Postcard from Valladolid, Spain: Thrust into the thick of things

Above, Plaza Mayor during the final week of San Pedro Regalado

Below is the spectacular view of Valladolid’s Main Plaza from our rental when we first arrived in the city. We were in the heart of the city, yet our apartment was surprisingly quiet… for several days.

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Women belt out the blues to help preserve Austin history

Clifford Antone (1949-2006) slung sandwiches as his first Antone’s endeavor in Austin, but by 1975 the blues had taken over. He opened Antone’s downtown to showcase the best blues artists around. Susan Antone recalls her brother always wanted Antone’s to be a place where you could take your little baby or your grandmother.

The blues slingers came, and, in the early days, Susan would fill them up with a home-cooked meal before they went on stage. For posterity, she made sure to photograph them as well, creating a lasting story of the blues in Austin.

Susan Antone was the honored guest at a benefit Friday night presented by Songwriters across Texas for the Austin History Center Association – Women of Antone’s. The association is a nonprofit organization raising funds for the Austin History Center. Dedicated to preserving the history of Austin and Travis County, the center is a division of the Austin Public Library and is located in a 1933 building on Guadalupe Street that once housed the main library itself.

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Postcard from Burgos, Spain: A powerful abbess and underfoot devils

Above: Monastery of Santa Maria la Real de las Huelgas

It’s not easy to reign over a contested kingdom when you ascend to the throne at age two. Think of the royal intrigue that would trigger – all the scheming regents and relatives trying to unseat you before you can toddle down a hallway on your own.

But Alfonso VIII (1155-1214), King of Castile and Toledo, managed to ward off a legion of enemies to hold onto his throne – not without assistance and numerous defeats and victories on the battlefield along the way. And crusades against the Alamohads. To consolidate his power and secure a powerful ally while still a teenager, Alfonso gained the hand of 12-year-old Eleanor (Leonora) of England (1161-1214), a daughter of the contentious couple King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

At Leonora’s behest, the young royals founded the Monastery of Santa Maria la Real de las Huelgas in 1187. She bore 11 children before dying less than a month after her husband. The couple and numerous of their children were buried in elaborately decorated chapels within the expansive monastery. Royal weddings held there included that of Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290) to King Edward I of England (1239-1307) while Eleanor was 12 and Edward still a duke.

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