Holy Toledo – Spain

The last city visited during our trip to Spain was Toledo. Some have suggested that the expression Holy Toledo refers to this Spanish city which is the seat of the Cardinal Archbishop of Spain. During our stop in Toledo, we noticed numerous churches which might lend support to the Holy Toledo reference as well.*

Let’s start at the beginning. The first views we had of this beautiful city were from a nearby hillside.



We arrived on a Sunday and many of the holy shrines were closed to tourists, but we were able to appreciate the grand architecture of this urban center from afar.





At the turn of the current century, the city fathers realized that the historic streets could not handle the overwhelming pedestrian and vehicular traffic. To help alleviate congestion and difficulty of navigating the narrow streets, they constructed a large parking garage at the foot of one of the hills. Understanding that this climb might be difficult for travelers, they decided to build a unique system of six angular escalators.



We soon arrived at the Plaza de Zocodover which was city-center for Toledo through most of its history. The town is decorated for tourists with flags and banners festooning the the buildings and hanging across the busy streets.



This arcade leading up to the square from below also hosts a statue of Miguel de Cervantes which can be seen in the middle, lower part of the picture.



As part of our walking tour, we passed city hall…



and the historic Cathedral of Toledo.



Along the way, we passed a number of colorful residential areas.



While we visited Toledo on a Sunday when many houses of worship do not allow tourists, one part of the Church of Santo Tomé is available for a very special viewing.

Don Gonzalo Ruíz, the Count of Orgaz, was a church and city benefactor who died in 1323. The famous painter, El Greco, created a large painting symbolizing the burial of the Count of Orgaz which has a religious symbolism associated with it. This painting resides in an anteroom of sorts of the Church of Santo Tomé and is open for visitors.

The line to view the painting was long and entrance was metered so be prepared to wait. No pictures are allowed inside.



Read more about the painting and its history HERE

There was a significant Jewish Quarter in Toledo…






The street sign translates to: The crossing of the Jewry

We visited the Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca. Interestingly enough the shrine was built by Muslim architects. It was later converted to a church and currently serves only as a historical site.







This oil painting of the Holy Land with Hebrew lettering hints at the Jewish this building’s Jewish past.



A Jewish star is also visible among the sculpted details of the interior.



During our visit to a souvenir shop, I noticed a most interesting drain downspout!



This attractive facade of the School of Arts and Crafts shows a relief of what appears to be the school’s coat of arms.



The Alcantara Bridge is one of the main access points in Toledo.



Below is a view near the bridge looking back at the city of Toledo.



This was our last city to see in Spain and Portugal. Of course there was more we would like to have seen and perhaps some day we will return.

* You can read more about the derivation of the phrase Holy Toledo 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.

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Madrid, Spain – Anticipation & Surprises – Part 2

If you spend any significant time in Madrid, sooner or later you will find yourself in or near the Plaza Mayor located in one of the oldest parts of the city known as the Hapsburg district thus named because it was governed by the Hapsburg Dynasty from 1516–1700. This is the general area that has the Botin restaurant mentioned in my previous post. The plaza is a symmetrical, building-lined square which at first may appear to be completely enclosed.


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Visitors to the plaza enter through strategically placed arcades.


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As a chief tourist destination it is a natural stage for street performers and artists. For a fee, this headless military officer will gladly pose for a picture.


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We visited the square on two occasions and there was ample tourist traffic and activity to make it an interesting stop. Some readers may have read about the love lock fence in France. Continuing this tradition, Madrid has its facsimile surrounding the lamp post in the picture of the arcade above.


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During our visit to Madrid there was an art installation throughout town highlighting sculptures reminiscent of Diego Velázquez’s Meninas which are featured in his paintings at the Prado Art Museum in Madrid. More information about Las Meninas


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In parts of the city that were under construction and the environment was not safe for the actual Meninas, they had simple representations to include as many locations as possible.


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Just west of the Plaza Mayor is another interesting stop that will not disappoint.


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The Mercado San Miguel (Marketplace) is more than a hundred years old and started as a wholesale food market.

Today, this historical building stands out as one of the world’s main gastronomic markets. It allows visitors to experience the essence and most significant flavors of every corner of Spain.

From the finest Iberian ham and freshest fish and shellfish brought in daily from Galicia, to Mediterranean rice dishes and the most exquisite cheeses from Castile, Asturias and the Basque Country – at the Mercado de San Miguel, you’ll find all the highlights of Spanish cuisine. Spread out over more than 20 stands, the common denominator here is a commitment to high-quality tapas and pub fare.**

**source:

Fruit presentations are hand crafted providing the most pleasant displays and hopefully encouraging more purchases.


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There are gastronomic delights for every taste and of almost any imaginable food group.


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Whether it is Iberian ham …


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or a memorable vintage, the Mercado has you covered.


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We enjoyed this somewhat snarky mileage sign reminding us how far away from home we were.


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We always enjoy seeing how different cultures represent products or events that are similar to those we have in America. This advertisement for car security system or insurance with chains placed around a parked automobile was quite clever. [Sorry the shot is a bit blurry as it was taken from our moving bus!]


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We do quite a bit of gardening at home and naturally we gravitate to gardens whenever we have a chance to visit other destinations. The Parque (Jardines) del Buen Retiro is a large park with many displays of flowers, trees, shrubs, etc.


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There is ample space to relax and enjoy the green atmosphere.


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Amid one of the water features, there was a family of ducks!


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One of the hubs in the park was a large fountain with a sculpture of Lucifer which is somewhat remarkable…

“The country’s capital city holds unique bragging rights for having what is commonly acknowledged as the only public monument to the Devil himself.

Located in the gardens of the expansive Parque del Buen Retiro, this statue is 666 meters height above the sea level. The Fallen Angel (Ángel Caído) is set atop a marble pillar in the midst of a fountain decorated with sinister demonic entities and some rather miscast reptiles. Lucifer is depicted at the moment he is cast out of Heaven, as inspired by a passage in John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
source:

This location is also a place to acquire snacks and perhaps take a restroom stop!


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A bit farther down the walkway there was an impressive rose garden.


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After admiring a dog or two, and having had our fill of plants and flowers for the day, we started to head back to our hotel. On the way, we walked through a residential section of town that had a few quaint, small restaurants like this eatery using ceramic hats to cover the al fresco place settings.


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Always a sucker for impressive, old-looking wooden doors, I had to take a picture of this beauty.


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Crossing the street near the Prado, we encountered this LGBTQ traffic signal.


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This was our last day in town and we were going to make the most of it. We were eager to explore the neighborhoods near our hotel even those that were a bit of a walk away.

This interesting sign for a Cervantes restaurant was just a few blocks from our room.


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We made one last dash to the Puerta del Sol or Gate of the Sun (not far from Plaza Mayor), another very busy, touristy stop in center of Madrid. This public square has the distinction of being the starting point for the six major roads emanating from the Puerta del Sol and there is actually a marker denoting kilometer zero for those streets..


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One of the most popular statues in Madrid is “El Oso y El Madroño” (the Bear and the Strawberry Tree). The reasoning behind this particular statue is a bit murky, but you can read about it at the link below:


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El Oso y El Madroño

We certainly had our share of adventures in Madrid and it was now time to call it the end of another day.


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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



Madrid, Spain – Anticipation & Surprises – Part 1

Little were we aware of the “surprise” awaiting us as we disembarked the bullet train from Cordoba and made our way to the streets of Madrid just outside the railroad station.




Madrid Atocha Train Station

Cars had abandoned the streets and were replaced by large groups of people briskly walking toward our hotel at the Plaza de las Cortes.



Our guide explained that the bus was not able to reach our hotel and we had a walk of several large blocks. The result was that the luggage could not be delivered until some time later (which turned out to be close to midnight). Anyone needing medications or other important supplies was asked to stay behind to retrieve a small quantity of items to carry with them. And thus the walk began!



The home team had just won a recent soccer championship. Celebration and merriment were the theme of the moment!

As we made our way through the ever more crowded streets, we passed a massive living green wall. This was perhaps the most exceptional example I had ever seen so kudos to those vertical gardeners of Madrid!



This was the scene just outside the hotel as we arrived.



We had some time before evening was upon us so we headed out to do a quick walkabout and gain some familiarity with the local sights. We continued to be impressed by the beautiful colors of the houses as well as the interesting contrasts in this urban district.



On the following day, it was an early breakfast and off to visit the The Palacio Real or Royal Palace, located at the Plaza de la Armeria.



“The structure itself is enormous and an awe-inspiring sight (both inside and out). It measures 135,00 square metres and is separated into 3,418 rooms. That’s almost double the size of England’s Buckingham Palace or France’s Versailles.**”
**source:

Once the home of the Kings of Spain, the palace today serves as the site for state ceremonies, official banquets and other government functions. Upon entering, visitors are soon rewarded with a magnificent staircase and and royal trappings of red velvet and golden accents.



“The Grand Staircase is composed of a single piece of San Agustin marble. Two lions grace the landing, one by Felipe de Castro and another by Robert Michel. The frescoes on the ceiling is by Corrado Giaquinto and depicts Religion Protected by Spain. On the ground floor is a statue of Charles III in Roman toga, with a similar statue on the first floor depicting Charles IV. The four cartouches at the corners depict the elements of water, earth, air and fire.**”

**source:

This area of the palace can be very crowded at times which makes it difficult to arrange for a good photographic composition without milling crowds.



On the ceiling above the grand staircase is a painting by the Italian artist Corrado Giaquinto which is titled Religion Protected by Spain.



Regal ornamentation was on exhibit throughout the rooms in the Royal Palace.



Tapestries and opulence on display

There were a few tell tale signs of modernity such as the painting of the family of Juan Carlos I by Antonio López.



Pictured are King Juan Carlos I, Queen Sophia and their 3 children – Elena, Cristina and the new King Felipe IV.

“The Manchegan painter Antonio López has devoted 20 years to the painting The Family of Juan Carlos I. The final version of this work, after numerous modifications, is the culmination of the exhibition The Portrait in the Royal Collections…**”

**source:

As we left the palace, we took a brief walk to one of the “balconies” accessible via the plaza to view an area that is now a park, but once served as the hunting grounds for the Spanish Royalty.



Located south of the Royal Palace (at the other end of the Plaza de la Armeria) is another architectural wonder, the Cathedral Santa Maria la Real de La Almudena. We did not have an opportunity to visit the Cathedral, but if we return to Madrid, it will be on the list of things to see.



As we were aboard the transport heading to another destination, we passed some of the beautiful gardens and parks surrounding the palace and cathedral.



There is plenty to see and admire in Madrid. A very popular tourist attraction is the Botín restaurant recognized as the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Tourists stop by to have their pictures taken in front of the wooden-paneled facade.



Read more about the history and current status of Botín

While strolling through the same neighborhood, we came across this whimsical modern art gallery.



There were numerous shops and floral displays to please the eyes and interests of passersby.



Closer to our hotel, we took another walk just about dinner time. Parking, as in most major cities, can be an issue in Madrid as this car parked along the side of the narrow street which appeared to be a walking only thoroughfare.



A visit to the Prado, Spain’s venerable art museum, was on our “things to do” the following day, but as we passed by on this day, there was a line going completely around the museum for blocks and blocks.



Out of curiosity, I stopped to ask a gentleman waiting in line what was happening and he cheerfully explained that there was free admission between 6 and 8 pm from Monday to Saturday (and other days as well) – check this web page if interested – https://www.museodelprado.es/en/visit-the-museum

That was enough for this day. It was time to rest a bit and prepare for tomorrow’s adventures.


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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



Cordoba, Spain and the Olive Country

Granada had a wonderful mixed ambiance of the old and the new which is very inviting, but after two days, it was time to move on to Cordoba for a very brief single-day stop. There would be no overnight stay, just a quick day of touring.


Olive orchards on the way to Cordoba
picture snapped through our speeding bus window

On the way, we traveled through Spain’s premier olive-growing region of Andalusia and of course we made a requisite stop at one of the local olive mills. There were plenty of products for sale and we acquired several tins of the famed olive oil as well as some decorative bottle stoppers.

The grounds had interesting artifacts. Whether they were originals or not, I had no way of knowing, but they were engaging just the same. The picture below is of a large urn for storing part of the season’s olive oil bounty. The metal wheels would most likely be parts of the grinding machinery used to crush the olives.


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This is a view of the beautiful plantings. Notice the urn in the distance.


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After our brief stop, we boarded the bus and arrived in Cordoba. We had a brief lunch and then enjoyed a walk through the historic part of the city which is a delight for anyone who enjoys the beautiful contrast of solid colored building facades (mostly white) generously punctuated with colorful flower-filled pots and planters.


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We also spent time wandering through city’s historic Jewish Quarter. Casa Pepe de la Juderia is one of the well-known restaurants in this part of town.


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Markers were embedded among the paving stones to differentiate the Jewish Quarter streets.


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Towering over the center of Cordoba, and visible from many streets, are the towers of the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba) which is perhaps the main draw for many tourists and adventurers. The structure is referred to as both a mosque and a cathedral because of its complex history.


he Bell tower of the Mosque of Cordoba
The Bell tower of the Mosque of Cordoba

The Torre del Alminar (Minaret Tower) has been converted to the Bell Tower with steps leading to the top for impressive views of Cordoba.

Even before entering the building, an examination of the beautiful exterior details revealed the uniqueness and the age of this Mosque. The nine entrances are referred to as gates; each with a distinct name. I believe this is the Gate of Holy Spirit Espiritu Santuto.


Gate of Holy Spirit Espiritu Santuto

Our group began the tour by gathering in the main courtyard.


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The Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba – Which has a unique combination of Christian and Moorish architecture and religious cultures. The original structure had, for a time, dual occupancy with different sections being used by the Visigoth Christians and the Muslims, but was later destroyed to make way for a grand Mosque (Mezquita) constructed over a period of more than 200 years.

In the 13th century, the building was taken over by the Christians and converted into a church. **

** Source

There is a huge columnar prayer hall that is astonishingly beautiful because of the colors and the manner in which the light plays off the surrounding walls, ceilings and floors.


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There are reportedly an excess of 800 columns supporting the structure.


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The picture below is particularly interesting because of the golden hue, the ornate carving and the hanging lights.


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The focal point in the prayer hall is the unusual horse-shoe arched prayer niche or mihrab beautifully painted with exquisite detail. Gold-backed glass was used in the construction and provides some of the striking contrast.**


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** Source

Wherever one looked, there was magnificence on display. The intricate arches were stunning.


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When the Christian rulers gained control of the structure, they took to the task of constructing the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption inside the mosque. This is the High Altar of the main chapel.


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Not to be outdone by all of the detailed artwork of the mosque, the chapel dome is also very ornate…


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As is this nearby ceiling…


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There is a Museum in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption where this gold and green artifact is on display.


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After our visit to the Mosque/Cathedral, we returned to the quaint streets of Cordoba with the mosque peering through the narrow skyscapes.


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Cordoba is also known for its courtyards and during May, there is a courtyard festival:

Every year in May, the city of Cordoba in Andalusia celebrates its famous Courtyards Festival, a tradition which was declared a part of our Intangible World Heritage by UNESCO in 2012 and during which many of the courtyards or “patios” in the historic quarter are open to visitors for a few days. The festival is a competition to discover the most beautiful courtyards in the city, and fills the streets with colour, the scent of jasmine and orange blossom and the strains of flamenco.**

** Source

While this was not part of the festival when we were in town, it was an interesting, colorful courtyard that we were able to admire.


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There was time for one last stop before we headed for the train station and I wanted to see the Roman Bridge (Puente Romano) and the Roman Arch Gate which is within easy walking distance of the Mosque.


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The afternoon shadows were growing long so we made our way to the train station in Cordoba to take the two-hour (+/-) ride to Madrid.

Members of our group served to create a Norman Rockwell moment.


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The bullet train was very sleek and fast! Next Stop Madrid!


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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



Photography: My Shot – The Alhambra from the Hill of the Sun

The Alhambra palace and fortress in Granada, Spain is one of those locations that is so monumentally beautiful and interesting that it defies description. Not only is the ancient architecture magnificent, the castle grounds and gardens are also magnificent.

The photograph below was captured looking back at the Alhambra from the Generalife gardens located on the Cerro del Sol (Hill of the Sun). We toured the facility for three hours or more and there remains more I would like to have seen.

Perhaps one day we shall return!


The Alhambra palace as viewed from the Hill of the Sun.
“The Alhambra palace as viewed from the Hill of the Sun”

Photography enthusiasts who visit the Alhambra be warned: You will not be able to stop taking pictures. One scene is prettier and more captivating than the last!

NOTE: A complete pictorial essay of the Alhambra will be published on JBRish.com in the near future!

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Metadata

File Name: DSC_3226.NEF
Capture time: 1:38:34 PM
Capture date: May 17, 2018
Exposure: 1/320 sec @ f/9
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom

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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 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Bridging the Gorge – Amazing Ronda, Spain

Ronda is one of the most visited destinations in Spain. The main characteristic and defining geographic attribute is the El Tajo gorge that separates the new and the old parts of Ronda.


El Tajo gorge

Well, if there is a ravine dividing a city,there is a need to connect them somehow and that is the function of impressive Puente Nuevo (New Bridge).


Puente Nuevo / New Bridge

The first time I looked over the top of the bridge and saw this view, I was stunned at how beautiful it was in the the early morning light!


El Tajo gorge

The bridge is an essential part of Ronda’s culture, allowing the newer parts of the city to easily mix with the old. It took more than forty years to build and should be seen as a marvel from many of the nearby vantage points.


The New Bridge Connecting old and new Ronda

We did not have time to walk down to the bottom of the gorge, but that too is another spectacular view of the Puente Nuevo (see the other photographs HERE)

Once across the bridge, we stopped to view an old city map created in the azulejo style of tin-glazed ceramics mounted on a building wall. The title, Viajeros Romanticos translates to Romantic Travelers.


City map made of tiles


Close up view of a city map made of tiles

We next visited the John Bosco house which was considered palatial in its day. It was bequeathed to the Order of Salesian Priests founded by Saint John Bosco and served as a retreat for that religious order. The picture below is of an interior courtyard.


Courtyard at the John Bosco House

What adds to the allure of this estate are the beautiful gardens…


Bosco house gardens

and vantage points of both east toward the mountains


The mountains from the Bosco house

and west toward the New Bridge.


The gorge from the Bosco house

The house is built on the edge of the ravine and looking straight down also provides a wonderful view of the old retaining wall.


The old retaining wall from the Bosco house

A short walk from the John Bosco house is a small park-like area with additional mountain views.


A Park in Ronda

Like most other old cities and older sections of cities, Ronda had a number of interesting streets to wander and admire. The handles on this old wooden door and metal accents give testimony to the pride Spaniards take in maintaining their heritage. Notice how the right-hand handle is broken and not replaced.


Aged wooden door with metal accents

And one of our favorite features to explore are the side streets and small plazas of these wonderful old-world cities. This is picturesque Plaza Mondragon.


old world plaza withe balconies and flowers


picturesque Plaza Mondragon

As we walked through Ronda, we visited one of the more unique churches, the Church of Our Lady of Peace.


Church of Our Lady of Peace

The most important feature is the altar of the Virgen de la Paz, the patron Saint of Ronda.


 altar of the Virgen de la Paz


 altar of the Virgen de la Paz - close up

We admired other buildings and churches as part of our walking tour including the clock tower of the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor.


clock tower of the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor.

Wildflowers growing from the walls of another church added to the historic beauty of the building.

Old wall with wildflowers growing

One of the most noteworthy historical assignations for Ronda is the birthplace of modern bullfighting sometimes referred to as the “Ronda school.” The historic context of bullfighting is lost to the ages, but it is suggested that perhaps it was a right of passage for adolescent boys before transitioning to manhood. The absolute derivation will never be known.

Pedro Romero, a Ronda native, hailed from a line of innovative bullfighters, but he was the one matador who raised the ritual to an artistic form and thus is given the distinction of the Father of Modern Bullfighting. Read more about it HERE


Statue of a Bull outside the Plaza de Toros de Ronda

Plaza de Toros de Ronda is a world famous bullfighting ring which is not in regular use anymore. It is a beautiful structure to behold.


the Plaza de Toros de Ronda

Standing in the middle of the arena, one gathers a sense of the scope and popularity of this Spanish tradition.


the Plaza de Toros de Ronda

Some youngsters could not resist reenacting the contest between man and beast.


Youngsters acting out a bullfight

This was our last stop in Ronda this morning before having lunch and heading to our next destination. It surely is a town that deserves more time and perhaps one day we shall return to explore further.

One last look back at the El Tajo gorge of Ronda!


One last photo of Ronda's beautiful gorge


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



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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Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.

 

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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



Gibraltar – More than the Rock


Map of trip from Jarez to Gibralter to Marbella
Via Google Maps

The day was still young when we once again boarded our bus leaving Jerez and heading toward our overnight destination; the Mediterranean seaside town of Marbella, Spain. This was a very busy travel day which began early.

Before we would arrive at our accommodations for the next two nights, we were going to take a quick tour of picturesque Gibraltar.



HOW THE BRITISH GAINED CONTROL OF GIBRALTAR

Gibraltar was captured by the British Fleet in 1704 during the war of the Spanish Succession. On 4th August 1704, an Anglo-Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral George Rooke took Gibraltar from the Spanish. From dawn on that day and for the next five hours, some 15,000 canons were fired from the fleet into the city. The invaders, led by the English majority, landed the same morning and not surprisingly encountered little opposition.

Under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 Gibraltar was ceded to Britain. This treaty stated “the town, castle and fortifications were to be held and enjoyed for ever without any exception or impediment whatsoever.” This treaty was renewed again in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris, and in 1783 by the Treaty of Versailles.

Via Historic UK – learn more at the link!

As we approached Gibraltar, the famous “rock” came into view and the waters of the strait of Gibraltar provided a fitting backdrop.


Strait of Gibraltar

The shipping lane was busy with ships laden with their various cargoes. From the same vantage point along the road, we were able to view the Rock of Gibraltar in all of its glory.


Rock of Gibraltar - First View

Once our traveling companions had snapped their share of the landmark. photos, we quickly made our way back to the bus and headed for the entry checkpoint with passports in hand.


Crossing the Border from Spain to Gibraltar

I must confess that I knew nearly nothing of what tourists might want to see prior to our tour of Gibraltar and I was pleasantly surprised. Once across the border and after we connected with a local bus driver/guide, we pulled into a waterfront rest stop known as Europa Point.

Forget the sodas, snacks and ice cream! This is a beautiful, photogenic landscape at the very tip of Gibraltar overlooking the strait. On a clear day, visitors can see Africa as we did. Apparently this is the most narrow stretch of water separating the two continents.

The colorful lighthouse against the green-blue waters caught my immediate attention; stunning!


Lighthouse at Europa Point

Also picture worthy was the ongoing construction of the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque. Not only is it the the southernmost mosque in Europe, it is reportedly one of the largest Mosques in a non-Muslim country. King Fahd Al-Sau gifted this holy shrine to the people of Gibraltar and the world in tribute to the Moorish influence in the area.


Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque

Since our visit a year ago, the mosque has been completed. You can read more about it and see current photographs HERE.

After our rest stop, it was back on the bus with our very clever, funny and informative driver/guide. Our target was the Cave of St. Michael and the famous Barbary Macaques (think monkeys) that are protected and roam the area.

Here is a brief history of the Macaques in Girbaltar:

“The macaques’ presence on the Rock gained popularity during the Great Siege of Gibraltar between 1779-1783, during which Spain and France launched an ongoing assault upon British Gibraltar by sea and land. One surprise attack – so the legend goes – was thwarted by the monkeys who were disturbed in the night, and in turn alerted the night watch to the attack. This legend gave rise to the saying that as long as the monkeys remain on the Rock, so will the British. It is also known that General George Eliott, a governor of Gibraltar in the late 1800s, would not suffer apes to be molested or taken.”

via The New Statesman – learn more at the link.


Barbary Macaque

We were rightly warned to keep our belongings close as these clever denizens are quick to “steal” sunglasses, candy, ice cream or anything else they can get their hands on. One driver was very familiar to these macaques as they climbed on his window ledge to greet him as he passed by.

Visitors will want to take many pictures of the tribe as they are very cute and nonplussed by all the visitors. After all, they are the land barons at this location.

After taking several pictures, we ascended the walkway to the cave entrance. This is a beautiful cave HOWEVER, the natural structure and beauty of the attraction was, in my estimation, diminished by the use of strobe-like lights that continually changed color and cast hues across the cave formations. In addition there was music blaring in the background.


Cave of St. Michael

There really was no need for this as the natural beauty of this cave would certainly “speak for itself.” It was something to behold, but denigrated to a gaudy status. Sorry, but that is how I feel.

I was able to capture slightly more natural pictures during the lighting changes. You can see the color change shifting at the bottom of the frame.


Cave of St. Michael

After exiting the cave via a series of well constructed pathways, there was a bit more time for additional monkey business.


Barbary Macaque

This was a fun stop and I recommend it if you have a chance. The history is unique and interesting and the natural attractions are certainly worthy.


Barbary Macaque

Perhaps one of the best angles of the Rock of Gibraltar was from our bus window as we passed along the roadway traveling toward Marbella and a well-deserved rest!


Rock of Gibraltar - Best View


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Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.

 

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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



Jerez, Spain – Horses and Sherry

Departing Seville, Spain with a population of 700,000 we boarded our Motor Coach and headed for Jerez de la Frontera with a population of 213,000 (estimates via the Internet). This was an interesting change as we travled through the smaller Spanish towns and saw more of the countryside.

Our first adventure in Jerez was a stop at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. We were greeted by a guide who explained the history and goals of the academy. This is a very exclusive school and gaining acceptance is quite competitive. Our group was taken inside a display area where horse carriages were stored and available for inspection.

One horse was tethered nearby for us to admire. Unfortunately, photography was restricted in many areas which proved disappointing. I was hoping to gather a couple of snapshots of horses being trained in the indoor stadium, but this was not permitted.

The guide begrudgingly allowed a few quick photographs of the tack room.



Pictures of the rein training outdoors were allowed.



The saving grace of this stop were the beautiful buildings and grounds. As we were waiting to walk toward the arena, an upward glance revealed an interesting and somewhat surprising sight.



Storks nest in many of the high towers, ridges and chimneys afforded them in and around town. As a matter of fact, we found that storks are an object of pride in Spain (and Portugal) and are encouraged to nest. At one time most of the birds migrated to Africa during the winter months and returned for the warmer seasons, but nowadays less and less of the birds migrate.



It appears that the availability of higher quality water in the wetlands combined with availability of “junk food” has become attractive to the White Storks that now become year-round residents.

You can find more information about the storks in Spain and Portugal HERE and HERE.

I must say that the exhibition hall and arena at the school was quite attractive.







The administration building and headquarters was equally impressive with its old-style elegance.



The area outside the administration building had a very picturesque fountain that added to the splendor of the estate.



After our stop at the Equestrian School, we walked to The House of Sandeman Jerez – producers of fine sherries and port. The traditional Andalusian garb includes a cape and large-brimmed black hat ala Zoro.



I wasn’t too interested in the distillation and preparation of sherry since red wines are about as much as I have on occasion. Our guide, however, did an excellent job of explaining the processes involved and the nuances between the various sherries produced. Of more interest to me was the history and building itself.



Yes indeed, there were barrels upon barrels of sherry being aged as we walked through the distillery (if that is the correct term).



I didn’t understand it all, but the markings on the outside of the the wooden barrels contained important production codes. Naturally, there was a “tasting” with chips and small sandwiches.



These stops did not make my top ten list although I found them somewhat interesting primarily for the few photographic opportunities available.

The Sandeman Sherry Bodega has an excellent website with amusing videos and information. If you enjoy sherry, I think you will appreciate this LINK – click on “OUR STORIES.”

 
Next stop…Gibraltar!


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***************
Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.

 

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



Dancing in the Streets and Everywhere!

There is no doubt that there are many discouraging events occurring in our world on a very frequent basis. Our modern era has spawned wars, terrorism, hatred and untold misery in many parts of the earth.

This video is the antidote to the negative occurrences we hear so much about. Let’s remember that there are opportunities for happiness, fun, laughter and brotherhood even amidst some of the most negative and gloomy events of our time.

 

More Vide – Ohs

To See additional Interesting Videos, click 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 – 2018 – JBRish.com