Archives of articles, essays and stories of Geri Dreiling grouped by month:
February 2013

The Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Crafting stories through images

By Geri Dreiling

There are many advantages to dating a kind and patient bilingual engineer and computer programmer with a master’s degree in design. In addition to being a considerate travel companion and all-around good guy, E is an awesome translator. When I encounter pesky computer coding issues, he is my problem solver.

And when it comes to photography, he shares his insights and opinions when I ask. 

I see scenes through the eyes of a writer. Words fill my head. I think about the people who built the landmark. I contemplate the history that the landmark has witnessed. I take mental notes of the scene as it exists in the present; of the people who live, love, work and struggle to survive in the shadows.   Continue reading...


The Train to Avila

Spanish mountain with snow

A day trip from Madrid

By Geri Dreiling

“And this snow,” Robert Jordan said. “You think there will be much?”

“Much,” Pablo said contentedly. Then called to Pilar, “You don’t like it, woman, either? Now that you command you do not like this snow?”

“A mí qué?” Pilar said, over her shoulder. “If it snows it snows.”

— For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway

As I listened to E translate the weather forecast that was predicting snow for the areas just beyond Madrid, I thought of Pilar. We were scheduled to take a day trip to Ávila and it was one of the areas where snow was expected to fall. Continue reading...

Cerralbo Museum Grand Staircase

A manse meant to impress

By Geri Dreiling

It was a museum Sunday. While visiting Madrid in January, E and I toured the Museo Sorolla and the Museo Cerralbo on the same day – with a break for tapas in between. In addition to collections of art, the small museums offered a glimpse into turn-of-the-20th-century Spain from the artistic and aristocratic viewpoint.

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, the orphaned painter from Valencia, built a home in Madrid influenced by his travels that was meant to nourish creativity.

Living in Madrid at about the same time was Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, the 17th Marquis of Cerralbo. An aristocrat, politician, art collector and archaeologist,  de Aguilera built a mega mansion – or miniature palace --between 1883 and 1893 to display art he had collected during his extensive travels as well as archaeological finds and family heirlooms.

Continue reading...

Madrid street near Royal Palace

By Geri Dreiling

When I visited Segovia during my first trip to Spain, E’s parents suggested stopping at a café. During my second trip to Spain, E’s parents suggested a café stopover when we arrived in Toledo. And in my most recent trip, E’s friends Carla and Germán suggested stopping at a café in El Escorial before heading back to Madrid.

It finally dawned on me to ask E if a café break was a typical Spanish custom. “Yees,” he said with a patient smile.

Continue reading...

Clotilde and Elena on the Rocks, Sorolla

Joaquin Sorolla’s work and his Madrid home

By Geri Dreiling

A century ago, the New York Times dubbed Joaquin Sorolla “the Spanish painter of sunlight and color.” The year was 1909. The occasion was his New York exhibition. In a much later article about Sorolla written in 2012, the New York Times noted that during that turn-of-the-century exhibition over 169,000 art lovers ventured out in cold, icy February weather and endured long lines to see his work.

I didn't discover Sorolla until my recent trips to Madrid. Now he sits atop my list of my favorite painters. It isn’t just his use of sunlight and color that draws me into his work. I'm captivated by the way he is able to depict emotions, connections and bonds between people. Some of the works were so moving that I couldn't help but get misty-eyed. 

There is a delightful gem in Madrid – the Sorolla Museum -- where you can see many of his works. It is also the home where he lived with his beloved wife and muse, Clotilde. And it is the site of the gardens that he designed and then painted.  Continue reading...