Showing posts from April, 2013


Although we have enjoyed coffee all over the world, our love for drinking coffee began in Spain.

We stand at the counter at La Mallorquina which has served pastries on the Puerta del Sol since 1894.

"Dos cafés con leche." (I Iike the steamed milk at breakfast because it adds some nutrition to the meal.)

He places the saucer, spoon, and sugar packet in front of us. The white cups and saucers add a respect and dignity to the drink versus paper cups and lids.

"¿Algo más?" (The white jacketed man asks without making eye contact--he's very busy.)

"Dos napolitanas con chocolate." (They are known for their napolitanas, and again, the dark chocolate is healthier than the crema.)

He places a knife and fork before us and we love the clinking. There is such an effort in setting, clearing and cleaning real flatware and porcelain rather than tossing plastic and paper.

Moments later he brings the pastries, then the cups with only espresso. He pours the steamed milk…

Trains, metros and automobiles

Transportation in Madrid is social and patterned. Passing through turnstiles you commit to a way of being together: elderly priority seating, stroller and mom, squeeze but respect space, make room for oncomers, commuters in their own Kindle world and young teenagers in packs without supervision. Although public transportation can be confining, there is also freedom and adventure.

We are on the metro to the Chamartin station to catch a train to Segovia. Twenty euro round trip ticket on the high speed Ave, and we arrive in thirty minutes. Thirty years ago I remember getting to the station with my backpack, looking up to the salidas board and deciding where to go. Today we bought tickets at a kiosk with a card and selected our return tonight at 9:30. Then I wrote in my journal and fotos with my camera, saving three months of film rolls in an X-ray bag; today I blog and sacar fotos on my phone.

I love the time on the train for reflecting, talking, eating without worrying about renting a …

Madrid Memories

We attach significance to spaces--memories and emotions that are very personal and can be very meaningful. Madrid is one of those spaces to me.

I love the buildings and history, the metro and boulevards, the language, tapas, cañas, bocadillos, Retiro Park, cafe con leche, chocolate con churros and I actually like the ubiquitous cigarette smoke. I'm tempted to start smoking.

We look for the same spots and still look for new adventures. "I" became "we" when my six week college experience five years later became Amy and my first international trip together and 16 years later became a sabbatical experience with ten year olds. Now we look at each other with the same "we love this" expression.

In 1981 I saw a flyer posted in the Spanish department for a scholarship to El Centro de Estudios Hispánicos. I don't know why I was interested. I had just chosen my Spanish major that fall, mostly because you have to declare something and I had twenty advanced …

Back to Madrid

Amy and I are flying to Madrid right now. It's my fourth time back and our third time together. The other times we planned out way in advance: study in college, leading a group trip and our four month sabbatical with ten year olds. But this time we bought the tickets just six weeks ago to mark a significant season for us.

February 2 I celebrated my tenth anniversary as senior pastor of Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. February 10 we celebrated groundbreaking on the upper campus and moved into our fellowship hall for a ten month season of worship while our contractor completes a $12 million renovation to our seven acre campus.

February 17 the leadership surprised Amy and me with cards and a gift that would allow us to do something special. Fix the cars, buy an appliance? No. Fly somewhere? Yes. Where? Madrid came out of our mouths at the same time.

We booked on Delta for a ten day trip between a board meeting and preaching two days after we return. We are staying at a pension th…