The Chapel

There is quite the story behind this blend of old gothic lines and new stained glass in the just completed chapel the New Clairvaux Trappist Monastery. You could start with the founding of the Trappist order of monks in 1664 or go back further to the source of stones you see in the upper foreground – they came from an old Spanish monastery that dates back to the 1200s.

Add more recent history, those Spanish blocks were imported by William Randolph Hearst but never used for his original purpose and so dumped in Golden Gate Park. The Trappists, when exploring where to put a new monastery, found land in Vina, California. Already this land had quite a history too as it was originally owned and developed as a winery by Leland Stanford, founder of the university that bears his name. Somehow the monks also acquired title to the Spanish stones and this is the result of their effort. 

For the curious, I’ve added a map so you can how far off the beaten trail the Monastery is. And the monastery has maintained the winery – with good results.

New Clairvaux Monastery

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New Clairvaux Monastery 39.934157, -122.059307


Alicante – Cristianos vs Moros

There is almost some kind of festival going on in Spain every day. In Alicante and in many other Southern Spanish cities, there is a multi-day festival that commemorates the recapture of Christian Spain from the Moors.

Celebrations and parades happened over a couple of nights that I saw. A bit like Mardi Gras, each neighborhood has it’s “krewe.”

Full of color, sound, fireworks and even fire breathers, it’s a visual feast.


Guessing that the Moors were in blue and Christians in red. Go Red : > )

Alicante – Why Americans Retire To Spain

Not usually listed in guide books as a must see place, Alicante turned out to be a perfect place to unwind in-between visits to Barcelona, Madrid and other high energy tourist stops. With a view of the Mediterranean Sea from my friends apartment balcony, how could you not fall in love with this place.

Out the back window Santa Barbara Castle dominates the skyline. My friends were wonderfully generous to open their place and serve as guides to this charming city. Their apartment is in the building at left.

Alicante is a sailing town. Whether you want to learn how or are a world class sailor, this is the place to be. Especially every 2 years when the Volvo Ocean Race begins. For the last few years Volvo and the organization that puts this race on have chosen Alicante to be the start. 

7 boats, 45,000 miles, 9 months with intermediate (day racing) in 12 different ports. This is not for Sunday sailors. It’s also a deep pockets kind of event for those who sponsor a boat.

Like most good sized Spanish cities, Alicante has a broad pedestrian walkway.  The Esplanade of Espana for the most part is the border between the beach and the town.

Adjacent to the promenade is Canalejas Park with its 100+ year old ficus trees – their girth and leafy spread is impressive. Mediterranean living at its best.