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Spanish Fiesta

Globus Tours

August 1 - 15, 2010

This travel adventure started on Sunday

afternoon, August 1st.  The USAir flight from

Binghamton connected with a flight directly

to Madrid from Philadelphia. The flight left at

6:15 pm and my overnight flight arrived

in Madrid at 8:25 am.

The Trip!

I was bussed from Madrid's new modern airport to the

Hotel Agumar.  This bus tour was very nice in that

we stayed at very good four star hotels throughout

the tour. Spain like so many countries has more

beautiful sites to see and visit that one can find time

to do.  If I were to enter all of the interesting city

and country scenes on this web page it would

take hours to view.  So I am only going to display

some of the almost a thousand photos

I took on the trip.

The Plaza de Espari: Monument to Cervantes.

Our main stop of the morning was at the famous Prado

Museum.  Above is the side of the museum

you pass to enter the exhibits.  The museum is

world class and has a very large display areas.

Very close to the Museum is the Church of San Jeronimo

el Real.  This much-restored church has played

 an important role in the history of Madrid an the court.

One of Madrid's many decorated buildings. 

Note the teams of horses found on the building roof.

The Sculpture of the Bear and the strawberry tree

represents the coat of arms of Madrid.

A band of Spanish musicians performing in Plaza Mayor in

the early evening.  The Plaza was a great place to enjoy

dinner and the night life of Madrid.

This is one of the attractions to visiting Plaza Mayor. 

There were mime's and other characters all around. 

This three headed man is entertaining two of the

many children in the Plaza.  There are many more

photos of Madrid but the tour must move on!

Day 4 of our trip found our group of hardy travelers on the

bus and off to Vitoria with stops at Segovia and Burgos. 

Above is the 2,000 year-old Roman Viaduct that greeted us

when the bus drove into Segovia.  It is truly a marvel

of engineering from many centuries ago.

Cathedral of Santa Maria began shortly after the

repopulation of Segovia during the reign of Alfonso VII.

Segovia's Alcazar, a tower surrounded by moated

walls in defense of the city.

Our second stop of the day was at the city of Burgos.  Above is

the gateway entrance to the city main Plaza.

Burgos Cathedral, where the legendary El Cid is buried. 

A beautiful limestone structure was built beginning in 1221.

The coffin where El Cid is buried.  High enough to prevent

grave robbers from attempting their trade.

Our hotel for the night in Vitoria.  We spent some time

after our arrival in Vitoria strolling through this

ancient Basque city's historic center.

Our tour bus.  It was very comfortable and well driven

by our professional driver.

The first thing on Thursday morning we traveled to the

city of Bilbao, the greatest port city of this Basque region. 

We had a guided tour of their Guggenheim

Museum.  Pictured above is the exterior shape

of this remarkable building designed by North

American architect Frank O. Gehry.

A modern art sculpture outside of the museum.

A artist depiction of a huge spider outside of the museum. 

It was a rainy morning when we arrived at the museum.  We

had to wait several minutes before the museum opened.  Since

there were no photos allowed inside the museum, we took

advantage of the art displayed outside the building.

The museum's statue of the Pup stands guard near the upper

entrance to the building.  It is a magical pup in that its colors

are changed every six months when the season's change. 

Its summer colors are bright pretty flowers of several varieties. 

The museum was a truly interesting top while all varieties of

modern art on display.

As we drove along the sun came out and we were on

our way to San Sebastian.  The city is in the north

of the Basque Country, on the southern coast of the

Bay of Biscay.  San Sebastián's picturesque coastline

makes it a popular beach resort.   Above

is the City Hall of the city.

The surf was up and the waves were pounding

the coastline beaches. 

Bay of Biscay view.

While at San Sebastian I enjoyed my first Tapas lunch

in this restaurant. 

A view of the typical Tapas bar with its assortment of

food found in this type of restaurant.  Tapas is the name of

a wide variety of appetizers, or Snacks, in Spanish Cuisine.

They may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese)

or warm (such as chopitos, which are battered,

fried baby squid).  In Spain, patrons of Tapas can order

many different Tapas and combine them to make

a full meal.  When in a Tapas restaurant you stand

at the bar and selected the Tapas you desire for lunch.  

I had 2 shrimp items and a cheese filled puff along

with a local beer.  Cost 9.50 Euros.  It was delicious

eating experience.

Another view of the Tapas choices.

Boats in front of one of the off shore islands in the Bay

Biscay.  After leaving San Sebastian, known as the

"Pearl of the Cantabrian Coast," we rode on

to Pamplona at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains.

 

Upon arriving in Pamplona we departed our bus and

began a walk through the downtown where

we followed the route of the famous

"Run with the Bulls.'"

The beginning of our "Run with the Bulls" walk.

The small square spots in the street are where the city places

posts for fencing during the race.  This creates a

separation between the bulls, crowd and runners.

A city statue depicting the run with the Bulls.

Another look at the statue of the running bulls. After our

walk along the downtown streets we continued

on to our hotel.

Day 6 and we are in Saragossa after a night in Pamplona. 

Above is the Plaza Del Pilar, one of Spain's

grandest squares.

On the right is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pilar,

where, according to legends, the Virgin appeared

to St. James.

The Plaza also held a monument honoring Goya.

A life sized statue found neat the Goya Monument.

After the stop at Saragossa,  we traveled the next

morning to Barcelona, Spain's second largest city. 

Barcelona was the host city of the 1992 Olympic

Games.  Above is the coast line at Barcelona.  The wing

shaped building in the background of the photo is the

new "W" hotel.  As with other city stops we had a

bus tour of the city first thing on Saturday morning.

A modernistic building design located in the harbor area.

Sail boats in Barcelona's harbor.

A view of the city from Montjuic Hill.

We also had a stop at Anton Gaudi's Guell Park.  Gaudi

was commissioned by Eusebi Guell to develop the

concept of the park. 

Two colorful street performers who were dressed as

Transformer.  They became trucks when they curled

up in to their ground level positions.

Motor scooters were the most popular form of personal

transportation in all Spanish cities.  There were thousands

of scooters in every city we visited.

Barcelona City Council

The Sagrada Familia is another emblematic symbol of

Barcelona.  Designed by Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí

an architect who worked using the Modernist style.

He became famous for his unique and highly

individualistic designs regarded as beyond the scope

of Modernism.  Gaudi began to direct the work on this

Temple in 1883.    He intended the temple  to be a

great modern church of Barcelona. It continues

to be under construction today.

The rear face of the Sagrada Familia.

The monument dedicated to the "Sardana" in Montjuic.

During the afternoon, I took an optional excursion to Montserrat. 

Santa Maria de Montserrat is a Benedictine abbey located in the

Montserrat mountains, in Monistrol de Montserrat, in Catalonia, Spain. 

The monastery is Catalonia's most important religious retreat

and groups of young people from Barcelona and all over Catalonia

make overnight hikes at least once in their lives to watch the sunrise

from the heights of Montserrat. Virgin of Montserrat (the black virgin),

is Catalonia's favourite saint, and is located in the sanctuary of the

Mare de Deu de Montserrat, next to the Benedictine monastery

nestling in the towers and crags of the mountain . The

Escolania, Montserrat’s Boys’ Choir, is one of the oldest

in Europe, and performs during religious ceremonies

and communal prayers in the basilica.

Another view of the monastery This evening we enjoyed

a typical Catalonian dinner at a local restaurant.

Montserrat Monastery.

On our second evening in Barcelona we had dinner

in a typical Catalonian restaurant.  It was a three course

dinner with local specialties featuring native

meats served at tableside.

 

After dinner we traveled to Barcelona's "Magic Fountain"

shown above.  There was a superb water and multi-light

show that lasted for a long time.

Day 8,  We travel from Barcelona to Valencia.  Valencia

was once a royal capital.  As we drove into Valencia we

stopped at a site of several new buildings focusing

on Arts and Sciences.  These building were

very futuristic in design.

The site of these building is the old Turia Riverbed. 

The riverbed was moved to prevent river flooding

of Valencia.

 

The Prince Felipe Science Museum.

The  Valencia Cathedral was built between the 13th

century and the 15th, and that is why its style is

mainly Gothic. However, its construction went on for

centuries. As a consequence there is a mixture of artistic

styles, ranging from the early Romanesque, the subtle

Renaissance, the heavy Baroque and the more restrained

Neoclassic.  This mixture is the most important feature

of Valencia Cathedral and is what makes it a jewel

of universal architecture.  In front of the Cathedral

is the Apostles Gate.

The Miguelete Tower was originally built as as

the bell tower of the Cathedral.

One of several beautiful fountains found around Valencia.

Another Valencia fountain.

On our way west toward the mountains we stopped in the

Village of Purullena to visit troglodyte cave dwellings. 

These dwellings are hollowed out of the soft tufa stone. 

Pictured above is the entrance to one of the many cave

dwellings that people of the area live in.  The insides

were painted and furnished like anyone's normal home.

As we bussed around Spain we saw many big black

Bulls displayed like this one.  It was a challenge to try to

get a good shot out of our bus windows.  Luckily, there

are 58 such bulls located around the country, so we

had many chances to photo these black bulls.

Monday morning found our hardy group of travelers

headed for Granada.  It would be an all day trip with rest

stops along the way.  We are heading toward the

mountains.  This fountain was just outside the

entrance to our hotel in Granada. 

The Hotel Carmen was nicely located in the city.  It

allowed for evening walks and personal sightseeing. 

Here we are waiting on entering the hotel for our

room assignments.

The simple, plain facade of the Carthusian monastery.

  Founded by Fernando Gonzalo in 1516, it only consists

of the church, the sacristy, and cloister

with some annexes.

The external access to the Gothic Royal Chapel which

houses the moral remains of Ferdinand and Isabelle.

It is Day 10 and we are headed to one of the special

highlights of the tour, the visit to the Alhambra.  These guns

guard the entrance into the Alhambra complex. 

Our visit to the complex started very early in order

to beat the crowds that descend on Alhambra each day.

 

The Alhambra, literally "the red one", the complete form

of which was Calat Alhambra, "the red fortress"), is a palace

and fortress complex constructed during the mid 14th century

by the Moorish  rulers of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus,

occupying the top of the hill of the Assabica on the

southeastern border of the city of Granada, now in the

autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.

One of the building that make up the complex.

 

The Alhambra's Moorish palaces were built for the last Muslim

Emirs in Spain and its court, of the Nasrid dynasty. After the

Reconquista by the Reyes Católicos ("Catholic Monarchs") in 1492,

some portions were used by the Christian rulers. The Palace of

Charles V, built by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527, was

inserted in the Alhambra within the Nasrid fortifications. After

being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the Alhambra was

"discovered" in the 19th century by European scholars and travelers,

with restorations commencing. It is now one of Spain's major tourist

attractions, exhibiting the country's most significant and well known

Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian

building and garden interventions. The Alhambra is a UNESCO

World Heritage Site.

The circular courtyard of Charles V's palace, with the

Doric columns of the lower open gallery and the ionic

columns of the upper one.

One of the ornate rooms of t he complex.

Reflecting pools were everywhere in the complex.

Beautiful columns appeared at every turn in the complex

.

Ornate ceiling were in almost every room.

 

Beautiful gardens were found throughout the grounds. 

The complex employs 40 gardeners to care for

the various gardens.

One of several pools found in the "Water

Gardens of the Generalife."  The gardens with

their pools and flowers were a joy to see.

 

It is very hard to capture the beauty and size

of the Alhambra by showing just a few photos of a

complex where we spent a couple of hours touring. 

The Alhambra is truly a special place to

visit when in Spain.

One last fountain!

A look back at Alhambra building from the gardens.

It was only a short drive to Costa Del Sol from Granada. 

We were now at the coast of Mediterranean Sea. 

Above is our Hotel the Melia Costa del Sol.  We

had a two night stay Costa del Sol.  It was rather

warm when we arrived, 40 degrees C or

112 degrees F.  Ugh!  Fortunately it was

not a muggy heat.

An interesting statue that adorns the hotel pool.

The Beach!

Another statue along the main beachside street of

Costa del Sol.

One of many seaside restaurants along Costa

del Sol beach front.

Fortunately there were many gelato stands throughout

Spain. This one at Costa del Sol did a

landslide business!

 

On our last evening in Costa del Sol, I attended

an optional excursion to the small village of Mijas

in the hills over looking the sea.

There were donkeys and horses available to

give cart rides around the village.

Local vendors sold a variety of items. 

This young man was selling nuts.

There was a small museum in the village which had

several olive presses on display.  This one used cone

shaped stones to extract the olive oil.  We saw

thousands of olive tree as we drove around Spain. 

After our visit to the village of Mijas, we bussed down

to the seaside village of Torremolino for dinner.  The

meal featured sea bass baked in sea salt as pictured

above.  The meal was delicious and everyone enjoyed

the seaside setting.  After the meal we had a leisurely

stroll along the seashore to our hotel in Costa del Sol.

On day 12, we were on the road early to visit Gibraltar. 

We drove through the Spanish countryside in order to

arrive at the Border crossing at an early time.  Above is

the border crossing we walked to from our bus.

The "Rock" from the border crossing.

The Mosque in front of the Rock.

Europa Point Lighthouse

St. Michael's Cave.  The cave had many beautiful

stalactites and stalagmites scenes inside the cave.

The famous Rock Apes greeted us at a popular

stop for taking pictures.

Pictured above is Koehler Depression Gun Carrier

located in Casemates Square.

 

After Gibraltar, we went through the sunny sherry

wine region on the Costa de la Lutz to the

vibrant, festive city of Seville.

On Day 13, Friday the 13th, we started our visit to

Seville with the traditional city tour.    The first stop

was at the Plaza de Espana a building in Maria

Luisa Park, in Seville, Spain built in 1928 for the

Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark

example of the Moorish Revival style in

Spanish architecture.

One of the tiled 'Province Alcoves' along

the walls of the Plaza de España.

A beautiful bridge in the Plaza de España

This dog was seen on one of the back streets of

Seville was trying to beat the 99 degree

heat on his balcony.

A beautiful monument in a palm tree lined

area next to the Alcázar's walls, the Jardines

de Murillo (Murillo Gardens) boasts one of

the most enjoyable and relaxing

of Sevilla's promenades.

A typical souvenir store on one of Seville's streets.

The Giralda Tower

The Cathedral of Seville is the third-largest Gothic

cathedral  in the  world.  At the time of its completion

in the 16th century, it supplanted the Hagia Sophia as the

largest cathedral in the world. Previously, the Hagia

Sophia had held the title for more than a thousand years.

The cathedral also serves as the burial site of

Christopher Columbus.

After an afternoon at leisure (I needed this for

our pace was early to rise and late to dine),

there was an optional Andalusian night out which

included dinner and a Flamenco show.  Above are

two of the very talented dancers doing one of

the several dances performed during the show.  

 It was a terrific show with a very energetic dance

routines performed.

We had a lunch stop at a very cute Spanish village. 

The menu was very simple, a baguette, or fratta, or

Red Pepper soup.  I had the soup and it was delicious. 

The walls of the restaurant were decorated like our

Cracker Barrel restaurants.

Don Quixote was on display at several

spots in the village.

We left Seville early as it was our last day of the tour. 

We traveled through the arid landscapes of Don Quixote's

La Mancha to Toledo.  Our first stop was at the Damascene

Steel Workshop where we saw swords in various stages

of manufacture.  There was a gift shop where we were

able to shop for pricey gifts.  No swords were purchased

as one might not clear security at the airport

when heading home.

The gift shop.  Note the racks of swords on the left

and right in the photo.

The "Gate of the Sun" entrance to the

old Town of Toledo.

The Cathedral

Toledo like most Spanish cities

had many twisting, narrow streets.

The Museo Sefardi was created in 1964 and inaugurated

in 1971.  The ancient Samuel Levon Synagogue, is

one of the two remaining synagogues in Toledo's old

Jewish quarter, the Aljama.  It was built between 1336 and 1357.

Following the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 it was used as a

hospital and a church before being declared a national

monument in 1877.  In 1964 the Sephardic Museum was set up

as a tribute to the descendents of Spain's Jewish

 population.  The permanent collection charts the history

of the Jewish peoples before their arrival in Spain, during

their presence in the country and following their expulsion.

The St. Martin Bridge over the Tagus River.

After our visit to Toledo were returned to

Madrid for our last night of the tour.

Our last evening in Madrid before flying home was a very

nice dinner at Cafe Gijon.  A regular meeting place for

intellectuals and writers since it opened in 1888, this

cafe still attracts a loyal clientele made up of journalists

and literary types. Famous poets and novelists like Federico

Garcia Lorca, Antonio Machado, Ruben Dario and

Perez Galdos all have spent time here. The restaurant

specializes in international cuisine with an emphasis on

meats. However, you can also choose from a range of

regional Spanish dishes.  The Asturian varieties are the best. 

pictured above are musicians who entertained

us during dinner.

 

Thus ended a wonderful tour adventure.  Spain was a most

hospitable country.  The various sights were very eye

catching and interesting.  It is a clean and neat country

with good highways and has many marvelous thing to

see, experience. and do.  Good food and wines abound!

 

I would encourage all of my friends to visit Spain!