Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bivar. El Cid, at Bivar (a/k/a Vivar, Bevar)

Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar. El Cid. El Campeador, or
The Champion.

This heroic, enigmatic figure is well remembered, in this little, off-track town where he was born, withfresh flowers right there.

El Cid, Vivar, Spain. Birthplace.

"Cid" comes from the Arabic meaning "sir" or "lord."  This El Cid was the standard-bearer and commander under King Sancho II, heir to King Ferdinand I. He conducted an unauthorized raid into Toledo, angered the new King Alfonso, brother of Sancho (then deceased), was exiled, and then began to serve the Muslim ruler of Saragossa (Zaragoza).

He engaged in much back and forth between sides, then El Cid aimed for control of Valencia, for himself. See 1043?-1099. 11th Century.

El Cid is also of movie fame. See the 1961 film at 

He had two swords: Colada and Tezone, see Names of Swords, at  Colada.  Pina colada?

He is the subject of epic poetry.  See El Cantar de Mio Cid, "The Lay of the Cid,"at //; and the Arab Alqamah's records of the conquest of Valencia by El Cid. See more on El Cid at ://; still trying to find an English Alqamah. Do a search.

In myth, he is a brave knight who fought the Muslims; in reality, probably a mercenary or "soldier of fortune" who was often in conflict with the Christian King. Still, talented, and as honorable as any other good knight of the time. See

Visit his birthplace at Bivar, or Vivar, or Bevar. See It will take you up some back roads, and to a tiny village.  There is a well-kept memorial with fine tower to climb up and see the countryside. See

Some sites say he was born in Burgos, not far,, but we found his monument here. Even a Burgos site that claims in one place to be the birthplace later states that Bivar is. See Spain Road Ways, Burgos.

Read about his life at this curriculum site -

Choose any destination off the beaten track and go there. Best way to learn some history as well. We fill in details at home.

For more on the legends surrounding El Cid, see A paladin is a chivalric model, see - and, that site says, the name given to any of the 12 peers of Charlemagne's court. Have honor (?) will travel. See ://

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bilbao; safekeeping in parking lots; and Basques (including food)

Bilbao Museum, Frank Gehry, back

This is the back of Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum of Art, design by Frank Gehry. See There are surprises wherever you look.

In the front is a two-story huge puppy form, covered with live impatiens plants. We liked the spider.

The guidebook says to beware your belongings in any car left in the lot there, locked or not. Best to park elsewhere and walk, and always keep money, passport and tickets with you. If you lose stuff out of your car, just tell the police, buy more Right Guard and set up a time to meet with the airport people about your passport early, and enjoy the rest of your trip anyway. Happened to us at Blarney.
Bilbao Museum, Frank Gehry, side
Basques.The homes look alpine, as makes sense given the Pyrenees mountains; and the geography itself is very different from the rest of Spain.

I understand that the Basques were excellent navigators, and that genetically they match with Irish and Welsh Celts, see Other sources say they migrated from Eastern Europe. Their language is different, as are their customs. 

Groups that do not absorb, retain their identity: salute.  How to accommodate a drive for self that wants to live free of intrusion of others, when old territorial boundaries are disregarded.  How to address the rights of those who annex land by invasion, long ago.  Nationhood - a complex concept.

Basques and others that will not be subsumed: a long history to be checked out. 
Coming closer!

For food: try

One of our best dinners, going all out with the tablecloths and all, was in Bilbao. Fine dining occasionally is a must, and the skills needed are useful anywhere - practice which fork, where and how to cope with a huge linen napkin. See - fine Basque menus.