Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Cities Of Murcia And Cartagena, Spain.....

Today we headed inland to the city of Murcia (pronounced mur-thee-ah here) first to see what we could find. Yes, the local dialect can be a bit different here although we find that when we speak proper Spanish to the locals they seem to respond with the same. And Jasmine our Spanish teacher back in Panama would be proud that we are finding it rather easy to communicate to everyone here using proper Spanish.
Flowers And Fountains



The city of Murcia was rather hectic like most major cities but we managed to find a place to park and walk around. Murcia is known as the, "huerta" or "orchard" of Europe because it has the perfect climate for growing so many fruits and vegetables for export. Plaza Cardinal Belluga is the architectural showplace of the city featuring a cathedral and palace.  The ornate cathedral is a mix of styles from Baroque to Gothic and more. Once inside we were wowed by the large altar and chapels all covered in gold along with several large organs. But when it came time to leave we found the doors had been locked and began to worry. Just then I saw a few policeman walk by and kindly asked them where the exit was. Eventually we made our way to the only opened door only to discover that the cathedral, like everything else in Spain, was closing for its mid-day siesta.

The Cathedral











The Episcopal Palace nearby the cathedral is now filled with various offices yet still open to the public for viewing. The grand staircase is quite impressive along with the court yard and architectural details of the building.

The Palace





Next we headed over to the port city of Cartagena known for it's major naval station and Roman neighborhood. Dripping in ancient history we visited the Roman baths, an ancient bull ring and theater and castle. A panoramic elevator took us up to Castillo de la Concepcion where we had incredible views of the city and harbor. A beautiful city full of ruins, lovely architecture, lively plazas to sit and people watch and quint little shops to pick up some tapas, coffee or wine. Wherever we go we typically stop for an afternoon cup of coffee or tea. Here in Spain the coffee is delicious, strong and sometimes topped with whipped cream and/or shot of alcohol too.

Roman Baths




Elevator And Gangway To Castle
An Old Bullring and Theater




Another Palace

A Peacock Nearby




Perhaps We Caught A Mattress Commercial Being Filmed?
 
 

A delightful day of exploring two new cities in Spain.....along the gringo trail.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Coastline To Castles On Spain's Costa Blanca.....

Just a short drive from our  temporary home in Spain are the clear, blue waters of the Caribbean that stretch along the famous Costa Blanca (white coast). Yesterday we set out to explore the quaint, seaside village of Altea, a stark contrast to it's neighboring city of Benidorm. The coast of Altea is lined with charming little shops, cafes, and white washed buildings all with balconies facing the ocean.

Admiring The Views

Lovely Blue Water Of The Caribbean
But The Water Temperature is Only 19C/67F


Altea Beach
 

While the beach is rocky it doesn't seem to deter sun worshippers from laying out sunbeds (chairs) and soaking in the salty air. And since this IS Europe topless sunning is accepted here since people seem to worry less about what they look like in public. Regardless of age, shape, or size most women throughout Europe seem to embrace wearing bikini's in public and feel free to pop out their boobies when the time is right. And although I have not yet gone au natural here in public, those of you that know me surely will attest to the fact that I probably will sooner or later.

That IS A Woman On The Right And She Is Topless



A Speed Boat


After strolling along the shoreline in Altea we headed down the road and up the mountain to the picturesque, hillside village of Guadalest. The whole town sits perched high above a reservoir that reflects off the surrounding mountains nearby. The town has just 300 fulltime residents and at one time could only be reached by donkey. But every summer the place comes alive with hoards of tourists that make the drive to be inspired by it's lovely views.
Little Village Of Guadalest, Spain

A Reservoir






The remains of a castle and its tower overlook the bustling village along with various museums and plenty of tourist shops. We toured the chateau that was nearby the castle and roamed through the rooms decorated with period furniture. There was an eerie, ghostly feeling about the place almost like the previous owners were watching us.







Back outside we climbed up to the tower that offered stunning views of the countryside below from several different vantage points. Guadalest is a tiny town with plenty to see that surely wowed our senses. We enjoyed a lovely day out exploring from the seaside to the mountains of Spain.....along the gringo trail.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Frustrations Of Living In Europe......Siesta

There we were strolling around the tiny little town of Novelda, Spain today when our tummies began to growl that all too familiar call for food. We were there to explore the Saturday market full of Spaniards taking advantage of "discuentos" on clothing, food, produce and more. But it was only 1pm and here in Spain they don't even begin to think about eating lunch until 2, with any luck. But we knew that first we had to find an open restaurant, then a place to park before we could find any grub to eat. Being Saturday most of the businesses in the little town were shut tight. Those few that were open and looked like restaurants offered no place to park for miles. Finally with no options left we drove into the parking lot of a small grocery store where we picked up some sliced cheese, a package of crackers and an apple along with some drinks. Beyond hungry we sat inside the car enjoying our tiny bit of lunch watching the locals buzz by with their shopping carts.

Flowers At The Market

An Itsy Bitsy But Mean Dog

Fish At Market


Toys and Stuff



Strange Statue Out Of Marble




Bathing Suits




Next we made our way to Santuario de Santa Maria Magdalena, a little gem that sits perched high atop a hillside overlooking the town. This church was designed by an apprentice of the more famous architect Antoni Gaudi who brought the city of Barcelona to fame from his buildings there.  We climbed the hill to the top expecting to enter the ornate building when I noticed the sign that indicated the church was closed for THREE hours, apparently for siesta? I guess here in Spain even God takes a mid-day rest? Located next to the church is Castillo de la Mola, a unique looking castle that was also closed for lunch.

Heading Up To The Church

Amazing!





 It's not just Spain that closes during the mid-day since we saw the same exact thing while house sitting through Italy. Other countries in Europe probably follow suit closing during the busy time of day when one thinks that they should be open. I recall one day in Italy when I was sick and had to visit a doctor. We stopped by the pharmacy for medication and to rent a nebulizer for breathing treatments only to discover we'd have to return in THREE hours when they reopened.  Although this IS frustrating there's absolutely nothing we can do IF we want to explore Europe.



But lo and behold, right next to the church and castle was an upscale restaurant that WAS open and all too willing to take money from tourists. We sat there taking in the lovely views of the mountainside while enjoying a diet soda for me and a beer for Clyde. The total for a beer and soda complete with a glass of ice was a mere 2.40 euros. A bargain for sure!


Coke Cans Are Different Here

Inside The Church

Organ Carved From Marble, Only One Like It In The World


The Castle

Muy Guapo Gringo



Since we still had an hour left before getting into the church Clyde opted to drive around the countryside some more. We saw mountains of granite and marble as we passed by quarry after quarry along the road. Known as the Spanish Capital of Marble, Novelda and this whole area is full of quarries.

Spain is still one of the few places in the world where someone can work as a shepherd, moving sheep and goats BY FOOT from one area to another. There are even schools here that teach the lost art to modern students looking to escape the rat race and live a different life. Today as we drove the country roads we passed by herders tending to hoards of sheep and goats, parading one after the other into the next field.

Sheep And Goats

Female Sheep Herder


Saw Another Bunch Down The Road With Different Herder

We are enjoying a simple life here, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Our temporary home is surrounded by rugged mountains, quarries of natural stone, and cactus that grows among the white soil. And we are happy to report that after ELEVEN months of NOT speaking Spanish like we had to while living in Panama, that we DO remember much of it and are doing well communicating to the Spaniards......along the gringo trail.