It’s WIP Wednesday and I was working all day so I didn’t have time to photograph all my WIPs. It’s a shame, actually, because it’s worth photographing them and showing them off. My crochet sweater is coming along nicely. I’ve also turned the heel on my sock and it’s really showing off the colors from the Cascade Heritage Prints skein. However, I came to WIP Wednesday with a Plan B. A couple of times when I’ve been out on the street to work or run errands I’ve taken photos of where I live, saving them for a day when I feel like blogging on WIP Wednesday but don’t have the projects properly photographed. I’ve known for a long time that the title was going to be “I like where I live!” The reason is because I’ve lived here for five years now and I think maybe by year three or four I started talking about this city like the natives. In other words, I didn’t always have something nice to say about it. This happens to all of us that gradually transform from “new resident in” into “really from” a city. I’ve hated all the places I have lived in before (except my hometown, in the state of Maine in the USA). This is just because when you’re originally from coastal Maine you are spoiled for life. Anyway, I think I should be more grateful. I really live in an awesome place with so much to appreciate and be happy about.
Five years ago I moved to Valladolid, Spain. Valladolid is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Castile and Leon, famous for its excellent wine and long history. Beginning with the reign of Charles V in the sixteenth century, it became the capital of Spain because it was the place the Holy Roman Emperor decided to hold his court almost permanently when he was in his Hispanic kingdom. This tradition sort of started with Isabel and Ferdinand in the fifteenth century, but he made it much more official and permanent, as his predecessors often held spontaneous courts in other cities and towns throughout the country. Of course, we all know now that the present-day Spanish capital is Madrid, and that shift began very early on in history.
One of the wonders of living in a city like Valladolid, as with most European cities, is the fact that your everyday routine is filled with beautiful architecture from a long time ago: usually as early as the Middle Ages or Renaissance. Americans living in the US do not have this privilege. This, in fact, is one of the things that I always remember if I find myself whining about how I miss American things I can never find around here (I’m looking at you, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups).
It’s pretty amazing, for example, to pass the University of Valladolid’s Law School on my way to teach a class.
I walk through here just about every day. The sculpture on the front of the building is a fine example of early Baroque art. The columns that stand in front of the Law School are much older, probably from the late Medieval or early Renaissance period (early sixteenth century). The truly marvelous thing for an American to notice about this place is that, after hundreds of years, it still serves as the university’s Law School. One of the things I love about where I live is that I am surrounded by living history. Everything old and beautiful continues to serve a public, social end that is relevant to the present day, often the same one it had when it was created.
After passing by the School of Law, I have to move through “La Antigua” which is a very old street that flanks the main cathedral. The cathedral, although historical, showing off a blend of Medieval and Renaissance styles, is actually not Spain’s best example of religious architecture. The cathedrals in Burgos or Leon, cities to the north of Valladolid, are truly amazing. The one in Burgos is also the burial place of the Cid! Valladolid’s cathedral sort of pales in comparison to those other ones. However, the street is amazing and walking past the cathedral, so close to its enormous stone walls, makes me feel very small. In “La Antigua” you feel like you have traveled back in time for a moment, actually, because you are surrounded by high stone walls that have stood there for hundreds of years. I took pictures of the opposite side of “La Antigua,” in the area that approaches it, on the Plaza de la Universidad, to capture the enclosed and very ancient feel this religious architecture can communicate to a passer-by. Unfortunately, you can’t see “La Antigua” from this angle, but you can imagine how it might feel to walk past this cathedral which is flanked on all sides by other old buildings. Some time I want to photograph “La Antigua” to share how it looks. It’s very popular in the summer for sitting at an outdoor café to have a drink or a coffee.
This city has much more to offer than ancient ruins and monuments, though. I love to walk and there is so much to take advantage of in this pedestrian-friendly place, including plenty of greenery. Two rivers pass through the city: The Esgueva and The Pisuerga. The Esgueva River isn’t that impressive to look at in Valladolid. It seems more like a stream. In fact, before it was redirected by engineers in the nineteenth century, it was a delta that interrupted further urban development, as the river actually ends in the city. They decided to combine all the little stretches of running water into one larger stream that nowadays empties into the Pisuerga River. Walking along the Esgueva is very pleasant though, and you can watch the ducks swimming around and see people fishing or just chit-chatting with each other.
So yes, I like living here. You’re probably saying, “Duh! It’s Spain!” If you’re saying that, you’re partially correct. I love Spain. However, it isn’t a perfect country. Living abroad allows one to realize that no place is better than any other. As they say, “the grass is always greener.” I think it’s important to be positive, though, and appreciate the great things one has.