I don’t think we have ever taken a vacation just to take a vacation; every vacation has been motived and planned with some other objective. This comes, I am sure, as a result of my upbringing – we took a family vacation nearly every year, but it always connected to some other purpose. Our first family trip to Southern California, the beach, and Disneyland, coincided with the dedication of the Los Angeles Temple in the Spring of 1956. We first saw Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon coming home from my father’s assignment at stake conference in Mesa. We even rode the train once from Salt Lake City to Caliente, Nevada, because my father was concerned that passenger trains might go out of existence (and we had cousins in Panaca, NV).
So when Kathleen and I bought tickets to Spain last Spring, it was for more than tourism. Our trip had three objectives: visit several sites related to Christopher Columbus, hold a reunion with some of our former missionaries, and visit with our friends, Mark and Annemarie Pace in Barcelona.
We had high expectations: having returned from three years in Spain in July 2012, we planned this return trip with great anticipation. And, I am happy to say, the trip far exceeded even our highest expectations.
From the moment we touched down at Madrid Barajas and boarded the airport bus bound for Atocha train station, we knew this was going to be a great trip!
COLUMBUS IN ANDALUCIA
On the first day we traveled to Sevilla, which became our home base for four days of exploring Columbus-related sites in Andalusia. We didn’t see everything, but we saw a lot: his tomb in the cathedral of Sevilla, the Archivos de las Indias (which houses many of his papers), the Alcazar of Sevilla, the town of Palos (from where he set sail on the 1st Voyage), the monastery La Rabida (where Columbus and his young son lived for a while as he made plans for his voyage), and Granada (where the Queen approved his voyage after seven years of intense lobbying by Columbus).Tomb of Columbus in the Cathedral of Sevilla. It might contain his bones… Orange trees in the courtyard of the Cathedral. Portrait of St. Christopher near the tomb of Columbus. Christopher is a latin name meaning “Christ-bearer.” Archivos de las Indias. The archives include many of Columbus’s personal writings, including the nine surviving books from his personal library. On the deck of a replica of the Santa Maria, Palos de la Frontera. La Rabida. Here Columbus made plans for his first voyage. Magellan planned his great circumnavigation in the rooms of La Rabida. The refractory at La Rabida, maintained very much like it was when Columbus lived at the monastery and took his meals in this room. A lookout climbs the mast on the replica of the Pinta near Palos.
In addition to a day-trip by car to Palos, we did a day-trip to Granada by train. Granada and the Alhambra were more than we could have imagined. Standing on the ramparts of the Alhambra overlooking the beautiful vega of Andalusia, it is easy to imagine that Queen Isabel felt that, after conquering this glorious land, sailing across the ocean seemed a small thing by comparison.Sometime after his death, Columbus’s remains were moved to the monastery of Las Cuevas, just across the river from Seville. The Guadalquivir at Sevilla “A sea like the river of Seville and the breezes as sweet as in April in Seville so that it is a pleasure to be in them they are so fragrant.” – Entry in Columbus’s log, 8 October 1492.