting with a couple from Belgium – retired and spending winters in Benissa – we sat where Todd could watch the base player. Actually, the keyboard player, Richard Busiakiewicz,  had more of the too-cool-for-school persona usually associated with bass players. But the most interesting character was definitely the drummer. He was definitely in his own world, and the audience was irrelevant to him.

The leader of the group, Enric Peidro, was Spanish, and the drummer was French. Okay so far. But the guest tenor sax player, Ray Gelato, and the keyboard guy were English – somehow, that doesn’t make sense to me for a jazz combo playing American jazz.

But they were great!

Back to our room for a beautiful view of the bay. The recent storms had done significant damage to the beach, so they had brought in a truck load (or more) of sand and were spreading it. Kids were playing on the giant sand pile while a bull dozer scooped and spread sand.

After breakfast, we reversed our trip to get home: taxi to bus stop, bus to Calpe station, train to Benidorm, transfer to Tram 1 to home.

 

Carnaval!

Carnaval!

I’ve never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but I have now experienced Carnaval in Alicante!

On Saturday night, we roamed through our neighborhood to la Rambla, then along the Esplanade along the pier into Old Town.

We saw:

  • Ladybugs, bumblebees, and Dalmatians – lots and lots of ladybugs, bumblebees, and Dalmatians
  • A family of Smurfs
  • Lots of leftover Moors and Christians costumes
  • A group of Jedi, with only one light sabre left among them
  • Some girls – we weren’t sure if they were in costume, or just being their usual slutty selves

In short, if it could be made out of or done to tulle, we saw it!

laundry day in Alicante

laundry day in Alicante

We are fortunate to have a washing machine in our apartment. As is typical, we have no dryer.

The place we rented when we came to hunt for an apartment had a combination washer-dryer. All we could figure out was that that meant clothes came out HOT and damp, not really dry.

There are several laundry lines outside the kitchen window. We’ve lost several towels to wind. Todd was able to rescue one from the apartment below us, but one kitchen and one bath towel have yet to come home.(see photo).

Most of our clothes we dry on a rack inside the apartment. It takes up a lot of room in the guest bedroom, and it’s always out, as we are always in the process of doing laundry. We hang shirts in the bathroom or in the doorways.

Occasionally, we take sheets and towels, and maybe jeans, to the laundromat. It’s nice when they can get dried and not end up crunchy and stiff! As an additional benefit, the laundromat is across from a Columbian panaderia, so what’s not to love?

A couple of times now, Todd has taken his better shirts and slacks to the cleaner’s. Just as clothing in general seems to be more expensive here, so, too, does cleaning. Oh, well. The last time, we paid in advance and the guy told us we could pick everything up Sabado por la manana. So Todd went back to the tintoria Saturday morning: it was closed. He went back Monday morning, and the guy wanted to see his passport before he would give him his clothes. Never mind that we had paid upfront – with a credit card. Or that we were probably the only Americans he had seen in weeks, if not months, if not ever. The guy reluctantly accepted Todd’s residency card as evidence of his identity.

 

the driver’s license – Part II

We investigated the process and cost of getting a driver’s license. We’re estimating close to 500 euros before all is said and done, so Todd is going to get his and I’ll hold off – at least for now.

First step: 4 passport photos – easy, and done!

Second step: medical certification. We went to one of the medical offices near the traffic office. The sign on the door said the cost was 25 euros – more about that in a moment.

The exam consisted of a series of questions: Do you smoke? Do you drink? All of his answers were taken at face value.

Then the visual/reflex exam. Two red rectangles, moving independently on the screen, and you had to keep the dot between them. Todd passed, but barely. Apparently, he needs to spend more time video gaming!

We went to pay for the exam. 40 euros, cash only. We had 35 between us. So off we went to the closest bank to do a withdrawal, then back to the clinic to pick up the certificate.

We then went to an auto escuela that was close to our apartment. No English spoken there, but a woman waiting in the lobby translated for us, and the woman working directed us to a school where they do lessons in English. According to the translator, the person to talk to was the cousin of the woman we were speaking to. “Ah, su prima!” BIG smile from both women. It’s amazing the random vocabulary I do manage to remember.

Next morning, Todd was at the auto escuela when it opened at 9:00. Shock: it didn’t open until 10:00, and the clerk didn’t arrive until about 10:15. Welcome to Spanish time!

Reuben will conduct the driving instruction in English, but they are still looking for someone to do the theory instruction in English. In the meantime, we’ve only paid a deposit of 100 euros on the 300-euro fee, and Todd has an English instruction book and online access to a theory test bank.

One of the more odd questions: a motorcycle rider in front of you has his right turn signal on, but his left hand out. Which signal do you pay attention to? I’m thinking: neither, and give him plenty of room because he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. OR: it really doesn’t matter, because he’ll be going through a roundabout no matter what. The real answer: the hand signal supersedes the mechanical signal. Okay, I get it: it’s a theory test.

Speaking of motorcycles, you have to have a car license for 3 years before you can test for a motorcycle license. So much for taking care of that at the same time!

 

a Monday in Cordoba

a Monday in Cordoba

Upon arriving in Cordoba, we followed the GPS instructions to our hotel and ended up, after roaming through narrow streets, with side mirrors tucked in, at the wrong NH hotel. With annotated map in hand, we wound our way back out and into relatively spacious public parking under the medieval wall.

We dragged our bags out of the parking garage back through the wall and through the narrow warrens of the Jewish quarter to our hotel, where they showed us the back door that would take us directly through the wall about a block from the parking lot. Vale!

I think this part of Cordoba was my favorite of the whole trip: Muslim meets Christian in the Jewish quarter.

But we made an inadvertent miscalculation: We arrived on Sunday afternoon, with Monday as our sightseeing day. Most sights were closed on Monday.

But we caught the synagogue just before it closed, and we were able to stroll through the gardens of La Mezquita before it closed Sunday.

We returned to La Mezquita first thing Monday morning for tickets and the audio tour. To our delight, they were harvesting oranges in the garden. Oh, the smell! And what an awe-inspiring sight – the years and layers of worship that have occurred there: Visigoths, then Muslims, then Christians. Mass has been said there every day since the Christians took it over in the 13th century.

We window shopped throughout the Jewish quarter, admiring the silver filigree. We strolled across the Roman bridge and marveled at the intact history before us.

As warned in the guide books, we were frequently met by (typically) older woman trying to sell us rosemary. Not as ubiquitous as we were expecting, and truly no worse than the folks selling wooden apple baskets in Alicante.

Dinner Monday night was at a lovely Italian restaurant just outside the wall. Seems you can find only Spanish wine in Spain, not French or Italian. When we asked the waiter if they had Chianti, he was quite confused: seems he had never heard of such! So we enjoyed a great Italian meal with a lovely red Spanish wine!