Because almost the entire world is in the grip of one single event that is beginning to dominate every day life, I am using Reflections, this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge for a spot of escapism.
These photos encapsulate memories of moments in Spain: in Alicante; on the river Guadalquivir in Córdoba and Seville, and l’Albufera near Valencia.
Even if you can’t share these particular memories, I hope they may help you reflect on similar joyous moments in your own life.
Heron on the Guadalquivir, Córdoba.
Lens Artists Photo Challenge #87: Reflections
Valencia is paella’s capital city. And l’Albufera is its birthplace. Here’s why.
When I was last in Valencia, I was captivated by Albufera Natural Park, with its dunes, Mediterranean forest, and above all, the immense lagoon of the Albufera. Water is king. I had to show Malcolm.
Once, l’Albufera was open sea. Rivers such as the Turia dragged silt and mud to the coast, and gradually this patch of sea became a lake. A saltwater lake. Aquifers beneath gradually sweetened the water. And over the centuries, man intervened, claiming shallow waters for paddy fields. Rice, rice and more rice grows here. Here’s a paddy field, resting for the winter.
Water both shallow and deep ensures this place is a Mecca for birds. Northern birds fly south to winter here, birds from Africa come too.
Locals spend their summers cultivating rice, and their winters fishing the rich waters of the lagoon for carp, eels and other fish, sharing their catch with the bird life.
We explored some of the park before moving on to the small town at the edge of the lagoon, El Palmar. No need to ask what we had for lunch. There were all kinds of paella on the menu, but paella it was. Eaten in the open air – 18° in January seems miraculous to us.
Then a boat trip. We had to have a boat trip. Restful, restorative…. a wonderful afternoon, shared with herons, egrets, cormorants and all kinds of ducks. A truly special day. Camera photos once I get home. For now, we’ll make do with the phone.
Oh, I say, WordPress Photo Challenge. That’s a bit much. ‘Serene’? I did that last week, under the heading of ‘Transformation’.
Still, you can’t keep a serene place down. And if l’Albufera as the sun was was setting good enough for last week’s post, it’s good enough this week too. Especially as I’ve exchanged enjoying the warmth in balmy Spain for shivering in temperature of 1 degree in gusty, snowy North Yorkshire.
My fortnight in Valencia is at an end. I’ve got the certificate to prove it, from my school of Spanish. And before you send me virtual pats on the back, it’s a certificate of attendance, not of achievement.
But goodness, I needed a break yesterday afternoon. This fortnight’s been full on. If I haven’t been doing Spanish, or watching Spanish TV with my hostess (not recommended), I’ve been getting a severe case of Museum Foot.
An afternoon at the sea? In the country? Why not both? L’Albufera is Valencia’s Natural Park. It’s a large fresh-and-seawater lake, a rice-growing marsh, and a sandbar. It’s beautiful, and only an eight kilometre bus ride from town. I spent the afternoon exploring the unexpectedly characterful Mediterranean maquis scrubland and a deserted beach.
But it was the last hour of all that was transformative, washing away a fortnight’s stress. Good stress, but still….
I got a trip on a boat which puttered slowly and quietly across the lake and through the reed beds as the sun set, herons and cormorants fished, and ducks patrolled the waters. It was perfect, quite perfect.