A Travellerspoint blog

May 2018

Day 38

Sunrise, Tarifa, Cadiz and Seville

semi-overcast 27 °C

We woke this morning to a brilliant sunrise. Our east-facing room provided us with this special treat. It was wonderful to step out on our patio to take this photo and be met by a gentle breeze, the sound of birds singing, and roosters crowing from near-by farms. You will note a glimpse of the Mediterranean on the right-hand side of the photo.

Sunrise May 31, 2018

Sunrise May 31, 2018

After breakfast we drove to Tarifa. Tarifa is well-known as the departure port for a ferry that goes across the strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, Morocco. Tarifa is also the most southern point of continental Europe. We first found this monument to Columbus looking across the strait to the mountains of Morocco. We drove on a little way and found a beach scene complete with a beach body and the Castle of St. Catalina. Our last photo of Tarifa is of a sculpture of a fish.

Monument to Columbus with the background of the mountains of Morocco in Africa

Monument to Columbus with the background of the mountains of Morocco in Africa

A beach scene with a beach body

A beach scene with a beach body

The Castle of St. Catalina

The Castle of St. Catalina

Sculpture of a fish

Sculpture of a fish

We found this silhouette of a man with a guitar along the road between Tarifa and Cadiz. Reta thinks it is a troubadour.

Troubadour

Troubadour

Soon after we left Tarifa we said good-bye to the Mediterranean and hello to the Atlantic coast. This photo shows the Atlantic coast and sand dunes.

Atlantic coast and sand dunes

Atlantic coast and sand dunes

We were welcomed by the city of Cadiz by this arched entry. We took a photo of this white building with a tower and this sculpture of entwined dolphins.

Arched entry to Cadiz

Arched entry to Cadiz

White building with tower

White building with tower

Dolphins

Dolphins

We crossed the Bay of Cadiz on this suspension bridge which is named the "Constitution of 1812 Bridge". This bridge was started with the view of completion in 2012 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of signing this constitution. The completion was delayed until 2015 due to budget cuts. It is a beautiful bridge.

Constitution of 1812 Bridge

Constitution of 1812 Bridge

We arrived in Seville or Sevilla as the Spanish say. This jacaranda tree is in bloom just outside of our hotel room.

Jacaranda tree

Jacaranda tree

We went for a walk after we got settled in our hotel room. We saw these flowers as we walked along.

Pink Hibiscus

Pink Hibiscus

We have seen this flower before as a shrub but this is a tree

We have seen this flower before as a shrub but this is a tree

We noticed an impressive building in a park across the street from our hotel so we wandered over to see what it was. It is the Plaza de Espana in the Maria Luisa Park. Our investigations tell us that the Plaza de Espana was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929. This building is a combination of Reminiscence Revival architecture and Mudejar (Moorish) architecture. The ceramics that decorate the building were made in Triana, Spain. The Plaza de Espana complex is a huge semi-circle surrounded by a moat with numerous bridges.

Lamp post covered in ceramics

Lamp post covered in ceramics

The Plaza de Espana is built in a semicircle

The Plaza de Espana is built in a semicircle

The balustrade along the walkway is covered in ceramics

The balustrade along the walkway is covered in ceramics

A boat rides along the moat

A boat rides along the moat

A donkey cart awaits a passenger

A donkey cart awaits a passenger

A paloma blanca (white dove) in a tree

A paloma blanca (white dove) in a tree

A family enjoying a horse drawn carriage ride

A family enjoying a horse drawn carriage ride

We enjoyed our walk in the park very much.

Tomorrow we are off to Portugal.

Posted by A-RPoulton 12:03 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 37

Gibraltar and a golf course stay

semi-overcast 23 °C

We left our very comfortable apartment in Granada which was next to the San Mathias Church. Yes, they did not ring the bells during the night. This was a very modern apartment in a historic building.

We set off to visit Gibraltar. We had read that sometimes the border crossing guards can hold cars up for three hours and so on. We had decided to not cross into Gibraltar if there were long line ups. We got some good photos of the famous rock before we got to the border crossing. We had no problems getting in or out of the territory.

Best photo of the famous rock of Gibraltar

Best photo of the famous rock of Gibraltar

Strange but true, you must cross the runway of the Gibraltar airport to get in and out of the country, even if you take a bus to the border and walk into the territory.

Crossing the runway going in

Crossing the runway going in


Crossing the runway going out

Crossing the runway going out

Gibraltar is a small territory. It is a popular spot to visit so there are lots of tourists and vehicles. We did manage to have an interesting visit in spite of all those things.

As we drove around the peninsula, we spotted some military installations, gorgeous views of the Mediterranean, a famous lighthouse, tiny beaches, and some of the many caves that have been carved in the famous rock for defence and transportation.

Military installation

Military installation

Views of the Mediterranean

Views of the Mediterranean

Famous lighthouse

Famous lighthouse

A pocket beach

A pocket beach

Some of the many caves in the Gibraltar rock

Some of the many caves in the Gibraltar rock

This is a poorly focused picture of the Mediterranean coast which we saw as we drove to our golf course overnight stay.

Mediterranean coastline

Mediterranean coastline

When we reached our golf course overnight spot, we were amazed by the property. The buildings must be very new, and they are very modern. We have a wonderful two-bedroom apartment with spectacular views. We met a man near the elevator that told us he has stayed here for eight months and is going home tomorrow. He loves it here.

We have a view out over the golf course. If we look south we see the Mediterranean and if we look north we see the heights of the Sierra Nevada. We spent some relaxing time out on our deck in the warm air. There is no wind. The temperature is 23 C or 73 F. In Saskatchewan we look forward to days like this all year. We ate our supper/dinner out on our deck.

Looking south from our deck - the view of the Mediterranean

Looking south from our deck - the view of the Mediterranean

Looking north from our deck - The view of the distant Sierra Nevada mountains and the toll road highway crossing a valley on a modern viaduct

Looking north from our deck - The view of the distant Sierra Nevada mountains and the toll road highway crossing a valley on a modern viaduct

We are looking forward to a great evening and night's sleep.

Posted by A-RPoulton 11:33 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 36

Touring La Alhambra in Granada

semi-overcast 21 °C

We got up and got going early today because we wanted to walk from our apartment to the La Alhambra. We felt it would be at least a half hour walk and we needed to meet our tour group at 8:45 AM. We knew that only 8,000 guests are allowed in Alhambra each day. We purchased our tour tickets before we left home so we would be assured of a tour. We know 8,000 people sounds like a lot of people but they were sold out of tickets before noon, and this is the quiet season.

Alhambra means the red house in Arabic. The construction of this city began in 1238 AD by Muhammad I. Al-Ahmar the founder of the Nasrid dynasty. The Moors (African Muslims) invaded what we now refer to as Spain in the 700's AD. They inhabited 80% of Spain. These were largely nomads so it was a big step for them to start building a city. There are two palaces in this hill city, the Alhambra and Generalife. Alhambra was the home of the Sultan and the military area. Generalife was a recreational building for the sultans.

Generalife has extensive gardens both for agriculture and for beauty.

We were successful in walking from our apartment to the Alhambra area. We made a few side trips but felt we did a good job. We left our apartment at 8 AM and got to Alhambra at 8:35 AM.

The meeting spot for our tour group

The meeting spot for our tour group

Our tour began walking through the beautiful gardens, which an army of gardeners work on each day, on our way to the Generalife Palace. This picture is of a persimmon tree. You will see that there are both flowers and fruit on this tree.

Persimmon tree

Persimmon tree

Purple poppies

Purple poppies

We looked across the gardens and saw the red walls of the Alhambra Palace.

Distance view of Alhambra

Distance view of Alhambra

This is one of the "patios" as the tour guide called them inside the Generalife Palace. The water ponds have constantly running water. This, what we would call a courtyard , had a major fountain running the length of the area.

Dancing fountain

Dancing fountain

These next few photos show some of the artistic decoration work done on the walls of Generalife. The tour guide referred to this work as stucco. The stucco was used because it could be carved and shaped into these intricate patterns. In the time of the sultans these designs would have been painted various colours. Blue was made with lapis lazuli which was very expensive at that time, so use of that colour showed great wealth.

Faded colour on walls

Faded colour on walls

Intricate exterior design

Intricate exterior design

All wood used in decorating these palaces was cedar from Lebanon. These are intricately designed wooden window coverings and a door.

Fine window coverings

Fine window coverings

Wooden door

Wooden door

Gardens were bordered by cypress tree hedges and myrtle hedges. The myrtle was used often as it repels mosquitos. This hedge has an arch shaped into it.

Cypress and myrtle hedge.

Cypress and myrtle hedge.

This would have been the home of a noble. Today it is a hotel referred to as a "Parador de Turismo San Francisco". The tour guide estimated that the cost per night to stay in the establishment would be 600 Euros or $900.00 CAD.

Parador de Turismo San Francisco

Parador de Turismo San Francisco

This palace was built in the Alhambra area by Spanish King Carlos V. The exterior of the palace is square but the interior courtyard is circular and resembles the Roman Pantheon. This project was never completed because of the cost. It was planned to have a domed roof.

Palace of Carlos V

Palace of Carlos V

Circular interior courtyard

Circular interior courtyard

We then went to the "Wine Gate" that at one time led into an area where wine was sold. Reta thought the mosaic decoration was very attractive.

Wine gate

Wine gate


Mosaic decoration

Mosaic decoration

This is a picture of the Alcazaba or military area. The tower gives a wonderful view point and therefore was a good defensive overlook.

Alcazaba tower

Alcazaba tower

We could look down on the city which grew up around these palaces. The tour guide asked us to note that even when these homes were built they had an interior courtyard.

Home with interior courtyard

Home with interior courtyard

We could see as far off as the nearby mountains. It was very hazy today so the view was not as spectacular as it is sometimes. The homes on the side of the hill are really caves with what appears to be a home fa├žade. These cave homes are still inhabited by a group of people who have lived this way for generations. There are also remains of the original wall that surrounded the city.

This photo shows some of the cave homes

This photo shows some of the cave homes

Remains of the original city wall

Remains of the original city wall

This arched doorway is decorated with a key symbol.

The key carving is a symbol used by the Nasrid family

The key carving is a symbol used by the Nasrid family

This is a sultan's home with a beautiful reflecting pool in front of it. This home had a complex ceiling made of cedar from Lebanon.

Home with reflecting pool

Home with reflecting pool

Complex ceiling

Complex ceiling

We found this beautifully decorated room in a tower. Again, the stucco decorations and the mosaic panels are stunning. It was interesting to see the city below through the arched window.

Back wall of tower building room

Back wall of tower building room

Mosaic panels

Mosaic panels

View through the window

View through the window

On our way out of the Alhambra complex we found a terraced garden.

Terraced garden

Terraced garden

This is one last picture of the stucco work that decorates these buildings.

Stucco work

Stucco work

The armies of Spain eventually defeated the Moors and in 1492 Queen Isabel I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon incorporated the Alhambra palaces and military functions into the Spanish Royal Houses. This explains why today there are Spanish and Moorish buildings in this complex.

Our tour lasted for three hours. We sat down and enjoyed a slice of pizza and a bowl of ice cream before we walked back to our apartment.

Posted by A-RPoulton 10:09 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 35

Ubeda to Granada with a stop in Cordoba

semi-overcast 23 °C

We left our apartment at Ubeda on a misty, grey morning.

The first part of our drive took us through kilometre and kilometre or mile after mile of olive tree orchards. Spain produces 40% of the worldwide harvest of olive oil. Andalusia, which is the part of Spain that we were travelling through, is the largest olive growing area on earth. We stopped and took a photo so you could see the row on row of trees that expand over hills and valleys.

A hillside of olive trees

A hillside of olive trees

A close-up of olive trees

A close-up of olive trees

We stopped in Cordoba which is famous for its Roman Bridge which crosses the Guadalquivir river. This bridge was first built in the first century by the Romans but has been rebuilt many times since. Most of its present structure is attributed to the Moorish era in the eighth century. It is famous for its 16 arches.

The Roman bridge

The Roman bridge

The Tower of La Calahorra rises up at the south end of the Roman bridge. It is a fortified gate originally built by the Moors and extensively restored by King Enrique II of Castile in 1369 to defend the city from attack by his brother Pedro I the Cruel from the South. It was originally an arched gate between two towers. Enrique II added a third cylindrical shaped tower connecting the outer two.

The Calahorra Tower

The Calahorra Tower

The Triumphal Arch or The Puerta del Puente was erected on the north end of the Roman bridge to celebrate the visit of Phillip II in 1570.

The Triumphal Arch

The Triumphal Arch

There is also a monument to San Raphael called the San Raphael Triumph.

San Raphael Triumph

San Raphael Triumph

We walked around in the "old town" and admired the narrow streets and the tourist shops. We also saw the Mezquita-Catedral, which was a Muslim Mosque which was converted into a Roman Catholic Cathedral in 1236. The artwork on the exterior is being reconstructed. It is very attractive.

Exterior design 1

Exterior design 1

Exterior design 2

Exterior design 2

After we left Cordoba we travelled through the Sierra Morena mountains which are the highest in the Iberian Peninsula. This mountain peak appeared very large but by the time Reta took the photo it was obliterated by a nearby hill.

Mountain Peak

Mountain Peak

We arrived safely at our accommodation in Granada. The host met us along the street and helped us get our luggage into the apartment and got us settled. We then moved our car to a parking garage and stopped by a grocery store for supper menu items.

We are staying next to the San Matias Cathedral and enjoy hearing the bells every half hour. We are wondering if this goes on all night. Will report on that tomorrow.

Tonight we plan our walk to the Alhambra for a tour.

Posted by A-RPoulton 12:29 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Day 34

Madrid to Ubeda

all seasons in one day 24 °C

Last evening, we watched the Real Madrid vs Liverpool FC soccer game on TV. Reta was conflicted about who to cheer for as her paternal grandfather came from Liverpool but she was in Madrid. It was a well-fought defensive game but, in the end, Real Madrid scored two more goals than Liverpool and won the championship. We were sad to see Mo Salah, the Egyptian player for Liverpool, be injured and not be able to complete the game as he had been such a strong player for Liverpool all season.

We were staying in an apartment over a bar and there was a bar next door so we expected a loud evening but it seems the tradition is to go to one of the squares and raise a ruckus there so we were spared.

This morning we got up and got going. Reta was disturbed to open her suitcase to begin getting ready and cockroaches came out of the case. She usually keeps her suitcase zippered when not going in or out but somehow those little rascals got in there anyway. Both of us then unpacked our cases and made sure we were not taking any hitchhikers with us to our next night's apartment.

Our stop for today was at the Spanish Royal Palace at Aranjuez. This is a palace which is about 50 kilometres south of Madrid. The palace, gardens and associated buildings are part of the Aranjuez Cultural Landscape, which was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Cultural Organization in 2001.

This palace was one of four palaces which the royal family visited during the year. Records show that this was a favourite springtime retreat for the royal family. The palace was an ongoing project for many years. The construction started in the mid 1500's and was completed as far as we can learn, in the late 1800's. We really did not get a good impression about when the Spanish Royal family turned this palace and its grounds, gardens and townsite over to the government of Spain.

The property is very extensive. The palace is huge. It is very beautiful and the gardens are lovely.

We chose to take an audio tour of the palace and then wander around the gardens.

The first building on the palace grounds that we visited was San Antonio's Royal Church. We did not go inside as we felt services were in progress.

San Antonio's Royal Church

San Antonio's Royal Church

There was a large square in front of the church. We thought the fountain in the centre of the square had interesting decorations.

Square in front of San Antonio's Royal Church

Square in front of San Antonio's Royal Church

We had to walk a long way to be able to get the whole front of the palace in one picture.

Front view of the royal palace

Front view of the royal palace

We took this closer picture so you can see the detail on the gates and the palace.

View of gates and front of palace

View of gates and front of palace

The lamp posts around the palace were very decorative.

Lamp post

Lamp post

There was a very serious bocce ball tournament going on in the square next to the palace. Thought you would like to see part of the crowd involved in this serious event.

Tournament

Tournament

Picture taking is not allowed in the palace. We took this one picture in the courtyard in the front of the palace.

Palace courtyard

Palace courtyard

The palace is truly very sumptuous. The rooms are beautifully furnished and decorated. The one that caught Reta's attention the most was a smaller room but it was decorated in Oriental porcelain designs.

After our tour we went out to explore the gardens. This first photo is of a small garden near the back of the palace. There is a much, much larger garden of hedges and flowers on that side of the palace. Reta only took a picture of the roses in one area.

Small garden at back of palace

Small garden at back of palace

Roses

Roses

We then walked around to the river side of the palace. There is a river walk on this side of the palace and a park with trees, lawns and many fountains.

River walk

River walk


Man fishing in river

Man fishing in river

White goose watching the river go by

White goose watching the river go by

We had our lunch in the shade of a nearby park and then began our drive to Ubeda. Along the way there were many of these black bull silhouettes. We did see one silhouette of a man with a guitar but it was difficult to photograph.

Black Bull

Black Bull

Along the way to Ubeda we encountered a serious rain storm. The rain was so heavy at times that it was difficult for Art to drive. Of course, it was worst when you passed a semi-trailer or it passed you.

Ubeda is a city of about 36,000. It is in the area of Andalusia. The area we are staying in has narrow streets and buildings that look historic. We needed to park our car some blocks away but were able to unload our luggage near the door and use an elevator to bring it upstairs.

We arrived safely to our apartment. It is lovely. It is clean and well-provisioned. We will have a good night here.

Posted by A-RPoulton 12:33 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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