The Obligatory Food Shots

In response to the many requests for “what is the food like in Spain” I attach without comment, the following:

With the just announced iPhone XS, such photos will be of course of much better quality – colour saturation, depth of focus. I can hardly wait to order one.

Donana National Park and the town of El Rocío

An extremely hot day but thankfully the drive to the National park and bird sanctuary was in a late model 4 wheel Toyota – air conditioned and with a careful driver, a vital criteria for me on all levels.

First stop the marshes and bird sanctuary

The rather dry dusty visitors centre with a storks nest. Along the road almost every power pole had a stork’s nest – hundreds of them.

Hundreds of bird species including flamingos

The town of El Rocío is quite something, it took me back to the days at the local picture theatre and spaghetti westerns , truely. The streets are pure sandy dirt, whilst cars abound, on weekends the horse rules and outside the pubs, bars and some houses are hitching rails. I would not have been surprised to see John Wayne swagger down the wide street as tumble weed was blown along by gusting hot prairie winds, and it was hot, believe me.

The rest of the day was spent slowly driving through the sandy scrub of the national park sadly the ecosystem destroyed last Century by the growing of eucalyptus plantations. We then arrived at the sand cliffs and dunes of the coast and the Atlantic Ocean, which I am forced to admit was rather a let down given the hype that preceded it. We do much better in Australia and especially South Australia and Kangaroo Island.

The Story of the Iberian Lynx

As we drove along it was explained to us all that we may be lucky and spy a lynx. It’s habitat was threatened , signs along the road urged caution lest the next lynx we see may be road kill. One could be forgiven therefore if one assumed that like the Australian kangaroo and wallaby, there would be a reasonable chance that we would come across an Iberian lynx. So we drove at walking pace almost, through sandy slippery roads in the forest looking eagerly left and right for about 90 long minutes, by which time the excitement and anticipation had worn rather thin!

Oh well sighed our otherwise excellent guide, they are mostly nocturnal and then, wait for it, he further explained, the current head count of the number of living Iberian Lynx in the Donana National Park is 11. Yes that is ELEVEN. Now let’s indulge in some mathematics here. The area of this National Park is 540 sq Km that’s 540,000,000 sq metres, divide that by 11, and you will understand that we had as much chance of coming across an Iberian Lynx, as I have of bouncing my bum on the moon.

I had two beers when I got back to civilisation and Seville.

The Plaza de España- Seville

The Plaza de España (“Spain Square”, in English) is a plaza in the Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park), in Seville, Spain, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of the Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture.

The above paragraph is a cut and paste from Wikipedia which I acknowledge and the whole point is that I was gobsmacked to learn the whole delightful complex was built in 1929 , not hundreds of years ago. It is a delightful and very impressive “space”.

The Museum Park of Seville.

My penultimate day in Seville and the outside temperature at noon is approaching 40 degrees, both reasons to meander through the museums including

The Museo de Belles Artes

It is indeed worthy of that name and has an overall atmosphere similar to the Art Gallery of SA, albeit on a much smaller scale. The most famous painter of Seville was Murillo, about whom I knew absolutely nothing until today.

The handsome security guard indicated that I should place my backpack in a locker, then with a somewhat unexpected giggle pointed in the general direction of my crutch and in sign language made it obvious that I should tuck it in. I gasped and for a momentary modest minute assumed my fly was unzipped (an increasingly common failing I admit). However thankfully he twiddled with the elastic long lanyard that secures my iPhone to trouser waist and thence into pocket. It was indeed dangling on my outer thigh. He giggled some more and did a charming demonstration of a pirouette of his hips, worthy of any picador to make the point that were I perchance to swivel in close proximity to a naked male marble statue, I may at worst catch the lanyard on it and bring it crashing down around me. Suitably touched and admonished, I did as told and meandered safely amongst the marble.

A special exhibition devoted to the paintings of Murillo

One of the many cool courtyards in the museum

The Museo de Artes Y Costumbes Populares,

is a basic simple museum that explores aspects of Spanish life over the last few centuries- it had the feel of the delightful museums that are lovingly maintained by volunteers of the local historical society in the country towns and villages of Australia. Perhaps more professionally curated though.

I have no pictures of the inside or displays, but a few shots of the exterior and park grounds

Tomorrow I visit a National Park then train to Madrid to catch the flights home

Skip the Queues Seville Style.

I signed up for a Skip the queue tour of the Seville Palace, Gardens and Cathedral. It seems that most towns in Andalucía have an understandable multicultural society going back over many centuries. Given that Africa, specifically Morocco, is but a few kilometres across the ocean from the southern most outpost of Spain, it is not surprising. “Stopping the Boats” was an impossible catch cry. Hence over Millenia, hordes of Arabs (Muslims) invaded Spain, to be then overrun by Christian hordes and so it alternated between these cultures. Forts, Palaces, Mosques were thankfully mostly not destroyed but “modified” by the Christian Kings.

To my eye, there is much beauty in Islamic architecture with its delicate complex mosaics and blue and aquamarine colours. The mosques were huge open plan areas of worship surrounded by an oasis of green gardens and wonderful use of natural light. Sadly the Christian conquests saw darkness descend literally and figuratively as they bricked up the arches and constructed ornate cathedrals within the mosque.

Here are pictures of the Alcázar and gardens (Palace)

Christian kings live in the palace and to their credit, additions and modifications were mostly in the Islamic style.

Here is the “bath room ” for the princess and Queen. I assume in the days of the Sultan, there were many wives. What appears to be a mirror, is water

Another picture of the gardens

As to the cathedral, only a few pictures.

The Bell Tower – which was originally the minaret of the Mosque

The “thing” in pure silver and gold that is carried along in the feast of corpus Cristie. That is the extent of my religious knowledge

The casket contains the remains ( called “relics”) of Christopher Columbus

Actually poor Columbus wished to be buried in the New World, but Spain wanted him for themselves. Over the centuries his remains were frequently exhumed and transported to various locations around the world so much so that eventually upon his return to Spain, specifically, Seville, poor Christopher was in small pieces! Hence inside the huge casket in the cathedral of Seville, there is a bit of him. On the 500th anniversary of his discovery (1992) it was rather unsettling to the civic fathers who were about to spend millions of dollars on fireworks, so poor Christopher was again exhumed and his DNA compared to the DNA of his great grandson. To the utter relief of all concerned, the DNA matched, so the thimble full of dust that is Christopher Columbus’ presumed left big toe , was safely returned to the casket and in 1992, millions of dollars of fireworks went up in smoke.

Seville

A few random shots of Seville. Day 1

Around the cathedral

And a few street shots. Seville orange trees are as ubiquitous as eucalyptus trees in Adelaide. The oranges are inedible- much too bitter and used for jam.

There are more taxis in Seville than pigeons! There are more pigeons than ice cream shops, but only marginally.

The hilltop town of Ronda

Being rushed off my feet by my 2 travel companions, my creative juices cope with a daily hour of Recorder practice at the expense of any creative writing. I humbly apologise for this lapse. Pictures must sadly suffice.

Having arrived in Seville after a rapid 40 minute train ride from Cordoba, settled in, meandered in the dusk and then the next day took a day trip to Ronda. This delightful hill top town is quite unique and home to many famous English personalities including Ernest Hemingway.

Ronda has the largest and possibly oldest bullring in Spain, which if you are the sort of person who buys barnyard eggs, you would understandably find offensive, if you get my drift? There is now only one bullfight a year on 1st September. The trip was on the first rainy day of the holiday and was simply autumnal drizzle.

Ronda means if you best guessed, “round” ! It’s perched on a hilltop with a gut wrenching view over a ravine and a “new bridge” which to my eye appeared disconcertingly ancient.

We visited one of the many aristocratic Casa, built on the cliffs