Marbella Along the Mediterranean

After being on the road for a number of days, the stop at Marbella was designed as a flex day to allow those who wanted to rest a bit to take a resort-style, relaxing day at the beach! Others could use the day to explore the suburban tourist town of Marbella. Once in our room, we peered out the window to get our first real glimpse of the Mediterranean – part of Spain’s Costa del Sol!


The Mediterranean viewed from the hotel

We arrived late in the afternoon. Although the day had been a long one yet we were excited by the tropical atmosphere Marbella offered. We refreshed a bit and headed for dinner at a very local Italian restaurant practically across the street from our hotel.

Once done, we walked down to the boardwalk for an after dinner stroll. It was a magical evening with the blue water and late day light. After a moderate walk, we went back to the room to get a good rest for explorations the next day!

After a quick breakfast, we were anxious for our next adventure.


Along Marbella's Beachfront

Boardwalks are always interesting because hotels, galleries, small stores and beach-related activities along the path often reveal the unexpected. A sand sculptor was busy at work early in the morning and we stopped to admire his craftmanship.


Sand Sculptor of Children

To be clear, I speak very little Spanish. For some reason, a couple of lessons from my high school years came rushing forth and I was able to conjure several helpful phrases. I approached the sculptor and asked him how long these works would last given the weather and the fragility of the material.


Castle sand sculpture

He explained that they would only remain for two weeks at the most! We proffered a small donation and headed for the main section of town. It was a bit of a walk, but then again, we are walkers!

Along the way we came to Alameda Park located on Av. Ramón y Cajal. We were intrigued by this statue of a girl on a swing that was nearly hidden among the trees.


Girl on a Swing Statue in a tree

There was also a festive, brightly colored carousel nearby, but not yet open for wannabe riders!


A carousel at Almeda park

At some point we missed our target, but being adventurous we forged ahead with map in hand to find local markets, courtyards, churches, etc. As Tolkien said: “Not all those who wander are lost.”


A side street in Marbella


Fancy inlaid stonework in a town square

We enjoyed walking the streets where the locals live and peeking into store windows. As would be expected in a waterfront town, there were a number fish markets.


Fish market window

We continued to be wowed by the beautiful, quaint facades, heavy wooden doorways, …


A pretty house view with plants and wooden door

colorful plantings and exterior adornments!


Colorful house and bougainvillea

As we approached the main center of town, where more tourists were likely to shop, there were the usual merchants and crowds of bargain seekers.


Shoppers along one of the alleyways


Purveyor of spices, sweets, etc.
Purveyor of spices, sweets, etc.

The fascination of adventuring through these small towns is being able to capture the variety of picturesque scenes such as this unique colorful restaurant.


Pretty restaurant with blue religious statue

Another floral festooned restaurant beckons visitors to “come take a closer look.”


A restaurant entrance

In a nearby square, an impressive array of beach stones were laid on their side to create a floral pattern which framed the larger square pictured below.


closeup view of intricate stonework in a town square


A Town Square of Marbella

Houses, shops and churches find common ground in such enclaves and as tourists walk along looking at the merchandise, they may be enticed to examine the small, unassuming houses of worship that have their own subdued majesty to share.


Small side street of Marbella


Small neighborhood church

We took a brief lunch break and continued our town walk until early evening. There were many more scenes that caught our eye, but I think the pictures above capture the essence of Marbella.

The next day we rode the bus along the hillsides to reach our next destination – Ronda!


A view of the mountains from our bus
photographed from our moving tourist coach!


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)r

Jerez, Spain – Horses and Sherry

Gibraltar – More than the Rock

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – The Old and the New

When we embarked on our excursions around Seville and upon our return, we marveled at the beauty and the elegance of the Alfonso XIII hotel. Who wouldn’t appreciate the accoutrements such as this love seat and window view near the elevator?



One day upon our return to the hotel, there was a throng waiting outside. We couldn’t imagine what was happening. The group was mainly young and they had books, placards, etc. with them. Curious, I asked one of the people waiting what the excitement was and learned that the cast from the Game of Thrones was at the hotel. As mentioned in an earlier post, some of the filming is done in Seville.



Along the canal close to the hotel, one can visit the Torre del Oro or Golden Tower (13th century), a medieval Arabic military dodecagonal (12-sided) watchtower.



We found beauty in many of the less touted buildings and locales in the city. I was not able to identify this structure, but the color of the building and the tiled squares were very pretty.



The nearby Palacio de San Telmo (below), once a seminary, a royal palace and maritime academy is reportedly one of the most beautiful buildings in Seville and now serves as the official residence of the President of Andalusia.



Equally enjoyable and much appreciated are those houses and buildings along the small, less formal side streets where one can find doorways like this.



Look at those carvings and colorful tiles framing the entranceway! The modern camera and card reader do not detract from the old-world visage this door portrays.

Every once in a while, visitors can look up and find beauty lurking in unusual places like the pattern created by the tiles on the roof of this church which lead the eye to the ornate top.



Just a short distance along the same thoroughfare we noticed this niche carved into the side of an exterior wall with a statue of the Virgin Mary looking down at those passing by.





Even those buildings with a less elaborate appearance have striking, colorful personalities; roof-growing weeds and all!



We were not shy about walking into doorways to view the decorated courtyards. This was a stunning example.



Like most major metropolitan areas, especially those appealing to tourists, one encounters street performers. This unique trio consisted of two dummy-heads and one real person. At times a pedestrian would pass close by and the middle head would pop up making a sound and scare the person approaching. Funny for onlookers, but perhaps not so funny for those being pranked. The customary “tip jar” is just outside the frame.



Seville has a more modern visage that we did not explore to the fullest. On our way out of town, we saw markers along the streets denoting bicycle lanes.



As we crossed the Alfonso XIII canal we saw a very modern structure in the distance located northwest of the aforementioned Golden Tower. It was the Reserve Hotel Eurostars Torre Sevilla. From what we could gather, it was somewhat controversial among the residents.



Here is the view from the bridge. Our last major sighting as we said goodbye to Sevilla.



Next we will be off to the races! Stay tuned.


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)r

Seville, Spain – The Cathedral of Saint Mary

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

When traveling with a tour company, one thing to be expected is early morning departure times as a matter of the daily routine. The goal is to see as many sights as possible and when appropriate, leave time for independent exploration.

We were up early for breakfast and departure on May 10, 2018 when we left Lisbon, Portugal for Sintra. The morning was cloudy with scattered showers as the group disembarked the bus and walked to the center of town. The streets are very narrow and large vehicles cannot stay in the central area.


A gloomy morning in Sintra

A gloomy morning in Sintra


The main attraction for our group was the very well preserved National Palace of Sintra which dates back a thousand years or more. It is mentioned in many historical documents and fell under Portuguese rule in 1147 when the city was conquered by King Alfonso Henriques.

Like many of the old and ancient buildings in Portugal and Spain, there have been alterations and changes throughout its history as new residents took occupancy much like contemporary renovations for those who purchase a legacy house. After all, doesn’t everyone want the latest and greatest?


The National Palace in Sintra

The National Palace in Sintra


The Sala dos Cisnes (Swan Room) generally used for grand receptions, banquets, etc. is one of the largest rooms in the palace. Of special interest is the painted ceiling which is composed of 27 octagonal sections each containing a white swan and from which the moniker of the room is derived. Looking closely at the paintings, tourists will note that each of the birds is different than the others and wears a gilded collar perhaps indicating the privilege of wealth.


Sala dos Cisnes - Swan Room

While walking through the rooms at the National Palace, we also noted the nearby beautiful and colorful mountainside …


beautiful and colorful mountainside


beautiful and colorful mountainside

and exterior views.


exterior views

Portugal has been known for its Hispanic-Moorish tile work and there were abundant displays of this tile artistry throughout the building. Some depicted courtly events and hunting scenes.


tile work

Here is a closeup of one panel.


tile panel closeup

We cannot judge this art form by standards we have today because technologies and techniques are much different. The difficulty of working with tiles to create a scene is that the tiles don’t always meet in the most appropriate and best-fitting manner. The tour guide pointed out how the seam-lines in the section below somewhat mar the face of the woman in the panel.


example of a misaligned tile picture

There were many kinds of beauty to be viewed in the National Palace. Some of them were more subtle while others were quite opulent. The Coats of Arms Room (Sala dos Brasões) is said to be located at the highest point in the palace. The center section of the ceiling pictured below shows eight panels each of which contains one of eight coats of arms of Portuguese royalty. The gilded artwork was quite impressive


gilded ceiling in the Coats of Arms Room - Sala dos Brasões

The Palatine Chapel (below) captures visitors eyes immediately upon entrance as the offset square fresco pattern of white doves with olive branches resting on a light, reddish-brown background draw the eyes to the chapel’s altar.


Palatine Chapel with doves

The architectural artwork in the palace had numerous unique elements. Manueline Hall was obviously a very formal room with a sizable chandelier. Archived pictures show that a large table is often placed in the middle of the carpeted floor area although absent during our visit. What impressed me almost as much was the amazing stonework rope design around the entranceway.


stonework arch of the Manueline Hall

Another example of the tile work in the palace is shown below. The corn (on top) is used to symblolize success and prosperity. It may be hard to visualize, but sections of the tiles are created in relief, i.e. three-dimensional.


three dimensional corn tile work

Seeing the various rooms and learning about their history was interesting, but I was also drawn to look out a number of windows to view the colorful and aged courtyards with their planters, staircases and interesting designs.


outside courtyard with planters

One of the last areas visited in the Palace was the large kitchen which was restored in 2016.


the Palace kitchen

You may have noticed the huge coat of arms above the main archway leading into the kitchen.


Kitchen Coat of Arms

The kitchen was tiled in a manner that might be considered more traditional according to today’s standards and was the main focus of the 2016 renovation as the older tiles were not adhering well to the underlying masonry. Everything was large in scale. Notice the size of the pots.


kitchen tiles and large pots

When cooking large amounts of food to serve hundreds of guests with the tools available at the time, there must have been a tremendous amount of heat in the kitchen and thus there are two massive chimneys 33 metres in height. The photograph below was taken looking upward through one of them.


large chimneys in the kitchen

By the time the tour of the National Palace ended, the weather had changed for the better as indicated in the picture of one of the kitchen chimneys from across the street.


large kitchen chimney from across the street

The National Palace was not the only point of interest in Sintra. The town itself beckons tourists to explore. Even the doorways exude an aura of Portuguese history.


old, rugged doorway

The beautiful plantings outside and colorful displays in windows of the shops were very inviting. The streets were paved with traditional cobblestones similar to those used in Lisbon proper.


narrow street in Sintra


colorful merchant display

Here is a typical stairway in the central district of Sintra.


streetside stairway

Along the side were large planters with specimen plants.


specimen planters along the stairway

Geraniums were a favorite and festooned a number of walls along the pedestrian byways.


geraniums on the wall

Wherever one travels in the world, there are street vendors and performers. This gentleman had a cart and as I watched him unload, it became apparent that he had a conquistador-type costume with him.


Don Quixote street performer

He began to apply a dark brown skin tone and adorn the accoutrements of a Don Quixote outfit perhaps with the idea that tourists would stop by to take pictures with him and pay a fee for the privilege. Unfortunately, we were called to leave before the transformation was complete.


Don Quixote street performer


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com