art, black and white, monochrome, photography, photos, places, Red Shed; Rye; East; Sussex; East Sussex; Rye Nature Reserve; england; nature; outdoors; travel; travel destination; travel image; uk; united kingdom, travel
art, black and white, monochrome, photography, photos, places, Red Shed; Rye; East; Sussex; East Sussex; Rye Nature Reserve; england; nature; outdoors; travel; travel destination; travel image; uk; united kingdom, travel
architecture, Berlin, Brandenburg Gate, brian scantlebury, brianscantlebury.com, buildings, Dutch, Film Museum, German, Germany, history, Holland, modern architecture, Netherlands, photography, photos, Potsdam, Potsdamer Platz, Reichstag, Rotterdam, Spree, travel
Train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam is not a long journey. Certainly worth the effort.
Departing and travelling through essentially rural land, farms interspersed with small villages and farm cottages and buildings. Can’t help but be impressed by flatness of land which is divided not by fences but irrigation drains.
Rotterdam is a delight. I reckon a must do, if you’re visiting this part of the world especially if historic and modern architecture is of any interest. Could have done with a few more days there, but hopefully we got to the main points of interest. But did encounter a couple of surprises.
Any interest in architecture, especially modern and quirky, will be piqued in this city.
Public art plays a big art in the Rotterdam urban landscape. There are some 200 pieces on permanent display around the city. Here’s a couple.
An interesting experience, that could have become frightening, saw us approached by well dressed man asking the name of the area we were in at the time. He persisted with his enquiry then out of the blue two tall also suited men arrived from nowhere, said they were police, had swingers around their necks intended to convey some official role. They asked for our passports. Uh oh. Immediately we started to move away with me saying we didn’t believe them. at this they said OK, and walked off. A scam to watch out for.
So for the next day and some relief from the city walking and such intrusions we head to the Kinderdijk area and the windmills so synonymous with the Netherlands.
There are other scenic aspects of Rotterdam worthy of ones time to enjoy too.
Gardens, historic buildings, museums, galleries and the river combine to make this amost interesting city.
And like the rest of the country, bicycles and ubiquitous, but here’s what apparently happens if you lock yours where you shouldn’t.
Note the little sign on post above the handle bars!
Speaking about security, on our last night got a message from our foreign affairs ministry advising extreme caution. There had been a terror alert for the city and a rock concert for some American band with the stupid name of Allah-Las cancelled. Saw little of no evidence of the problem on way to the station. Guess this is just part of life for now.
Advice if travelling to Rotterdam and have any interest in art and architecture, allow more time, or run everywhere. For m, much of the fun of travel is all about the unexpected, the things that catch you and the things that go wrong. Well not much has here, but here’s a travel travel tip for Rotterdam. Our hotel is part of a chain, large modern property. It’s as hot as hell and I can’t find the aircon control. Ask at reception only to be told, oh no you’ve you’ve booked a standard room. You’ll need to upgrade for to have that. Now I know why it’s called airCON. Bit like Air New Zealand, they are stripping services and then offering them back at additional cost. Huh, conned again.
Back to the train, en-route to Berlin. Orderly crops in rural Holland. Interestingly, to me anyway, about the time we crossed the border the orderliness of the Dutch landscape became a disheveled rural outlook. This smoothed scene from the train disguises the real look.
In a couple of stops we are joined by Andreas.
A doctor in zoology it turns out, who is very helpful confirming Anne’s plans for Berlin and adding a few ideas as well.
Berlin, graffiti city. Its everywhere. Why its put up with I cannot workout. Great shame.The city presents us with a series of contrasts, the old and new, the historic and the ultra-modern, the historic and the graffiti vandalism and amazing memorials and museums relating to WW2 and the fall of Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.
Another must see if you visit Berlin is the town of Potsdam, about 45 minute train ride away. Believing we were headed to a little town that we could take in in a few hours we trained there. Really a few days would have been the proper option. It’s population is about 170,000, its is another film centre and has some amazing castles or the like, with significant Nazi SS history. Well worth an allocation of a lot more time than we gave it. Wish we’d known more before going.
For our final night we strolled 2-4 k’s to the Potsdamer Platz area for dinner in the Sony Centre and some more night street and architecture photos then by the Gate and Reichstag again
Leaving Berlin, the realisation that the number of museum, memorials and galleries collectively deserve a reasonably long stay. As always there so much more to see.
There’s so much about war and the wall you could fill a week or more just an that, and there’s so much more. Got to walk part of museum island yesterday and see what could only be called a huge exercise in propaganda last night as we passed the Reichstag. Billed as a light show in the government area (images above “projected light show” captions) it was a series of speeches by important governmental people, some English sub-titling indicated a high level of _”look what Germany has achieved and how great we are” Ra-ra stuff for sure.
Standby for the next missive. Prague, Vienna, Salzburg before back to Germany.
Just watching an item on the Coffin Club. No real reason to mention this other than its on BBC and the club is an NZ club. Embarrassingly corny.
more images on instagram : www.instagram.com/briansphotography/
Amsterdam, capital city, city for art and so many renown artists, famous for bicycles (more than people) the roof gable styles, cheese shops and where the streets are paved with litter and cigarette butts. Guess 6 mill tourists don’t help either.
Then there’s the plethora of vegetable shops.Strange thing tho’, they seem to only sell variety. Its a strange looking small green leaf. Seed shops too, but none of the common old garden variety flower seeds! Reckon these strange shop account for about 99.98% of the 6 mill visitors.
Grey skies dominate the days here as do bicycles, lots of walking, museums and galleries. An art lovers dream come true.
Our cabbie informed us the theft problem is so great that you only see old bikes. You can often buy your bike back late at night on the street, apparently. Noticed many are made to look worse by being sprayed with rusty looking paint or bright colours.
The streets are seething with some of the 6 mill, not to mention the odd local I guess. At the moment students are everywhere as their year starts. Raucous buggers they are as the enjoy their first week.
First night wanderings see us accidentally in the De Walletjes (Red light) district as we head home after a meal.
Night scenes always proved some interesting challenges and often turn up some stunning images. Some early ones as we rush back to our digs. The National Monument in Dam Square, dark back street and reflected lights along a canal start the collection.
The canals are as busy as the roads. There must be 10’s thousands canal boats plying the miles of canals though these images don’t show it there really is, mainly for
tourists availing themselves of different day and night cruise services.
The Rijks Museum collection and archives date back to 1800. A phenomenally large collection of art and objects of real significance. This is one of many incredible galleries.
The popularity of the this city and its galleries means that if you don’t book about 6 months ahead you are destined to waste a large part of your time here, if not your life, in goddam queues. For the Rijks Museum we spent about 40 mins in line in the rain for a good part of it waiting to get to the next queue. Yep, once in the door you then queue again for your tickets, another 20-30 minutes down the dunny, and if that’s not enough, bags and tripods (and of course I have both) are not permitted in, so another friggin line for 15-20 minutes to turn them in. Thankfully only about 10 minutes queuing need to retrieve my gear after a few hours inside. Inside this beautiful building I concluded it must have been designed by an artist, not an architect, finding your way round even using provided and google maps sees more time lost. And as you’d expect after all the waiting is that its pretty busy inside too, but that’s managable.
And the find of the trip so far; cheese shops. Mentioned them before, but these genuinely do compete numerically with women’s shoe shops in this city. But it gets better. They mostly offer tastings. So in what has already become an end of day ritual we assist a number of them to dispose of their chopped up curdy offerings. I’m in heaven. The sore feet, the wet backs, the tired and overloaded minds and senses all vanish at least temporarily while at great personal sacrifice I work to restrain Anne’s headlong rush from platter to platter!!!!!
A walk around including the Saturday Albert Cuypmarket provided opportunity for
a Dutch waffle. Couldn’t resist, following which kinda wished I had more willpower.
More Amsterdam architecture;
Along with the big renown galleries there a many lesser known places showing well known artists. Some we’ve visited include Banksy and Dali in one venue, then on our last day here Warhol and a collection of other pop-artists in another. Great stuff.
It;s been another full immersion in the streets of Amsterdam to conclude our time here. Dinner tonight, a sleep the on the train and outta here. Rotterdam here we come.
Some street scenes to conclude,
First stop, Hong Kong. Drab, dreary Kowloon. Walked the streets being accosted every 3rd step by tailors touts, the day has passed with little to show for it except the street scenes below. Arriving last night the plane window view was speculator. Maybe the evening lights tonight will provide more opportunity from street level. Well that was the hope. Didn’t get into it in the end, will need to make sure on return journey when we have another couple of nights here.
Tomorrow we’re London bound.
And so it was, catching up with our fantastic family and enjoying the park walks and street scenes again for a few days.
arranging their produce as they do every morning about 6.00am.
Regents Canal around Little Venice, London where we did an evening canal ride and had a picnic dinner, with shot of Hertford Union Canal in Bow.
Then off Ireland-bound. Leaving London was struck by the number of construction cranes on skyline.
Then arriving in Dublin, same thing. Cranes everywhere. Staying by the Grand Canal. Obviously an area of massive regeneration. Old brick industrial buildings being redeveloped as apartments mixed in with new modern apartment and commercial buildings. Wonderful wandering around the streets seeing the contrasts between the old row houses and interesting new architecture nearby. The great old Bolands Flour Mills Building is part of a large mixed old/modern redevelopment on one side of the Grand Canal. the canal is actually not that big despite its name and is surrounded by recent and new office/cafe and apartment buildings. its hard to escape the feeling that once again Dublin could be in midst of an over-development phase.
On the more modern side the central city has the 120 metre high stainless spire seems to pierce the clouds above O’Connell Street.
And then heres the harp shaped white bridge which stands out and catches any ray of sun that gets down to Dublin street level
A day spent of and on the hop-on bus including a couple of hours at the Guinness Brewery turned out to be an interesting day. Got my certificate as a fully qualified Guinness pourer. Great tradition. Did you know it takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect Guinness black drop? And, turns out its not to be sipped, that way you allow the flavours and nuances to escape!
Some lovely parks scattered around this city, one claiming to be be bigger that all London’s parks together and more than 2 X New York’s Central Park. Impressive.
The Temple Bar area of the city is a tourist magnet comprises of a swag of “traditional” styled bars providing Irish music and food along with all the beer you can drink always including the iconic Guinness of course.
Drive via the quaint town of Trim, do a Trim Castle tour and learn a bit about the area’s history since the 1100’s. Amazing what went on then. How’s this for an important piece of critical information, in those days to be able to put someones head on a stick (presumably after chopping the thing off) one needed a licence from the King which came at a price. Guess that would be called a head tax.
Getting to Galway for the night proved to be a fair trial as we encountered an horrendous level of travel slowing us to a crawl for several k’s from outskirts of city.
A drive along the Wild West Atlantic Way (WWW) beckons but we wake to a windy, misty and drizzly day. The WWW is essentially a coastal route of slow narrow roads with some amazing scenery, limestone rock formations essentially flat or strata rock walls. Key tourist features become a obliterated by thick mist. Today a stop to see the Cliffs of Moher prove pointless as visibility is down to a few metres. Abandoned that idea and moved on. Stopping briefly in the quaint town of Ennis before moving on to our nights accommodation, a B&B near Limerick.
Another day, another damp low vis day. Driving again along the WWW heading for the Dingle and the Dingle Peninsula.
Firstly through the Slieve Mish Mountains following hordes of cyclists on narrow roads. From the pass at top the view is quite spectacular, albeit through the mist.
After a stop to look both ways and a stop to talk to some goats Dingle is achieved.
A quaint old fishing town and centre for the peninsula is the start of our circular drive around more of the scenic WWW
The cloud and mist moves on in time for us to see some great coastal peninsula scenery.
Killarney is, our second to last stop before heading back to Dublin and our exit from Paddy’s Land. Ireland has certainly been Ireland. Its a place where they talk constantly about their lousy weather, where you can find a b and b with no breakfast, where laundromats are closed on the day of leisure, Sundays, and I’m Anne told me doing laundry was leisure, why else would she do it so often!!!
Ross Lake and Castle made a great early morning stop on our way from Killarney.
Then on to the Blarney Castle, House and Gardens.
Blarney House silhouetted back-lit by bright sunny sky.
The weather looked like it was to improve, though as we moved east it got worse, overcast with some patched of drizzle.
Wexford, described as a medieval coastal town is our base tonight while we watch the Irish Women’s Rugby team play Japan in the Women’s World Rugby Cup happening right here in Ireland. Spotted a bit of hurling in Waterford on big screen in the town square, don’t understand it.
County Wicklow, also known as Ireland’s garden county, certainly worth a visit, perhaps even the highlight of our Irish road trip. Unfortunately about about week is required to get near doing it some sort of justice. For our last morning we visit Rossborough House and Garden at Blessington. A grand old home dating back to 1700’s full of art, furniture and architecture each item of which has it’s own fascinating story.
There’s high gaiety in the pubs,typically and enthralling Irish I guess, too many to count on any street you see. Talking of streets, you’ll remember U2’s hit “Where the streets have no names”, well Paddy’s is a place where street numbers haven’t been invented yet. the streets have no numbers. They have street names that can change sometime 3 + times in a few hundred metres (in Dublin anyway) and there’s no numbers. Took our cabbie half an hour to find our accommodation when we arrived, ‘cos there where was not a fekking number, and that’s in a street he said he knew well. Just as well he had a constant stream of funnies to regale us with.
And speaking of U2, as I did a mo ago, Bono is really God here. He’s everywhere you look. So it’s true, he not only thinks he is, I’m thinking he’s actually believed to be.
In spite of his enormous wealth though they have all the same problems we do. Housing, homelessness, politicians etc dominate the news in the land of leprechauns and the shamrock.
Next stop the Netherlands, slainte.
There has to be an exception.
Mentioned last time how friendly and helpful French people have been. There has to be an exception. The other day walking through village yearning for a coffee, came across this cafe, door open, darkness inside (but that’s not unusual we are finding) walked in as you do. I’m about halfway into the joint when “monsieur, monsieur, monsieur” can be heard loudly from the doorway we had just walked through. Turn around and there’s this woman who had been sitting at a table outside smoking as they do, and talking loudly on the phone, as they do, like one of those undesirable customers every cafe owner must get.My rapid retreat is followed by some un-understandable volley of rapid fire french. At this stage I realise she is the owner. “Deux cafe au lait sil vous plait” I ask, “OK”, then feeling like a bite, a croissant or similar, as you do, I ask in broken French, “and something to eat”. “OK”.
Thinking we are heading in again, I stride purposefully forward, my eyes adjusting to the darkness seeking the counter to see if there is anything to select from. Voila! I see a cabinet, like those drink cabinets they point too, with a get your own sweep of the arm, if you ask for a cold drink, move towards it, open it and start to look inside. Just at that moment my peace is shattered. Blaring from near the door comes “MONSIEUR, MONSIEUR, MONSIEUR”(thought that had happened a moment ago). But this time the smoking, loud talking outside proprietor is now striding towards me yelling “THIS IS NOT A SELF-SERVICE (REPEAT)”in broken English. Now we are even, but I’m thinking hey we are not really welcome here, so I wave Anne out of the place and follow to the much more dulcet tones of she with the loud voice’s “au revoir”.
We got what we wanted from a much nicer man in a much nicer place just a couple of doors along.
Cafes, as I’m sure you know, though different from ours in terms of offerings and coffee quality are an important part of daily life where dogs often outnumber patrons.
No we haven’t been to a bullfight.
But just as bullfighting in Spain is on the decline, we find a couple of rings in the area around us in France. Drove to a smallish village the other day and there near the entrance was a newish, small ring complete with toreador with horns on head statue.
Driving the vineyard lined narrow country roads is always an enjoyable experience for me. often vines give way to rough edges frequently with wild pomegranate, apples and escapee grape vines. The shooting season’s in full swing. Might have mentioned that before. Wandering the vineyards its amazing what you come across. And all that gunfire must have sparked the desire for a duck dinner. Well at least duck skewers on our bbq,
Many of the village entrance roads, and canal edges, are lined with plane trees. It is said Napoleon started this (somewhere I read the Romans did, so who knows) but now some are being removed as they have been responsible for car accident deaths.
Another constant here is the need for continual navigating around (well not always around as some just are not that shape), roundabouts that seem to have infested the country. The only things that contest these for popularity is churches. Even in our little town there are 2 I have found, usually locked only operating once of twice a month. Actually I think the roundabouts work quite well. some are large sods (I’ve driven around a number more than once trying to find the right exit. Others, small or barely existent. The need for so many, sometimes only metres apart, must come from the number of entry points each town has. Usually about six. On one occasion we “circumnavigate” a more triangular “roundabout”, and just when I think I’m through there’s a pedestrian crossing, an old couple waiting to cross, I wonder whereto and stop for them. They scurry across to some large wrought iron gates in the middle, open them and head into what is clearly their home. So a home in the middle of a roundabout, but that’s not all, as we leave the apex of the roundabout (?) I notice some impressive headstones. I guess the family burial plot, who knows, but in this triangular roundabout.
Round another corner, and another village. This one Poilhes has Canal du Midi running through it. A couple of significantly different boats pass on a bend in the canal.
Narbonne is a nice city for a day or two. Main attractions are its museums and cathedral, also the Canal de la Robine runs through it. Below the canal at night, part of the Cathedral of Saint Just, a recovered 1,000+ year old mosaic and a statue of someone I’m sure I know but just can’t recall for now.
By now the weather is turning colder and a strong wind is kinda making the day difficult.
Spent a night at a seaside holiday place La Port Nouvelle, lovely ocean beach, but not much else that’s memorable, except our hotel that is. The last place open I think, the room quite nicely done up with concealed blue lighting (ugh). The entrance was tiny, struggled to get our one bag though and even bigger struggle to get it in the lift, all so that when we reached our floor we could be assailed by darkness and an almighty stench. You know the one that you face when out of sheer desperation you are forced to enter a public toilet the local council has taken off its regular cleaning list. Shan’t be returning there. However did get some nice sunrise shots next morning.
We head to the area generally referred to as Aude Nature hoping to see and photograph some bird-life. Still seems scarce around the prime spots we were referred to, nothing to shoot, so give up on the west side of this great estuary and wetland area and head for the other side and the town made famous by the Newman’s. Not the Paul Newman’s, the Eric and Carol Newman’s.
On approaching Gruissan we come across another canal with a couple of old boat restorations going on. Here’s one of them.
Round the corner I spot some flamingos flying, not close enough, then go stalking storks.
Pretty much everything else seems blown away by the wind.
The wind we learn is the tramontane and can blow at up to 120k’s. It originates from the same central area as the better known mistral winds.
The town of Gruissan is like many here divided into new and old towns. The new is essentially built around 3 massive marinas. These are marina’s spectacular, ones that NZ boaties would just lust over. A really classy modern town that attracts 120,000 in the peak season. That’s over now and most shops and restaurants are closed. Enough are open though for us to get all the meals we need. The old city has the remains of a chateau on the hill, built about 1100 and a fairly typical small town, narrow streets, tight corners and streets littered with cafe tables and chairs to be navigated around. Oh of course a couple of great churches too. Not planning to, but late in the day we decide it’s worth staying longer and book into the 1st B & B (Chambres de Hotes) we come across. What a find. Probably the best accommodation on this trip, beautifully renovated and built from rock pilfered from the the chateau (you can what remains of the chateau below). All these places have so many stories. The proprietor of our B & B answers a lot of questions over breakfast and we learn a bit (I’m sure there’s a ton more) from him
Both the estuary (Etang de Thau) and the ocean are photogenic.
As is the Il’e Saint Martin salt works which date back to Roman times and as you can see still producing the stuff by the mountain-load.
So we leave the Coll De Rates in Parcent leaving a spectacular sunrise. Guess someone organised that farewell for us. Very nice thanks.
Headed by train for Barcelona. Our hotel is at the Paca de Catalunya end of La Ramba.
A short “orientation walk before dark around the plaza, then turn right from hotel door and down the tourist magnet of La Ramba. A seething mass of tourists, restaurant touts, vendors (legal and not so) periodically divided by police vehicles weaving through the hordes on the plaza you should see the fake brands peddlers lift their goods and move to where the cops have just come from. Its a game. They drop their sheet like bags with strings from each corner for quick regather when the law arrives. They sell what they can in few short minutes then are usually spooked off, by the next wave of cops, to the spot they left about 5 minutes earlier.
Did I mention the parking ticket? Long story, sorry but has to be told, it really does spell Spain.
Been to Valencia, picked up the ills, heading back to Parcent, diverted to small town of Gandia for a break. Found a candidate carpark, checked there were no “prohibido aparcar” signs and that other vehicles were also parked in same area. Returned in due course to find a pink slip under rear wiper blade just below the rental car sticker. Rechecked all previous assumptions, no reason to believe we couldn’t park there especially as there was a white lined parking space. Me thinks this is a case of quota achievement and a cop who can’t believe his luck, a tourist & rental car prospect!
The ticket is helpfully in 2 languages – Spanish & Catalans. Helpful, like hell.
Decide to keep moving and get a translation in due course. Turns out there’s a 50% reduction on the 100 euro fine if [aid within 20 days. There’s a list of banks for payment, but I can’t see any direction to appeal. So, next day off to local bank, after 5 minutos on computer the teller advised, not his bank. So traveling on, next bigger city, Valencia must be able to pay here, into one of named banks, same outcome. So the days tick by, eventually try another back in another town. 10 minutos on computer and all’s looking good, takes my 50 e’s, wont’t take credit card though I thought worth a try. What a relief I hand over a hard eared 50 E note and am asked for my numero de identidad de extranjero (NIE). Whaaaaat!
Try to explain, but no, must have before she can accept my payment. Got the car number, the ticket number, my license number, God knows every number under the sun but I don’t have an NIE. Suggests I apply for a temporary one. Really, where? Gandia. By now things are looking like I’ll be watching my back as I leave Spain. But in charges a white knight in the form of Anne who’s been silently standing and observing. Using a tone and look normally only reserved for me she eyeballs this poor teller and says”can’t- you -phone -someone- and -sort -it -out?” The teller, as I always do, shudders with fear, relents and picks up the phone. 10 minutos later she takes the money and gives a receipt. Hola! Gracias! Lets get out of here! The fact we shouldn’t have even had the damned fine will be a fight for another day. Can see myself winning that one too – not -especially as it turns out I need to argue my case at the Gandia Adjuntament.
The ticket duly receipt stamped by bank, thanks to Anne’s demand.
Back to Barcelona – La Rambla is not for me. Head to the side streets as soon as practical. The deeper we go the lighter the tourists, the darker the streets, the more “Spanish” the feel and the better the restaurants. These streets we’ll frequent mostly for our nights here, eating, observing and photographing, not really for enough time. Really great places for the experiences and gritty scenes.
We spend a day and half on those tourist bus things, getting an overview, then having hit some of the key points, museums, Gaudi buildings, Sagrada Familia etc we start walking.
Sagrada Familia still under construct some 130 + years on, 3 cranes working on the top and some detail shots from the mighty minor basilica.
What a city. I get a real buzz doing this. Seeing and clicking from ground level the places and things that go on in a city. Barcelona sure didn’t let me down on this count. We encounter the gothic area, a swag more churches, bascilica’s, historic buildings and some great (and not so) cafes and street scenes.
Some more from Gaudi;
One of the highlights has to be the visit to Palau de la Musica Catalonia, a UNESCO Heritage site, building that is centre for the musical arts in the city. Built in modernist style commencing 1905 this turned out to be a must see.
Architectural detail is of course everywhere;
Next day on train to Beziers, France en-route to our new home/base for 6 weeks in Corneilhan. A small village of about 1500 people, not, I don’t think, on the tourist loop at all but that’s good. Handy to many very scenic areas and Mediterranean beaches so we have a lot to look forward to.
Our new home is comfortable enough, certainly wouldn’t pass Anne’s design school test but it does have some interesting features. Like 1st thing she does (or was it 2nd?) on arrival is head to wash her hands. Well these old pipes want you to know they are in use and erupt with a booming clattering wailing sound that is less harmonious, more frightening and every bit as loud as dad’s early morning bathroom call, if you know what I mean! I’m sure that won’t be the only strange encounter we experience, rustic goes some way to describe it.
there’s been some interest in the car left by our host. It’s a little ripper. I call it the blue streak (successor to the Blue Bird), due to; 1. its colour, 2. its mobility. Malcolm Campbell would have been proud of it!! Though yesterday, got pulled over by the cops down in Sete. Turns out the French equivalent of our WOF is required 2 yearly. Our one hadn’t been renewed since 2009!
She rattles along, a real hot little number, no aircon, each change of gear (5) I spend a moment or two finding the location, they seem to shift around in the gear box, cornering is a delight, no power steering & my shoulders ache, pretty secure though the front passenger door is permanently locked, although a swift and deliberate knock near the keyhole did help open it once, I said secure didn’t I, when getting out all doors have to be individually locked, all 5 of ’em, and then of course the walk around is required to unlock them. Citroen hadn’t heard of central locking when this little beauty was built about 25 years ago. oh, like the the Blue Bird speed isn’t an issue, no speedometer.
It’s really good though. You should see the vineyards around here. You probably have, so you’ll know what I mean.They are endless. France may run out of water one day, but never wine.
Travel broadens the mind, or so they say. It seems it also frustrates one with the differences you need to embrace while in foreign countries.
Time seems irrelevant to the Spanish.
How often the restaurant bill takes up 20 minuto to arrive, shops are always closed when you need them, restaurant owners just shut the doors and go on holiday, en-mass, and so it goes. We are though in the country that invented siestas and liberally use “manana” to brush off urgency. This is Spain. There is something good about it all though, especially the siesta bit.
Then there’s the traffic stop lights that hold you up at ped crossings for several minutes while NO pedestrians can be seen within miles. Haven’t got to the demand driven processes we take for granted yet.
Almond grove just out of Parcent. Pity we are not here in spring. These trees are just covered with intense pink blossom.
Its been all action round here over last couple of days. Bush wildfires have broken out in at least 2 places on other side of hills around us. Helicopters ferrying water buckets are a constant over our villa. Today water trucks have been heading over the Coll De Rates to a fire we are told is near Tarbena. A place we have visited a couple of times.
Smoke in the sky. Yesterday evening we became enveloped in smoke. Mostly cleared today but the firefighting goes on adding to our Spanish experiences.
A couple of nights in Alicante and days on the streets viewing their tremendous harbour/marina and home to Volvo Round the World Museum was well worth the visit.
As is Castell of Santa Barbara, quite an imposing structure atop high point in the city, guarded below by the steel archer sculpture. Architecture along the Explanada offers some interesting photo opportunities as these buildings illuminated by sun-flare. The Explanada itself is comprised 6.6mil mosaic tiles, a very popular place during the day, market stalls, palm trees for a bit of shade and the restaurants, at night it really comes to life with entertainers and people en-mass just enjoying themselves. The city bull ring is in the mid of the view of city from Santa Barbara Castell and then there’s the “even in Spain”(Restaurante China) shot from an Alicante street, and marina.
An amazing structure, log cabin style Russian Orthodox Church just out of Altea, has this 15+ metre high mosaic. More impressive in reality, than on my phone!
Probably a place to avoid, but we wanted to see for ourselves – Benidorm.
Known for having more Poms per meter than the UK the place is set up for mass tourism. The beach though really is a beaut. Long, white sand, calm turquoise water. Across the promenade the road is lined with the bars and cafes loved by the tourists that frequent these places. Yuk, really. And swags of apartment blocks like these fill the landscape for visitors.
And some of the sights – like the 80+ yr old’s sunburned to colour of overcooked steak, wearing bikini barely worth putting on and riding the footpath in mobility scooters. I kid you not, there’s a swarm of them. Bill G, just what you’ve been looking for!!
Then there what I initially thought was a moving desert. Massive, broad, all moving parts seemed to be headed in different directions, tell you what, at a glance you’d swear it was naked, then I did spot a tiny excuse for a bikini. Felt real sorry for that bikini. Most hidden within the moving mass.
In couple of days we leave our home in this some dry yet fertile area known as Vall de Pop headed for a few days in Barcelona and then Corneilhan near Beziers in south west France.
The Vall de Pop grows citrus, olives, almonds and grapes much on the valley/hill sides supported by dry stone retaining walls some dating back to the Romans, 2,000 years.
Leaves are falling from the almond trees, grapes (very nice they are too, but don’t ask how I know) are about to be picked for wine and sultanas.
Stuff all wildlife, though we will be leaving some of these little fellas that inhabit the villa and grounds.
And its amazing what you see on the roads! Actually the significant roads are fantastic.
Like the one that leaves Parcent in the valley and heads over the Coll De rates mountains. Fantastic, winding and reaches about 700 metres above sl. Used mainly by cyclists and motorcyclists. This area is a paradise for these dudes as they move in swarms through the winding mountain roads. The highways we’d die for. Guess Spain can thank the EU for that.
Trying to hide something! Anyone recognise this guy?
"travel image", #brianscantleburyphotography, Alicante, brian scantlebury, brianscantlebury.com, Costa Blanca, landscape, photographs, photography, photos, scenery, scenic, Spain, Spanish, street scene, travel, travel images, urban, Valencia
as Gabriel Miro famous Spanish author of late 19th early 20th century called Parcent.
And then there’s the narrow village streets, such fun to drive around, the historic architecture, and churches, the way many places have more than one way to spell their names, the Bones Festes, and the funny cappuccinos. Guess this is Spain.
Gas bottle delivery truck negotiating the narrow streets and even more difficult corners doing a multi-point turn.
A trip to the coast, the Costa Blanca and some of the picturesque villages and resorts makes for a colourful outing.
First stop about 40 mins away, Calp, reasonable sized town and home to this sign and the largest rock in the Mediterranean on the edge of the town, behind a cool marina.
Great restaurants waterfront activities, beaches and very touristy things, but well worth visit.
From Calp one can head up or down the coast taking in the amazing Mediterranean views, resort towns and tourist hotpots.
Altea, picturesque old buildings in its back streets. the waterfront comprises a very touristy promenade lined on one side with bars and restaurants and the other with the hordes covered sunbathing visitors.
Vilajoiosa, famous for its brightly painted houses is an historic fishing village. Lovely spot, and well worth the drive to visit. We misjudged the sun and the faces of waterfront buildings were all in shade. Drat, but we’ll return.
Closer to home are the plethora pueblos or villages each with it’s own distinctive feel and charm. Only 5 minutes down the road is Alcalali. These are a few of the street and building scene here. We had a coffee in the little square, bought a few supplies from local mini- supermercado and followed the postie around as he pushed his pike up and down the hilly streets delivering letters and chatting with locals. we had to do that as Anne wanted to post some cards and while he was busy doing this his PO was closed.
Went out to another town for dinner. Orba, about 10 minute away. Again, sat in square while our orders were delivered along with many other diners. What an atmosphere. Balmy evening in the Plaza de Espana surrounded by the old church and buildings like these taken from our seat, till about 10.30 when we headed home.
Incredible terraced valley between two ranges, another interesting town or two, and the castle on a rock.
The other side of the Coll de Rates mountains takes us through the windiest road I’ve ever driven as we descend into the Vall de Tarbena then back up the other side. Both sides are terraced extensively as this photo tries to show.An amazing drive.
When we get to Tarbena and its square with a couple of cafes and the ever present church its time for a coffee and dry toasted baguette with olive oil. That’s morning tea in the amazing cafe Casa Pinet cafe, museum like, totally packed with paraphernalia and picture from civil war era.
Any mode of transport works here. The John Deere parked in Tarbena square outside the church of Santa Barbara I’m guessing, while a local farmers drops into one of the adjacent cafes.
Guadalest bell tower built on a rock, alongside a small town comprising a wonderful old home, now a museum that was the original family’s here. Now a tourist magnet with a number of funny little “museums” and a ton of souvenir shops selling tons of Chinese tack. Great to visit for its history.
Markets were the order of the day, Saturday last. First there was the massive Xalo market then only a few metres down the road, the Lliber night markets.
Dancing in the streets;
In Alcalali (just 5 mins from us) we stumbled into their Bones Festes (don’t ask what that means, except they all seem to have one hell of a time). We had caught the last night of the event in Parcent the first night here when watermelon seemed to be the theme for some unexplained reason.
Then a day and uncomfortable night in Valencia. After checking into our hotel found the aircon didn’t work. Well, that’s an understatement, it pumped luke warm air into an already 30 c + environment. I hear you saying, so what, get it fixed. tried that, no joy. Went out hoping all would be restored by our return. Uh uh, no. They still couldn’t fix it. Thier recommendation – open you window. Did that, then could’t sleep too well, from the clatter and traffic from below.Add to that the rock hard bed – what a night, and now they want me to do a trip advisor recommendation! The joys of travel.
Our short stay in the city was otherwise very enjoyable with the Hills and Jordans.
The Valencia Cathedral entrance beyond the long shadows of the gate.
On our return to Vila Joyosa we made it on to the city port. Actually only a fishermans port but very interesting. Fishermen drying and mending their nets and some of the little boats they venture out in raise questions not just of safety, but also economics. How an they make a living from these wee tubs?
And this red one wasn’t the smallest or the least seaworthy.
After a few very enjoyable day we returned the Hills to Valencia to continue their cruising.
A visit to the arts and science district is a must. Never got inside any of the spectacular buildings, too busy photographing the stunning white architectural exteriors. After about 3 hours we still missed as much. Be sure if you are in Valencia, allow plenty of time for this visit.
Then there’s the story that seems to typify the Spanish. Nothing happens here quickly. Planning something, allow double the time needed (AT LEAST) anywhere else. Picked up a parking ticket for parking in a white lined parking space. That is the lines seemed to us to mark the area within which parking was allowable. Funny, 100 euro fine on back windscreen on our return. No right to argue, no place to go and fight so left with only option – to pay up. Where do you do that? at a bank, where else? First bank, teller fiddles on his computer for 5 minutes then tells us wrong bank, points out name of correct one. Eventually find one of those some number of cities away, same story, can’t do it here either. So I still have the ticket, unpaid because after some searching time walking, driving on the lookout, the one we are now told can do it seems to not exist. Have to keep looking I guess. There’s a 50% discount if paid before 20 days. Espana !!!!
Trust all is well wherever you are, adios.
Not quite on the road so much off on another “expedition” and more for my library of photographic images plus these smartphone versions.
Buenos diaz, we’ve arrived at our home for month. It’s hot mid 20’s – 30’s c.
Flying low over Manises, Valencia we could clearly see the fruit fields below.
Mainly citrus. This I thought would be the the economic mainstay of the region. Once out of the airport we got our car and headed toward Parcent to meet Garry who is to take us to our digs.We drive, then off the highway, through orchards and olive groves.
The landscape here is hilly, most villages which are everywhere you look, often walking distance apart or only a couple of minutes drive set on hillsides or in the valleys there must be 30 or so of them from the vantage point of our home. Much dryer here. The orchards and groves don’t look as lush as the ones seen from the plane. After two nights in local restaurants I now know the main industries are poms and fruit/olive growing. The only Spanish voices heard in the establishments (one is even called Victoria) was from wait staff.
Our home is lovely, built way up a hill in what we know as Spanish style. Seems as villages grew and the poms arrived they have spread themselves through the hills around the traditional villages.
From NZ a stopover at Houston TX. An interesting city, our mistake was to stay out of it. The Galleria area would be great if the only thing you wanted to do was shop. Massive shopping center with all imaginable chain and department stores imaginable, but a good 20 mins from the action. That being the architecture, parks, walks etc on the Downtown or the Museum district with it scores of museums, galleries, the large Hermann Park.
Then if you camp down here you are that 20 mins closer to things like the Nasa Space Center, Galveston Island etc. If you ever want a reference for a Houston or NASA guide let me know. Elizabeth was excellent
With a couple of hours to spare before leaving, nothing to do around hotel hired a cab and headed for museum district. Oh well next time as we only have 1.something days this time.
Adam, our very cheery Ethiopian driver really tried to be helpful, unfortunately most closed for Sunday morning but he did make a suggestion we see the Menil gallery (shot from the gallery hallway) . So we humored him. Glad we did. This is worth the visit. Don’t miss it if you have any interest in art. Would also commend Adam for a driver, got his number too if you ever want it.
Flight from Houston to Frankfurt provided me with window seat, which I like, however row 69 and about 10 around them are all over a ginormous Airbus 380 wing. It’s like looking out at a white football field.
Great view of sky. Bugger! Nothing left to do but leap int the on-board entertainment system. seems good range but stuck on Chinese, can’t rest, ask hostess who responds “something like, oh well too bad not your day” and buggers off Disappointments come in 3’s don’t they? After the meal they bring around cognacs or Baileys, and what do they do? Distracted by the constant asking for extras by the Indian guy sitting next to Anne they offer them to everyone all around and totally miss our seats.
Flying over Germany, France and Spain presented real interesting scenes below. Can’t get over the orderliness of the Teutonic landscape below.
Home for next month, Villa La Paz.
Now in Parcent Spain. Just arrived last night, after a small sleep headed into the village for a feed and to look around after dark.
Happened on a celebration the Bones Festes. Groups dressed up and yahooing, having a great old time in the streets of the village.
Another day, back down thru’ Parcent to Orbas. another of what must be about 30 villages that can be seen from our place. What a great little place, typically traditional Mediterranean. First stop, bar for a cappuccino at cost of only E1.20 each. Walk the streets, pick up some cookie things and pizza from a beaut little bakery joint.
Bar and street in Orba. Men supping their reds and espresso’s around mid morning.
In Parcent last night we shot out to a place we’ve driven by a few times since being here. Looked ok by the signage. When we arrived noticed 3 courses, wine & water €12 but closed so down the road to Victoria’s. English fare, similar deal but €18. Running out of options so gave it a go. Well you could feed a small village on what we sent back. Not a quality problem, food was good. Just that they provided starters , bread + spreads with olives and a soup before the meal even started. No way a normal person could all this food justice. Well may except for you Gerald!! Ended up leaving without even getting to try the dessert. Looking forward to finding more tapas style places.
Quiet day today, but eventually headed to a supermarket village about 7 minutes away in Xalo. Walked the old streets for a while then stop in to a botega. Sign outside says 3 tapa + wine E9. Looks good. After the usual Hola, its ?habla ingles? then the language tryst commences. Fun. Tapas not of the style we are used to, but perfecto anyway, sometimes. Meat slices, bread and spread, potato salad and quiche. More than a meal. We keep learning.
Xalo form its outskirts.
Michael & Hannah and the two littlies arrive and provide more entertainment and reason to explore the narrow country roads and even narrower village streets. Again, great fun. A spot of sunbathing sounded like a good idea, so off the Grandella beach, about an hour away. For E28 you hire (actually Michael did, thanks) 2 deck chair things and an umbrella from those all set out out in rows
La Granadella is a small cove set between spectacular rock cliffs all round. the beach is stones and packed more tightly than a can of sardines. Off course when people are so close interesting events occur. Like I’m sitting on my deckchair minding y own business and become aware of something quite large around my left ear, gingerly turn my head to come face to face with some guys quite ample arse in the bright orange beach shorts I’ve ever seen. For a moment I thought the sun had dropped in. Couldn’t help worrying that he had full control of his bio-systems. It was close, but then after he had adjusted his arrangements his misses stood and revolved her over-ample butt into that same space, just mm’s away I’ll swear, now my worry was about her sense of balance. It’s all very close around these beaches, if you know what I mean!
People and shade silhouettes on the crowded beach of La Granadella.
It’s hunting season here and we are living in the Coll de Rates mountains. There’s the almost constant sounds of barking dogs and gunfire. Pretty hard to spot any wildlife, tho’ I did see a small squirrel scurrying along the power lines. He’d better be careful, we’re told they shoot anything that moves around here.
From our abode in the mountains
Just love driving around these little villages with their narrow roads, never knowing whats around the next right angle corner. The street scenes are quite picturesque, the people though are something else. The odd old lady with greet you with and hola, or buenos dias, in the main, no smiles, acknowledgements or even the cursory wave when you give way in the car. Strange.Found a couple of open churches today. Very austere exteriors and extremely ornate interiors, similar to Italian I suppose.
Interior and main alter inside Parcent Catholic church. Was originally a Mosque, but when the Muslims got done the last time the Christians took as their own. 17th Century I believe.
Hope you’ve been picking up the other images posted on Instragram too. Instagram address; briansphotography