Transitioning to Spain

Spain's Royal Family no longer lives in Madrid's Palace.  When not in use for ceremonies, it is open to the public.

Spain’s Royal Family no longer lives in Madrid’s Palace. When not in use for ceremonies, it is open to the public.

We have evolved from our initial goal of living in a different country for awhile to being The 6 Monthers, our current lifestyle of moving to a different country every six months.  Our objective is loaded with challenges as far as observing the tourist and visa laws of the various countries in which we wish to live.  We are in a race against time to obtain dual citizenship with Italy which will solve the Schengen Visa issue throughout most of the European Union. 

Standing on the Plaza de Independencia is the Puerta de Alcalá.

Standing on the Plaza de Independencia is the Puerta de Alcalá.

The hardest part of being a traveler in the manner we have chosen is the transition between countries.  Our travels are best done when we start from a base in the country of our choosing.  From there we take single-day and multi-day trips to surrounding areas to learn what we can about the culture and the beauty of the country.  When it comes time to move, we must pack everything we own into our luggage and cart it with us which is burdensome on multiple levels.  Primarily, it is draining to live out of suitcases for any length of time.

Is it a palace or a cathedral?  No that is the Palacio de Comunicaciones, otherwise known as the Madrid Post Office.

Is it a palace or a cathedral? No, it is the Palacio de Comunicaciones, also known as the Madrid Post Office.

We gave ourselves seventeen days for our latest transition from Croatia to Spain which allowed for stops in Rome, Barcelona and Madrid.  These are three world class cities with great history, food, art and culture.  They are cities I had only learned about in school and through my reading over the years.  For me, seeing them for the first time was a thrill I eagerly anticipated.  We got a tiny stateroom on the overnight Blue Line ferry from Split, Croatia, to Ancona, Italy, then caught the train to Rome.  For the 20 hour crossing from Italy to Barcelona, we also got a stateroom on the Grimaldi Line ferry.  In each case we were grateful to have avoided checking bags and paying the fees we would have incurred at airports.  We even got a little sleep along the way.

An evening on the town with my two favorite women in Spain

An evening out with my two favorite women in Spain

Rome was glorious, no question.  For me, our visit to The Vatican was the greatest highlight.  I will always think of Rome as a must-see place, one that made me say “Wow!” with almost every turn.  Among Barcelona’s most interesting sights is Antoni Gaudí’s architecture, and the highlight for any visitor to Barcelona is without question La Sagrada Familia.  For a number of reasons, Madrid was my favorite stop.  Perhaps it was the reunion with our new friend, Ana, whom we met during our Discover Croatia Tour.  Spending time with friends is always a treat, especially while living in a country far from home.  Madrid is unique and beautiful, and there was way more to see and do than we could fit in during three days.

Sometimes called the 'Superman Building' the Metropolis Insurance Company placed their name on the building when they purchased it.

Referred to by some as the ‘Superman Building’ the Metropolis Insurance Company placed their name on the building when they purchased it.

Overall, I am glad we visited these places in the off-season.  We avoided major crowds in each city as well as the summer days which can be insufferably hot.  That part was good.  I did lose my wallet to a pickpocket on the subway in Rome.  That experience made me much more conscious of my surroundings and much less trusting of people on the street.  And like any crime against a person, I felt violated, which impacted me psychologically.  It took me a few days to almost get over blaming my naiveté and blaming other, less scrupulous people for being assholes. 

This apartment building across from our hotel is typical of the fine architecture throughout the city.

This apartment building across from our hotel is typical of the fine architecture throughout the city.

Ultimately, traveling for over two weeks with daypacks and suitcases is too much.  We need closets and a washing machine and a kitchen of our own so we do not have to eat restaurant food every day.  That does not diminish the wonder and beauty of the places we visited during our transition.  It does, however, diminish our ability to maintain our energy and to fully appreciate what we are seeing.  Such is the learning curve of The 6 Monthers.  We are not on vacation – this is our life.  I believe we will get better at it as we go along.      

All photos: © by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

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Playing Tourist in Our Own Country

The Getty Villa is modeled after the country home of a Roman aristocrat.

The Getty Villa is modeled after the country home of a Roman aristocrat.

Our imminent trip abroad will take us to faraway lands and keep us on foreign soil for what may be years. Before we depart we are taking in sights that are well worth our time, including some trendy vegan restaurants. Our most recent outing was a visit to the Getty Villa in the stylish Pacific Palisades community nestled between Malibu and Santa Monica, California.

Mike in the East Garden of the Getty Villa

Mike in the East Garden of the Getty Villa

Billionaire oil tycoon, J. Paul Getty, was an enthusiastic patron of art and an avid collector particularly of Greek and Roman antiquities. In 1954, he opened the original J. Paul Getty Museum out of his home adjacent to the current villa. By 1968 Getty had decided to build a villa modeled after the Roman country villa, the Villa dei Papiri, believed to have belonged to Julius Caesar’s father-in-law. The Villa dei Papiri, located in ancient Herculaneum, like Pompeii, was buried under 100 feet of volcanic rock and ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. After partial archeological excavation of the villa, some papyrus scrolls were found depicting the layout of the original villa, thus the name Villa dei Papiri.

The Outer Peristyle provides gardens and shaded walkways for relaxing conversation and contemplation.

The Outer Peristyle provides gardens and shaded walkways for relaxing conversation and contemplation.

The Getty Villa underwent a decade-long renovation and reopened to the public in 2006. The first thing we notice as we approach the villa from the parking garage is that no expense was spared in providing a realistic depiction of Roman luxury. There are reflecting ponds, fountains, arbors, gardens, and statues throughout the villa in addition to a café, bookstore and amphitheater. Visitors are also given access to several balconies offering dramatic views of the grounds and out to the open ocean.

Detailed mosaics typically decorated the floors of Roman villas.

Detailed mosaics typically decorated the floors of Roman villas.

Getty’s art collection is recognized as one of the finest private collections in the world. There is a separate Getty Museum in Los Angeles for displaying artworks. The Villa is dedicated specifically to Greek and Roman antiquities. Museums throughout the world trade exhibits with the Getty Villa and other museums of note.

The special exhibit from the Museum of Catania on display during our visit was Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome. It would take a student of art history to adequately describe the sculptures, ceramics, jewelry and fine metalwork on display. Our photographs provide a sample of what we were able to view. Suffice it to say our trip to Sicily last year gave us a special appreciation for the intermingled histories of Greece and Rome.

The Trojan War is portrayed around this sarcophagus. The faces on top are left unfinished until the deceased are known.

The Trojan War is portrayed around this sarcophagus. The faces on top are left unfinished until the deceased are known.

I heartily recommend a half day tour of the Getty Villa. The only charge for admission is $15 for parking. An advance, timed ticket is required at the Villa. Check their website for details. No reservation is required to visit The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and if you find time to visit both sites on the same day the parking fee is valid for both sites.

J. Paul Getty was living in London during construction of the Villa which opened in 1974. Getty died in 1976 without ever having seen it.