SPAIN ~ AUGUST, 2007
It was that time of year again, to escape the routine and venture into unknown territories. A chance to find new subjects to photograph, new foods to be eaten and new experiences both visually and physically. A 12 day journey to visit a part of my past heritage - to view Spanish and Arab castles, towns, cathedrals, geological land formations, museums and art, and lastly the modern day world in which the Lexus Gold Cup of Polo would be played at the Santa Maria Polo Club, down in the Andalusia region - Costa Del Sol - Sotogrande -San Roque, Spain.
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New Gallery Links:
Highlights of Spain from the cities of Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, Avila, Sotogrande, Ronda, San Roque, & Marbella
Slideshow viewable on this page
Viewable in full screen- click link in upper right hand corner of the slideshow.
Madrid - Toledo
I spent my first day wandering around the streets of Madrid trying to figure out the map, where I was and where I was trying to go. I found many statues of Lions and Horse & Riders along the way - most incorporating a fountain of some kind. I accidentally found the Palacio Real on my way to the Egyptian temple - Templo de Deblod, along with another horse & rider statue on my way through Puerta del Sol (Tio Pepe sign) heading to the museum to view the temporary art exhibit of Van Gogh. (View photos in the Spain highlights slideshow above)
Toledo - famous for its giant cathedral spire containing intricate adornments rising up far beyond what is possible for the eyes to focus upon. Swords and their makers are also famous to Toledo and it can be seen in the statues, the art, and the swords themselves. Here traditional foods, sweets and cookies/pastries and cheeses are made like no where else in Spain -(or the world) Be sure to sample the Manchego cheese and the marzipan cookies
(View more photos in the Spain highlights slideshow above)
Avila & Segovia
I took a tour on my 3rd day to the medieval town of Avila where although tourism is a main draw of income, still maintains a piece of its medieval heritage. Its town is encompassed by the finest and best preserved medieval fortress walls in Spain. The tour was all too brief in its visit to Avila with many small streets and shops left to be discovered. However, after leaving and passing a field of sunflowers we were on our way to Segovia.
View more Avila Photos in the Spain highlights slideshow or the Avila Link above
Segovia is also a medieval Spanish town boasting one of the finest & best preserved Medieval Spanish castles in Spain. Its appearance is reminiscent of that of fairy tales and the knights in shining armor - some on top of their armored steeds, bringing a sense of what that 'fairy-tale' existence might have been like. Not only does Segovia host a beautiful castle from the early 16th century -but it is probably more well-known for its massive aqueduct that brought water into ancient Spain - supposedly ordered built over 1900 years ago by the Spanish-born Roman Emperor Hadrian. A self-supporting structure, It is built entirely of stone (no concrete or mortar) and is over 800 meters long.
(View more Segovia photos in the Spain highlights slideshow above)
Granada like most places-towns in Spain is unique to itself. It hosts the Alhambra - one of the wonders of the world on one of the lists. It is one of the finest preserved Arab castles and famous for the legendary tales of the 1001 nights. In the Albaicin, the old arab quarters - one can sit atop a wall watching the sun go down as the Alhambra gets lit up by lights, and listen to the local gypsies play the guitar and sing. After dinner, one can sit and enjoy the many fresh brewed flavors of tea in the tea houses, or shop for silks or other fancies. Granada has a fantastic cathedral, an old hospital from the 1500's with original paintings/freezes from both the renaissance and baroque periods, monasteries, museums, gardens, as well as having the Sierra Nevadas nearby. Of course no visit to Granada is complete without a visit to the Alhambra which contains many gardens, a huge castle, and the Nasrid palaces which I had the opportunity to go and visit at night in addition to my day visit.
If you plan on visiting Spain - do not pass up Granada, it has too much to see and experience, even if you do not get the opportunity to visit the Alhambra (which if you do NOT buy your tickets online weeks in advance -you will not be able to attend).
(View more photos in the Spain highlights slideshow & the Granada Links above)
After my all-too brief stay in Granada, I headed to the coast taking the charter bus which was actually quite a nice ride. The ride along the coast was quite nice with the contrasting mountain range on the other side. Marbella, a charming yet upscale town boasts a bizarre bridge, a bonsai museum, and many fine hotels, shops and restaurants along the beach. Activities are everywhere here including carriage rides thru the city - even a display of sculptures of Salvidor Dali are in a big courtyard along the beach. From Silent black box theatre actors to painters and their works of art to the silent awe of the full moon rising over the vast array of activity. Lastly, trying to find my way back to the hotel I quickly photographed some of the Andalusian carriage horses I had seen earlier - I think it shows the activity and hustle of life even at night.
(View more Marbella photos in the Spain highlights slideshow above)
Sotogrande & San Roque
This gallery is a combination of days in the Sotogrande - San Roque area including the port of Sotogrande day and night, and a bridge designed by the same designer as the Eiffel Tower. Sotogrande is very upscale and kept very clean. The bright contrasting colors of the buildings giving the port a very art-deco feel amidst the many boats, shops, and restaurants. The water was cold but very clear - and I was wishing I had remembered to bring my mask and snorkel. There was a wild fire near the hotel, driving back from Gilbraltar. I had to drive by it to get back to the hotel and then from my room photographed it quickly getting put out by helicopters.
San Roque I did not spend time in but only drove thru on my last day to take some photos of the statues and the little town itself.
(View more Sotogrande & San Roque photos in the Spain highlights slideshow above)
A beautiful, picturesque drive over mountain ranges and thru the occasional village or town, such as Benahavis, brings you to the town of Ronda. Ronda like so many of the other towns I had visited, had the medieval city walls, a cathedral, a castle, a bullring with a bull statue on one side and a bull fighter on the other, carriage horses, and a very pretty palace. What Ronda has that the others do not is its huge bridge connecting the deep gorge. Finding the path to the bottom of the gorge was by accident and not something you would visit by tour. Its path is very narrow on slippery, sandy and steep ground. The view was breathtaking as I was literally on the side of the gorge pass overlooking the entire valley area as well as looking up at the immensity of the bridge spanning the Tajo gorge. Taking a different drive back to Sotogrande (for the night shots at the port/beach), there was new mountain scenery, new villages with castles perched atop cliffs, windmills, and perhaps a vastness unrealized...
(View more Ronda photos in the Spain highlights slideshow above)
The drive to Gibraltar is a short one from Sotogrande and San Roque, where I was dropped off at La Linea - the easiest way to enter Gibraltar for a brief visit. La Linea is the place one leaves Spain soil and enters Gibraltar - the UK. It was a strange day with a dense fog covering the top of The Rock - making for difficult lighting with photos. I wandered the streets a bit, taking in the completely different type of atmosphere compared to what I had just moments ago, left behind. Gibraltar was getting ready for its Independance day - where all wear red and white and the whole town is decorated in red and white. After taking in the town, I found a willing tour guide to take me and an older couple to the top, by way of an old tunnel, to the lighthouse with the sunken Spanish freighter, to the Pillars of Hercules, past the Castille, to the place where the rock apes live (one jumped on my head as soon as I exited the vehicle for photo close-ups), and then upwards to the highest point to take in the straights of Gibraltar. Then back down where I took the double-decker bus back to La Linea, capturing some more of the many cannons and of the unique architecture, both new and old. The final shot of the Rock, showing the unique view of the weather.
(View more photos in the Spain highlights slideshow above)
I made it back in time to the hotel to rest for a few hours. Later that afternoon I went and watched the finals of the high goal polo Subsidiary (Silver) Cup followed by the Lexus -Torneo Gold Cup Final - Those photos can be viewed on the Spain polo page.
Enjoy the Video of Spain highlights Below