Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the much expected last Royal Endeavors episode, dedicated to my excellent travel experience and spiritual journey in Basque Country.
We have come a long way together to finally reach this milestone. You know how much I appreciate your patience – I am also deeply involved in the process of living consciously and mindful so please feel free to highly appreciate my time investment and persistant dedication to follow my passion against all odds – there have been quite a few. I am glad the challenges stopped. I am thankful it’s still Mercury Retrograde going on so I somehow have the proper mood to deliver what I have started a long time ago. As much as I would have prefered to split this blog post in a couple of them more, I feel I deserve some space to breathe after I deliver my adventures in wonderland therefore I will keep it cool and short.
What’s being served this time? Everything on point. Let’s dive deep into my cultural tripping around the world with (even) more cathedrals and museums. I know. Just when you though I had seen them all… Today’s menu consists of my delightful experiences in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Valladolid, Pamplona and Palencia. I will start the journey of a thousand pictures by telling you a funny story of how I got stuck between four closed doors in Catedral de Pamplona for a little while, with low phone signal and literally no one to shout to for help. Nothing to worry about. I didn’t panic much either, I thought it was kind of symbolic to whatever life situation I had put myself through and I needed to get out of. I literally can’t stop thinking about a basic coaching question whenever something out of the ordinary happens: “What is this trying to teach me?”. That’s the perfect way to cool off.
So I called our official guide for help after three failed attempts due to the low signal in the two squared meters dark chamber located in a corner of an impressive cathedral which had only a few visitors during the siesta time, but as soon as I heard it could take 10 minutes for him to reach me, the perspective of being stuck there for too long didn’t feel enlightening enough so I finally pushed an enormous door a little bit harder and got myself out. I never shouted for help but I hardly doubt anyone could have heard me. The curious thing is that the door I went through was one of no return. The other two seemed not to have been used at all so there was only one I could possibly use, which was ceiling high and faced the entrance of the cathedral. It was probably a centuries old original intricately carved massive wooden door. I was also extremely happy to have done so by myself, without panic, suffering an anxiety attack or needing extra help. I’ve noticed this aspect about myself – I have no problem to ask for help if I can’t do something on my own but I happen to do that just to know there’s a safe net in case I need it. I rarely get to use it though but the possibility gives me confidence to be in charge of the situation. That’s all I need. I guess everybody needs someone to count on, after all.
I will start this long journey with Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque Autonomous Community in northern Spain and the home of the majestic Cathedral of Santa María de Vitoria, a Gothic-style, Roman Catholic cathedral declared Bien de Interés Cultural in 1931, which was conceived as a church-fortress, with great volume and enclosed appearance, being part of the city’s defences. Let’s allow pictures to speak by themselves, you can click on the links and follow the info.
The first thing which comes to my mind regarding this cathedral is that I prayed in it but I don’t recall what I’ve ask for. Perhaps you know people who forget easy live to be happier and my wish has been taken care of.
This is also the town I have lost an ugly black umbrella in a local boutique filled with lovely dresses adorned in sequins, beads and pearls so it marks another symbolic event having taken place during my journey of a thousand words. I guess life would be pretty boring if I lacked the understanding of why everything happens – we all know it’s for a reason. I would like to thank Vitoria-Gasteiz for keeping me safe from rain and harm – I definitely didn’t need that umbrella at all. I have a things against umbrellas – who needs one if I can bring the Sun?
The spiritual tour continues with Pamplona, the capital of Navarra, by far the largest and most noteworthy city of the area. It hosts one of the world’s biggest parties, the Festival of San Fermín, where the exhilarating “Running of the Bulls” takes place. But Pamplona has much more to offer than a bloody festival, such as its beautiful Old Town and the citadel park. Of course, killing bulls or anything for fun doesn’t excite me at all but to get stuck in Pamplona’s Cathedral is a pretty extravagant experience. Which was actually awesome.
I can’t even complain – the Pamplona Cathedral (Santa María la Real) was also challenged but for centuries and it has managed to remain proud and glorious. The current 15th century Gothic church replaced an older Romanesque one. Archaeological excavations have revealed the existence of other two previous churches. The Neoclassical façade was designed by Ventura Rodríguez in 1783. It has a 13th-14th-century Gothic cloister, that gives access to two other Gothic rooms: the Barbazan chapel and the refectory. The Medieval kings of Navarre were crowned there and some of them were also buried. The Navarrese Cortes (Parliament) was held there even during the early modern ages. If you need a reason for my interest and focus on visiting historical buidings and sites all over the world, I have a thing for eclectic architecture and elaborate designs. It is easily observable in the way I dress and accessorize.
When it comes to Valladolid, my life purpose came into play so elegantly I had to face the future of being a spiritual guide. Since Pamplona symbolically marked the exit of the gloomy time of my life, Valladolid was bathing in the lovely Sun. I was filled with energy and joy so I experienced numerous synchronicities, like passing next to a stylish wedding held in a very small chapel. I don’t recall its name but the participants were extremely well dressed and so were the kids. I loved the intimate atmosphere and the flowers adorning the inside of the chapel. Next to the church, electronic music was playing. It kind of felt like I was marrying.
Of course, life would be boring if it wasn’t sprinkled with adventures, such as walking on my own and getting lost. I am glad this happened because this is how I discovered a couple of seniors who belonged to our group were lost as well and rather hopeless as the lady couldn’t track the guide’s phone number. I took them under my wing and placed the call. It all ended perfectly well. I am so thankful for being alert and confident – I managed to save a lot of energy by simply speaking Spanish. I guess I was missing the old summer days of endless siesta in Barcelona and the nights spent well at Off-Sonar. I feel very mediteranean sometimes by just enjoying the flow of life. Romanians do not have the culture of ease and well-being encrypted in their genes – they are still fighting against former programming.
After the mission accomplished of returning the lost sheep to the guide, my communication skills were called out again. This time I had an incredible feeling – the seniors were struggling to explain the receptionist how to read their birth date on the ID cards in order to fit the free entrance requirement to visit the impressive National Sculpture Museum. Some of these seniors loved me at first sight but others were silently or not comparing me to their own children. They were probably jealous they don’t go on trips together anymore or perhaps that I don’t look my age at all. Nobody believed me anyway, so I felt flattered all the time.
The moment I finished explaining to the receptionist how to check the birthdates on the ID card, the whole group literally stopped speaking to hear me out. I am talking about a group of more than 30 seniors of all ages, who were really making a fuss out if everything. That moment was impressive – a Spanish elder even asked me if I was the guide. Yes, I was really proud of myself.
The National Sculpture Museum was a highlight of my visit to Basque Country but I must admit it isn’t for everyone. It is established since 1993 in the former Colegio de San Gregorio, built at the end of the XV Century, which is one of the best examples of the known Spanish-Flemish Gothic style in the country. It houses a Spanish sculpture collection from the Middle Ages to the XIX Century. The art works are extremely elaborate, in a word – outstanding – and I was impressed, better said blown off my feet to see such beautiful art masterpieces focused in the same place.
The National Sculpture Museum is where all previous visual experience with Basque Country’s representative Cathedrals and Museums payed off. Like I have mentioned so many times before, art feeds the soul. I left this museum so energized and joyful that I couldn’t wait to reach Casa de Cervantes, the home of the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. The building has been designated with the heritage listing Bien de Interés Cultural (Property of Cultural Value), and has been protected since 9 June 1958. I felt it was quite a stylish mansion to live in, regardless the time of existence. By the end of the short visit I was so hungry, I accompanied a couple of group colleagues to dinner just next to the house, at a rather fancy Cervantes restaurant. We had a three courses menu of the day and vino tinto. I had paella for entry – it was rich in sea fruits. I was very pleased with the service as well – I am not aware of the manners to serve at a table but I have noticed I generally tend to be served first, no matter the age or gender of my companions. Flattering, of course. I love these little privileges life presents to me on a silver platter – they are elegant and respectful and I assume that is the impression I leave to people, which I am also proud of.
Last but not least, this is Palencia Cathedral (Catedral de san Antolín), a Roman Catholic church located in Palencia and dedicated to Saint Antoninus of Pamiers, built from 1172 to 1504 stands over a low vaulted Visigothic crypt (the Crypt of San Antolín). It is a large Gothic building, popularly dubbed as “The unknown beauty” because it is not as well known as other Spanish cathedrals, though it is a valuable building which has in its interior a large number of works of art of great value.
The Cathedral’s museum contains a number of important works of art, including a retablo of twelve panels by Juan de Flandes, court painter to Queen Isabella I of Castile and El Greco‘s St. Sebastian”.
We have finally reached the end of my elaborate Basque Country tour and I hope you appreciate how short I have kept it. I thought if you want to know more, you have access to internet but since nobody gets to experience life as I do, that’s basically what makes us so different and cool therefore I could focus more on my own perspective. What seemed to be a normal vacation proved to be a spiritual journey which aimed to complete a challenging stage of my life I had to let go of. The truth is, you can buy my energy but you can’t steal my soul and I came a very long way just to be myself.
What I do need to mention is that every culture I had contact with, I learnt from. Basque Country taught me lessons about independence, fierceness and authenticity, in the same time encouraging the well-deserved siesta or necessary rest which feels refreshing and empowering.
It showed to me what a high quality life means, how to take care of oneself on a daily basis, putting the mind and body at easy, how to soothe the soul and treat the elders, proving the value of a culture based on mutual respect and a deep sense of normality, facts I was aware of ideally but were accomplished to mark the standards of an economically developed country.
God bless Basque Country!
The One and Only,