A Travellerspoint blog

November 2013

Surprisingly Stunning Seville

sunny 25 °C

Welcome to Seville in sunny Spain where every other tree is laden with oranges...
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We don’t expect to experience the ‘Wow!’ factor in every place we visit, but Seville has left us surprisingly short of sibilant superlatives. The splendiferous street scenes of central Seville coupled with the soaring architecture has sent our heads spinning…
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And the sacred structures are simply superb...
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The spectacular 16th century Gothic cathedral of St Mary of the See, (the Holy See – not the sea), is the largest and one of the most visited cathedrals in the world. We were lucky to catch it on a quiet day. The Cathedral’s bell tower – started by the Muslim Moors in 1184 and later finished by the Christians – has thirty seven sloping ramps instead of stairs and is probably the only wheelchair accessible medieval bell tower in the world.The views from the top of the tower are simply stunning in the sunshine…
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Below the tower is the Alcazar palace that was originally a Moorish fort. It is the oldest and most opulent royal palace still in use in Europe and we had been warned that the place would be a zoo. However, by utilising our patented methods of crowd avoidance, we are able to bring you scenes of the incredible splendour as it appeared to us…
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The sights of Seville are simply breathtaking and we should have stayed longer, but we managed to squeeze in an evening of Flamenco at the famous Flamenco school…
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….before spending our final few hours visiting the magnificent Plaza de Espana and completely exhausting our supply of sibilant superlatives…
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Now we are off to visit the Sherry bodegas of southern Spain and all too soon we will be crossing the Strait of Gibraltar to visit the souks of Morocco. There is so much to see in this part of the world that we could write a book about it?

Posted by Hawkson 01:20 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

The Lighthouse at the End of the World

sunny 24 °C

“Shiver me timbers boy,” said Long John Silver to young Jim Hawkins as they set sail westerly for Hispaniola and the Spanish Main. “Look hard on that thar land, for ’tis likely the last bit ’o land you’ll ever set yer eyes upon.”
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This is it – the most southwesterly point of land in Europe. In olden days, when the earth was still flat and sailors worried about dropping off the edge, this was often the last, and the first, piece of land that seafarers would see when they ventured to explore the world.
Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama would have both feared this place…
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Atlantic waves over a hundred feet high crash against these cliffs and, until the lighthouse was built, it was one of the most treacherous coasts in the world. Welcome to the Algarve, the southerly coast of Portugal. We’ve been relaxing on the beach here with our family members from France for the last week before we head off to Morocco – and what a beach! The deserted sand stretches for miles. We’re staying near the ancient fishing port of Tavira - an historic town of whitewashed houses, winding streets and dockside fish restaurants that is home to the octopus fleet…
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These are the terracotta jars that the fisherman drop onto the seabed and later retrieve when the unsuspecting octopus have set up home…
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Fishing is big business on this coast, and the markets have perhaps the greatest range of seafood we’ve ever seen. The markets are awash with sardines, anchovies, squid and octopus, but the biggest catch is the tuna. These anchors were once used to secure miles of tuna nets to the seabed...
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Despite the onslaught of tourists from northern Europe, the Algarve is still largely a rural backwater where olives, oranges and pomegranates flourish in the arid conditions. While a few of the coastal towns of the Algarve have been spoiled by rampant development there are still many that have retained their character and have ancient churches and Moorish castles – like this one at Silves…
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However, when it comes to architectural masterpieces and historic artefacts, we need to head back across the border to Spain; to the Andalusian city of Seville where, we are told, great treasures await. We shall see! (and so will you).

Posted by Hawkson 02:21 Archived in Portugal Comments (4)

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