Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

l’arte sa nuotare Cadaques

June 26, 2014

Cadaques is Dali country, and his art and presence are strong there, in neighbouring Portlligat, where he lived and worked from the thirties til 1982, and in Figueras where Dali designed a museum for his art in a converted theatre.

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Cadaques is full of galleries, and art overflows into the street.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

My favourite art was on lamp posts, bollards, and walls in the street. Small altered images “l’arte sa nuotare”

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

And nobody knows who drew that masked man!

Bilbao

June 22, 2014

Our arrival in Bilbao coincided with the 714th Anniversary of the signing of the city charter. This is the cause of great celebration for the town, and we enjoyed it!

Following the lead of Paris in 2002, Bilbao celebrates this anniversary with a noches blanches, with art, music, and other cultural and community events through the night. Monuments, historic buildings and bridges in the central city were all lighted, and special lighting displays were installed.

ImageImageImageimage

imageimage

The lights offered excellent opportunities for Selfies!

image

We visited the Guggenheim museum at 10pm, listened to a New York pianist, watched a very funky New York dancer, looked around the gallery, and hung wishes on Yoko Ono’s “wishing” olive tree,

imageimageimageimage

attended a concert by a swing band,

image

and a symphonic accordion orchestra (!) in the Cathedral cloisters. We stood in a queue for a while, and were amongst the last admitted before the gates were LOCKED behind us!

imageimageimage

The next morning we had a bit of a lie-in, but not much, as the annual charity rubber duck race was on. Thousands of ducks were bought by the public, and entered in the race. The proceeds went to the Walk On Project, to raise awareness of, and aid in researching unusual neurodegenerative disorders. The release of the ducks was heralded by singing, fireworks, and spraying water from fire trucks. image

imageimageimageimage

The city cleaners didn’t have a lie-in.

image

Even without the spectacular lighting of Noches Blanches, Bilbao’s public buildings and spaces are stunning. The Guggenheim has my vote for the most beautiful building in Spain, possibly anywhere. The titanium sheets look like silk, gold in the sun, and silver in the cloud or grey.

imageimageimageimage

The Zubizuri, the white pedestrian bridge over the Nervion river is another very beautiful Santiago Calatrava design.

imageimageimage

Even the tourist office was beautiful!

imageimage

We explored some nearby villages in the Basque Country, Mundaka, a tiny fishing village with a surf beach with the world famous long left break, and Elantxobe, with the tiniest Plaza, so small the bus has to be turned around manually on a turntable, and both with huge sea walls to protect the harbour from the wild Atlantic waters.

imageimageimageimageimageimage

We used multiple forms of transport, including trams, Metro, funicular, gondola suspended under the 1893 Vizcaya suspension bridge, and, of course, skating.

imageimageimageimageimageimage

The park at the top of the funicular gave a view of the city, including the glorious Guggenheim.

image

Other highlights were Phillippe Starck’s conversion of a disused wine warehouse into the Alhondiga, with exhibition spaces, cafés, shops with excellent designed products, and the lap pool that we viewed from below! And a wonderful retrospective exhibition of Henry Moore sculptures.

imageimage

Although we didn’t fall over wonderful food the way we had in Valencia, we still found some great cafés, restaurants and bars.

imageimage

 

We love Valencia

June 21, 2014

Following major flooding in the historic centre of Valencia, the Rio Turia was diverted, the former riverbed now a beautiful park with cycle (skate) ways, playground, exercise equipment, ponds, fountains, and skate park.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Also great for skating was the area surrounding la Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias, a series of buildings, most designed by Santiago Calatrava.

ImageImageimageimage

Much of the buildings and landscaping is white mosaic tiling, with flashes of vibrant blue.

ImageImageImageImage

The huge pool surrounding the Hemispheric was full of transparent kayaks, and waterballs designed by NASA to assist in preparing astronauts for zero gravity.

ImageImageImage

The city’s historic centre was vibrant, with a huge covered market that we visited daily for breakfast, and for buying fruit and supplies.

imageimageimage imageimageimageimage

Everywhere the food was fabulous.

imageimage

We visited the towers at the two remaining sections of the fortress protecting the old town, with stunning views over the city,

imageimageimage

and had a tense moment when Otis leaned back and his sunglasses slipped off his head and headed for the narrow arrow-shooting slit, but fortunately he grabbed them in time,

image

visited two contemporary art galleries, one a stylish modern building, the other in a converted medieval monastery,

imageimageimageimageimageimage

enjoyed Monuments and Braille maps around the city,

imageimageimage

and swam at the local beach, where Baxter had a new experience – being stung by a spider fish! Fortunately, the local Cruz Roja (Red Cross) paramedic treated it with ammonia, and prescribed walking on hot sand, which was easy, as it was boiling!

image

imageimage

Shopping opportunities included a new Kangol hat (Daniel),

image

clothes from skate shops (Baxter and Otis),

image

and a polka dot phone cover (Gini).

image

Our lovely apartment was in the Barrier Carmen

image

overlooking a four way intersection of narrow roads, with four pedestrian crossings, and excellent opportunities for people watching, including Daniel arriving home with our clean laundry!

imageimage

Amazingly, with four pedestrian crossings, some people still walked across the middle of the street.

image

Ruta de Tapas por Valencia

June 15, 2014

Valencia was hosting its fourth year of competition for the best tapas. Forty bars and restaurants made their signature tapa, served with a drink for €2.50, to be judged by the public. We didn’t get to all 40, but navigated to plenty, and loved trying them.

Image

Tapa Mediterranea, tortilla de patatas made with Rose Cava on orange pan de Puebla served with a reduction of Rose Cava, and purple radish sprouts. At Escalones de la Lonja. Gini’s favourite.

Image

Gamba frita moruna, fried prawns. At Boatella, Plaza del Mercat.

Image

Ensalada Iberica, creamy potato salad with Iberian ham, with sautéed garlic, served with a pistachio crouton. At Pico Fino.

Image

Montadito de morcilla alcoyana, crouton with black pudding paste, goats cheese, baby broad beans, cherry tomato, and mesclun. At Bodego de la Sarieta.

Image

Gavilla, crumbed fried disc of goats cheese on a sweet balsamic reduction. At London Cafe, next to our apartment. Otis’s favourite.

Image

Chevre en pan de pueblo con tomate marmelade y ajo frito. At Cava Siglo Gourmet.

Image

La tradicion heche tortilla, pancakes with Ali oli, chives, and roasted capsicum. At Bar el Kiosko.

image

Rollito vegetal, potato salad in a pickled capsicum with cherry tomato, lettuce and basil Ali oli on a garlic crouton. At Taberna de la Reina.

image

Tapa de bonito, salted smoked cod with roasted red onion on a garlic crouton with pastry fingers and onion sprouts. At Restaurante Casa Ripoll, at the beach.

And Baxter’s favourite, eaten before we remembered to take a photo! Classical brascada, pan de pueblo with sirloin of beef, smoky bacon and lettuce. Yum!

We left Valencia before the competition was over. We’ll look out for the results.

More of Valencia soon…

Street art in Valencia

June 13, 2014

Valencia felt very familiar after our four nights visit. We loved many things about this beautiful city, not least the street art – on fences, walls, abandoned sites, in fact, almost anywhere…

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageimageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

 

More about Valencia soon…

San Jose

June 11, 2014

We had three days in San Jose when we arrived back in Spain from Morocco. San Jose is a small settlement on the Mediterranean coast, in the middle of the Parque Natural, Spain’s equivalent of National Park. As most of us were laid low, we couldn’t enjoy all San Jose and surrounds had to offer,

ImageImage

although Daniel and the boys braved a swim in the pool and at the little beach in front of our apartment, and a game of mini-golf, during which Otis launched his club off the roof onto the balcony of the apartment below!

Image

We left San Jose still unexplored, so, from Granada, we headed back for another five days in the sun.

image

We returned via the Sierra Nevada mountains, through rugged desert, stopping at La Calahorra with its fortified castle.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageimageimageimageimage

Our days were full of swimming at the pool at our Apartment, at our little beach, and beaches up the coast,

image

ImageImageImageImage

enjoying San Jose,

ImageImageimageimageimage

and exploring the Parque Natural.

ImageImageImageimageimageimageimageimage

At the abandoned gold mine in Rodalquillar, we looked like an advertisement for Callipos!

Image

Rodilquillar’s botanic gardens has been being renovated to highlight local species, and current and historically important agricultural and farming plants and crops. It also had a pond which hosted large frogs sunning themselves on a raft and lazing on the surface of the pond.

imageimageimage

Playa Monsul was the location for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which we downloaded from iTunes. It was fantastic to see Harrison Ford and Sean Connery standing in the beach we’d been on earlier in the day.

image

There were no goats they had to walk around, though.

imageimage

Each morning we enjoyed watching the sun rise from behind the mountains surrounding San Jose.

image

Granada

June 9, 2014

We loved Granada in spite of lingering tummy bugs! The most spectacular electrical storm, with torrential rain, large hailstones, and thunder and lightning flashing happened as we arrived, making headline news the next morning!

Image

Shortly after, the sun shone again, and we enjoyed watching giant bubbles in the Plaza el Bib-Rambla.

ImageImageImage

Our gorgeous apartment was in the centre of the lovely old part of town, just down the road from the Alhambra. We needed to return to base more often, so it was great to be in such a great spot.

ImageImageImage

The Alhambra is impressive, with shady trees and flowing water, wonderful views over the city, beautiful mosaics and carved stone. The jury is still out on whether our family thinks it is the most beautiful building in Spain…there are some others in the running (more of that later).

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Between palaces, we had a delicious drink on the Parador terrace inside the Alhambra grounds.

Image

We had other tasty morsels at a little local bar, at our apartment, at Babel Restaurant, and in the Plaza Nueva, but not at the Cafe Virginia!

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Resting places were very welcome!

ImageImageImageImage

Daniel was the champion of telecommunications communications.

Image

Then it was time to go…

ImageImage

 

Backpackers in Chefchaouen, Morocco

June 4, 2014

Gini’s love of Moroccan food led to a brief foray into Morocco as backpackers for a few days, by ferry from Tarifa to Tanger.

ImageImage

The heat, touters, and added demands of negotiating public transport, having abandoned our trusty Peugeot in Tarifa, and the change of currency and language conspired to make us forget to take any photos when we were sitting on the balcony overlooking the Petit Socco where William Burroughs hung out (probably out of it) when he wasn’t writing The Naked Lunch. We ate a very tasty petit dejeuner while we planned our escape to the mountains.

Chefchaouen is a most stunning small town surrounded by the Rif mountains, with a blue-washed Medina, friendly locals, delicious food, and plenty to see and do for our family for a few days.

ImageImageImageImage

Our lovely family-run Hotel Alkhalifa was just outside the stone gates and walls of the Medina (surrounded by green in the bottom middle of the photo),

Image

a serene, cool, calm oasis in contrast to the heat and bustle of the Medina,

ImageImage

and with great wifi (B+O snuggled by Gini’s bed to be close to the charging dock, not just close to Gini!),

Image

and just a short walk to the Medina, past the communal laundry, very well set-up with built-in tubs and washboards, and the river diverted to create deep pools for rinsing, a seating area for refreshments, presumably while waiting for things to dry, and hot clay roof tiles for drying blankets and carpets, all fresh from being washed by hand in the river.

ImageImageImage

The main square, Outa el Hammam was a perfect place to watch the donkeys go by,

Image

eat and drink tasty (and some badly chosen) fare,

ImageImageImageImage

admire the Alkazaba,

ImageImage

and fairy lights,

Image

and feed hungry cats.

Image

We also ate in a six-level Aladdin’s cave, amazing for the size of the building’s footprint and the construction (we didn’t enquire what percentage of the earthquake code it met!),

Image

and in a lovely tea house in the new (lower) town.

ImageImage

We wandered up the hill to the combined church/mosque overlooking the town,

ImageImage

admiring shepherds, mistletoe,

Image

and dung beetles.

Image

Otis’s forelock obscuring other family members in photos

Image

led to the hard word, and haircuts were had! (Not really…Daniel had a hair cut, and was so impressed by his wonderful young barber, so Baxter and Otis followed suit). The 15 dirham charge (about $2NZD) seemed too little for the careful and professional job, so Daniel gave him 20.

ImageImage

His shop was modest (second hand shoe sellers outside), but he had seats outside for when the queue overflowed from the waiting area in the shop.

Image

We also enjoyed some very convivial interactions with merchants selling silver jewellery, textiles, clothes, and other treasures. Our favourites were the Berbers…”gorrrrrgeous, Madamn”, “lovely, beautiful, and nice”, “feast your eyes, Madamn”.

ImageImageImage

Sadly, we brought back a tummy bug along with our other souvenirs, hence have been laying a bit low, and slow to post about Morocco, but all perking up now. We are in San Jose, Almeria, a little slice of Mediterranean heaven.

Happy birthday, Otis

June 2, 2014

Happy birthday to you.

Happy birthday to you.

Happy birthday, dear Otis (the 13 year old).

Happy birthday to you.

Sadly, we brought a tummy bug back with us from Morocco, so Otis is not 100% for his birthday in Granada, but he’s been a trooper, and so far has unwrapped presents, eaten ice cream, chippies, nectarines, apples, fresh orange juice, fanta, and baby cherry tomatoes, read in church (!), mooched in skate shops, and cool clothes shops, read the front page news report (in Spanish) of the rain, hail, and electrical storm that we arrived in Granada in the middle of yesterday, and is now having a siesta before we visit the Alhambra, reputedly the most beautiful buildings in Spain.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageimage

Hitting the beach in Cadiz

May 30, 2014

Cadiz’s rocky coastline and gorgeous sandy beaches felt very familiar and welcome. It was a surprise for us all to discover that the hordes of beach-goers were not planning to swim, but to expose as much flesh of any shape, size or shade to the sun!

ImageImage

The water temperature and wind speed put us off swimming too, but we jumped

ImageimageImageImageImageImage

admired the sandcastle buskers’ work,

Image

read in the sun,

Image

played in the sand,

ImageImageImage

watched handball on the beach,

Image

were cool in the breeze,

Image

and checked out the castle forts on the beach.

ImageImage

We admired the town’s old and new cathedrals

ImageImage

modern art,

Image

religious parades,

ImageImage

loved finding our way around the little alleys near our hotel in the old town,

Image

skated,

Image

ate and drank tasty things,

ImageImageImage

and watched Real Madrid beat Athletico Madrid in the final of the Champions League

ImageImage

Gini took bifocals to a new level, watching the game and writing her journal simultaneously!

Daniel shopped for a Panama hat.

Image

We all loved our first Segway experience, with a tour of the old town with Camilo from Ensegway Cadiz as guide.

ImageImage

We left Cadiz as the sun was coming up, to drive to Tarifa to catch the ferry to Morocco

Image