Travels with My Brother
How could I resist?

It was 1967.   I had just finished a year of graduate studies at the University of Chicago when, on a summer visit to my family in Kansas City, I learned that my brother Joe Shaughnessy Jr. and his wife Pat were planning a fall trip to Europe—to Spain mainly, starting in Paris and driving through the Loire Chateaux country, and even taking in Portugal.   No city would be left unvisited except Barcelona, which they had seen on another trip to Europe.   Having never been abroad ,  I prevailed upon them to take me with them. Their two children Mike and Mary were to be left in the care of the good Mrs. Block.    They were glad to have me along—Joe because he knew I would be his admiring fan; Pat because she knew I liked to shop.

Joe and Pat knew exactly what they wanted from travel.   Joe was an artist who believed that it was necessary to travel every few years, in search of novel experiences to stimulate his imagination, which otherwise might   go flat.   He was looking for those aha! --“ only in France” or “only in Spain”-- moments that jolted him into realizing he wasn’t in Kansas City any more.   Pat was looking for the familiar.   She had studied with the Madames of the Sacred Heart, who introduced her to French culture, the acme of civilization. She was looking to experience the French (and by extension Spanish or Portuguese) equivalents of everyday life she already enjoyed—foods, household furnishings, restaurants, hotels.   She was eager to sample the shops, restaurants, hotels, and fleamarkets.   She was our appreciator.   The AAA book of lodging and restaurant and shopping recommendations was her bible, which she optimistically read to Joe, who   ignored them and couldn’t abide shopping.   I didn’t know what I was looking for.   Myself, perhaps.   I had mislaid myself somewhere in the convent.    Joe and Pat were closer to that self I had mislaid.  

Joe preferred not to identify with Pat and me, who were so obviously tourists, with our guidebook bibles.    He could find pensions and restaurants himself, thank you, at the center of the city, where all the people congregate.    He practiced the direct approach—jumping in and asking questions later.   He preferred speaking sign language to the natives to conversing with Pat and me in English.     I turned out to be too much the academic for his tastes.    Instead of swearing by him and his way of finding out what to see, I swore by the Michelin Green guide (in French to make matters more complicated), with its 3 and 2 star system.   I made matters worse, when he realized that I was Pat’s accomplice in shopping.   Joe and Pat were enthusiastic and positive travelers, never complaining, as I am wont to do .   Part of their travel philosophy involved journal-keeping.   Every evening we took turns summing up the day on whatever paper was at hand, even toilet paper, writing our journal entries as we sat over cognac at   a sidewalk café.   I wrote frequent postcards to Mother and Dad (who were funding my trip) as well, so I have a good record of our travels.  

Off We Go!

We left on September 12, 1967.     I was enraptured at my first glimpse of the fields of France from the air-- a patchwork quilt going every direction, not the rectilinear grids of   the US.   It all looked so medieval!    We rented a car in Paris and left town immediately for Versailles and the Chateaux country of the Loire. Joe had mapped out our route through Spain and Portugal.   We would return to Paris at the end, after 2 weeks touring in our light blue VW. Our route led first to Chartres, whose famous cathedral we could see for miles before we arrived there, it so dominated the countryside.   After a visit and a special look at the Bon Dieu and the window of the Virgin on the right side of the Chancel, we headed to hilly Blois for a stop.    After viewing the Chateau at Blois the next day, we continued on to visit Chaumont, Amboise ,   Chenonceaux (closed) and Azay-le-Rideau before leaving the Loire Valley and turning toward Poitiers, where we found the Musee, went to Notre Dame le Grande.   All these chateaux were for Pat the reason she had come.   She read all about Diane de Poitiers and Henry to us.  

After Poitier, we headed for Angouleme but found that the entire town was “complet.”   I tried my French, asking the desk if they could suggest a hotel, and they sent us wandering from one hotel to another, until we happily struck up conversation with Marcel Verdier, who spoke no English but adopted us.   He drove us through the fog to a lovely country inn, with rooms for only 80 F –okay by Pat and my standards, but by Joe’s, they were trop cher.   Marcel indulgently led us on 20 miles further where the concierge had found a pas tros cher room at the Hotel d’Orleans et Dumas for only 25 F.   We arrived at 10, and   Marcel joined us for dinner, in fact paid our bill, because we “make him happy and have fun.”    Fortunately I had just reviewed French for the PhD reading exam, and, since Joe didn’t speak any French  and Pat had forgotten what the Madames taught her, I got to parler avec Marcel about religion, politics, his marital status (divorced with 13 yr old daughter), his feelings about Americans (loved us), wine, women, music, tobacco, and Cognac.   Joe couldn’t have been happier.   Here we were, staying in and drinking cognac in the very town where Cognac originated and conversing with a Frenchman!   He sought to repeat this experience through the trip, and the least we could do was to end every day with a Cognac.

Marcel stayed at the hotel with us and we all met for breakfast the next day; Marcel paid again!   (Looking back, I wonder why Joe hadn’t insisted; I believe it was simpler to let Marcel pay than to divide the costs three ways as we had been doing.)    Marcel was a fount of information.   He advised us on our route.   Since we were heading down to Spain, we should go to Royan and take the ferry across to Porte d’Grace and thence down to Bordeaux.   Joe was delighted; he had heard of a new (built in 1958) church in Royan ,   Notre Dame du Immaculate Conception, so off we went, with many fond farewells to Marcel.   Joe took many pictures of the church, having seen it in architectural magazines and books.   From Porte d’Grace we drove south through heavy forests and vineyards of Bordeaux (Joe loved to be in the wine country –“only in France” could one drive through famous vineyards) to Bayonne ,   arriving about 6:30 p.m.   We loved Bayonne, right on the ocean.   We found rooms, settling on the local YMCA.   I got involved in talking with some of the girls who worked in the restaurant and we were all thrilled to communicate with each other.  

Plunging into the Pyrenees

After staying overnight in Bayonne, Pat and I shopped for a while in the morning, while Joe walked around, glad to be away from us with our incessant chatter.    We met at 10:30 at a sidewalk café for our café au lait, then drove on across the border into San Sebastian in Spain.   The difference in the economies of France and Spain was immediately obvious, Spain was much poorer.   San Sebastian was a popular seaside resort-- the Alexandria of Spain ,   Joe called it.      Ready to try anything new, especially when   I knew no one, Joe and Pat were my understanding audience,   I went in wading, “fully clothed” as Joe noted in the journal.   Joe found a great place to eat lunch—the wine was poured out of pigskin and the ham sides hung from the ceiling.   “Real Basque fun” he observed.   Pat was still looking up restaurants in the Michelin guide book, getting to be a nuisance.   Hadn’t we understood that he disdained guide books, preferring the   places where the ordinary people gathered.     Think for yourself, experience it for yourself, don’t ask others unless they’re locals.    We said he chose restaurants by following his nose.

Plunging ahead into the Pyrenees, we wanted to follow the Basque Coast, but after some tortuosly slow but beautiful coastal mountain driving, we chose to skip Bilbao and head “straight for Burgos.”    This involved driving along a   hair-raising secondary road through the Pyrenees via Durango to Vitoria: “great curves and steep slopes,” Joe wrote afterwards.   Joe was in high gear.  “Only in Spain” could one find such terrible and dangerous roads.   Mother would have been afraid of these roads.   Would anyone else in the family venture onto them?   I remember when we were young and went on our family drives out West in summer—Joe had always been the one afraid of mountain driving.   Now he seemed to enjoy it?   Since this was my first trip to Europe, I didn’t know enough to be afraid.  

Vitoria, Burgos, Vallodolid: we learn about "completa"

We ran a stoplight in Vitoria and the policeman demanded 550 P as payment on the spot.   Since we didn’t speak Spanish, we pleaded ignorance of what he was saying with many shrugs and looks of incomprehension, until he finally let us go, throwing up his hands.   We had had run-ins with the police in France—illegally passing a car between Bordeaux and Bayonne and parking illegally in Bordeaux.   In France Joe felt the police were reasonable and he had enjoyed the encounter with the law ;   in Spain he decided the cop was a crook.  

In Vitoria we had our first experience with Tapas, the many plates of hors   d’oeuvres.   Pat was ecstatic.   We counted the plates we’d used—26.   We added tapas to our list of must-haves, along with our café au lait and cognac.   Pat began to keep a food list.

At our hotel in Vitoria (Hotel Fronton) we awoke to find water streaming under our door from a leaky pipe.   Only in Spain, Joe laughed.   We went to Mass at a Franciscan church, very elaborate with great singing by the entire congregation.   I could relate to the religious enthusiasm of the Spanish; after all hadn’t the greatest mystics come from Spain?  

After desayuno at the hotel –café con leche and pane, we left Vitoria by 11 and continued on to Burgos, to see the great baroque Cathedral where   El Cid’s ashes are buried.   Pat was as interested in history as I was; Joe wasn’t as enthusiastic about the past; he relished the present, the architecture that still had such an impact.   

We set off, planning to stop for the night in Vallodolid, where Pat had underlined many hotels recommended in her book; however, we were again surprised to find all hotels “completa”—another feria (Saint Matthew)!    Only in Spain were there so many ferias, Joe noted.    On we drove to Salamanca, stopping along the way so Joe could watch farmers thrashing wheat.   Pat wandered off in the direction of a watermelon patch, awakening a man sleeping there, who kindly gave us a watermelon.   Such encounters with locals were what Joe traveled for ;   every bit of local color fascinated him—a farmer, a fiesta or street fair, an interesting little church.  

Salamanca: Three in One

In Salamanca there was another (or maybe the same) feria.   Joe walked around and came back telling us we were lucky—he had found us the very last room in Salamanca--with a double and   single bed, 4 floors up in the Pension Esperanza, where the stairs didn’t look like they’d last the week.   Pat and I were looking at each other with questioning looks, but   Joe threw open the window and showed us the view.   We overlooked a small side street off the Plaza Mayor—“one of the most beautiful   plazas in Spain,” the guidebook said.   It   turned out to be a “wild, exciting place” (Joe’s journal entry) on the last   night of the feria.     Joe left us girls drinking chocolate at a sidewalk cafe and went off in search of a partying group to join.   I wish we could have told him later that we met two handsome Spaniards, but alas no.   That night the three of us slept in one little room with two beds listening to the all night celebrations and shouts from the plaza.  

The next day we walked about the old university town, reading about the different architectural styles of the golden 16 th century, Pat and I trying to tell   “plateresque” from “chirrigueresque.”   Joe would have none of that.     After seeing the   House of the Shells and the wonderful cathedral of Salamanca with its retablos surmounted by a last judgment ( I have the postcard I sent my parents from there), we set off for Coimbra, Portugal.   I kept to myself that what moved me most about these towns was that they were the sites of the some of the oldest universities in Europe.

Portugal: Coimbra and Batalha

As we crossed the mountains into Portugal ,   again we noted the deterioration of the roads as a sign of the deteriorated economy. If Spain was poorer than France, Portugal was poorer than Spain.  Joe noted that the roads “wind all over the place, are rough and barely cling to the mountains.   All of our driving in this country has been in mountains.   Very rugged mountains.”   No redeeming “Only in Portugal” comments—were these mountain roads getting to him?  

In Portugal Pat, who was tuned in to the ordinary things,   observed that   all the Portuguese women wore black and carried baskets on their heads.   The highways were full of carts hauled by donkeys and oxen, as well as buses, trucks, and even walkers.   We found rooms in the Hotel Coimbra along a main street overlooking the river, on the top floor as usual, and all the ceilings over 15 feet, without elevators, of course, so we only carried up what we needed for the night.  

Coimbra was another college town ,   and I wanted to see the universities first.   The university of Coimbra had a commanding location over the entire city, which was smaller than it seemed, as there were no suburbs, only heavily populated central urban areas.   

On we drove toward Lisbon, past Figuera de Foz, which we thought was a resort but were disappointed.   We did pass a castle on a mountain top --   Joe never saw a castle he didn’t want to climb to.    In that way he was like our dad, and I’m a little the same way.   I don’t want to miss anything.   I have to check it all out.  

Another not to be missed spot was Batalha, where a flamboyant Spanish Gothic church with the usual Baroque additions fascinated Joe, while Pat and I went off in search of shops—sweaters and shawls for me.   Back on the path to Lisbon we suddenly saw a sign that said “ Fatima—17 k.”     Fatima—where the Virgin appeared to the three little girls!   We couldn’t pass that up.   Pat and I  dreaded that we might get a message from Mary telling us how wicked we were and to reform our lives, but luckily Mary was busy with other more needy souls that day, as we saw pilgrims walking on their knees across the vast plaza in front of the giant white basilica.  

Nazare: Colorful Boats on the Beach

Pat had read about the fishing village of Nazaré, so we decided to spend the night there, and were overjoyed at our good fortune in happening upon this little village, looking like a Greek fishing village, rising up out of the sea, white and clean, with narrow winding streets and enough strange sights and smells to satisfy Joe.   We found a pair of rooms in the Pensao Madiera, right on the sea, at the “nose” of the town, overlooking a great sand beach filled with boats, cabanas, and people.   We bought bathing suits, and after a night of sleeping with the roaring ocean in our ears, I presented myelf in their room by 8 the next morning, hoping to go for a swim.   Unfortunately the sea had risen and was very rough, so we went to watch   the townspeople on the beach, who were helping the fishermen bring in their boats and nets and unload them.   The men landed their colorful melon-shaped boats and unloaded them into baskets which the women then hoisted onto their head and carried to the wagons.   The children cleaned up the boats and baskets.   Joe couldn’t take enough pictures.  


On to Lisbon about 11 a.m., through Obidos, another little walled city, Greek-looking, with a castle, built on the side of a mountain.   We had a picnic lunch on the grounds of the castle which turned out to be a 6-room hotel, (parador) loaded with American tourists.   We were ambivalent about paradors.   Pat wanted very much to stay in one.   Joe very much didn’t, as they were only for rich tourists.   We were poor and we were trying to live like the locals.   Could locals afford such places?  

 We arrived in Lisbon about 4 p.m. and were lucky to find rooms at the Pensao Residencia do Sul.   Joe and Pat’s double overlooked the Avenida do Liberdada.   Mine overlooked the central air shaft, but only cost 35 escudos ($1.00) a night.  

At the American Express where we picked up our mail, we met Leo Brammel, a Canadian.   Joe was happy to have another man to talk to, so we added Leo to our group as we headed for a Fado restaurant.   ( Pat   was a big fan of flamenco and fado, its Portuguese singing version.)   We found a newly opened one—O Forcado, where Joe soon became friends with the waiters and performers—by speaking his international language of signs, gestures, smiles, nods, winks, that could make anyone like him.   We went to bed at 2:30 a.m.

While Joe was busy chatting up locals or photographing exotic non tourist   places,   Pat was busy getting recipes from all the restaurants to capture exotic culinary moments. (She had an exotic gourmet sense to go with her antiques sense)    I was looking for what stirred my imagination and brought me insights into people’s lives, now or in the past.   As a craftsperson, I was also on the lookout   for exotic crafts and fashions, hand made textiles, caftans, sweaters, jewelry, ceramics.   

The next day we visited other sights, with Leo--who had been in Lisbon a week--as our guide.   As Joe wished, we headed immediately to the highest point in town—the ancient Castle of St. George—a great Crusader type fortified castle from which to get a panoramic view of the town.   Then we headed down (in our little Beetle) through the narrow streets.   On Pat had devolved the responsibility of thinking ahead about food. We bought lunch foods to eat at the sea wall near the Belem tower, the Moorish symbol of the town.    I showed Joe the guide book   (averse though he was to looking at maps or books), listing many    other museums in the area –popular art, folk art, and the Coach Mueum, as well as the Monastery of San Geronimo—a   heavily ornate Spanish Gothic church and cloisters.   He wanted to see them all.

 That evening we got tickets for the bullfight.   Joe didn’t like it that we were sitting right in with the other tourists who were on an American Express tour, being led around by the nose, while he was navigating alone (with Pat’s help, that is).   The bullfight was beautiful—especially the fact that after the fight, the bull is not killed but pacified by the introduction of a herd of peaceful bulls with bells around their necks, luring the angry bull back to the pen.   After a brandy we were in bed by 1:30 p.m.

The next morning I got what I wanted, a lazy morning.   I woke up ill with a bug and stayed in my room, missing the walking tour of Lisbon that Joe and Pat and Leo took that morning.   They saw all Lisbon in that time, and by noon they were back and we were packed and checked out to leave for Seville.   We tried to get Leo to join us, but he had his heart set on the beach at Faro.

Seville: Sister City

We set off for Seville, taking another mountainous road that Joe compared to the Via Antigua in Italy—all stones and rocks. (Joe always noted such things in his journal.)    We had learned our lesson about fiestas filling up Spanish towns and decided not to arrive in Seville late, on the chance that it would be completa because of a local festival, so we stopped at the Pension Lobo in Cartegena.   Joe thought Cartegena looked a lot like Mykonos—all white buildings set on top of a hill.   Joe and Pat walked around taking pictures and eating at a café overlooking the square, while I retired to my room to recover from my bug—it had been a long day.   By the next morning I felt fine again.

Pat’s enthusiasm made every meal fun.   She loved eating café con leche and fresh pane for breakfast ,   tapas for lunch,   and seafood soup in the evening, with the local wines.   She got the recipes for gazpacho, calda verde (green soup—Portuguese), Portuguese bean soup, consommes, shellfish soup, Andalusian tortillas, asparagus omelet.   She could have been on a food tour.

  We found the old quarter in Seville—the Barrio Santa Cruz, and wandered around the streets admiring the gates and grillwork and balconies with flowers, climaxing in wonderful plazas. We found Don Juan’s balcony and then set about looking for a pension, trying three places and ending back at the first—Residencia Monreal, where we met Bill Bryant, from Michigan, studying 16 th century Spanish drama for a year in the National Archives on an NEH grant.   After lunch we split up to make our own discoveries around the Giralda tower, the Cathedral and the Alcazar Santa Cruz.   I turned up for our 8 p.m. dinner   reunion with a Barcelonian.   Pat had also met a Barcelonian student.   Off we all went to Mass and afterwards returned to our Pension for dinner, Sangria and tapas. 

We paid a late evening return visit to the Giralda towers and agreed, in our evening summing up with cognac ,   that we were dazzled by the architecture and art in Seville, especially the Alcazar.   Kansas City is a sister city to Seville, with its own small version of the Giralda tower on the Plaza, and we were all glad that our hometown had the good sense to choose such an architecturally distinguished city.  

Next morning we had breakfast near the Cathedral, dropping by the Plaza aria Luisa, where a fair was in progress, climaxing a week of events honoring St. Michael.   Our last stop in Seville was the church of the Macarena or Bullfighter’s Madonna, which Pat especially wanted to see.   Room upon room displayed the Macarena’s clothes and processional equipment.   We were very impressed. We felt as if we had come to Spain expressly to see her.

We left Seville about 12:30.

La Macarena, the Bullfighters' Madonna

Carmona and Cordova  

Carmona, a Roman city about 30 K from Seville, is   on the road to Cordova.   We went through the Roman Necropolis there and saw the burial site of the ancient Roman village.   We visited the museum and saw that a line of Roman cities had stretched along the Guadalquivir valley.   The road we were driving on was the very same ancient Roman Road!   In the hills were caves where Romans lived.   We felt that we were living in the time of the Romans, so we talked about the Roman Emperors from Spain—Trojan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Theodosius.   This was the way I liked to travel, immersed in imagining the past.  

We arrived in Cordova about 4 and found Hostel El Leon, near the Cathedral, originally a Mosque, with a baroque sanctuary and choir, which we all agreed was the finest thing we had seen in Spain so far.   We split up and visited the Alcazar and the Bullfighters’ Museum nearby, reassembling in the evening for dinner at the Cabellero Robo, on a rooftop.   That night we discovered that the tiny side street where the Hotel El Leon was located was quite a popular street by night, with sounds of autos, motorcycles, horses, high heels, voices—all happy sounds but making sleep difficult.   The old Jewish ghetto was the only place left for us to visit in the morning before we left and headed off for Granada.

Tourists in Granada

The road from Cordova to Granada was so bad that we wouldn’t have been surprised to find it suddenly stopping dead.   We couldn’t even do 30 k/hr.   While difficult, it was beautiful.   Joe and Pat would look up and exclaim at the beauty rather than look down and complain of the roads.   One town, Iznasar, clung to a hillside so   enticingly that Joe had to stop and photograph it from every side.

We arrived in Granada about 4 and drove directly to the Alhambra, hoping to stay at the Parador on the grounds (Pat had by then got Joe   to lay aside his rule about no paradors), but it was filled.   One young man, Luis, helped us find a hotel room at a very comfortable 3-star hotel nearby.   Then he lured us to spend a “typical gypsy” evening in one of the dim caves overlooking the city.   There we met two medical students from Luxembourg, Joseph and Claude, who had also been hoodwinked, so we all laughed at ourselves for having fallen into a tourist trap.   After having rejected the tourist label so fervently ,   Joe was embarrassed and almost apologized to our friends when they dropped us off at our 3-star   hotel.    “I feel very strange staying in a highly cultured environment and then going out to the dirty wilds of the city.   I like to stay one night in the same condition I’m visiting, ”   he confided to the journal.   Pat and I couldn’t have been happier with our pleasant hotel.

Granada dazzled us with its sumptuous courts, fountains, gardens and colorful tiled walls with countless delightful miradors was a revelation.   I could not imagine people who built their greatest buildings for their own pleasure!   I understood the medieval European mind and its buildings.   I didn’t understand the Oriental mind of medieval Arabs.   I could barely conceive of people who dressed in soft clothes, walked in fragrant gardens, relaxed amid orange trees and pomegranates, listening to splashing fountains, who created niches specifically for admiring the scenery.   It was like walking through an illustrated Song of Songs!   Perhaps it was in the Alhambra that I first felt the lure of the Oriental.  

After a morning of shopping and sightseeing, we decided not to stay over another night in Granada, but to push on north to Jaen.   Before we left, we visited the Generalife with its fantastic gardens, the   Alcabaza fortress with its panoramic view of the Alhambra, then got our flight tickets from Madrid back to Paris, visited the Royal Chapel at the Cathedral where Isabel and Ferdinand, Philip the Fair and Joan the Mad are buried, and finally shopped in the shop Pat had found—El Mantilla Espanol,   where we all lost our heads and bought bedspreads, pillows, ponchos, an antique iron cross from an oratory, a doorknocker and antique keys.   (The things we sent from there   never arrived, possibly burned up in a fire at a postoffice in Kansas, Pat guessed.)   About 6:15 we finally left Granada and headed through the mountains about sunset, seeing a beautiful panorama of the Alhambra gilded by the sunset in the mountains.   We arrived in Jaen about 8 p.m., found the Hotel Rey Fernando with three beds in a room for about 300 ptas (less than $6).

Jaen's Castle

Jaen is a modern city, set in the mountains, the olive center of the region.   After our usual breakfast of café con leche and a brioche, we headed for the Castle of Jaen, dramatically perched atop   a mountainous outcrop above the city—the most exciting fortress we had seen.   Everyone seemed eager to help us get to the top; a telegraph boy rode his motorcycle halfway up the hill to be sure we made it.  

Joe, of course, was eager to climb to the top to get the panoramic view from this dramatic height and dragged Pat and me along with him.   While he hung out over the edge with his camera, Pat and I clung to each other, fearful that we might be lured to the edge where we would surely fall over.   Joe disdained our fear and reluctantly let me take a picture of Pat with him to confirm that she had made it.

On the way down, he struck up a conversation with the manager of the Parador on the grounds, getting from him travel posters and badly needed information about travel in Spain.   He would rather find out from the locals than ask us girls what our guide book recommended.

Joe and Pat on the top of the castle at Jaen
Toledo: Finding El Greco

 After Jaen, we concentrated on getting to Toledo, a five hour drive through Don Quixote Country.   We saw the characteristic windmills, olive trees, mountains, a ruined castle on a mountain top—we could see how the Don could have had dreams and visions in this timeless land.   Around 4 we made it into Toledo and followed the signs to centro ciudad, where we immediately got lost for half an hour.   At last we found the Alcazar, parked and immediately found a residencia. We had long ago abandoned Pat’s Michelin red book and would settle for anything that was clean, convenient to the center, and reasonable.   We accepted rooms with sinks and a w.c. on the same floor somewhere.   The Residencia Toledo was in between the Cathedral and the Alcazar—Perfect!

The pace we had been following had been frantic—a city a day.   I hoped we might settle down for several days in Toledo; there was so much to see here. As always, Joe had his agenda.   First we must see the Cathedral, with its astonishing gilded and sculptured altarpiece—, then while Joe explored the Cathedral’s tower alone, Pat and I went to El Greco’s house-- a delightful example of a Toledo residence of the 16 th century, to the famous synagogue   and then shopping.  

We met around 8 p.m. in our room, then went out for a drink of Sangria   (for which Pat got the recipe—red wine, soda, cointreau, oranges, and ice), followed by a supper.   We were definitely on Spanish time, eating at 9:30 p.m.   As we ate supper, we watched a parade to the Alcazar (accompanied by fireworks) celebrating the Liberation of the Alcazar from the Turks.    Once the residence of El Cid in the 13 th century, Charles V    made it his residence in the 16 th.

The next morning, after having our morning café con leche at a bar, we checked out of the hotel and began our El Greco pilgrimage. We were all big El Greco fans, as was Dad who   would have pressed on with us.    First we drove around the city looking for the viewpoint from which he had painted his well-known view of the city, stopping as at a pilgrimage site to review the famous scene.   Then we doubled back to visit the Santa Cruz museum with its collection of 22 El Grecos, especially the Assumption.   Pat and I headed for the Church of St. Thomas with its Burial of Count Orgaz, while Joe walked around somewhere. He needed his space away from us and it was our opportunity to shop.   I was buying Toledoware.   Pat was busy looking for manuscripts. Our El Greco view
Escorial, Segovia, Juan de la Cruz, and the Alcazar

About 11 we left for Madrid and got there about noon, in time for the midday traffic jam.   We finally got to a bank that was open (the ones in Toledo were all closed for the Liberation feast.), and set off for the Escorial, the royal apartments and monastery to St. Jerome, that Philip II built to commemorate his defeat of the French in 1557.   As it wouldn’t reopen until 3, we drove out to the Valley of the Fallen, a monumental mausoleum of the war dead cut out of a mountain top and surmounted by a gigantic cross.   At the Escorial we visited the tombs of Philip II and Charles V on either side of the main altar of the church.   We didn’t have time to visit the apartments, as we wanted to see Segovia, which we reached about 5:15.   We visited the Cathedral (another Charles V project) then went to the Alcazar, a truly amazingly beautiful fortress, like a fairy castle—one of my favorite sites of the entire trip.   We walked all over and photographed every angle (including the tower).   Pat and I put aside our fear of heights and clambored all over with Joe.  

While driving around to get a better view of the Alcazar, Pat saw a sign “Visit the tomb of St. John of the Cross,” so Joe let Pat and me out of the car to look for the tomb, while he continued looking for better views of the Alcazar.   We found the Cistercian church housing the tomb of John of the Cross.   Of course I was overwhelmed, as he was one of my favorite saints in the convent; I had read The Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Spiritual Canticle ,  andDark Night of the Soul.   Joe found us in the gift shop buying cards and statues   and candlesticks.

By now we had put hotel-finding way down the list of first things to do when we arrived in a town.   Sure enough ,   we found a good hotel about 8:30 p.m., expensive but near the aqueduct with a   restaurant on the other side.   We were all so happy we had added Segovia to our original itinerary.   Joe loved it, with its many Roman buildings and glorious Alcazar.   And I had a secret delight in having visited the home town of Juan de la Cruz.    


After a morning visit to the aqueduct, viewing it in the sunlight from all angles, we reluctantly left Segovia for Madrid along a highway that included  a 3 k. tunnel.   We had business to take care of in Madrid--turning in our car, finding a pension, reconfirming our flight to Paris, getting directions to the airport, stopping by American Express to see if we’d gotten any mail.   Pat and Joe dropped off the car and came back to our Hotel Trianon, across from the Palace.   Pat was disappointed in Madrid—the first complaint she’d made.   It was smelly and polluted. She couldn’t wait to get to Paris.    To me, who had not yet seen Paris,  Madrid was marvelous—with its great avenues and paseos, tree-lined esplanades and circles, vast plazas, splendid palaces and museums.   We wandered all over ,   photographing, visiting the Prado to see room after room of Goyas, Velasquezs, Titians, Murillos, and Rubens.   Joe wondered how Velasquez got away with portraying the court so unflatteringly.   We were disappointed that there weren’t more sidewalk cafes (because of the smell, Pat said.)   Returning to our hotel that night after our late supper at the Heidelberg Restaurant, we found our hotel locked.   We banged until a night watchman came and informed us that we were to clap--not bang-- quietly, and he would come and let us in (for a tip).   All night we heard the clapping going on.   He must be a rich man.

 And at 6:30 a.m. we were up and off to Paris!  


As we flew in low over Paris, Pat identified the landmarks for me.   We landed at Le Borquette, the other terminal at the time, so couldn’t check   our big luggage for the trip home at Orly, as we had hoped, but did check it downtown   and took only light flight bags for the couple of days we would be there.   

At last we were in   Paris,   the City of Lights, the mecca of all daughters of the Madames. Without the impediment of a car to park, we were free to wander the boulevards, to sit in the cafes and watch the flow of Parisians.   Pat was in her element.   She just wanted to sit at an outdoor café and watch the French parade and absorb their clothes, their walks, their attitudes.   

Afraid that we would completely lose our heads in Paris, Joe had given us a lecture in Madrid about how extravagant we were (especially me, of whom he had expected better).   We must be very frugal in Paris, he warned.   Our money was running out.   Mine had already run out and I was now borrowing from them. We had to find a really cheap place to stay on the Left Bank. We found the Hotel Lenox on the Rue de l’Universitie, clean, with large rooms, just a few blocks from S. Germain.   First thing we did was to check out the Metro by riding to Etoile, then up we rode to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, then strolled down the Champs Elysees.   After that down into the metro again, to the Opera, where I went to American Express (for more money), Pat went to the nearest department store (to spend more money) and Joe strolled on the Grand Boulevards to see what he could see nowhere else in the world.    We reconnoitered at 7 p.m. at Notre Dame and found a restaurant nearby.   Afterwards we had our usual nitecap of cognac before walking home.   We were completely exhausted, something we hadn’t admitted before.   We could barely find our way back to our hotel.

The next morning was Sunday, so we all went to Mass at Notre Dame, in a small chapel in the apse.   A solemn Mass, which looked like it might go on all day ,   was being sung on the high altar.   As in Spain, the priest still had his back to the people.   After Mass we climbed all over the Cathedral, although Pat stayed below as her leg had been bothering her whenever she had to go up steps.   She had tripped on some steps to the postoffice in Burgos, which added to her troubles.   I, however, went, and was rewarded by getting a marvelous view and feeling Joe’s approval.  

We took the Metro out to Porte de Clignancourt, where there was a Sunday market, supposed to be like the Thieves’ Market in Mexico City.   I had not yet been to Mexico City, so had nothing to compare it with.   We walked through every alley, but Joe and Pat decided the dreadful tourists had ruined it, and now there wasn’t a bargain to be had.   Pat with her good eye for antiques was hoping to find a treasure.   Instead most of the items were manufactured or fake statues.   We didn’t buy anything!

I decided I wanted to do a very touristy thing--go to the Louvre.   As Joe and Pat had seen it in a former visit, I went alone, leaving Pat and Joe to stroll through the Tuilleries and blend in with the locals watching their kids sail boats in the pond.   Later they   walked around the gardens as the rest of Paris was doing on a fine Sunday, then headed for the Museum of Modern Art near the Tour Eiffel (where we were to rendezvous around 5:30 p.m.)    There they saw a biannual art show that amazed them—what we would now call an installation –sound and light and movement and plastic—very new to us who were still used to thinking in stodgy terms of art as something hung in frames or set on pedestals.  

As I was in high tourist mode, I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower, which was to be our rendezvouz point, but as Joe predicted, it was so crowded we could only get to the second level, which also has a great view, and that is where we met.   The metro took us back to St. Germain de Pres, near our hotel, but we couldn’t find a restaurant there within our budget, so walked to the river and to the Cité before finding one we could afford.   By that time we were totally bushed, so returned and dropped in our beds.   This was only the second time in the whole three-week trip that we had stayed in the same place for more than one night (the other was Lisbon).  

To Each His Own in Paris

After a breakfast of café au lait and croissants, we packed, paid our bills and went our separate ways, with a day to spend on the town, on our own ,   before our 5:30 p.m. rendezvouz for our 8 p.m. flight.  

The day was cold and rainy, and memorable to me because of that.   Joe walked all over Paris after checking our flight bags at the airport departure station.   He took the Metro to the Right Bank, at the end of the Grand Boulevards, and walked to the Madeleine, then took the metro to the Left Bank and walked back to the Opera again by way of the Isle de Cité. As it was Monday, the shops didn’t open until 1 p.m, so Pat went   to the Place de l’Opera, walked in the rain, enjoyed the mist, had her hair done, and, just as Joe had feared,   went on a shopping spree, spending all her money for the next two months, but having a grand finale.   On the way back, she picked up three long loaves of bread to take back to the children.  

I spent the morning looking for a hairdresser, but never found one that was open.   I had picked up a copy of The Week in Paris and saw that the film Le Grand Meulne was showing. (I knew about the novel from graduate school where Dorothy had read it as part of her French MA.)   I got a copy of the Plan de Paris par Arrondissement et Communes de Banlieue, and found the nearest theatre showing the film—the Studio des Ursulines in the Pantheon—Sorbonne section.   Aha! The Université.

I set off along St. Germain, wandering in the direction of the Boulevard St. Michel.   I began to see more and more bookstores and cafes and signs “Université Libraire” and suddenly found myself facing the hill of the Place de Sorbonne.   I turned in and walked up to get a closer look at the world’s oldest university.   I sat at a café with the students (it was October 2 ,   opening day of the school year) and imagined myself a student there.

  All the stores and ateliers de coiffure were closed so I had a very long walk, down the rue Gay Lusac, rue Claude Bernard, back the Boulevard de Port Royal, meeting the Pantheon and the Luxembourg Gardens and the Odeon Theatre de France.   I stopped at a bookstore for Le Grand Meulnes and a snack, and found the theatre by 1:45, bought a ticket for 8 F.   I loved the film, followed the main story, and at 4 p.m. started for the Luxembourg Metro and arrived at the Invalides about 5:15, where I met Joe.   Pat waited in the wrong place and we didn’t all get together until 6:30 p.m.   (Today such a delay would mean we would miss the flight.)   When we eventually found Pat she was wearing a new chapeau and carrying many interesting parcels.   Joe was so glad to see her he forgave her all her shopping.   We all shared our experiences of the day on the Orly bus.   At the airport we still had time to spend more money, buying perfume and bottles of brandy and just making the plane.  

What I Learned from My Brother

What had I learned on this trip?   Joe’s style of tourist-be-damned travel rubbed off on me, indeed his attitude to life, which was to see it all ,   make the most of everything, climb to the top, press on and never stop for breath until you collapse from exhaustion.   From Pat I learned to slow down ,   stop and appreciate the simple things—the food, the ordinary everyday things.   Joe would never have stopped for coffee without Pat (unless he could talk to a local).   I also got hooked on photography from Joe. He had an artist's eye for composition. I was beginning to see the same way he did, to look for the frame, the interesting foreground, the unusual angle.    Unfortunately ,   though he   took hundreds of pictures, he didn’t take any of us—those would be tourist pictures.   Instead he took old (and some new) buildings, landscapes, local color, sheep.     I followed his lead there as well.   It wasn’t until later that I began to look for human interest in my travel photos.

I began to learn what I enjoy most and look for in travel—the play of imagination on time and place, especially through the   eyes of   writers, artists, mystics.   St. Teresa’s Avila, St. John of the Cross’s Segovia, El Greco’s Toledo, the Moors in the Alhambra—I wanted to imagine their experiences.   When we read about the places we were in and imagined what it was like then—that was the part I enjoyed the most.   Later in my travels I realized that to really understand a place, I needed to stay around a few days, to have a home base from which to travel.  

Traveling the dusty roads of Spain with them again in my imagination evokes those halcyon   times when they were in their heyday, before illness and death forever put an end to their travels.  

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