One of the best things about going with Brandon while he teaches his drawing classes is that each day they go somewhere different, and because the classes are nearly three hours long, I really feel like I get to know the place much more than if I were just strolling by.
The students each get to chose a drawing location somewhere in the city, and this morning a park with statuary was the chosen spot. The students settled in to shady areas where they had good views of their chosen bronze gods and goddesses, and while Brandon walked between them helping them with their drawings, I tried out different benches around the open central area of the park where people where feeding the birds. I think instead of bird watching I was people watching.
Hundreds, or probably thousands, of doves were crowded around folks who bought seeds from he nearby sellers, and the kids in particular were having a blast with the birds. The birds must have thought the seed was worth being chased by children for because they would only fly away a short distance and then land to be chased some more. The little boy in the red shirt in one of the photos above was particularly excited to chase doves, and would pick them up and throw them into the air and shout "dasvidania!", which I think means goodbye in Russian.
While we were there early in the morning, city water trucks with pressure washers were cleaning the benches and the pavement, so I assume they clean the park daily which is why it wasn't nasty like I would expect considering the number of birds. Vendors were selling seed and balloons for the kids, and the benches under the trees were filled with tourists taking breaks from the sun. It was a great place for people watching as every language seemed to be represented.
Brandon and I were determined to make today a rest day since we stayed out so late last night, but after a big lunch and a long siesta, we couldn't resist hitting the metro and heading toward a place called Tibidado, which we were told was on a hill top with beautiful views of the city. The metro took us to Tibidado, where we rode a trolley up a steep winding road to catch the funicular, which is a hundred year old train pulled up the mountain by a cable.
The view from the top of Tibidado, the tippy top-o, as we liked to say, was not disappointing. But what was surprising to us, is that there is a huge ornate stone church topped by a giant Jesus with outstretched arms, with an amusement park in the front yard. Not that a church is surprising at all, considering they seem to be everywhere, but this is the first church yard amusement park I've ever seen. I mean, there was a carousel, trampolines, spinning swings, and roller coasters. It was the real deal.
We decided that the terrified screams of people on the rides heightened the sensation of being up so high. When I would lean out over the rails while looking down on the huge city by the sea, the shrieks of joyous fear seemed appropriate to the setting.
After exploring the church and all the vantage points, we bought some tasty beverages and sat at a table near the edge of the platform and ate the snacks we brought along while the sun set behind us and the lights started to illuminate the rides.
We didn't want to wait for the last train off the mountain because we knew it would be crowded, but we still got crammed in a car with a zillion tired children and their frazzled parents. A very loud Spanish speaking woman practically standing on my shoes kept rapid fire shouting at her sons on the other side of the car, and then ending her sentences with "okey-dokey?", which was cracking me up. We decided not to take the bus back to the metro and instead walked down the road we rode up on the trolley. It was a wonderful walk past Spanish style mansions, which were all behind ornate walls and gates. Tibidado was not what I expected, but well worth the trip.