Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Catching Up!

It's been awhile so this post will be a little of this and a little of that.

After the week in Granada, my sisters and I headed to Brussels for my next round of meetings. Since we had already been away for a week, I didn't extend the trip so there wasn't a lot of time for me to play tourist. We arrived in Brussels on Sunday morning, once we got settled into our hotel we walked down to Grand Place and over to see little Mannekin Pis.   There was a folk festival on in Grand Place with bands and these giant puppet characters. Mannekin Pis was dressed in one of his little costumes.

We ate out one evening at the Hard Rock Cafe Brussels.  Now I've been to the Hard Rock in Rome, Berlin and Brussels and will probably add London and Orlando to that list early next year.

Once my meetings ended on Friday morning, we did have the afternoon and went to visit the Atomium, which was part of the World's Fair held in Brussels in 1958.  For me, it was the first time I had been out of the downtown core of Brussels.  We walked through a park and to another wonderful old church.

Once home from this work trip, I wasn't in the office for long before I headed off to western Canada for my nephew's wedding. My brother and one of my sisters flew through Ottawa from Moncton NB so that we would be on the same flight to Calgary. We met in the Ottawa airport where we had lunch together.

There had been a lot of snow already in Airdrie, Alberta but by the time we got there, thankfully, most of it had gone.  The wedding was on Saturday and we arrived Thursday night so on Friday we went to the Calgary Zoo to see the pandas that are currently there on loan. The pandas were resting which I hear they do quite a lot.  We did see many other animals including the lions who had just be returned to their exhibit after meat had been hidden around for them to find.

The wedding on Saturday was a small but fun affair. My nephew and his new wife did a lot of the arrangements themselves with help from family and friends.

One of my nieces with her partner 

One of my sisters, with her daughter and son-in-law

The bride and groom with the groom's sister and mother.

Me, my brother and sisters (less one)
We weren't flying out until Tuesday so we decided to drive to Banff for the day on Sunday.  You can see the mountains from Airdrie but you need to go a bit further west to really see them. It was quite a scenic drive; only takes about an hour and half to get there.  Once we arrived we got a quick lunch at MacDonalds and then walked around and did a bit of shopping. We even went to the Fairmount Banff hotel as they have the best views of the Bow River off the back terrace.

Downtown Banff

View from the hotel
Since getting back from that quick trip, I've been back doing agility. We had a trial the past three weekends.  Keltic is still looking for that first Masters qualifying score; I know it will happen but I hope it doesn't take another year. Beckett has been whittling away at the number of qualifying scores he needs for his Silver Expert Snooker and Silver Expert Jumpers. Well, last weekend we got the last two qualifying scores we needed for the Snooker title.  And now we only need one more qualifying score for Expert Jumpers; once we get that final qualifying score, it will also give Beckett his Silver Versatility title for having achieved Silver Expert in four events.  A Silver Expert title means that you have 25 qualifying scores in that event except in Steeplechase which requires 50 qualifying scores.

That's it for agility for 2018, looking forward though to a good year in 2019.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Magical and Mysterious - The Alhambra

To finish up on my post of Granada, Spain and the visit to Alhambra and the Nasrid Palace, as our tickets for the palace weren't until 6:30 pm, we took a relaxing morning at the hotel. We had breakfast and then packed as we would be leaving for Brussels, Belgium through Madrid very early the next morning.

We walked up to the old historic center of town and had tapas and wine for lunch, then caught a bus up to the Alhambra.  Our visit started with the gardens, in an area called the "Generalife".

The word used for the area "Generalife" comes from the Muslim Jennar al Arifor or Garden of the Architect. As you can see it was an overcast day when we started and it did start to rain just after we arrived. The gardens were lovely all the same.

After touring the gardens and the villa, we headed to the Alcazaba or the citadel. By now the rain had stopped and it was quite hot and somewhat humid.  At the citadel, you have to climb up a tight winding staircase to get to the top of the fortress.  I'm not sure what was worse, going up or coming down.

There is also a large building, the Palace of Charles V,  that has a rotunda inside and a large chapel on site to explore.

Heading into the fortress, Alcazaba

Not at the top yet

At the top

Looking back down over the Alcazaba

Palace of Charles V

Inside the palace

Chapel inside the Alhambra

After we finished touring the grounds, we still had some time to go before the timed entrance to the Nasrid Palace.  We found a small hotel, called the American Hotel, that also had a very small restaurant and had some dinner. The restaurant was at the front of the hotel and so the waiter didn't have to go down the hall past the reception desk, there was a small hatch in the wall of the dining room connected to the kitchen. He just passed the orders to the kitchen that way and they would ring a bell when there was an order ready.

After eating we walked back the palace entrance area and waited for our time to enter.  The Nasrid palaces only have limited tickets available and some people at my workshop were disappointed not to be able to get tickets; they still were able to get entrance tickets to see all of the other areas.  We occupied ourselves while waiting watching the cats.

The palace was pretty amazing.  The tile work and the carved stone work must have taken a huge amount of  time and labour.

You are asked not to touch anything, I put my had on a plain column and was even asked to remove my hand from that.  They did have replicas of stone work and tile work that you could touch.

Yes, we could sit in the chair.

 The Court of the Lions (Patio de los Leones) and fountain was spectacular. It was too bad that we couldn't get closer or that the fountain had to be roped off. The fountain is a replica now, all of the original lion carvings are in museums. We were only allowed around the outside of the patio under all the arched areas.

Spectacular roof 

View of Granada
Some Christian paintings on the ceiling

Palace baths

Everywhere you looked there was something to see, it was really impossible to take it all in.  I can hardly imagine what it would have been like to have been someone of wealth who had lived there during the reign of the Nasrid dynasty.

After leaving the inside of palace, there are more royal garden areas to walk though with fountains, waterfalls and ponds.

It was a long day but certainly one that was well worth it and that I will remember for quite some time. The pictures just don't do it justice.  If you get a chance, you should visit.