My 2019 in photos

I’ve done this every year except last year for some reason. Oh, right, I lost my desire to blog for a while so 2018 got missed.  2019 included a trip to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory to see the orchids, a visit to the Weisman Art Museum, the Summit Avenue Walking Tour, our annual multiple visits to the Minnesota State Fair, another trip to Spain, the Walker Sculpture Garden, a quick weekend trip to California for my niece’s wedding, and of course I’ll include photos of flowers and autumn colors that I especially like from the year.

Here’s a conglomeration of my year in photos that I hope you’ll enjoy.

Happy New Year everyone!! May 2020 bring you everything you wish for.

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Gibralfaro, Málaga

Gibralfaro, the “elusive” castle that we hadn’t managed to get to on any of the last 3 trips to Málaga for various reasons. But we made it this time! And I’m so glad we did. If you missed any of my previous posts about our most recent trip to Spain in September 2019 you can check them out at the following links.  My first post is here.  A post about the food we ate is here. And one other post about the Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción in Málaga is here. I have a couple more posts lined up for the future so I hope you’ll come back for those.

Gibralfaro castle is connected to the Alcazaba (the fortress) below. You can get a combined ticket for both or a ticket for just one or the other. We chose the combined ticket as we love the Alcazaba and thought we could walk down from the castle right into the Alcazaba. Well, maybe you can but apparently there is another path that takes you to the bottom of the hill and outside the Alcazaba. That was the path we took.  Since it was a hot day and we toured the castle grounds first, we decided to skip the Alcazaba in favor of refreshment at El Pimpi. El Pimpi is a very touristy restaurant but we really enjoy it as we sit on their patio with a view of the Teatro Romano (Roman theatre) while watching the world go by.

Below is a paragraph taken from this site as I wanted to include a little of the history here. I’d rather not rewrite what others have already written so well.

The castle was built in 929AD by Abd-al-Rahman III, Caliph of Córdoba on a former Phoenician enclosure and lighthouse, from which its name was derived – gebel-faro (Arabic and Greek, meaning rock of the lighthouse). Yusef 1, Sultan of Granada, enlarged it at the beginning of the 14th century, also adding the double wall down to the Alcazaba.

Wikipedia has a little different take about where the name Gibralfaro comes from as well as information about the famous battle in 1487:

The name is said to be derived from Arabic, Jbel, rock or mount, and Greek the word for light, Jbel-Faro, meaning “Rock of Light”.[2] The castle is famous for its three-month siege in 1487 by the Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, which ended when hunger forced the Malagueños to surrender.

Do click the links for more fascinating history of the place! The first link contains information on what you can see today if you visit. It mentions three ways to get there but we took a city bus #35 and that worked great.

I found one other link that looks like a blog post and that was fairly informative as well.

And of course we took photos! Once again I’m combining my husband’s photos along with mine.  I hope you will enjoy the tour through our lenses.

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A wedding, an art exhibit, a fun weekend in southern California

It’s not often that I travel back to my old stomping grounds of southern California. In fact, the last time I was there was to meet my great niece 7 years ago.  We all went to Disneyland together and had a grand time. You can check out my posts about that trip here and here.

This time it was for my niece’s wedding in Dana Point.  I traveled with my daughter and we met other family members there. We hitched a ride with my cousin, aunt and uncle who were flying into John Wayne airport within 40 minutes of us. My sister and her husband flew into LAX and rented a car. They were going to pick us up but we changed those plans since it made more sense to go with my cousin, aunt and uncle. We all stayed at the Best Western Marina Shores in Dana Point, about 2 blocks from the wedding site. My other niece, her husband and my sister-in-law stayed at another hotel together further inland. It was so nice to be together with family for such a happy occasion. The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome and it was a perfect day for an outdoor wedding. It was held in a park on a hill overlooking  the Pacific Ocean. Truly a perfect setting.

My first gallery contains a few photos from the wedding.

Since we weren’t going home until Monday I contacted my oldest friend from junior and senior high school days to see if she’d be able to spend the day with us on Sunday. Again we hitched a ride, this time with my sister and brother-in-law, to the San Fernando Valley where I grew up. They were going to Grace Community Church and then meeting up with a friend for lunch so my friend and her daughter met us in the parking lot of the church and off we went to explore some sights in Los Angeles!

First off, we went to the Getty Center which sits atop the Santa Monica Mountains. The views are fabulous!  We enjoyed the Manet Exhibit from the last years of his life and then wandered around in the gardens admiring all the lovely plants and flowers. By then it was time for lunch. Miss M suggested Korean food and everyone agreed so we had Korean BBQ in Koreatown. Miss M has a friend whose mother was a flight attendant and this friend has traveled everywhere. So she texted her and got a good recommendation and we had a great lunch at Bulgogi Hut. Miss M also wanted to get coffee at the famous Philz Coffee and just down the street was another famous place: Amoeba Music. Huge store!! We even saw the Hollywood sign. By then it was time to head back to the valley to collect my friend’s husband for dinner. We drove down Sunset Boulevard so that Miss M could see some famous places like The Comedy Store and The Roxy as well as the mansions in Bel Air and Beverly Hills.  We ooed and ahhed all the way to the freeway.

That evening we met the rest of the family and other friends that hadn’t left town yet for dinner at The Smoke House in Burbank, just down the street from Warner Brothers Studios.  Another cousin who lives in the area met us there so it was great to catch up with him. I had invited my longtime friend and her family to dinner with us. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with them since we don’t see each other that often. My cousin and my friend’s husband have mutual friends (and musicians) in common so they had a good time chatting with each other.

The weekend went too fast and soon we were on our way back home.  But before I leave, please enjoy other photos from the weekend.

Some photos from our brief visit to the Getty Center:

Our flight didn’t depart until the afternoon so my  niece and her husband took us to Roger’s Gardens in Corona Del Mar. Um, wow!! This place was huge!! And we only scratched the surface. They already had Christmas items for sale, room after room after room of them!  There were many rooms of orchids as well and I was snapping photos of these gorgeous plants. Take a look:

To close, please enjoy a couple more photos of bougainvillea. I love this vine!

 

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Walker Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis – Autumn 2019

Back to a local treasure, the Walker Sculpture Garden. It’s been a long while since we’ve visited and I’ve been wanting to go since it reopened in June 2017 after a renovation. We went on a sunny, early October day a little over two years since its reopening. Hey, at least we finally got there!

I enjoyed our walk about but I’m not so sure I like the changes. It seems that it’s not laid out as well as it previously was and that’s hard to describe. Sculptures are mostly arranged in various squares with other sculptures surrounding the squares. So, you enter one side of the square to get a close up view of the sculpture in there.  When you exit you only get to see that side’s sculptures making it a long walk to see the other sculptures on the other two sides?  Yea, like I said, hard to describe.  There is one Alexander Calder mobile on the western edge that felt like it took a long time to walk to. There also used to be a green house and that is gone.  There are, however, nice gardens that probably looked better in spring and summer but I tried to capture some of those. There still was some beauty to behold gardenwise and several flowers still blooming.

The Walker Sculpture Garden opened in 1988 but the history actually goes back to 1906 when the land that would become the sculpture garden was donated to the Minneapolis park board by Thomas Lowry. Lowry was a real estate magnate and head of the Minneapolis Street Railway Co.  His home was where the Walker Art Center now stands, adjacent to the sculpture garden.  There is the Lowry tunnel as part of interstate 94 close by and now I know who that tunnel was named for. Interesting!  The gardens contain more than 40 works of art on 11 acres and is the largest urban sculpture garden in the country.  I learned most of this from the Minneapolis Parks website.  Check out more interesting stuff at this link.  At the Walker Art Center’s website is a page containing photos of all of the sculptures as well as the layout. I grabbed the names of the pieces and the artists’ names from this site.

I was also curious how the Walker Art Center got is name.  Instead of summarizing here I will direct you to this link for some interesting history of Thomas Barlow (T. B.) Walker, a Minneapolis lumber baron who loved art.

I hope you’ll enjoy this photo tour of our day in the sculpture garden. I didn’t capture all of the sculptures but I’m happy with my samples. And it was a perfect, sunny day with gorgeous blue skies.

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Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción, Málaga

As most of you already know hubby and I took another trip to Spain at the end of August and through the first week of September. I’ve created a couple of posts already so feel free to check out my intro post as well as my summary of the food we had.  This post is all about that glorious Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción in Málaga.

I learned of the Jardín Botánico through TripAdvisor and after reading about it, I knew I had to make the trip to see it. In our previous trips to Málaga we had not ventured outside of the historic center.  We wanted to see more than just the sites in the city center so I learned about bus passes and the Jardín was one of the places we ventured to.  The nice gal at the tourist office confirmed which bus we needed and where to pick it up.  We had about a mile hike from where the bus let us off but we didn’t mind although it was pretty hot that day. It was nice to walk through different neighborhoods of the city.

The Jardín Botánico was acquired by the city of Málaga in 1990 and were created in about 1855 by the Marquis of Casa Loring. In 1911 the gardens were purchased and extended by the Echevarría-Echevarrieta family and display a beautiful open-air collection of tropical and subtropical flora. The plant species come from Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. In 1943 they were officially declared a historical-artistic garden and are currently declared as being Bien de Interés Cultural, a place of cultural interest. In 1994 the city opened it to the public and it’s been enjoyed by many since then.

Although it was hot the day we were there, we found refuge in the many shaded areas as well as benches to rest upon. We were given a map at the entrance and we wandered around and saw most of the gardens. The one exception to the shaded areas was their huge display of cactus plants. We were both so enthralled by the many varieties of cacti we almost didn’t notice the sun beating down on us.  My first gallery consists of the cactus plants. This is a combination of both mine and hubby’s photos. Take a look. I think you’ll be impressed!

The next gallery is a combination of the other areas of the gardens that we explored. By the time we got to the Palm Collection we were too tired to walk down there but we both got a photo of the entrance.

On our way out we noticed a beautiful tiled picture of the gardens that I’m including here. If you’re visiting Málaga, I hope you’ll take the time to tour this beautiful place.  It’s not just for gardeners as hubby really enjoyed it and I’m the gardener in the family.  Here’s the link  to their website for more information.  Stay tuned for future posts of our trip to Spain.  Enjoy!!

 

 

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Autumn 2019 – Twin Cities Minnesota

I’ve been absent for a bit as I traveled to southern California for my niece’s wedding. It was a fabulous weekend full of love and sunshine, a perfect day for a southern California autumn wedding.  It was a great time!

I’ll be putting together a post about other things I did that extended weekend, as well as other posts that are in the queue.  For now, I wanted to post some autumn photos from the twin cities before autumn is over.  So, without further ado, please enjoy these photos.

More photos:

And a couple of autumn flowers.

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The food in Spain

Or I should say, the food that we enjoyed in Spain this trip. If you missed my intro post about our trip to Spain, you can check it out here.  For this post I thought I’d talk about the food on this trip.

We landed bright and early in Málaga, even before the sunrise, on a Friday morning. I thought that we might be able to sleep on the plane, then we’d be ready to explore Málaga a bit before being able to check into our room. Oh that was not to be and we had four hours to kill before we could finally relax. I think no more early morning arrivals for this gal.

I had a few things jotted down that we could do that morning and the times those things opened. As we deposited our bags at the hotel, the receptionist giggled a little when I asked if Casa Aranda was open. That’s our favorite churros place and we were hoping to get a table on the patio. He thought maybe but it was so early!! Like I didn’t know that, heh. We did wander over to Casa Aranda and by now it was about 7:15 and they were just setting up the patio. They guided us to a table inside and we sat there until the patio was set up. I wasn’t really hungry as they fed us something on the plane before we landed. So we each had a coffee (and the two churros that the waiter comped us!) and moved on to wait for the tourist office to open at 9:00. It was nice to sit on the plaza and people watch. It was a pleasant 75 degrees with lots of people on scooters, some runners and many birds chirping and flying around.

Finally the travel office opened and I asked all my questions about bus routes for the things we wanted to see outside of the city center. The nice gal wrote all over a tourist map showing where the bus stops were. Hubby bought some post cards and we moved on again.

Then El Corte Inglés (Spain’s biggest department store) didn’t open until 10:00 so we stopped at La Canasta for refreshment. I had my first fresh squeezed orange juice of the trip. Oh my!! You have not tasted OJ unless you’ve had this fresh squeezed stuff. I had it every. single. day. Or close to it anyway. So delicious!! I had a warm croissant with homemade strawberry jam that was also delicious.

Some eating adventures in Málaga were not as good as we had hoped. We went back to one place we had gone to in 2016 but it was not nearly as good so that was too bad. So, no photos of that food, sorry.  There was another one in Plaza de la Merced. We got the sampler tapas deal which really wasn’t that great either. I’m now having trouble remembering what all the five tapas were. We did stop at El Pimpi after climbing around at Gibralfaro then walking down the hill back to town. We had their shrimp pil pil and it was delicious. Forgot to take a photo!

We did have a great meal at Matiz, the restaurant attached to our hotel in Málaga, Molina Lario.  Alas, I only have one  photo from that evening and it was the olives and bread we enjoyed before the meal. One evening we were being particularly picky I guess because it took us over 30 minutes to settle on a place to eat. We were called in by a waitress. Many waiters in Málaga will stand on the patio looking for customers when it’s not busy and try to get you to eat at their restaurant. And so this gal spoke to us in English and we looked at the menu. Oh good, they’ve got boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar) so this place is okay. This is one of hubby’s favorite things in Spain. And they had the shrimp that he wanted. Cold shrimp that you have to peel. Not my favorite but they were good, once you got the shell off. They had a really good ensalada mixta(mixed salad) so I was happy too. We shared everything and really enjoyed that meal. The waitress spoke about four languages, or was it five? She was Italian but knew English and Spanish and I heard her speaking French to the customers at the next table. When we told her we were Americans she said she’d love to visit America but she won’t because of our so-called president. She also said she likes Americans better than the British.

Yes, back to the food.

We tried different breakfasts this time. I really liked the croissants with ham and cheese. I probably had that the most for breakfast. We ate at Lepanto, a famous pastry and sweet shop in Málaga that also has a full menu.  Loved their croissant sandwiches. We had a tortilla espanola one morning. It was a plate with two pieces so was perfect for the two of us. We also partook of the fabulous breakfast buffet at our hotel in Madrid. Did I not take photos of that either? Well, here’s the sad tale. I travelled with sore shoulders this time. I had good and bad days so I guess this affected my photo taking. I did manage to get some food photos that I’m including in the gallery below. I’m also going to include some of hubby’s photos to fill in the gaps.  I included photos of our two favorite churros places in my previous post and I’ll include them again in this gallery. They are Casa Aranda in Málaga and San Ginés in Madrid.  And of course we had fresh squeezed orange juice at both too. Oh, yum!!

Some other nice meals included a meal of tapas at Nacalú, across the street from our hotel in Málaga. We kept seeing the place fill up in the evenings and decided it must be good and it was!  We got a sampler of tapas along with our ticket to the flameco show that we saw in Málaga.  The flamenco was at Cal Y Canto and the food came from the adjoining restaurant, El Gallo Ronco. We talked about going back for another meal but we didn’t make it. I read that the cafe in the Jardín Botanico was good and since I was hungry after exploring that glorious place, I decided to try it out. Score!! I had their spinach quiche accompanied by a mixed salad with the most tasty citrus-flavored dressing. Oh my!! One last meal in Málaga was at Quitapenas on the marina. Seafood and another ensalada mixta.  See a pattern here?

We had the same meal that we had three  years ago at Café Varela, the restaurant attached to our hotel in Madrid, Hotel Preciados. They have the best paella and ensalada mixta that I’ve ever had.  I managed to get my favorite tortilla española at El Brillante in Madrid. When I ordered it the waiter asked me if I wanted a whole tortilla española.  Oh no! I only wanted one piece.  Oh “pincho” he said.  Ah yes, I forgot that part.  Oops! Delicious and as perfect as I remembered it.  We wandered around central Madrid on our last day and then began searching for a place to eat. We stood outside El Botín for a long while because I hadn’t had any lamb yet on this trip. And Botín’s lamb is fantastic!  We hemmed and hawed and decided to try something different instead of somewhere we had been before. That and I didn’t want another high priced meal. So we ended up down the street at Mirador del Arco de Cuchilleros. Since their patio was full, a good sign that it’s a good place, we ate inside which was very pleasant. Nice waitress and good service. We had another meal of tapas including boquerones en vinagre, croquetas de jamón, acetunas and chuletitas de cordero (anchovies in vinegar, ham croquetas, olives and lamb chops). Everything was delicious!  They even gave us a little salad of tomatoes and cucumbers as a free appetizer.

I hope you’ll enjoy the following gallery of the food that I did manage to photograph. And stay tuned for more posts about our trip to Spain.

 

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