Sunday, May 10, 2009


On the 7th of May we drove from Toledo to Guadalupe. It was a little bit of a winding road through the mountains. The scenery was spectacular with greenery everywhere. You cannot imagine our delight when we arrived at our destination and found out we were staying in a monastery. The rooms were huge and charming. Granted there was no television or A/C but the setting was spectacular. We had a room upstairs and outside the door of our room overlooked a beautiful patio. The whole place was so calm and tranquil. It would have been great to stay there forever. It was a nice secluded place to just stretch out and read or meditate.

That evening we attended mass at the local parish church. I had never attended Catholic mass before but found it interesting. The priest talked about the importance of being good members. Following the mass little children walked up to the altar and placed bouquets of flowers in a basket. They were so cute.

In the back of the church is a painting showing two Indian servants of Christopher Columbus being baptized. Guadalupe is where the papers authorizing Christopher Columbus' trip to the New World were signed. It is also the home of the patron saint of most of Latin America, the virgin of Guadalupe. Legend has it that her carved statue was made by St. Luke. We took a tour of the church and monastery so that we could see her.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Train to Toledo

Kimberly and I took the train from Madrid to Toledo. It was quite the experience. We had been online and saw that the train left at 13:50. I had spent the morning at the National Archives and didn't get over to where Kimberly was until after 1:00 pm. by the time we got to the train station we had about 30 minutes. We hurried to find the ticket booth. We stood in line for a long time. The sign said that tickets would be sold up until 10 minutes before the train departed. We thought we would have plenty of time but the line didn't move and didn't move and the time was going by quickly.

There were about 5 people in front of us. The person at the head of the line took a really long time. When she finally finished her transaction, the next two people moved up and bought their tickets and the lady selling them said that they would be the last ones for the 13:50 train. Then the couple ahead of us convinced her to let them buy tickets and she relented. Finally we got to the cashier and she said just before we got there that they were the last ones. We turned to her and asked her what we were supposed to do. She asked if it was just the two of us and we said yes. She said okay then and said we would have to run to the platform. We hurriedly bought our tickets and ran to the train. We made it with about a minute to spare and we were the last ones to get on the train.

Return to Salamanca

We returned to Salamanca on the 3rd of May to do some more research. We spent 5 hours in the Diocesan archive finding more ancestors for families we were working on. You have to love Catholic parish records because you can advance generations so easily. We had lunch in the cafeteria of the Universidad of Salamanca. It was fun to eat among other students.

After lunch, we hit the road again. We drove to Avila hoping to be able to walk along the top of the city walls. Little did we know that the walls are closed on Mondays. We were disappointed. The walls were so cool. It was like stepping back in time to see this great walled city. We did have fun walking around the city.

One of the yummy things we did was to go into a pasteleria and get some yummy pastries. There were so good. There were some that had light flaky crusts and were filled with fruit.

Following the stop in Avila we drove to Alcala de Henares. Alcala is a suburb of Madrid. We stayed there the night and got up the next morning and went to the Archivo General de la Administracion. It is one of several national archives for Spain. This one deals primarily with government records. The guide gave us a great presentation of what types of documents were available. One of those most interesting ones to me were records of old medicines when they applied to the government to be allowed to be sold. The files included the boxes the medicine was sold in and all about what they were supposed to do. They also have a great collection of old photos.

Funny highlights from the drive was cruising down the highways of Spain listening to the professor singing along to a Neil Diamond CD. 

Here are links to all the pictures I have posted to date.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I arrived in Spain on Tuesday, 28 April. After a little bit of a wait in the Madrid airport for Kimberly, another traveling companion, to arrive, we took off for the highways of Spain. Our first stop was a shopping center where we had lunch and bought some groceries. We were then off to Segovia.

Segovia is a beautiful city in central Spain. It is very old. Within the city there is a Roman aqueduct that was built before the time of Christ. It is put together without any mortar. You can still see small indentations in the stone where the Romans used tools to carry the big blocks and lift them in place. The old city is exactly how you would picture an old Spanish city. Narrow streets covered in cobblestones. It was so charming.

That evening we had a light dinner we prepared ourselves of sandwiches and small postres of pudding up on the roof of our hotel. It gave us wonderful of the old city and the sunset. There were these huge stork nests on the roof of the hotel with storks in them. I was able to get a few pictures but it was almost dark before we noticed them.

The next morning we got up and drove out to the castle, Alcazar. This is where the Spanish military archive is located. We were shown up the stairs to a research room where we were given a short lecture on what was available. We were shown books also that catalogued some of the military records available. After about a half an hour researching names for Brother Ryskamp we were allowed to leave the research room to explore the castle. Kimberly and I walked down the stairs and went and purchased a ticket so that we could climb the tower.

The steps up to the tower were interesting. There were 152 of them. For the most part they wound up a spiral staircase. The passageway was just barely wide enough for two people and so when we encountered someone coming down we had to stand to one side to let them pass. It was quite a climb but the view was spectacular. After spending several minutes up there admiring the view and taking pictures, we came back down the stairs and explored the rest of the castle.

This is the castle where Ferdinand and Isabel spent some of their time during their reign. The marriage of Isabel and Ferdinand is what brought together kingdoms of Castille and Leon together to form what is now mostly just known as Spain. Inside one of the rooms are the two thrones they used to sit on. “Tanto I Monta” is the inscription above them. It is an illusion to the great power Isabel had even though Ferdinand was a king in his own right.

After our trip around the castle, we took a tour of the archives given by the commandant in charge. They have a ton of military records of all types. He was gracious enough to take us on a quick tour even though the ministra of defense had visited earlier that morning and he was quite busy with her.

When we left the archive we drove back toward town to have a picnic in a local park that is next to a convent. We had a wonderful lunch of sandwiches and salad made by the Ryskamps. We then took off on the road to Salamanca.

Flight day 4-27-09

I am on way to Spain. The next few entries will be about my adventures there.

I was really sick yesterday. I had a stomach flu that was really slowing me down. The ironic thing about it is that I was able to go to choir practice and church before it really kicked in. Once I got home I had to make about 10 or 15 trips to the bathroom during the next couple of hours. I was really worried about how I would do spending the next day and night on planes and in airports. Thank goodness for the power of the priesthood. Adam and Brother Loveridge gave me a blessing and I am feeling much better today. I’m still not quite at 100% but good enough to navigate around the airport and sit on a plane.

I slept most of my first flight between Salt Lake City and Chicago. Considering I got up at 3:15 after going to bed at about 10:30 it’s not too surprising that I was so tired. Add to that the fact that I was sick and really hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast Sunday morning and it’s no surprise I was so tired.

I have finally eaten some real food. I had a piece of toast on the way to the airport and then here in Chicago I had a banana and a bagel. After that long explanation here is the subject of this blog entry: the price of food at the airport.

I wanted to make sure that I had something in case my nausea came back and so I popped into one of those little bookstores and purchased some Dramamine and a Sprite. The price was $4.50!! The Dramamine was only two doses and was ridiculously overpriced at $2.79. I was shocked but felt it was necessary.

When I got to Chicago, I felt a little hungry and thought a banana would be good. I can’t believe how much they charge for a simple banana. $1.30!! I could buy a whole pound of bananas for that price in a supermarket. I went ahead and paid it thought because I was desperate for something to eat.

After I saw Kimberly off on her flight, I went to find something else to eat. I was pleasantly surprised to find a bagel with cream cheese for $2.19. I guess you really can find some decent food for a regular price in the airport but it’s not very easy.

The other thing I have noticed is an abundance of restrooms but rarely a drinking fountain. For those of use who bring our own water bottles to refill it’s a pain to have to fill them in the bathroom. I guess they want to make sure you pay the $3 necessary to buy some bottled water.

One final gripe is the Wifi. They advertise it all over the airport but they don’t tell you that it costs $6.95 a day or $9.95 a month. That’s ridiculous. I wonder if we will ever really see the day where there will be free Wifi everywhere.