Thursday, 11 October 2012

Spain-Portugal-Morocco--Sept 2012-- # 1

What to include, what not to, how many images, so the post is hopefully of some interest to others? I've tried to include a variety.

There were three other Canadians on the tour and others from England, Australia, India, New Zealand and the U. S. It was a good mix and we shared some laughs, some stories and tipped a few glasses together.

We started in Madrid and followed a figure-8 pattern to Coimbra in Portugal, down to Lisbon, back to Seville in SW Spain, then across the straits of Gibraltar to Africa. The bottom of the figure-8 was through Fez, Marrakech, Casablanca and Rabat in Morocco. Then back across the straits, along the Costa Del Sol to Granada in SE Spain and back to Madrid.

This kind of tour is a bit like the old movie, "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium"
but you see a lot in a short time. It's exploratory, more than relaxing, but you get enough down-time to recharge your batteries if you need to.

We always add one extra day before a tour to rest up from the jet-lag and explore the starting point city, and an extra day at the end to rest up and explore a bit more before the flight home.

Before we left for the trip we read about a park behind the hotel in Madrid, so on the night we arrived we went to it about 9 or 10pm. It was a great start to the trip. It stretches for a few miles along a river and there were 100s of people out, mostly from the apartments nearby we were guessing. There were kids on their skateboards & bikes, people strolling along the pathways, and dozens of others sitting on low walls or 200 foot long, comfortable, curving benches along the paths, chatting or people-watching. I don't remember seeing such benches anywhere else.. a great idea.

We went back to the park in daylight... an unusual foot bridge.

Some apartments next to the park.

We walked up to Plaza Mayor (Main Square), about a half-hour walk from the hotel. On the way I snapped a couple shop windows.

I'm guessing she didn't have much competition.

Colorful candy...

Plaza Mayor was our favourite square of the ones we saw in Spain, though others think otherwise. Buildings/apartments are on all four sides with a few arches where you enter or leave. It's filled with tourists but there are restaurants with outdoor tables where you can enjoy the happenings on the square. An interesting point is that prices are higher outside than inside, not only here but in most of Spain, but it's well worth it here at the square.

This has caught on in Europe. Lovers put locks with their names on them on bridges, etc. Here they're on a light standard.

There were some priceless performers in the square. We got a big kick out of this one. She was just in front of us when we had lunch. She (we saw her take a break later) clacked her wooden jaws and pointed down to her donation box. When you gave her a tip she did a shaky dance and clacked all the more. Cute!

How could you resist such pleading eyes and not drop something into her coin box? Most did resist we noticed.
This guy was good too. Drop in a tip and he came to life to nod a thank you.

This guy was a little on the creepy side, but very clever.

Segways are more popular in Europe than here. When these showed up on the square, it was with a bit of flair, in that the rest of us were on foot and they caught our eye.

Time for a rest. Want your picture taken in a gown or toreador outfit?

A classy act in the square... a flamenco dancer who brought her own board for the sound effects. They were both good!

Yet another clever one...

Somewhere in our wanderings we passed this car. On a trip a few years ago we discovered the Smart car that has since become fairly common here. This time it's the Twizy, an electric car from Renault.

Our first excursion was to Toledo, near Madrid.

Countryside outside Madrid. The 'pencil trees' are a species of Cypress, common throughout Europe.

Europe is rife with old city walls, fortresses, castles & cathedrals, partly what draws many of us there.

Trying to accommodate as many tourists as is reasonable. I assume these are the "top-6".

The closest I've been to the Taj Mahal to date. I hope to see it someday, though I'm far more interested in seeing Varanasi if I make it to India.

To me, some sculpture is remarkable. Some sculptors can add so much emotion to their works.

Along the way... I can't resist abandoned homes that have some character.

Spain is much more serious than us about wind power, but maybe they get more wind blowing off the Atlantic & Mediterranean.
(Many images in the blog were taken through bus windows as we drove by, so some have reflections in them. They could be removed with Photoshop, but...)

Plaza de Espana--Spain built a huge, elaborate complex, in Seville, for a 1929 Exposition. We visited it with the group in late afternoon light. The golden glow made it even more impressive.

Tiles & porcelain in abundance.

We went on our own in the harsh light of mid-day, but at least I had a wide-angle lens then.

If it wasn't for the scorching heat, we probably would have rented a row boat for some quiet time on the water.

More shop windows...

A tad beyond my price range... 40,000 Euros, about $52,000 Canadian.

Sangria--a must-try in Spain they say.

On an abandoned building in Seville. Not something you could do overnight so it's presumably ok with the city fathers. But who's the slingshot?

On the other side of the same building-- one representing the oil companies sucking the world dry.

This is a clever one I thought. Not sure what it represents but artists really do have a talent & imagination that I can only dream of.

I asked Jane to stand with this rubber tree to show the size of it. It towered over the park.

Dove or white pigeon? Pigeons are Rock Doves so I guess it's both. None in our neck of the woods in any case.

In Seville: If only Toronto could do something like this... separate lanes for buses and taxis on the major thoroughfares.

With high temperatures for the day in the high 30s, and little shade at rest stops, these sun shades make a lot of sense. Something else we could learn from Europe.

Until part 2...

- fini -


At 12 October 2012 at 10:04 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff Bob

At 15 October 2012 at 19:02 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to go back to those wonderful, interesting places!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Search my Blog...