Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Buhay (working) turista

I've never travelled outside the country for pure R&R. My trips so far have always been working ones, with work invariably carving a big chunk of time away from the sightseeing. The sightseeing, in fact, is still partly work. I'm there not primarily to enjoy the scenery or the vibe, but to keep my eyes open for a good story--something, anything worth writing about for the travel section of the paper.

The bulk of “tourist” pictures in my camera thus tend to be images in potential service to my story--pictures not for remembering the trip, but for illustrating, highlighting or emphasizing details of the narrative that I'm trying to form in my head as I click away. That means, almost always, that I'm not in the frame. Which is all right by me, since I'm not the type anyway who runs to pose before every bush, bust or garden on foreign soil. A few souvenir shots, and I'm fine.

In Zaragoza, I ended up with almost 400 photos. Here are the unlucky few that had me as a subject--mostly taken on the one day we had to tour the city. The rest of the more scenic “story” pictures will have to wait until after I've written my travel piece for the paper. Where to start, where to start...

At the Zaragoza Expo grounds before an ultra-modern building called the Congress Palace, where the Philippine National Day celebrations were held. The Expo campus is friggin' huge; crossing it from end to end is to invite heatstroke, mangled shoes and an oily face. But sige lang--for love of country, woohoo!

Walking towards the old center of the city at the start of our day-long tour. Temperature: 36 degrees. Zaragoza in summer is almost desert-like--blistering hot by day, biting-cold at night and (especially) early morning.

At the Plaza de los Catedrales, a vast square bounded on three sides by three majestic churches and on the fourth by a swanky shopping thoroughfare. The church behind me is the Basilica of the Virgin of the Pillar, patron saint of Spain, the interiors of which are jaw-droppingly opulent (domes painted by Goya!). No pictures allowed as usual, though. The church is so big that a mass can be ongoing at the lavishly gilded central nave while clumps of tourists still roam and gawk at the rest of the building. Ang init talaga sa labas, leche. (Ooops, perdone!)

Drinking from a public fountain to stave off midday thirst. I wasn't being reckless here. Since Zaragoza is hosting an international expo focusing on water and sustainable development, it made sure its taps carried potable water. Even the hotel faucets were for drinking, so for the first time in my five years of occasional travels, I drank straight from the tap and didn't have to buy bottled water. Dapat lang, because spending in Euro was dang expensive!

The Calle Alfonso Primero, running straight out of the Basilica del Pilar courtyard, is a fetching pedestrian thoroughfare lined with upscale shops and food stops on both sides. Looks empty, right? That's because we were there at around 2:30 p.m., which is sacred siesta time for the Spanish, when most establishments close and don't reopen until 5 p.m. Also, at this time of year, the sun doesn't set until 10 p.m., the usual dinner time. We Pinoy visitors, used to early suppers, had to make do with heavy snacks in between to make sure we didn't go mad with hunger before that ungodly meal hour.

A Zaragoza treasure--the 11th-century Al Jaferia palace, built by Moorish kings, improved by Catholic monarchs when they reconquered the city, and now restored to breathtaking splendor as a UNESCO World Heritage site. A section of the fortress used to hold prisoners of the Inquisition; you can still see the markings on the cell walls made by a hapless prisoner or two. The Mudejar (Spanish-Moorish) interiors of lovely gardens and intricately ornamented architecture are very well-preserved. Our Spanish guide was young, good-looking--and sweating buckets as he wrestled with his English spiels. Aww, I wanted to offer my services as a tutor (evil grin).

The working tourist with the oversize fisherman's hat aiming his camera at anything and everything--baka sakali magamit. Bless you, whoever you are that invented the memory card.


Oliver Oliveros said...

Sarap! Have a safe travel.

R-yo said...

Whew! Ansarap naman ng WORK mo. Palit tayo! he he. Btw, you're lookin' good. Di man lang ba napansin ng sweatin' guide nyo?

Misterhubs said...

Ang cute talaga ni Gibbs. :-)

royco said...

kainggit naman dahil hindi pa ako nagawi diyan sa Zaragosa. what did the inquisition dungeons look like? worse than the olps bathrooms? :-)

van said...

I envy you for your job :)

Toilet Thoughts said...

Naks! Pasalubong!

Walang picture si Spanish Guide? hehe.

gibbs cadiz said...

thanks, OLIVER! looking forward to west side story. :)

nyahaha, tsalamat MISTERHUBS! hello daw sabi ni brian gorrell. haha. :)

FR. ROY! natawa naman ako sa comparison, olps bathrooms talaga! worse naman--parang holding area lang that's so cramped and clammy. ang toilets naman natin okay lang pag nalilinis--KUNG nalilinis! :)

VAN, let's sit down so i can talk to you about the downside. lol. :)

JEFF! estampita, pwede nang pasalubong? haha. :)

Anonymous said...

hola gibbs,

you look good in the fifth picture, the one shot at calle alfonso. how often do you workout?


Therese said...

ooh, cool pictures! :) i hope to be able to go to Spain one day! :p post other pictures if you have time :D

gibbs cadiz said...

hola ANONYMOUS! gracias for the compliment. halos every day na these past months--though na-stall ata ang momentum with the trip and the heavy spanish cuisine, haha. focus, focus. :)

THERESE, yes, i've many, many more pics to post, watch out for them! :)

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