Last November, in Valencia, the building which first grabbed my attention was this one, and day and night, I always paused to enjoy its energetic entrance and attention-seeking windows.
This ebullient building now houses the National Ceramic Collection. Once it was the family seat of the Rabassa de Perellós – title-holders of the marquisate of Dos Aguas. Dos aguas: two waters – the nearby rivers Júcar and Turia which flow plentifully, twisting and turning, from the statue of the Virgin Mary which tops off the doorway. I’ve forgotten the rest of the story, and Google can’t help. Just enjoy this wonderfully rococo statuary, twisting round this exuberant doorway.
A contribution to this week’s WordPress photo challenge: Twisted.
This week’s pictures hint at two or more stories: at that of the life of Jesus, from whose life and teaching spring one of the world’s great religions. And at the building of La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí’s cathedral celebrating Jesus’ family, created by thousands of craftspeople with special stories to tell, gathered over the last 136 years …. maybe only another eight or so to go.
‘Story’ is this week’s WordPress photo challenge. Click on any image to view full size.
Last month, as faithful readers know, we had a day in Sitges. It was perfect. The sun shone, the sea sparkled, and we sauntered along its clean wide sandy beaches.
All was not as it seemed though. In just five minutes, from the apparently uncontaminated sands, we recovered these: mainly plastic straws and bottle tops, many disintegrating into the shards and fragments now wreaking such havoc in our oceans. And this is a ‘clean’ beach.
On a happier note, here’s a parakeet in a palm tree. The high prices of housing in this fashionable holiday destination don’t worry him. He has all he needs to build a home simply by fossicking around among the palm trees’ tall fronds.
In response (sort of) to this week’s WordPress challenge, Variations on a theme.
Our Spanish holiday ended in Alicante, some 550 km from Barcelona, and was all to do with our flight home. Don’t ask.
My second impression of Alicante, and Malcolm’s first, was that it’s a lovely town. It’s suffered a bit in English eyes from its proximity to Benidorm, the British home of sun, sand, sangria and sex (and that’s probably a bit unfair too). Actually, it’s a fairly wealthy town, a historic Mediterranean port, and strolling round its historic centre, and along its seafront and esplanades was a pleasant experience.
I struggled to find much that was weathered, for this week’s WordPress Photo challenge, but here is a nicely picturesque house above the old town, and a slightly sun-battered detail from the Basilica de Santa Maria.
My other snapshots (click on any of them to see a slideshow) display a busy, prosperous town which we’ll happily return to. Especially if we can enjoy lunch outside in temperatures of 17 degrees in the middle of January.
Castle of Santa Bárbara, Alicante
Basilica de Santa Maria, Alicante
Mercado de Abastos, Alicante
Mercado de Abastos, Alicante
Esplanada de España, Alicante
A view from the beach, Alicante.
Another bright sunny day, so the seashore beckoned again – in Barcelona this time.
First though, we visited the Museu Marítim, located in the impressive Drassanes Reials, the mediaeval shipyard dating originally from the 13th century. It was remodelled time and again till the 18th century, when it fell out of use.
Our main memory of this engaging and beautifully curated museum is of the impressively reconstructed galley ship the Galera Reyal of 1568, and all the instruments, arms, ordnance and documents associated with such a warship.
What about this? Thirty oars each side, each manned by four slaves. These men toiled for hours and hours each day, shackled to the same spot for the entire voyage. They worked, ate and slept here, puddled in their own excrement. A ship such as theirs could never surprise the enemy. The smell preceded it by several knots. The exquisite ornamentation of this vessel, rich in symbolism, loses some of its allure against this background.
The whole of the dockyard area is rich in history. Here are just a few pictures, and from the more recently developed Port Vell.
Top tourist tip. Visit Sitges, as we just have, on a bright day in January. You’ll have the place almost to yourself.
We last visited a few years ago, when Emily took us to see the Corpus Christi Flower Festival in June. We could barely move for other people doing exactly the same thing.
Today was different. We mooched round enjoying the narrow streets of the old town, the Modernista buildings, and the wide sunny beach. I even paddled. Malcolm didn’t.
A tasty tapas lunch was in a quiet bar in a quiet park. It was the perfect antidote to busy Barcelona, a mere half hour train journey away.
Did Father Christmas come your way the other week? I hope so.
But this year we’ve come to try to spot another team bearing gifts. We’re in Barcelona, where tonight children are waiting eagerly for their Christmas presents from – the Three Kings.
It was at Epiphany that the Magi visited the infant Christ, and at Epiphany that they continue the tradition by bringing gifts to all Spanish and Hispanic children.
We’ve already spotted them. Here they are, slowly winding their way through the crowded streets of Barcelona with their accompanying queens, elves, African drummers and jungle creatures. My phone hasn’t made a good job of recording their visit. I hope my camera will have done better.