Friday, 9 March 2018

Unexpected Spain

Before embarking on this trip we weren't really sure how easy it would be to find places to stay overnight with the motorhome.  Luckily, nearly all the interesting towns, cities and natural areas have a place or two where stopping is accepted. Much easier than we thought and thank goodness.

Beside the bullring


Of course Spain covers a vast area with mountains, coast, forests and bleak sandy landscapes. We have found most of these, perhaps with the exception this time of the mountains, as snow was forecast and the snow ploughs were out and about making us feel a bit concerned. The roads we have taken have peaked at 1200 metres before gradually descending to the coast and it has been beautiful. Vast green fields south of Seville towards Tarifa, olive groves, cherry and almond orchards in between and then deep red and orange ochre colours towards Zaragoza, We have loved it all.

No self respecting village or small town is without it's castle!

Here are some photos of our favourite and most surprising places visited. Unfortunately the camera never does a place justice and trying to take a shot of a view while travelling in the van is a non-starter.


                             The snow when we first arrived in January





                             La Granja Palace and the aqueduct in Segovia





   
Enjoying the sherry near Cadiz


Roman cities

                                    16th and 17th Century former palaces




The sighting of a Glossy Ibis at the lake in Le Rocio



Le Rocio cowboy town and Matalascanas beach.



Replicas of the ship Columbus took to the Americas



                                                            Hilltop towns



                                       

                                           Sampling the Anis at Cinchon




Enjoying the Spa at Cascante and strolling around Aranjuez Palace.



                              Learning about Don Quixote at Puerto Lapice



The road to Zaragoza

Troglodyte homes near Tulada

Anyone for tea?



                                      Puerto la Reina


And finally .....Tapas in Pamplona!



Our last night tomorrow in San Sebastian before the journey up through France and home.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Toledo


The city is on the curve of the river and sits on a rocky mound where every available inch has been built upon: churches, synagogues, mosques and houses, heaped upon one another in a haphazard fashion.
We arrived early on Friday afternoon in the rain with storm Emma closely on our heals. The parking was quite limited especially for the likes of our van so we had to park some way off but with a great view of the northern side of the city.

Dodging the showers as best we could we found our way up the escalator and through one of the gates walking towards the old jewish quarter. It was quite difficult to find our way around but eventually we found the fascinating El Greco museum, part of which includes the type of  house he would have lived in as well as some of his original paintings.


One of the ancient Jewish synagogues was visited next which had strangely been constructed in similar fashion to a mosque. The crossover of religions in past times in Toledo were not uncommon.



We decided not to visit the Cathedral or the Alcazar this time but there were still one or two interesting museums showing the long history of the town, and more El Greco paintings .....  I think we have seen enough of those now!



We loved Cristo de la Luz  which started life as a very small mosque and was built in 999AD and rose above street level. Two centuries later it was transformed into a church and an apse was added, being only 80 square metres in total. A lovely garden and view across the old town gates.




For us, Toledo appeared quite dark and intimidating at first but maybe it was because of the dull showery weather, lack of spaciousness and narrow hilly streets to negotiate.


 All still very medieval ....... until at last we found a lovely square and finally started to enjoy the surroundings.



The birthday lunch helped too by the way!


PS.  If you ever need to buy a sword,  a replica WW2 automatic machine gun or sheath knife, this is the place for you!  Shops loaded with them everywhere......bizarre!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Córdoba


The city lies upstream from Seville on the Rio Guadalquivir and was once navigable as far as here. It was the largest city of Roman Spain and later formed the heart of the Islamic empire of the Moors.




The major monument to visit is the Mesquita, the grandest and most beautiful mosque constructed in Spain and later in 1236 a Christian Cathedral was consecrated inside the mosque built without destroying the Islamic architecture and the two seem to blend well together.



It's quite dark inside so takes some time for your eyes to aclimatise and then you begin to see the beauty of the place, it is absolute enormous and certainly does take your breath away! Each way you turn more wonderful architecture comes into view. We stayed inside for two hours, I think we actually made the circuit twice just to make sure we hadn't missed anything.



The rest of the city does have it's charms, especially the tapas bars, and the tiny church of San Bartolomé with it's tiled interior.



 There is also a part of town where the locals adorned their tiny flower filled patios....very cute!