1 The oldest hotel in Europe is the Parador de Santiago de Compostela. This is one of four distinctive cloisters within the hotel.
2 The San Marcos cloister has a very Renaissance style. Another cloister very similar in style is the San Juan. The San Mateo and San Lucas, which were built later, appear more Baroque.
3 Here was a stairwell leading into the hotel from the San Marcos cloister.
4 San Mateo's cloister was made into a garden with a well manicured hedgerow. The cloister is surrounded by windows looking down at the water well in the center.
5 This interior wrought iron gate was at one end of a large gallery in the Hotel.
6 The ceilings of the Hotel took on many forms - so beautiful.
7 We also enjoyed a lovely lunch at Restaurante Abastos 2 in Santiago de Compostela, where we tasted some typical Galician tapas.
8 This was our table top glistening in shades of green.
9 And the placemats over the iridescent table surface added even more texture.
10 I am wearing a traditional women's hat of Galicia. Oftentimes, young women would wear red and black velveteen bodices with red wool skirts and these hats.
12 We all got together for a fun photo with the staff at Restaurante Abastos 2.
13 This is the Palace at Pazo de Rubianes. It was founded in 1411 by Duke Garcia Caamano, and rebuilt 300-years later by the Duke Jacoba Ozores.
14 One of two giant sphinxes guard the Palace at Pazo de Rubianes.
15 Here was the second of the two - they look very similar to the sphinxes on the terrace of my Skylands home in Maine.
16 The historical Garden at Pazo de Rubianes has more than four thousand specimens of camellias and lots of different kinds of botanical species.
17 In this garden, beautifully sculpted hedges.
18 Have you ever seen a eucalyptus tree this big?
19 It is called Eucalyptus globulus, also known as a Tasmanian blue gum. They typically grow up to about 200 feet tall. It is one of the most widely cultivated trees native to Australia. Michael, Ambassador Costos and I took this photo in front of the tree to show how massive it was.
20 The bark sheds often, peeling in large strips.
21 It is so pretty covered in moss.
22 One of the many camellias blooming at Pazo de Rubianes. Camellias are evergreen shrubs or small trees with flowers ranging in shades of white, pink, and red. The camillias were first planted here in 1850 as a gift from the Dukes of Caminha from Portugal.
23 Another beautiful camellia - this one in the lightest shade of pink.
24 Here I am in front of a Japanese camellia tree, Camellia japonica. It is sometimes called the Rose of winter.
25 This is a Platano de Sombra, or plane tree, Platanus occidentalis. Usually it is considered a hybrid of Platanus orientalis and Platanus occidentals, the American sycamore. Some of the plane trees are said to be about 300-years old.
26 The tops of these trees are so beautiful - and you can see how the bark sheds into patchy patterns.
27 Next to the plane trees, is the frog pond.
28 This is a view from the other side of the frog pond.
29 The frog pond includes a trellised pergola, which has been largely preserved.
30 One of the other well-known areas of Pazo de Rubianes is the vast vineyard.
31 With an area of just more than 60-acres the vineyard of Pazo de Rubianes is the largest in the region.
32 The Palace grounds are very well maintained.
33 While we were walking, we came across some fall crocus - such a nice splash of color when much of the garden is getting ready for its long winter nap.
34 We also toured the inside. This was the dining room.
35 This silver mirrored centerpiece with silver candles looked perfect with the splash of green and white in the center.
36 The wood carved fireplace in the paneled dining room, with a nearly 100-year old trophy displayed above.
37 Another great parlor decorated with medieval and military figures, and paintings.
38 Look at the detail in these figures - you can even see the individual tassels on their capes.
39 A staircase leading to the upper floors of the palace - also very well preserved.
40 In the hallway, a painting of Judith signed by the Duke of Rivas. Underneath, a table with several large antique vessels.
41 The stone fireplace was inspired by the balcony of the Royal Palace of Madrid.
42 Do you know what this is? It is called a girolle - and is used to scrape or peel thin ruffles or rosettes from a wheel of cheese.
43 Look how cute these cheese rosettes are - light, delicate and so pretty.
44 A bottle of Albarino Garcia Caamano - this wine gives off a pale, golden color with greenish glints on the rim.
45 A bottle of Albarino Pazo de Rubianes. It is a straw yellow, with golden highlights and the smell of apple, pear, and citrus. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day touring the gardens of this historic property.