The younger generation By Sharon Paul...


March 26, 2000


The younger generation

By Sharon Paul Perfetti, Bel Air

We had taken our girls, Marisa and Mia, to Ellis Island to look for their grandparents' names on the wall when I snapped this picture of them playing in the grass with the Manhattan skyline behind them.


Ellen B. Cutler


Busy Madrid on parade

Madrid is surprisingly small and surprisingly noisy.

From our headquarters at the Hotel Green El Prado on the Bourbon quarter edge of the Plaza Santa Ana, where Old Madrid begins, we can walk with relative ease to all but a few of the tourist-worthy sites in the city.

Honking horns punctuate the roar of automobile engines. Little green pedestrian lights signaling safe crossing chirp like demented birds, each with its own unique call (eee-ih eee-ih or aaa-aaa-aaa), and then go frantic when the green figures flicker, presaging the change to red.

Jackhammers blast away. It is almost 25 years since the isolationist dictator Francisco Franco died; derelict buildings and ancient sewers are everywhere under reconstruction. Normal urban problems -- graffiti, trash and homelessness -- are immediately evident.

One day, traffic stopped on Calle Mayor for a dazzling parade. There were golden helmets, magnificent horses and ornate carriages complete with liveried drivers and footmen.

In the front of the procession, pink plumes waved above gold-belted black jackets and shining dapple-grays. Then came a unit of dark, almost black, beauties with the regal bearing of ancient Andalusian war horses. At the end were white horses whose riders wore blue cloaks lined with scarlet.

We continued on to the Palacio Real (which, preoccupied with this official parade pomp, was closed to tourists) then detoured through Nuestra Senora de la Almudena on the other side of the plaza. This remarkable cathedral, begun in 1879 but not completed until 1993, reflects the cultural crosscurrents and clashes that seem so quintessential to Madrid.

The product of competing architectural visions, the cathedral blends a Gothic nave with a Renaissance entrance and a baroque crossing. Contemporary art hangs alongside medieval carvings. Everywhere pools of color are cast like jewels from the coffers of stained glass windows.

We wandered back through the Plaza Mayor, the heart of Hapsburg Madrid and the site of markets, bullfights, executions and royal ceremonies.

As we neared the gate on the other side, we found ourselves once again witness to the parade of horse guards and carriages, and no less a dignitary than King Juan Carlos I himself. He was resplendent in embroidered uniform and chatted with a man in diplomatic formal attire. They were no more than 20 feet away, a proximity made intimate and thrilling by the near absence of modern security.

Ellen B. Cutler lives in Aberdeen



Jonathan Weiner, Monkton

"I was driving with my family to Zion National Park in Utah. Around each bend in the road were interesting rock formations in vivid colors set against the blue sky. We all burst out laughing when we saw this sign."

Southern France

Carey Giles, Marietta, Ga.

"Last fall we honeymooned in the Languedoc region of southern France. We stayed in the small wine village of Quarante, which has cafes, grocery stores and a small street market open two days a week. Each morning our day began with a walk to the boulangerie for warm, fresh croissants. The Languedoc region is filled with fascinating history, and Quarante is a perfect base for exploring."

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