Sunday, November 15, 2009

Days 28-31, November 7th - 10th: Getting into Madrid

We made it back safe and sound after a twenty-two hour travel day, and are almost recovered from the jet lag, so it's high time I conclude our travel tales.

After our day at the Prado we had two days of travel to two of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Segovia and Toledo are both picturesque cities built on hills. They also have the same signature dishes of suckling pig and suckling lamb. It was like the mothership was calling us home.

First on the docket was Segovia, which is a quick forty-five minute journey by high-speed train. This display in the Segovia train station cafe demonstrates just how serious this town is about their pig products. We knew we were in for a great day.


Segovia's most famous monument is this Roman aqueduct, which was still in operation until the late 1800s! It no longer delivers water, but it is an absolutely amazing sight.


After taking in the Roman aqueduct we visited the Cathedral and the Archeological Museum. I was really impressed with the depth of the collection and the way in which it laid out the history of the town. Check out these Visigothic belt buckles. Eat your heart out, cowboys.


By the time we got out it was raining, so we hit one Romanesque church and decided to go to lunch. Cochinillo is roast suckling pig, fed for twenty-one days on mother's milk. We managed to find a place full of locals in the front bar, but had the entire dining room to ourselves. This might have been the best meal on the trip. You can check the entire meal out, details of the Visigothic belt buckles, and an articulated Jesus sculpture on my flickr page.


After lunch we were in food bliss, and the sky was cloudy but without rain. We visited the town's Alcazar, and then decided to take a hike around the base of the hill to a church outside of town that was home to the Knights of Malta. The Iglesia Vera Cruz is a really unique octagonal structure, with a sequestered meeting room raised and in the center of the building. It has a few fragments of medieval fresco, and this breathtaking view of the town.


The next day we took a second high-speed train trip, this time to Toledo. Toledo is considered a Spanish national treasure because it is so well preserved. It was the main cultural and political capital of Spain until Phillip II moved the capital to Madrid in the early 1500s. It's really rare that a city would have major construction through the Renaissance, and then not have much modernization or be a target during war times. Toledo is just such a treasure, and to make it even better, no new or modern facades have been allowed in the old city, so you get a feel for what it must have been like when it ceased being the capital.

Everything in Segovia had gone right as planned, so it was only fitting that the next day should not. We walked from site to site finding that they were closed for restoration, or even closed with no posted notice. Iglesia Santiago del Arabel, El Greco's House, Santo Tome, and Museo Santa Cruz with its 15 El Grecos were all closed during hours they would normally be available. The good news is that we had very few people with us in the Cathedral (which has a painting collection like a mini-Prado), and the pay portion of San Tome containing El Greco's The Burial of Count Orgaz was open. We were also able to enter the only surviving Mosque, the Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz. As you can see, it is another example of Mudejar design reconsecrated as a Catholic church. It also has Roman excavations underneath.


We decided that our suckling pig experience had been so fantastic, that to do it again would be asking for disappointment. Instead we decided to try the other regional specialties of partridge and suckling lamb.


Notice the fries? They are hugely popular in Europe, but are called fried potatoes rather than french fries. Don't expect ketchup, though. Vinegar and mayonnaise are your most likely condiments. I guess no cuisine is perfect.


The overall experience was very good in Toledo, but we felt like we only got a partial glimpse.

I guess we'll just have to go back later. Our odd luck held up into the next day. It turned out that Monday was Madrid's day to celebrate their patron Saint, Almudena. It was certainly exciting, with public gatherings in every public square, but it meant that the Royal Palace and Museo Reina Sofia were closed. This meant we needed to cram the Royal Palace into our last day, and that we would miss Reina Sofia and Picasso's Guernica. Ouch! On a positive note we were now free to visit the Museo Lazaro Galdiano, which has some of my favorite Goyas and a Bosch. Pictured below is Plaza Mayor before the festivities.


Our last day in Madrid had us exploring both of the royal palaces in the region. Our first site was El Escorial, a Baroque monastery in the mountains that has been the burial place of Spanish royalty for the last four hundred years. It was cold, both in temperature and design, and beautiful in its austerity. I highly suggest you visit if you ever get the chance. Phillip II did not have great taste in art, but you'll find it there despite him anyway. Go to experience the mood of the Spanish Empire at its moment of greatest strength. A word of advice--buy the audio guide. We didn't listen to much of it, but knew that you needed to buy it or join a group tour to enter the royal burial chamber.


We were able to get onto our best case scenario bus, and so we knew we would be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the day without hurrying. Our next stop was the Royal Palace. Where El Escorial was unadorned and severe, the Royal Palace is Rococo and opulently decorated. It is the current residence of Spanish royalty, so you only get to tour part of the palace. For us the best part of the experience were the Tiepolo ceilings. Never forget to look up!


Our last visit was to the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza. Right next to the Prado, this museum offers lesser-known masterworks throughout the history of Europe. We managed to get in one last Caravaggio, and I was thrilled to get a close look at three very famous Lucian Freud pieces. Successful and content in our last day, we grabbed some doner kabobs and headed back to the room to pack. It's now four days later, and my body is still confused. I was wide awake at 5:30 am this morning, with no pressing engagements until the afternoon. One last word of advice, always plan a little vacation to recuperate after your vacation.

So to the few, the proud, the readers of this blog, thanks for hanging with me through the journey. In the weeks to come I will keep you apprised of the artwork I will be creating over my sabbatical, as well as catching up on the items I missed before I left.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Days 24-27, November 3th - 6th: From Sevilla to Madrid

After just over three days of pretty hard travel we decided that taking our one full day in Seville at a leisurely pace was an excellent idea. In the morning, everything went great. This was our only hotel that didn't include breakfast, and we'd found a wonderful local bar (this does not have the same connotations in Europe) where we could get coffee and a simple breakfast.


We took a long walk around the old city, starting with the Torre del Oro. This was a Moorish tower, but has gone through several changes, the latest of which is becoming a maritime museum. As luck would have it, admission was gratis on Tuesdays. We had such a good (and cheap) time at the restaurant in the former Moorish bath, that we went back a second time. We had all new things including stuffed peppers and venison.


Our last successful stop of the day was the Museo de Bellas Artes. It's a gorgeous palace converted into a museum. It focuses on artists who lived in and around Seville, so less Goya and Velazquez and more Murillo and Zurbaran. It was also gratis, and I really feel that I gained a new appreciation for the works of Murillo. Later that day we were unable to tour the Ayuntamiento because it had been rented out for a new technologies convention, and our restaurant of choice turned out not to open until 9pm. When you're hot you're hot. . .

On the the 4th we had yet another long trip, this time to Cordoba. Our main objective in Cordoba was to see the Mezquita, but we also had a large interest in an archeological site 5 km out of town called Madinat Al-Zahra. Unlike our other day trips out of Seville, Cordoba is a relaxing hour on a high-speed train. When we arrived we headed straight to the TI (Tourist Information) to book our bus seats to Madinat Al-Zahra. It turned out that all of the information we had to date was pretty much wrong. The buses left at different times, and didn't return for four hours! I quickly reshuffled our day plans, and we headed straight to the Mezquita. We couldn't risk missing it if our return leg was delayed.


The Mezquita is an 11th century mosque that was converted into a Catholic church when Cordoba was taken back from the Moors. Around 70% of the original design has remained intact, with the only addition being a really huge chapel and dome in the center of the church. For me this was the most powerful of the work we had seen in the Mudejar style and perhaps even on the whole trip. It defies description, and is so much larger and more beautiful than I had understood. I took this shot for the odd juxtaposition of the crucifix and horseshoe shaped arches. You can see more pictures on my flickr site.


We took a quick trip off to the Sinogoga, which had a Mudejar aesthetic but with Hebrew writing, and then it was on to our bus. We quickly learned that the reason it now took longer to make this trip is that the city of Cordoba had added a state-of-the-art museum at the bottom of the hill. Here you could see all manner of objects and interactive digital renderings, and then take a shuttle up to the site itself. In my opinion Madinat Al-Zahra is a site that is being restored in just the right way. They are putting some of the structures back together, but using materials that make it obvious what is original and what is not. It's still a huge work in progress, but I think it will become one of the tourist destinations in Spain when finished. What you're seeing is half of the exposed site from above. A total of only 10% of the entire complex had been uncovered so far! It also provides an excellent view looking back at the city.


Our last stop of the day was the Arab baths. I should say that we had had difficulties getting into Arab baths. We managed in the Alhambra, but the other attempts in Grenada and then in Ronda had drawn a blank. Well, this one was open, but boy was it a disappointment. It was, in my opinion, the wrong way to restore. Virtually none of the ruins were left visible, the floors were covered with wood planks, and worst of all they had bad music piped in with Disney-esque, cartoony standies. If it hadn't been free on Wednesday I would have been pissed!

The next day we caught a morning train to Madrid. It all went really well, and we were checked in by noon. After lunch we headed straight for the Museo Cerralbo. . .which turned out to be closed for restoration. We then headed to the Chapel of San Antonio de la Florida. This is the only site I know of where Goya painted the ceilings. It's also his tomb. It's pretty far out of the way, so I planned a walk to get ourselves oriented to the city. We saw this on the way.


You ever just know you're not in Kansas anymore? Can you imagine a book vending machine in Modesto? This one was even aimed at young adults, and was just outside the entrance to the Metro.


We also went to see a really surreal spot in Parque del Oeste that contains an ancient Egyptian Temple. Templo de Debod was given to the Spanish government as a gift for their support. How could I resist this little gem?

For the 6th we had only one thing on the agenda, the Prado. I had booked tickets online for the opening at 9am. In this picture you can see that it was a good thing I had. This is the line for presales one minute before opening. I did feel justified in the extra one-Euro expense when I saw the regular line though.


Unfortunately this is the only picture I have for you since there is no photography in the Prado. We immediately went up to the top floor, and had the entire thing to ourselves. The Prado has one of the best painting collections, heavily featuring Spanish artists such as El Greco, Velazquez (including Las Meninas) and literally dozens of Goyas. It also has a number of works from the North, including several Bosches and his most famous work The Garden of Earthly Delights. Yes, they do have Italian painting, adding not just the one Caravaggio from their permanent collection, but also another on loan from Hartford, Connecticut. It's one of the most amazing museums I've ever been to, and with little to no crowd it can be accomplished in a day. They also only charge six Euros! For cost comparison the MET in New York charges twenty-five bucks.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Days 21 - 23; Oct 31 - Nov 2: On the Road Again

Our first day in Seville felt really odd in a couple of ways. Firstly, Southern Spain is way more laid back. The relaxed feel affects you right away. Second, the overnight train left Sarah and I in a little bit of a haze. We arrived at the hotel around 9am, so we had them store our luggage and went out to catch the sights. Third, we literally jumped thirty degrees in temperature! We "lucked" our way out of Barcelona just before the rains, and into a heat wave in Seville. By the way, that ninety degrees came with around 70% humidity. On leaving the hotel for the Murillo Gardens we were immediately struck by the palm trees and tropical birds.


Traveling to the South was a big part of my Sabbatical proposal. For a few hundred years the Moors controlled this area, bringing a variation of Islamic design termed Mudejar. They also reigned over a period of peace where Muslims, Catholics and Jews lived side by side. Of course all good things come to an end/Reconquista and. . . NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

Our first site was the Alcazar. An Alcazar is basically a castle/fortress. This one was built by the Moors, and was later turned into a Spanish Royal Palace as they were about to drive the Moors out of Spain. I had been told not to expect much since many alterations had been made by Spanish monarchs. We were floored. The Alcazar is beautiful, and the mixture of styles was exactly what I came to see. Rather than completely redecorate, a unique hybrid had been created. It also boasts some outstanding gardens.


Our next stop was the Cathedral. It was a really large, flamboyant Gothic cathedral. The view from the tower was excellent, and there was some evidence of the earlier Mudejar structure in the arches of the gardens. By the time we were finished we were starving, and I had read about a restaurant nearby that occupied a restored Moorish bath.


We went a little nuts, ordering a salad and tapas portions of rabbit, duck medallions, octopus, tortilla espaƱol, and the two quails above. You can check out more of the meal on my flickr page. When the quails came out I was really worried that we had been misunderstood and got meal portions. As each dish came out I was worried that we would be looking at a bill well over a hundred Euros. It was just over thirty! Yet another great thing about the South is that your Euro goes farther. We took a quick trip to the Archeological museum, and called it an early night. This was our first big travel day of three consecutive long travel days.

The next morning we had to be on a train at seven in the morning for a three-hour ride to Granada. Seville was basically our home base for exploring the South of Spain, and was always going to be our toughest in terms of trains. Granada is a rather sleepy mountain town with one of the most unique sites in the history of art, the Alhambra. This was the last of the Moorish strongholds to fall in 1492. Between that and the whole America thing, it was a pretty good year for the Spanish. We started our day with a climb to the other giant hill in town for a view in front of Saint Nicholas' Church.


Afterward we visited the Cathedral and had doner kababs. This is the Spanish name for what we call shawarma, and is all the rage in Spain. There are way more doner kabab places than fast food places. We also thought that the eastern flavor was in keeping with the day.


The Alhambra is a walled city that used to support two-thousand people. The detail above is from the Nasrid Palace. It has the finest interiors from the Moorish period in all of Spain, and is shocking in the level and amount of detail. You need advance tickets for this one, and we had bought ours months in advance. If you show up without them you can get a ticket to the surrounding gardens and a later unfinished palace built by Charles V, but you'll be out of luck on the best part.


That night we had a train leaving around 8pm and arriving at 11pm. Even rougher, we had to be on a bus for Ronda the next day at 7am! We went to bed dreading the sound of the alarm, but it turned out to much easier to get going than we thought. The main objective in Ronda was getting to the Pileta Cave. You may not be aware of this, but most of the famous paleolithic cave painting sites are now closed to the public. The Pileta caves have some paintings as old as 25,000 years! There is even a rare picture of a fish, as well as horses, goats, people, and lunar calendar markings. We had a rough idea of how the local buses and trains worked, but the online information was scant and didn't include any maps. We knew you could charter a taxi for the trip, but hoped to do it cheaper. When we got there we found out that the local train lines had been suspended, and the caves are 17 km out of town, so a taxi it was. The price was over a hundred US, but included the trip there, back, and a two hour wait for us in the middle of nowhere. The overall sum was the most I had ever paid for a taxi, but also probably the best deal by the minute. It still would have cost more to rent an automatic, and I knew the mountains would be difficult.

Ronda Mountains

This shot is from right in front of the cave. I would have never found this driving, nor would I have had the balls to take all of those blind curves on that one-lane road. Money well spent. The farmers who own the land give one-hour tours to groups of no more than 25. The whole thing is done by kerosene lamp, and the tour is way more way more dangerous than anything they would let you do in the States for fear of lawsuit. The paintings were excellent, but I was unprepared for the sheer amount of abstract marks, calendars and what appear to be countings. This one won't be available for much longer, I fear, so if you get the chance you need to do it. Part of the conservation of the site means no pictures, but you can check out some of the images at their website.


The upside of the more expensive cab was that we got back much quicker than we had expected. This allowed us to check out the very charming town, which had also been a Moorish city. The old city is surrounded either by giant hills or this huge gorge. It's one of the more picturesque white hill towns of Southern Spain. We had the chance to check out the old city walls, and climb a secret Moorish tunnel called the Mine to the bottom of the gorge. They also had these great signs at every park. I don't think I've mentioned the sheer number or volume of dog poo on the streets in Italy and Spain. Suffice to say when Sarah or I warn "poo", the other gets very careful with their footwork.


It's a great place, and we felt a little sad leaving, knowing it was so remote that we would probably never make it back. We got on a bus at 7pm and arrived four blocks from our hotel in Seville at 10pm. That may have been the craziest three days of travel I have ever had, and perhaps the most eye-opening.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Barcelona Days

So, back to Barcelona. The second we stepped out of the airport shuttle, I could tell we weren't in Italy anymore. Barcelona has an extremely new feel for a European city. Even though there was a Roman town here, its big growth spurt came just after 1900. Also, the Catalan people are a different ethnic group with a different language than most of Spain. They have worked hard to retain an independent identity and have a reputation for embracing the new and different. The city itself also bears a bit of a resemblance to San Francisco, partially due to having similar time frames for growth, but also because it is hilly and by the sea. We arrived in the evening, and so we took a walk in the Eixample area that we chose to stay in. This is where all the Modernista buildings (Barcelona's very individual Art Nouveau) are. Everything seemed new and trendy. We made a point of eating tapas (small servings of lots of things) and had a couple of beers. Unlike Italy, Spain does have a taste for good beer. However, it seems to almost all be lager.

The next morning we got to the Cathedral first thing. It was actually the Mount Taber excavations of an earlier temple that I was looking for, but they were closed for restoration. No matter; we had the biggest must in Barca next, the Picasso Museum. We had already bought our Barcelona Art Ticket cards, which get you in before everyone in line. As a result, we were the first ones in the building. The collection concentrates on his early work. I always understood that he had mastered realism by seventeen, but seeing is truly believing. At fourteen and fifteen he was already far better than most artists hope to be. It's a really humbling experience walking through this small but thorough collection. I guarantee that it will change your understanding of his work, and why it was so important for him to keep finding new ways of working.

In the area was what is reported to be the oldest restaurant in the city, which came heavily recommended by a friend who knows food. As entrees, I had goose with roasted apples and Sarah had a wild boar stew in red wine.

Goose and Apple

Not only was the meal fantastic, but you get much more for your Euro in Spain. Italian dining had been very expensive.


We were so ahead of schedule that we decided to finish the day with Gaudi's Sagrada Familia Church. This was his last project, and the work of completing his vision has been going on ever since (with a huge setback during the Spanish civil war). It's pretty amazing, but it is a huge construction zone. You never know what will or won't be available, and on our day one of the lifts was being worked on. So were the stairs, so there was only one elevator taking folks up into one of his towers. We joined the line immediately, and about fifteen minutes later they closed the line. We just made it! This freed up the next day for us to concentrate solely on Montserrat.

Two days later we set off seeing the rest of Gaudi's work in a one-day, all-you-can-eat Barcelona Modernista buffet.


We started with Gaudi's Casa Mila (above), and then walked for about two hours in the area around the Block of Discord examining the other Modernista designers. During our walk we ran into a huge indoor marketplace, and decided to be experimental. There is nothing better than getting a chance to eat what the locals do. Spain is one of the first places I've gone where I don't readily know the names of all of the foods. Our ordering sounded like,"eso y eso y eso y eso por favor."


We made good use of the Metro to go up the hill to Gaudi's Park Guell while the sun was up. I really expected something different. It was much smaller than we'd expected and far more crowded with tourists and street vendors than any site we had visited so far. Sarah and I ended up a bit disappointed. We regained our enthusiasm for Gaudi's work with a visit to Casa Batllo. The price is a whopping sixteen Euro (about $25) for a visit to two floors out of five and the roof. Totally worth it! You can really see his love for organic forms from nature here, and the designs are extremely harmonious.


After a day trip to Tarragona, Sarah and I woke up to a really tough day of travel. We had to check out and go store our luggage at the train station. We had a reservation for the "Trenhotel" that night at 10pm, and the rest of the day with no real home base. I saved a monster museum, the Catalan Art Museum, for just this occasion. First, it's pretty close to the station we were leaving from. More importantly, it is frigging huge, and it took nearly seven hours to see the collection. As we approached it I noticed graffiti that said, "Catalan is not Spain". This set the mood well for a museum that concentrates on the art of the area.


Besides Art Moderne, Catalan had a huge surge of great art during the Romanesque period. This was by far my favorite part of the museum, with some of the strongest presentation I have ever seen.


As important as the Art, the Catalan Art Museum has a kick ass restaurant with a very reasonable set menu that allows you to choose from menu items at a lower price. I've recently discovered that most major museums have great restaurants, where you get a great deal, and crappy cafes, where you get much less for what is still a lot of money. You can see the rest of the meal on my flickr site.

We finished the day with the Joan (pronounce like Juan) Miro Foundation and caught a Magic Fountains show on the way back to the train station. I enjoyed my time in Barcelona, but was pretty ready to move on. What had seemed casual (like SF) had turned out to be much more of a studied casual (like LA). I had heard that folks really like to take it easy in the South of Spain, and was looking forward to that experience.

Two more pictures and then I'm done:


The Train Hotel is crazy! I'm sorry, but this is as far back as I could get to take this picture. We opted for a double to ourselves with our own bathroom. You can see that that means two bunks and an aisle just wide enough to walk in.


The bathroom had a working shower that would pulse for about fifteen seconds every time you hit a button. It also had a motion-sensitive faucet that went off occasionally like a ghost was using it, and a toilet like on airplanes but without the suction. It was a cool experience, and we saved on a night's hotel expense, but I got off the train feeling like I had been on a boat and could still feel the waves of the ocean. Next time I'll fill you in on whether I ever earned my sea-legs in Sevilla.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Barcelona - The Day Trips

I'm going to change format a little here. Instead of keeping with sequence, I'm going to give you a rundown of the three day-trips we took from Barcelona. Then I'll do a second post with all of the days in the city. Why, you might ask, would I do this? Well, how very nosy of you. Truth be told Barcelona is just so very different from any of the Italian cities that I would like to give all of the impressions and events in one post as well.

I set up our first day trip to be a really different experience from what we had been doing. Montserrat is a monastery that occupies a mountaintop about an hour away from Barcelona. Though there has been an establishment there since the 11th century, the current structures were rebuilt after fire in the 19th century. For this reason the site was a maybe for me, but I was assured that this is the center of Catalan spiritual culture, and that many make the trip to rub the orb of the black virgin to gain her blessing.


We got there with the assistance of a cable car. It really was surreal coming up the mountain through the fog, like something out of the movies. I should mention that many cities offer tourist packages or cards. Some can be real steals. For thirty-five Euros we got our transportation, a visit to the museum which contains a Caravaggio and El Greco, unlimited use of the funicular trains on the mountain, and a lunch in the cafe. It turned out to be a steal of a deal, and that lunch might have been the best cafeteria lunch I've ever had.


After so many days in cities, it really felt good to get out and hike the mountain. We took this from the top of the mountain. Anybody recognize who the image is an homage to?

Our second day trip was to Figueras to visit the Dali Museum, and then to a remote town called L'Escala. This was a really difficult one for us. We could look up the route, but the town was nothing more than a small stop on longer routes. We had no idea how it worked, had no one to ask, the place and bus line have virtually no web presence, and we couldn't even get a reliable map. Why would we go? Well, about one kilometer out of town there is a site called Empuries. Greek ruins on the beach. . .I'm there.

The Dali museum was everything you would think a Dali museum should be. It was really cool at times, but a total commercial grab to bring tourist dollars to his home town. There aren't many masterworks, but there is plenty of spectacle and even coin-operated sculptures designed by him. And. . .they got my money of course.


This one is from the Mae West room. You have to climb a ladder to look through a mirror, which distorts the items in the room to look like her face. There are more pictures on my flickr page. It was all a lot of fun, but the town itself really isn't much to see. We did witness some trauma, however. While waiting for the bus we saw a teenage boy give a girl a sucker punch to the nose. Blood was everywhere, and eventually the police and an ambulance came. It was a really sobering moment.

Then it was on to our bus. We had no idea what our spot even looked like, and were horrified to find that many of the stops were tiny signs on poles near the side of the road. We had trouble communicating to the driver. He understood that we were looking for the archeological site, and so he let us off at a nearly unmarked road in the middle of nowhere. Very nice of him to try, but now we had no idea where to pick up the next bus! Well, we figured we'd worry about that later, off to see ruins now.


They were excellent! The Roman ruins are being over restored, and I figure they will look totally different if I ever return. The Greek ruins are outstanding, and amongst the best preserved outside of Greece. The beach walk back into town was fantastic, and it turns out you can even buy bus tickets at the Tourist Information office, which just happens to be in front of the bus stop. It was a great adventure, and completely worth the calculated risk.

Our last day trip out of Barcelona was to Tarragona, a town going back to Roman times, and also on the beach.


As you can see, there is a lot of charm there. It's also a city doing its best to cash in on its ruins. They offer a very affordable city card, which gets you in to all of the historical sites. We really enjoyed several of them, but I think Tarragona is dangerously close to over-restoring some of their monuments. You do want to give visitors an idea of how things would have looked, but you don't want to misrepresent these ruins as better preserved than they are. As the town is now, it is totally worth the visit, but I worry that if I ever get to return I might not recognize it.


If I ever do go back I will rent a car. The are several monuments outside of the city limits. This aqueduct is in amazing condition! It is also 4 km outside of town. The bus will get you there, but there is no pick-up going the other way. Sarah and I decided to go further away from town on a later bus. We got off at a stop that did have a pick-up point going toward town. When it finally got there, it was the same bus we had ridden fifteen minutes earlier. We should have just ridden it until the end of the line and let it loop back. Don't worry, we've had plenty more mishaps with public transit to keep you entertained.