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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

France/Spain 2011 - Day 8, Part 1 - Monastery of San Juan de la Peña

"I love the power women have. I think women rule the world because they rule men. Manipulating men -- that's our job. That's what we're on the planet for" - Isla Fisher

***

Once again, I find myself with a familiar problem - I will be unable to finish my travelogue before flying off again in mid-January. So I will try and finish the March France/Spain chronicles before moving on to the August Australia tales.

France/Spain 2011
Day 7 - 23rd March - Monastery of San Juan de la Peña
(Part 1)

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Jaca street

We then drove to the monastery of San Juan de la Peña y Monte Oroel, composed of 2 monasteries - the Old (lower) Monastery and the New (upper) Monastery. Which was incidentally also on the Route to Santiago.

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Map of area

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Upper Monastery, 17th century

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Front

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Carved portals

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This is why Spain loves the EU - money to build visitors' centres

The presentation of the area was rather strange, with us looking downwards at ghostly (white plaster has that effect) mock scenes, turning us into voyeurs. I surmise that this was the lower layer of the monastery and we were standing on the upper layer - but since everything was in Spanish I had no way of finding out.

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One scene

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Another

Then we got to be on the same level as the ruins.

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Bodega (Warehouse)

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The signs pointed us out through a door marked "Emergency Exit"

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Escalera (Staircase - ???)

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Baking bread

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I assume he's a carpenter. He looks like a monkey - maybe it is a representation of childhood illness which hit people in the Middle Ages hard

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Hnnng...

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Information on the Hospital

We then went down to the lower monastery, partially carved into the rock, which despite being older was ironically in better condition (at least compared to the old parts of the upper monastery).

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Swarmed by a Spanish tour group

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Monks' bedroom

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On the monastery

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Courtyard

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Mural

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High Church of San Juan

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More explications

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"A reproduction of the Holy Grail, which was said to have been kept in the Monastery to protect it against Muslim invasions"

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Noble Pantheon, with tombs of nobility

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Arch to what should be the Royal Pantheon

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Interior of Royal Pantheon

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More information

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Archway

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12th century Romanesque cloisters

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Cloisters from back

Some of the more impressive capitals with Bible scenes:

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Jesus forgiving the adulterer

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Lazarus

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An angel wakes a sleeping Joseph

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Valley the monastery looks out over

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Valley panorama

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Valley

We didn't have time to see small villages. They might be picturesque but once you've seen one you've seen them all. More importantly we had to hit our hotel by 6pm so we had to cheong.

We then stopped for lunch in some roadside restaurant.

They were out of Judias Verdes (Green Beans).

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This was called macaroni but was really penne-like pasta with pork

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Fish soup

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This should be menestra. It translates as stew but this was very dry

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Rabbit

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This should be lamb chops
We also had pork chops but they looked like the lamb chops

As you can see, the Spanish cook their fries like the British cook their chips, albeit in a different shape and crispier. About the most that can be said about this approach is the fries seem fresher.

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House flan, rice pudding with milk, natilla con galleta (translated as Cookie Custard)

This all cost 12,5€ per person. Lunch in Spain is cheap, with their set menus.

After lunch I beheld a city upon a hill

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Town on a hill (Berdún)

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Fork

At one part there was a nice lake and a ruined tower on a hill, but everyone else in the car was sleeping so no one could take a photo for me.

We pulled into Pamplona for a short while, but even the city centre was quite boring. Either that or I read the "city centre" sign wrongly. In any case we had 3 hours to travel almost 300km to the hotel with the ridiculous 6pm checkin time. So we continued on.

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This should be a street sign in Pamplona. I don't know why I took

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Sign in Basque! A sign that we had entered a different part of Spain.

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Snack we had: tortilla with cheese and ham

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Cute road safety sign
They also had "Attention: use engine brake" signs in 6 languages - Spanish, Basque, French, English, what I thought was Portuguese and Arabic. I was impressed, considering how unfriendly to non-Spanish languages Spain was.

A road sign said Paris was nearer than Santiago (our ultimate destination). w00t.


I don't know how the Spanish can be full eating tapas for dinner. Then again maybe it's because lunch is so big, they have no space for a proper dinner.

Virtually everywhere closes for lunch. Damn Spain.
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