Sites for Train and Railroad information in Europe

BEST SITES FOR TRAIN INFO

IN THE UNITED KINGDOM nationalrail.co.uk National Rail Enquiries operates the official Web site for Britain’s 26 train operators. Find departure and arrival times and ticket prices for all routes in England, Scotland, and Wales.

FOR THE REST OF EUROPE bahn.de Don’t let the name fool you: Germany-based rail operator Deutsche Bahn has one of the most comprehensive search engines fortrain times-and it covers roughly 87,000 stations throughout Europe.

FOR ALL-PURPOSE RAIL RESEARCH raileurope.com

Rail Europe’s Web site lets you find and buy tickets and passes, and features interactive maps illustrating connec­tions. If tickets on your chosen dates are not yet available, you can sign up to get an e-mail alert as soon as they are.


Tuscany Wine Region

At its heart, Tuscany is home to the red sangiovese grape. You might not have heard of it, because like many of Italy’s indigenous vines, this one doesn’t love to travel. But you’ve prob­ably heard of Chianti, which has grown up from its bottle-as-candleholder days into a high-quality offering at prices that range from steal to splurge. As with many Italian wines, the Chianti name refers to the growing district rather than the grape. “Classico” refers to the historic heart of the Chianti zone, and “riserva” means the wine has had extra aging. If you have heard wine geeks refer to so-called “Super Tuscan” wines, these are wines made to push the boundaries of Tuscan tradition by mixing French grapes and, very often, French barrels with the local varieties.  The results are magnifico, so if you feel like splurging, check them out.


Turkey

TURKEY IS THE KIND OF DESTINATION YOU FALL INTO, RATHER THAN VISIT IT IS A PLACE OF DAZZLING CULTURAL COMPLEXITY, AT ONCE REMOVED FROM THE PRESENT AND YET ENTIRELY A PART OF IT.

Asojourn here almost overwhelms imagination-from the gran Istanbul to sweeping fig and groves to ancient ruins and such as Troy and Ephesus. Mountainous, coastoral and urbane, Turkey is richly, pervasively by its complicated history. This land reflects t influences of the vast empires that have occupied Istanbul itself remains the city where East me literally straddling two continents-and yet m most arresting features of both, producing a di modern landscape. In Istanbul, tour the holy Byzantine churches, including Hagia Sophia and the blue Mosque. The famed whirling dervishes spin on aturdays and Sundays at the Galata Mevlevihanesi, a ervish hall built in 1491. Then, visit the Grand Bazaar or a day of shopping. The covered bazaar is an endless presentation of handcrafted and idiosyncratic treas­res unique to the region, including jewelry and artwork. Turkey, for all of its cultural impact, is also home o impressive beaches. On a peninsula along the Aegean coast, Bodrum is a Mediterranean resort town here yachting is the popular pastime. From here, enjoy a tour on a traditional hand made gulet or while way the morning at Gumbet, a nearby beach.


Medieval Europe and Cultural Exchange

The territory of Medieval Europe was something of a politically unstable and disparate patchwork. Throughout this period, its internal and external borders fluctuated back and forth with each successive wave of invasions (the Magyars along the Danube, Viking and Saracen raids), the expansion of Islam and the rise and fall of the Carolingian Empire.

But Medieval Europe was also undergoing a process of unification, albeit more spiritual in nature than temporal. Thus. when an 8th-century chronicler from Cordoba related the Battle of Poitiers at which the Muslim advance was halted by Charles Martel, he gave central stage to the Saracens and those termed the “people of Europe”, in other words. Christians. In fact, during the early centuries of the Middle Ages, it was primarily the process of Christianisation which was to bind together this geographical area known, for that matter, as “Christendom”, the word “Europe” rarely featuring in medieval writings.

It is important to remember that Medieval Europe was a vibrant area in which people travelled widely. It also hosted considerable commercial, cultural and artistic exchange between the component kingdoms and regions as well as externally with the surrounding territories of the Muslim world and the Byzantine Empire.


Jubilee Way Pilgrimage in Lourdes – How to Organize

Whether you have only a few hours or a few days in Lourdes, you can easily organize and follow a pilgrimage program that is appropriate for your length of stay.  Follow the Jubilee Way in one of the following formats:

You only have a few hours

Follow the 3’d part of the Jubilee Way from Saint Michael’s gate to the Grotto.

You have half a day

Follow the 2°d and 3’d part of the Jubilee Way (from the Cachot to the Grotto). Take part in the Eucharist Procession of 5.00 pm or at the Evening Marian Torchlight procession at 9.00 pm: they take place daily from 16’° March to 26′h October 2008

You have one day

Follow the four parts of the Jubilee Way. Take part in any one of the processions.

You have two days

You have time to follow the Jubilee Way at your own pace over one or two days, and to take part every day in one of the two processions. You can watch the video on the message of Lourdes in the Information Forum. You can visit the Rosary Basilica and its recently restored mosaics, and the Basilica of Saint Pius X, an audacious building realised in 1958.

You have three days

To the two-day program you can add the International Mass on Wednesdays and Sundays at 9.30 am, call into one of the Pavilions (information offices for various Church movements), the free visit of the Treasure Museum of the Sanctuary.

You have four days

To the three-day programme, you can add two important places in the life of Bernadette (the Boly Mill and Bartres), the visit to the Museum of Saint Bernadette and the exhibition in the castle, or the films of Jean Delannoy, Bernadette and the Passion of Bernadette at the cinema Bernadette, situated close to Saint Joseph’s Gate.


Burgos in Castile and Leon

The province of Burgos is situa­ted in the north-east of the community of Castile and Leon and has occupied a privileged place in Spanish history.

Nature has been generous with Burgos, providing it with an extremely varied landscape where we can discover high hills, bleak uplands, fertile meadows and riverbanks and northern green valleys. Several of the most outstanding Burgalese landscapes are protected within the Network of Natural Spaces of Castile and Leon: in the north of the province the karstic complex of Ojo Guareria, the Obarenes Mounts and the Orduna Pass. The Natural Park of the Sierra of Demanda to the East, the canyon of the river Lobos to the south and the Natural space of Yecla near to Santo Domingo de Silos. This natural wealth means that many outdoor sports can be practiced such as skiing, canoeing, climbing, hiking, rafting, horse-riding, etc. Hunting and fishing are especially important in our province.

The Historical-Artistic Heritage is copious and extremely varied: from the site of Atapuerca where the oldest human remains in Europe were found, the different cultures and peoples have left their legacy in the capital and pro­vince. We can find prehistoric paintings, Celtiberian forts, the Roman city of Clunia and the town of Banos de Valdearados, the Visigothic hermitage of Quintanilla de las Was and Romanesque art of exceptional quality distributed throughout the province. Gothic art can be seen at its best in the Cathedral of Burgos, but there are also important examples in the capital and province. There are also some outstanding Renaissance and Baroque monuments.

Both legendary and live names in popular tradition are associated with the history of Burgos, such as El Cid Campeador, Count Fernan Gonzalez or the Seven Infantes of Lara. The traditio­nal festivities show the wealth of Burgalese folklore. We can highlight the festivities of “El Colacho” in Castrillo de Murcia; the day of the Penas (clubs) during the patron saint festivities of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Burgos and the festivity of San Juan del Monte in Miranda de Ebro, all of which have been declared of tourist interest.

Apart from the great natural and cultural heritage, Burgos has, over the years, always welcomed and fed the traveler. The accommodation offer is extensive: from modern and comforta­ble hotels to guest-houses, camping sites and rural accommodations, in order to satisfy the demands of our visitors. Gastronomy is worth a separate men­tion, two products have the name “Burgos”, black pudding and cheese, but the exquisite lamb, game, meat and vegetable stew (olla podrida), mediaeval lentils, pork products, etc. must also be included. In the many bars and restau­rants, the visitor will have the chance to taste these dishes. The excellent wine of Ribera del Duero is the compulsory accompaniment.

 THE CAPITAL

Situated between the old Castle and the Arlazon River, Burgos is a city which has known how to preserve its personality.

The marvelous Cathedral, decla­red Heritage of Humanity, dominates the town with its open-work spires.

The Royal Monastery of Las Huelgas, a Cystercian monastery and pantheon of the kings and queens of Castile, the Cartuja (monastery) of Miraflores with masterpieces by Gil de Siloe and the mediaeval churches of San Lesmes, San Gil, San Nicolas and Santa Agueda, among others, preserve mas­terpieces of sculpture and Gothic and Renaissance painting.

There are also palaces such as the House of Cordon and the House of Miranda and old pilgrim hospitals, such as “del Rey” or San Juan, which are testi­monies of the city’s historical importan­ce on the Road to Santiago.

The Museum of Burgos must be visited in order to discover the heritage of Burgos and its province.

The riverbanks of the Arlazon and the large city parks add the counterpoint to the extensive cultural heritage.


Garabandal – Star on the Mountain

San Sebastian de Garabandal, situated in one of the most remote corners of Cantabria Spain, is a place of wonder.  Here we present the first ever GPS mapping of the significant sites in San Sebastian de Garabandal:

Parish Church:  N43.20142 W4.42403

Site of the Miracle of the Host:  N43.20069 W4.42257

Conchita Gonzalez’ childhood home:  N43.20047 W4.42251

Ancient Fountain:  N43.20038 W4.42245

Start of the Path to the Pines:  N43.20020 W4.42383

Site of 1st apparition of St. Michael the Archangel:  N43.20006 W4.42381

Site of 1st apparition of the Virgin Mary at Garabandal:  N43.19981 W4.42396

Rock of St. Michael the Archangel:  N43.19928 W4.42442

The Pines:  N43.19842 W4.42440

GARABANDAL

This is a small village in northern Spain, in the Santander province, its full name is San Sebastian of Garabandal. No more than 300 people live in Garabandal. The town is impressively quiet. There is no doctor in the town and no resident pastor at the parish church. The pastor from Cosio used to celebrate Mass there on Sunday.

In the evening of June 18, 1961, four girls were playing on the outskirts of the town – Conchita Gonzalez, Maria Dolores (Mariloli) Mazon, Jacinta Gonzalez and Maria Cruz Gonzalez – not related despite having the same name. Maria Cruz was eleven, the others twelve, and all were from poor families.

Suddenly they heard a loud noise, like thunder, and saw before them the bright figure of the Archangel Michael. On the following days the Archangel appeared to them again in the same place. He announced that on July 2 they would see Our Lady. This was the beginning of the Garabandal events.

OUR LADY OF CARMEL

The news spread quickly through the region. July 2 was a Sunday and the town was crowded. At six in the evening the girls went to the place where the Angel had appeared, and to the surprise of the crowd they entered into ecstasy. Our Lady appeared to them accompanied by two angels, one being St. Michael. The girls described the vision as follows:

“She is dressed in a white robe with a blue mantle and a crown of golden stars. Her hands are slender. There is a brown scapular on her right arm, except when she carried the Child Jesus in her arms. Her hair, deep nut-brown, is parted in the centre. Her face is long, with a fine nose. Her mouth is very pretty with lips a bit thin. She looks like a girl of eighteen. She is rather tall. There is no voice like hers. No woman is just like her, either in the voice or the face or anything else.” Our Lady Manifested herself as Our Lady of Carmel.

At times the wind rustled her long hair which reached down to her waist. The girls spoke with the Virgin with the utmost naturalness. “We were telling her, “they said, “about our tasks, how we were going to the meadows…” and “She smiled at the little things we told her.” Our Lady showed them how to treat her: “Like children who speak with their mother and tell her everything… Children who rejoice to see her when they have not seen her for a while.”

MORE APPARITIONS

After this first apparition there were many more. During 1961 and 1962 Our Lady appeared several times each week. The four girls did not always receive the apparition together. Sometimes only one, other times two or three of them saw the vision. Nor was it always at the same hour of the day. Our Lady appeared many times at night and even early in the morning, in an attitude of sacrifice and penance, at the same hours when Our Lord is most offended by the sins of men. Even so, the girls would arise the following morning, as early as usual, to work in the fields, carrying bundles of grass or wood, or tending the cattle and sheep, without showing signs of fatigue.


Wall Painting in Medieval Europe

Wall painting was an art form common to all of Romanesque Europe. In fact, Romanesque architecture lent itself particularly well to the display of vast painted cycles covering large, blank walls. However, the method used differed depending on the regions concerned. The benchmark technique remained that of the fresco which was inherited from the Roman Empire. It consisted in applying pigments to freshly laid – a fresco – chalk-based plaster; the chemical reactions occurring during the drying process enable the pigments to bind. Painting therefore had to be completed without delay. This technique survived in Italy and Byzantium. However, due to the less favourable climatic conditions, to the north and particularly in France, decorations were more commonly applied to dry coating, covering the work to varying degrees; the pigments were then applied using a binding agent (glue). The end result of this technique, termed distemper painting, proved less resilient.


San Sebastian, Night Life

San Sebastian has three essential night leisure areas, each one with its own identity. If you want to enjoy San Sebastian at night, you can do it at weekends, although Thursday nights have been livened up in the last years thanks to the foreign students of the Erasmus Programme. One of the busiest places is the Old Town, which never seems to rest. Throughout the day, it is the place for the txikiteros-groups of friends going from bar to bar drinking small wine glasses- and, at night, it becomes a lively area with bars of all kinds and condition. The Reyes Catholics Street, located behind the Cathedral of El Buen Pastor, hides the chicest part, with modern places and bolder music proposals. Likewise, the young Gros Quarter is a place with scattered bars for those who like more relaxed and intimate atmospheres.

Some of the main pubs in San Sebastian are the classic Dioni’s, La Kabutzia -located in the highest part of the Real Club Nautico de San Sebastian-, the Museo del Whisky-with live piano concerts-, the Wimbledon Pub -next to the Peine del Viento (Wind Comb)-, the Sheraton Discotheque-calm surroundings and good music every day till the early hours-, Stick Cocktails -specialised in exotic drinks, in Errenteria-, or the ZM Zurriola Maritimo, for those who want to enjoy the night near Zuriola Beach. The discos Bataplan and La Rotonda -both with excellent views over La Concha Bay­are perfect for welcoming the new day after a dancing night, while the Rio Cabaret is a classic for the daring ones.


Monastery of Santa Maria De Veruela

Veruela, the Oldest Cistercian Monastery in Aragon, Spain

Veruela is situated in a small valley formed by the River Huecha, which has its source very close to the monastery, and is sheltered by the mythical mount Moncayo. The oldest surviving document which mentions the founding of the monastery dates back to 1 145 when the ground at Veruela was donated for the construction of a Cistercian monastery. This religious order was founded in France in 1098 by Roberto de Molesmes who wished to re-establish the original austerity of the fifth century Benedictine order. Molesmes later retired to Citeaux, near Dijon, . Shortly afterwards, Saint Bernard founded Claraval, taking on a monumental spreading and doctrinal task. In Aragon, great orders were established, notably Veruela (1145 or 1146), Rueda (1153) and Piedra (1194), all of which are found in the province of Zaragoza. These religious orders fomented new cultural, spiritual and religious values and brought economic and political advantages. The roturadores (plowmen), as the Cistercian monks were known, due to their economic and agricultural influence, organised their abbeys into real hubs of activity, by ploughing uncultivated land or territorial borders thus regenerating depopulated or sparsely populated areas, both of which are typical of the Veruela region. Controlled water resource management was necessary and thus the Verolense monks set up a wide-ranging network of irrigation channels, weirs and windmills around the Huecha river basin.

The construction of the monastery must have been sufficiently advanced for the community to move there in 1171. Work on the church continued for another two hundred and fifty years. The end result is sparten, with few sculptured ornaments – in keeping with the doctrine of Saint Bernard – However, the cathedral style proportions and craftsmanship demonstrate the extensive financial \resources of the monastery. High returns maintained a large and undiminishing monk community and alll, veel-for continual improvements and extensions to the monastery. Thus, between 1472 and 1617, the Verolense abbots were appointed by the king and no longer by the Cistercian order. Great abbots from this period were Hernando de Aragon (1535 – 1539), grandson of Ferdinand the Catholic, who later became the Archbishop of Zaragoza, and his good friend and successor, Lope Marco (1539 – 1560).

Under the governance of the Cistercian Brotherhood of the Crown of Aragon, created in 1617, the abbots held office for a period of four years until the event of the abolition of monastic orders when church land was sold off. This political change coincided with one of the largest expansion programmes of the monastery, the construction of the new monastery (XVII-XVIII) incorporating individual cells for the monks (around sixty-five cells).

The Becquer family in Veruela

The selling off of land under Mendizabal in 1835 led to the abandonment of the Monastery of Veruela which had been in irreversible decline since the beginning of the century. The Madrid Central Commission for Artistic Monuments (Cornision central de Monumentos Artisticos de Madrid) insisted on the conservation of the monastery, saving it from destruction. Since then it has been the destination for countless romantics, amongst others, the Becquer brothers Between April 1877 and 1973, the jesuits took up residence here, and used the building for training purposes It was declared a national monument in 1919 and became a listed building in 1928. In 1976 the Spanish Directorate General for Fine Arts granted the Provincial Council of Zaragoza permission to preserve and renovate the building Several hundred million pesetas was invested over a sustained period of more than twenty years. In 1998 Veruela became the property of the Provincial Council of Zaragoza which continues to oversee the restoration works and has initiated a cultural development programme.

Following the selling off of the land in 1835, Veruela became a summer retreat for determined travellers who went to study rocks or enjoy the natural beauty spots at Moncayo where according to a saying dating back to 1861   All ailments are cured by the air in Veruela        The poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and his brother, the painter Valeriano enjoyed an extended stay in Veruela with their families between December 1863 and July 1864. During this perod, Gustavo Adolfo wrote a series of nine letters known collectively as Desde mi celda (From my cell), written for Madrid’s daily newspaper El Contemporaneo (published between May and October 1864) and Valeriano, who returned to Veruela in August 1865, produced various drawings and water colours, notably Expedicion de Veruela (Columbia University, New York). The poet was already familiar with the area as his wife came from Noviercas in the Sorian area of Moncayo and the Moncayo landscape inspired many of his most famous works such as El monte de las animas (1861), El gnomo and La corza blanca ( 1863)

As a result of their stay in the monastery of Veruela, the two brothers prepared a series of articles on Veruela and its people, written by Gustavo Adolfo and illustrated by Valeriano Becquer s articles published between 1865 and 1869 and his brother Valeriano’s paintings show their interest in anthropology.