Vine Country

rioja vinesA lone scrub oak stands among of sea of vines near Haro, La Rioja. Just below this vineyard, where the vines curve down the hillside, runs the Oja River–in Spanish, Rio Oja–which gives the region, and the wine, its name.  Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Sweet Medicine with a Kick

malaga-wineMalaga wines are sweet, fortified dessert wines. In the old days, some of them also contained quinine. Jesuit missionaries brought the bark of the so-called fever tree to Spain in the 16th Century and it was used to treat a variety of illnesses for centuries. Medicinal wines with quinine were still widely consumed in Spain until the 1970’s. This barrel is from my favorite bar in Malaga, the Casa Guardia. I’ve been visiting it off and on for 20 years, and it hasn’t changed much either. As for whether quinine wines are still being drunk in Spain, I can’t say. Does anybody know? Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Lighting the Way

jaime-king-of-aragonOrnate iron street lamps glow in the backlight of a late winter afternoon on the Carrer Jaume I in Barcelona. Jaime I, King of Aragon, is an important figure in Catalan history, promoting language and culture while ousting the French and expanding the Crown of Aragon across Catalonia and the Mediterranean. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Modern Transformation

mercado-de-motoresIn the Retiro neighborhood of Madrid, the Nave de Motores hosts a mercadillo the first weekend of every month. Inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII, the Nave’s transformers and massive diesel motors provided electricity to Madrid’s Metro from 1923 until Continue Reading →

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Free Rein

wildhorsesWild horses stampede down a dusty mountainside near A Estrada, Galicia. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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A Sip of Summer

lavender-butterflyA Cleopatra butterfly has a drink of nectar from a lavender flower in Castille-La Mancha. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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City in the Sky

avilaWildlfowers bloom in springtime outside the medieval walled city of Ávila. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Still Rolling Along UPDATE: (Now needs a new title)

talgo[Everything I said about slow train travel in Spain is true. Except for the part about the Talgo III still being in service. It’s last run, sadly, was in 2010.] Taking a trip on the AVE, Spain’s network of modern high-speed trains, is fast and efficient. But what’s your rush? There are plenty of older trains still in operation across the country and taking a trip on one is like slipping back in time. Above, the bar car of a Talgo III, which started service almost 50 years ago and is still going strongPhoto ©Mike Randolph

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Here be Lots of Dragons

sa dragoneraThe island of Sa Dragonera, off the coast of Mallorca, almost became a mass-tourism resort after a private company bought it in 1974 and started developing plans for apartments, a hotel, a casino, and a large man-made port. But environmentalists fought back hard, and finally, ten years later, the island was designated a park and building on it was prohibited. Named for its dragon-like silhouette, the island is also home to thousands of mini dragons, aka, Podarcis lilfordi, a small lizard found nowhere else. The lighthouse at the eastern tip of the island has operated since 1910. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Party time in Pamplona

chupinazo san fermin

The chupinazo marks the start of the Sanfermines in Pamplona. After the rocket is fired at noon on July 6, the city doesn’t sleep for nine long days. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Cooling off in Cadiz

cadiz beach

Beach season is here. For a look at this beach at a different time of day (and a different time of year), click here. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Nighttime, and Madrid is just getting started

gran via madridCalle Alcala and the start of the Gran Via, on a cold winter’s night in Madrid. The same evening I took this image, I took this one a little earlier, while waiting for dusk. It stumped quite a few people. I wasn’t sure anybody would get it, and they might not have without the hints I left in the comments! Both were taken from the observation deck of the Palacio de Correos in the heart of the city. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Sunset on Segovia

segoviaThe last rays of the sun paint Segovia’s spectacular monuments with warm orange light. Photo ©Mike Randolph

 

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Street Scents

valldemosaA man walks down a cobblestone street in Valldemosa, a small town in the Tramuntana mountains on the island of Mallorca. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Cultural Crossroads

zaragoza semana santaSemana Santa in Spain: In a nighttime Holy Week procession, hooded penitents push a statue of the Virgen Mary past the mudéjar wall of Zaragoza’s La Seo Cathedral. Mudéjar architecture, with its distinct Islamic influence (note the geometric patterns), reached its zenith in Aragon, where buildings such as La Seo form part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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