spain

personal: becoming a tour guide

Robert Wright, Rick Steves, tour, Portugal, 2018
• Telling the tragic love story of Pedro & Inês inside the monastery complex of Alcobaça, Portugal · 2018

Help me celebrate a very special anniversary: my first tour as lead guide with Rick Steves twenty years ago. I’d hoped to invite tour members to a surprise party right now, but coronavirus has us in quarantine around the world. At least we can raise a toast together online! To commemorate these past two decades, I thought I’d answer in detail one of the most-asked questions for every guide: how did you get started with Rick? Get comfy cuz this is the long version…

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sevilla: semana santa, favorite moments

Andalucía, Sevilla, Semana Santa, Holy Week

With Holy Week on hold due to coronavirus, there’s no better time to relive some of my favorite moments from previous years. Sure, the Vatican may allow a grand procession after quarantine is over & there’s even talk of celebrating Semana Santa in September. Whatever. Festivities should have begun today. It’s a moment many sevillanos look forward to all year long, including me. Although I’m not Catholic & was raised in an agnostic home, Semana Santa transcends religion. This week also celebrates a sense of community, an end of the winter blues & of course, rebirth. We can all relate to that. A couple years ago after the Christmas season ended on Epiphany, I told my husband, “We’ve got to start getting ready for Holy Week!” He laughed & joked, “That’s the most sevillano thing you’ve ever said.” Tag along with us during a normal year…

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sevilla: monumento al sagrado corazón de jesús

España, Spain, Andalucía, Sevilla, San Juan de Aznalfarache, Sagrado Corazón, monumento

Perched on a hilltop with commanding views over the Guadalquivir Valley, the Monumento al Sagrado Corazón de Jesús reigns over Sevilla’s suburbs. Its tall tower in San Juan de Aznalfarache forms part of a larger complex & is often visible on the way to either IKEA, El Corte Inglés or Leroy Merlin… all those special trips. Obviously from the Franco era due to its scale & size, the monument followed part of a worldwide Catholic trend of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus & was sponsored by the cardinal-archbishop of Sevilla, Pedro Segura y Sáez.

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spain: arcos de la frontera

Arcos de la Frontera, panorama, Iglesia de San Pedro

Founded by Romans as Arx-Arcis & later the capital of an independent, Muslim taifa, Arcos de la Frontera entered a golden age after being taken by Christian forces in 1264. The city & surrounding area first became part of a lordship then moved up to become a countdom, gradually increasing in importance. Catholic Monarchs Fernando & Isabel created the Dukedom of Arcos in 1493 for the Ponce de León family while reorganizing noble titles after their consolidation of power in Andalucía. Their grandson, Carlos V, made the Dukes & Duchesses of Arcos automatic Grandes de España in 1520… ranking just underneath any possible heirs to the throne. Amazing to think that the title is still passed down today, & that the castle on the main square continues to be their private property:

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road trip: borders

borders, road trip, map, Spain, Portugal
● See enlargement below…
borders, road trip, map, Spain, Portugal

Whether you call it a national border or la raya, this trip had a several motivations: spend time in places Rafa & I had been individually but not together (awwww), visit new spots that are best accessed by car & see how permeable —or not— the Portugal/Spain border has been over time. We beat the heat until the last couple of days of the trip, but overall we were very lucky with weather considering the time of year. Join us for a crazy week on both sides of the border…

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