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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spain-Costa de Sol, Seville

This time I didn't take too long for this post to be done. Then again..it's a shorter post. Haha...


Anyway, on the 5th day, we travelled from Costa de Sol to Seville. On the way, we stopped at Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, located at the southern most tip of the Iberian Peninsula. This place is really interesting as it only covers 6.843 square km. During the War of the Spanish Succession, British and Dutch troops formed a confederate fleet and attacked various towns on the southern coast of Spain. On 4 August 1704, the Dutch and British marines captured the town of Gibraltar and claimed it in the name of the Archduke Charles. British sovereignty over Gibraltar was subsequently recognised by the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the war. Great Britain has retained sovereignty ever since, despite all attempts by Spain to recapture it. So it's really interesting coz just to get to the rock and the town on the otherside, passports are needed. And the place is really different, coz the people staying in Gibraltar can all speak British English and many of them are British. In fact, due to space constraints, the runway for planes arriving and taking off from Gibraltar is actually a road for cars too. So if there's a plane on arriving or taking off, traffic has to stop for a while.
That's the Rock of Gibraltar taken in Spain, a few km before we pass customs.


Overview picture of Gibraltar and the Spanish side. Only the tip with the rock belongs to the British.
Map view of the coastline of Gibraltar.

To the left and forward is North Africa. You can see a faint outline of land in the far distance. Weather wasn't good that day so visibility wasn't very good.

To the right is Spain.

There is also a mosque in Gibraltar, mainly for the Moroccan Muslim population.
There is also a cave situated near the top of the Rock. Here are some pics of the limstone cave.
A skull! Thought that it would interest Gen and Marisa. Haha... The cave was used as a military hideout during the wars.

Stalactites and stalacmites.

There is also a concert hall in the cave. Making use of the surrounding stalactites and stalacmites, the echo effect and the fact that it is so enclosed, music played here is fabulous.


A sign on the way out.

The Rock is also home to around 230 Barbary Macaques, known as 'apes', the only wild monkeys found in Europe. There is also a superstition which states that if the monkeys ever leave, so will the British. And there is also a story, dunno whether it is true, that the Queen ordered more of these monkeys to be shipped and placed in Gibraltar when the number of monkeys were decreasing in the past.

One monkey hiding behind a rock.
After Gibraltar, we headed to Plaza de España in Seville. In 1929, Seville hosted the Spanish-American Exhibition and many buildings were constructed for the exhibition in Maria Luisa Park. Plaza de España, was one of them and is the epitome of the Moorish Revival in Spanish architecture. A scene from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones was also filmed here.

Plaza de España

Close up of the fountain in the middle.
You can see the Moorish influence in the architecture.
Even the artwork on the bridge is beautiful.


There was also murals for each place in Spain, made up of elaborate painted tiles. These detailed pieces flanked the walls of the Plaza in a semi-circle.
One of the pieces. This is for Barcelona.


Yup, and this ends my 5th day and also my post. Haha...I still have like 7 days to go. Omg..is anybody bored yet?!


~ { 10:19 PM }
reflections @ 10:19 PM 0 comments


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spain-Granada, Torremolinos, Costa de Sol

Ok, sorry for not posting anything for such a long time. And although it's like 2 months since I'm back from Spain, this is the continuation for my trip. It's gonna be a long post mainly coz it's filled with pictures. I couldn't decide which to upload, so in the end I uploaded so many. Bear with me. ごめん!But it's really beautiful..so enjoy..
On this day, we went to visit the Alhambra Palace in Granada. Built by the Moorish rulers since the 13th century, the architecture has a very Middle East touch to it. The Alhambra is made up of gardens, fountains, streams, a palace, and a mosque, all within an imposing fortress wall, flanked by 13 massive towers. Alhambra Palace was completed towards the end of Muslim rule in Spain and is a reflection of the culture of the last days of the Nasrid Kingdom. It also served as a shelter for artists and intellectuals who took refuge as Christian Spain won victories over Al Andalus. Later, the Moorish rulers lost Granada and Alhambra in 1492 when King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile took over the surrounding region. After the Christian conquest of the city, the conquerors began to alter the Alhambra. The Alhambra architecture now is a mixture of both Muslim and Christian influence.

The entrance.
Another entrance. The path to the garden.

One of the entrances.

The entrance to the garden, also known as Torres Generalife. No, it's not pronounced as "general life", but sounds totally different. Dun ask me how to pronounce it coz I forgot.

A view in the garden.

There were tons of flowers and roses, all huge in size..like the size of my face or something. They were beautiful!

Another view in the garden. The woman standing there is from the same tour group.

Another view in the garden. The whole garden is filled with plants, trees, all kinds of flowers, fountains, streams, etc.

Another view

Still in the garden...


Finally the entrance! It took us like dunno how long...maybe an hour or something to walk through the garden.

A view of the inside.

You can see the carved wooden ceiling with the carved Islamic architecture.

A view of some windows. You can see how elaborate the architecture is.

A close up view of one of the entrances to some part of the palace. The entire wall and pillars are all carved.

Another view of the walls.

The stalactite-like architecture is evident in all the ceilings in the palace. And notice those blue porcelein pieces embedded into the architecture. I mean..how elaborate!

A wider view of one of the entrance to some part of the palace.

See the massiveness of the architecture? I mean...how long does it take to carve all these out?! And during that time, I'm sure it's all hand-carved.
One of the rooms in the Palace. There's a fountain like thing in the middle of the room and you can see that if it is filled with water, the water actually flows outwards via the little drain, right in the middle of the photo.
You can see that the flow of water will be out of the rooms to the center of the courtyard where there is a fountain. This fountain has 12 lion statues surrounding it and is famous. Unfortunately, it was under restoration when I was there.
That kinda ends my trip in the Alhambra Palace. I spent like 2 plus hours there, enjoying the view, nature and the architecture. Superb! Next stop was the White Village, also known as Mijas in Costa del Sol.
Mijas

The donkey taxis! Didn't sit on one though...they stank! Looks cute but...

Donkey riding wasnt that appealing either after the smell got too strong.

A small church at the top of a cliff.

The small church. Great view. Romantic.

One of the souvenier shops. Lots of pottery.

One of the streets in Mijas
Finally we headed to the hotel. Great hotel with a balcony on the Mediterranean coast. Minus the fact that it was freezing and there were so many birds flying around which could shit on you anytime, it was great. Just dont stay out in the balcony too long.

Evening view from the hotel room


Sunrise view from the hotel room
Yup, that ends Day 4 of my Spain trip..haha..still a long way to go.. Hope I'm not boring anyone. Till the next time!

~ { 11:32 PM }
reflections @ 11:32 PM 0 comments


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Spain-Murcia, Granada

Continuing from my previous post...Spain part 2! After Valencia, we went to Granada, stopping at Murcia on the way. My mum bought this at one of the rest stops...


The can on the left with the word "Sin" means there's no alcohol. Imagine beer with no alcohol! Haha...the can on the right is the normal beer.

We also stopped at one of the famous coastlines of Spain called Costa Blanca in Alicante. It was bloody cold. Haha... We ate lunch there by the coast, and ordered their famous Paella. Yumm..

Costa Blanca in Alicante

Seafood Paella


Cafe Cortado, which means coffee with less milk. And just for your info, coffee with milk is called Cafe con Leche.


Reaching Granada, we visited a residential house. This guy is crazy! And he is also a genius. The area that we went to is a place where people live in caves. Basically they build their house by digging the mountains to form caves for themselves.



Can you see those white chimneys sticking out? People are staying in those mountains.


What's so fabulous about staying in this house is that because it's a cave, whenever you want an extension, just dig! This guy has been digging and building new rooms whenever he feels like it!


They love hanging pottery on their walls.

He does small statues too! This is one of his works in progress.
The view at the top level of his house. And that's my mum. Haha..

At night, we joined the optional tour where we could watch the famous Flamenco dance, performed by the Gypsies in Spain. Did you know where gypsies in Europe originated from? India! They slowly travelled inland from India to Europe. And through thousands of years and centuries, they slowly evolved and are now known as gypsies in Europe.

The dance floor


Sangria! It's a Spainish cocktail made with red wine. Quite dry. Sangria reminded me of Geog lessons in JC where we learnt about tourism. Spain is known for the 3 'S'es. Sea, sex, sangria (alcohol). Lol.


Wanted to end of this post with a video clip of the Flamenco dance, but somehow blogspot dun wanna upload my video..so I'll just end with a photo then.


~ { 10:32 PM }
reflections @ 10:32 PM 0 comments