Tag Archives: EUROPE

A Rocky History

The Rock is more than a geographical description of British territory Gibraltar.  Long claimed by neighboring Spain, tiny Gibraltar has steadfastly hung on to its separate status through he said/he said disputes* and punitive restrictions that have included border closings** and water shutoffs with a stubborn resilience not easily eroded. News stories reveal a combative mentality between the two countries, evoking images of stubborn children jockeying for maximum back seat space. For instance, in 2009 the Royal Navy was accused of using the Spanish flag for target practice in proximate international waters.  Although proved to be a false accusation in the end, the incident is indicative of the ongoing quirky dysfunction.

We opted to walk from La Linea, Spain into Gibraltar in hopes of avoiding the lengthy border crossing delays that plague the country line. And, unlike the automotive travelers who had to contend with an extended line, our pass-through was surprisingly uneventful.  I didn’t even break stride as I waved my open passport at the border patrol agent, deeply engrossed in a newspaper.

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*Spanish Dictator Francisco Franco said British Prime Minister Churchill promised Gibraltar to Spain in exchange for its not being attacked in the course of WWII. Churchill later denied this claim.

**The longest border closing lasted 16 years, from 1969 through 1985. In 2003, a virus-stricken British cruise ship allowed to dock in Gibraltar led to a 13-hour border closing and a fresh stirring of ill will between the countries.

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Featured Photo: Runaway Groom

 

Featured Photo: Runaway Groom (Paris, France)

This moment appears more dramatic than it actually was. If you look closely, you’ll spy the photographer’s head. This is no runaway groom. He was simply positioning himself for the next photo on a stone stairway beside the Seine River in Paris, France. From where I stood, Notre Dame Cathedral rose behind me and the Seine River flowed ahead and below, giving me a great vantage point from which to photograph the photo session.

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Simply Sunday

Our first evening in Barcelona capped a grueling 25-hour day, but the city had engaged us since our early arrival with its remarkable architecture and unique energy.  Sleep could wait. Barcelona could not.

Our day-long wander had taken us through the eerie labyrinths of the Gothic Quarter, to the Waterfront and then finally northeast to Barcelona’s majestic Arc de Triomf. From there we chanced upon a typical Sunday evening at Barcelona’s biggest park: Parc de la Ciutadella.

In the United States, Sunday evening is often but a prelude to busy Monday mornings. But here in Barcelona, families gathered.Friends played music and games. There was juggling, tight-rope walking, acrobatics and exuberant gymnastic dancing. Dads kicked around soccer balls with their sons. Couples and families rowed boats around the small lake next to the zoo.

It was a random celebration of everyday life. And as difficult as the details of daily living can be, at that moment and in that place, there seemed to be plenty to celebrate.

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