Malaga has multiple aspects to it in that it wasn’t just a tourist town for the old town, ruins, and history. It had a big beach, and lots of hotels along the beach that were modern. That is where I got my title from, I was staying in the Las Vegas Hotel.
Malaga lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean, with Africa a little more than 100 km south, and the Strait of Gibraltar just about 100 km to the west. It is currently a town of over half a million.
Malaga’s city center could be called an “open museum” with archeological remains and monuments dating back over 2,800 years. Here you will find the ruins from the Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Christian eras.
A little tidbit, Malaga is also the birth place of Pablo Picasso, Solomon Ibn Gabirol, and Antonio Banderas.
As usual, I took the first day off. I swam 20 laps in the pool, and then headed over to the beach. There were few people there. I did get in, but it got deep quick, and the current and tide were pretty strong, so I didn’t stay in long.
The following day, I set out to explore the town. Walking in towards the old town, I came across another Bullring, so I ventured in. You were allowed to enter the stadium free of charge if you let them take your picture, so I did.
On my way out, the photo expert had cropped my picture nicely, as a matter of fact, too nice. I laughed, and bought it.
To get to the Castillo de Gibralfaro, you had quite a little hike up to the top of the hill.
This is a good picture of a model of the Castillo de Gibralfaro and the connection to the Alcazaba.
There were great pictures from the walls of the Castillo de Gibralfaro.
The Castillo de Gibralfaro, including the lighthouse, was initial built around 929 AD, later expanded in the early part of the 14th century including a double wall down to the Alcazaba. The castle name comes from Arabic and Greek, meaning rock of the lighthouse (gebel-faro).
The trail down to the Alcazaba was above a lovely park.
The Alcazaba was built by the Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th century. It is the best-preserved Alcazaba (citadel) in Spain.
A little friend looking for water on the grounds of the Alcazaba.
As I came out of Alcazaba the Teatro Romano was on my right.
This is the remnants of a Roman theater dating back to the 1st century BC. It is currently under restoration.
Walking through the town I ran across the Santa Iglesia Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria de la Encarnacion.
The Cathedral of Malaga, also known as Santa Iglesia Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria de la Encarnacion was built over a course of 254 years. The original plans included two towers but due to the lack of funds, only one tower was completed. This unfinished state has led to the Cathedral being called “La Manquita”, meaning in English, “The One-Armed Lady”.
I decided to swing up above the old town and go to the Museo Del Vidrio Y Cristal de Malaga. This was actually a group of gentlemen who purchased an old house and restored it 40 years ago, and started collecting glasswork. One thing lead to another, and they were following glasswork as far back as the Roman works, up to modern time.
The Paseo del Parque was another beautiful park stringing along the Alameda Principle Ave.
Exploring the city, I found the Museo Picasso Malaga. Just like the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, you couldn’t take any pictures. As previously noted, Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Malaga. This museum opened in 2003, and has 285 pieces donated by the Picasso family. While I do not have my own pictures, here are pictures from the internet on my favorites at the museum:
I enjoyed the Thyssen museum in Madrid so much, I thought I would check out their museum in Malaga. As it turned out, this was more about Spanish artist, so I didn’t really know any of them. One section of the museum didn’t allow photos, but here are a few pictures that I liked.
After the art museums I stopped in at the Museo of Archeology. Here, they wouldn’t allow photos, which was a little unusual. I can tell you there were ruins of Phoenician walls from the 6th-7th B.C. There was a unique storage system uncovered, one where there was 6 very large vases buried in the ground with the tops sticking out of the floor, a process of using the ground for temperature control. This was the first time I had seen anything like this (saw this later in Pompeii). Very smart! This was from the 16th century. Last, but not least, there were remains from a 16th century fortress tower. Sorry, no pictures. I would have like to have provided some.
I left Seville by train, only to arrive in Granada by bus. I didn’t realize that there was a bus transfer until one hour into the trip when the train steward came by and informed the group of Americans that I was sitting with, of the situation. No matter, the bus ride was just another adventure. As usual, when I arrived, I set out to figure how to get to my reservation without a Taxi, but that didn’t happen.
The region surrounding Granada has been populated since 5500 B.C. By the 1st century A.D., Granada was a Roman municipality called lliberri. Its current population is about 250,000, and lies in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Andalucia. As you will see later in the blog, the area had a great Moorish influence starting around 711 A.D.
My Airbnb selection was great. It was facing a small plaza, which was up against a small creek (Darro River), looking up at the Alcazaba within the Alhambra.
The Calle Chirimias isn’t listed as a plaza, but that is what I would call it. It was full of people enjoying food, drink, music, and an incredible view.
The medieval architecture of Alhambra dates back to the Moorish occupation of Spain.
Across the creek was a building that appeared to be an old hotel at the base of the Alcazaba. Below the hotel were windows in the wall leading down to the creek. This all grabbed my curiosity. I asked around, and was given the name Hotel Reuma. Looked like a great location, and what probably was a beautiful hotel. I researched the hotel and found that it was the Hotel Bosque de La Alhambra. It opened in May of 1910, right as tourism was starting up in Granada.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stay in business but for a few years due to the humidity in the rooms causing health issues, hence Hotel Reuma.
I walked back up the narrow road that the taxi had brought me earlier in the day, to see what night life might be occurring.
I came upon a familiar site at the first square, swing dancing. Everyone was having fun. Reminded of Austin and Lindsey, my oldest daughter. It may not have been a full moon, but there were plenty of people kicking up their heels, howling at it, enjoying themselves.
Beautiful shot of Alcazaba lit up at night.
The following morning I headed up to the Alhambra, Alcazaba, and the Palace of Carlos Quinto. The hike to Alhambra was a nice little hike up the mountain.
As I got to the Alcazaba, I found out I had to walk around to the other side of the grounds to purchase a ticket. That was no small hike either.
Once there, it was the slowest line ever. It was relatively short in length comparison, but it took an hour, and in that time the tickets for the Palace sold out. When I finally did get to the ticket booth, I found out you couldn’t purchase tickets for future dates. Not cool! I went ahead and purchased a ticket for Alhambra and Alcazaba, with the plan to purchase a ticket to the palace the following morning.
Alhambra was developed as a walled town in the 11th century. It wasn’t until the 13th century that the Alhambra heyday began. At this time the royal residence was established on the grounds making the Alhambra a palace, citadel, and fortress.
I enjoyed walking through the grounds.
There were plenty of old ruins in the Alhambra.
Loved the rose garden.
The Alcazaba was very fascinating.
Right up my alley!
I enjoy the old ruins.
You can only imagine what they were once like.
I enjoyed walking the walls of the Alcazaba!
Great panoramic of Granada from the walls of Alcazaba.
Here was the grand bathing area.
View of the old ruins within the Alcazaba from the top of the fortress walls.
This was the Torre de la Vela. It was one of many towers associated with Alcazaba.
A couple of kids playing in the restricted zone.
Another great view, this one of the Nevada Sierras in the background.
Out in front of where I was staying were a number of places to eat. The seating was just about all outside, which was great. I found a excellent deal, a pizza and beer, 6 euros. After lunch I headed back towards the centre of the old town, stopping at the Granada Cathedral.
After touring the Cathedral, I headed for the bus station across town to purchase my ticket to Malaga. My route lead me past the Basilica De San Juan De Dios. It had just closed for the day, but I would see it later in my trip.
Next I came across the Monasterio de San Jeronimo.
The church was the first in the world consecrated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
The Granada Central Bus Station excursion was an adventure in itself. I was told by the Tourist Information Office I could take the SN2 or the N4 bus. The N4 got me to the station, and I purchased a ticket. I hopped on the SN2 to go back, my bad. After about 30 minutes of going nowhere near where I wanted to go, I was talking to the driver. I was as far off course as I could get. I hopped off the SN2, and caught the LAC, which ended up back towards the Cathedral.
The next morning I headed down Calle Reyes Catolicos, past the Cathedral area, to an area I had not explored. I found a nice park or walking belt stretched out over many blocks running along the Carrera de la Virgin.
Along the way I found the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de las Angustias. Another beautiful church.
Continuing forward, I stopped at the Plaza del Humilladero, next to the Genil River, the main tributary of the River Guadalquivir, which I saw in Seville.
Working my way back I stopped at the Palacio de la Madraza. This was a pleasant surprise. The Palacio de la Madraza was originally an educational university. Over time with different groups in power, the building had been used for different functions, but in the end, it had come full circle. Once again it is associated with education as it is part of the University of Granada.
Take a look at the picture of the ceiling. This ceiling does not have any nails or bolts. It is all intertwined pieces of wood. Love it!
This is the one room that stayed preserved over the years. At one point these walls were covered up to meet the needs of the Christian group in power, preserving the old and beautiful Moorish walls.
This was the drinking well back in the day.
Next I headed to the Palacio de los Olvidados. I hadn’t researched it, so it too was a total surprise. As it turned out, it was kind of a museum on the Jewish history in Spain. In the 1400’s they were forced to pack up and leave, leaving all worldly possessions behind, or convert to Christianism. It reminded me a tad of how the Cherokees were kicked out of Georgia (Trail of Tears), although the Cherokee Nation didn’t receive any options.
Walking down the mountain, through the back streets, there were tons of little shops, one after another.
Here is a good view of the narrow street I was staying on.
Bath house dating back to the Muslim Granada.
This is the remains of the Puente del Cadí (built in the 11th century) – an old Arab bridge which was knocked down in the middle of the 17th century.
After a quick break, I was on my way to the Basilica San Juan de Dios when I passed the Iglesia de San Pedro y San Pablo. It had been closed every time I pasted it. This time my, timing was right as it was open for one hour.
The Basilica San Juan de Dios was open this time when I got there.
One of many German Shepherds I have seen. They are a very popular dog in Spain.
I had one more stop, the Puerta de Elvira, once the gate to the Arabic Granada.
Lots of walking!
Well, it was that time again, time to keep moving on! Time to head on to Malaga.
Seville, a very beautiful town. Originally founded as a Roman city. Serves as the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region. Seville is well known for its Flamenco Dance, and is the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb.
I was booked in an Airbnb outside the city centre, but it was right next to the metro, so all was good. I found myself a little tired, so my first evening was purely about logistics – where to go, routes, and transportation access.
One of my first stops is always to an Information Office to pick up a tourism map with sites numbered on it. This becomes my city map.
Walking down Av. de la Constitucion, I came upon the Seville Cathedral, the third largest church in the world, which opened in 1528. It was on my list to stop, but there was a long line, so I chose to catch it later.
As in all of the cities I had visited, there were many beautiful buildings throughout my walk.
I walked past the Plaza Nueva on my way to the Iglesia del Salvador or Church of the Savior.
The Iglesia del Salvador was another gorgeous church! It is currently the second largest church in Seville.
I am finding that many of these churches are along plazas, or along thin corridors. In this instance, the covering for the restaurants made it hard to get a good picture. As you see, this is not in the Gothic style that so many of the churches I am visiting are.
The Metropol Parasol was a change of pace. This unique piece of art is all wood (except for the bases).
The building is approximately 85 feet tall, 490 feet in length, and 230 wide. Due to the cost and delays associated to building it, the locals call it Las Setas de la Encarnacion (Incarnación’s mushrooms).
Personally, I liked it. You can go up to the top, for a charge, and see the sculpture. From there you have a great view of the city.
There was an archeological center in one of the base towers, but it was closed.
I headed towards the Alamillo Bridge (Puente de Alamillo) and what appeared to be arches (Pabellon del Futuro-Pavillion of the Future) that I could see from the top of the Metropol Parasol.
Along the way I stopped at the Basilica de La Macarena (Our Lady of Hope Macarena).
Once again, my timing was off, but I just waited at a café across the street.
On my way to the Alamillo Bridge, I came across the Torre de los Perdigones (Tower of Pellets). The tower was once part of the old factory of “San Francisco de Paula”, “pellets Factory”.
I walked up as a man was coming out of the tower, switching the sign to Closed. I decided to stick around a little bit to see if he was just taking a break. I took a small siesta in the park by the tower.
For those of you in Austin that are familiar with the green parrots, well guess what, they are also here, and love the top of the local palm tree.
Next thing I knew, a large group of students, probably 30 or so, were entering the Torre de los Perdigones, so I waited for the crowd to leave. I headed over as they were leaving, but the man Closed the tower again. Oh well! Onward!
I made my way to a park near the arches where I had a clear view of the Alamillo Bridge.
Here I also found the La Barqueta Bridge which spans the Alfonso XII channel of the Guadalquivir River.
I always stumble upon little plazas that have these great trees. Every time I see one, I think of my girls. They would have loved to of climbed these trees.
There was a great river walk that I followed back towards the Puerta de Jerez (old door Jerez), once a gateway to the city of Seville, hence the name.
Before I got to the metro area, I stopped at the Bullring. I had completely forgotten about it.
I had seen many of the old Bullrings throughout my travels of Spain, but had not taken a tour of one yet, so I did this time. It was quite interesting. There were 5 gates if I recall correctly.
You had a gate where the Picadors came out, another where the Matadors entered the ring, a gate for the Bulls,
a gate to the infirmary, and last but not least, the gate to haul off the dead bulls. This bullring, the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Seville dates back to 1761, and is still in use. Ferdinand VII, King of Spain twice, visited the bullfights frequently. The story goes that when he couldn’t make it, his painting was displayed in his box seat. (Hope I got my Kings right.)
There was a famous bullfighter, Jose Gomez Ortega, nickname, “Gallito”. Gallito was a professional at 14 years of age, and this was his suite at that age.
With that said, he died at the age of 25, from a bull goring. Ouch!
The visit at the Bullring was educational. In all the years of bullfighting at this arena, some 254 years, only 2 bulls have had their lives spared or pardoned. That is a lot of bulls to die considering that there are roughly 6 bulls each fight.
The following day, I headed out to the Plaza de Espana. My walk took me past various sites. I pasted the Alfonso VIII Hotel walking to the Plaza de Espana.
I really enjoyed this unique plaza, Plaza de Espana. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.
It has been used in many movies: Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and The Dictator.
I tried to get a panoramic shot but I couldn’t go from tower to tower without it completing the picture.
Next stop was the Parque de Maria Luisa, Seville’s primary green area. Once the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo, donated to the city in 1893.
As usual, I enjoyed my walk in the park.
I stumbled upon the Archeological Museum of Seville
as I got to one end of the Parque de Maria Luisa. Another joyous venture into the past.
Many interesting artifacts inside.
I enjoy viewing all the old artifacts from Roman days. It amazes me what they could do in that day and time, create, build, and produce.
This is just a copy of a picture they had displayed from a dig, but when you see this, you ask yourself what happened? Here are dished just stacked upon each other.
The Mudejar Pavilion, now the Museum of Arts and Traditions of Seville was across the street. I loved the beauty of the building, but I didn’t have time to visit it.
There was a pretty plaza in between the two museums, the Plaza America Square, with lots of roses.
I continued my walk through the Parque de Maria Luisa
on my way to the Alcazar of Seville, the Royal Palace of Seville.
As fate would have it, I walked all the way around this massive fortress to find the entrance.
Once there, I found it quite interesting, and very beautiful. To see things this old, and yet in this condition.
The grounds were quite magnificent!
I ran across the biggest Bougainvillea plant I had ever seen. Loved it!
I kept hearing what I thought was a Peacock, and sure enough, I ran into them, on the backside of the grounds. One was standing around making calls.
And the other was strutting it stuff, showing its feathers.
The grounds’ walls were quite massive.
How about this for a bath area!
Coming out of the Alcazar I had a beautiful view of the Cathedral.
I went to go into the cathedral, but they were having communion. That was too bad, I am sure it was a gorgeous church inside. It is the largest Gothic church in Spain.
On my walk back I came across the Torre de Oro, and old military watch tower.
Once again, time flew by. I enjoyed my stay in Seville. My host in Seville was extremely nice, making my stay an exceptional one.
I had tried to catch a futbol game while here as the stadium was just down the street, but no luck. As I was walking to the train station, I had to get a picture of the Seville Futbol Stadium. Little did I know, but when I got to Malaga, Seville and Malaga would be playing for the league championship.
So far I had traveled by boat and by train, this trip I flew into Santiago de Compostela. Another gorgeous town with lots of history. I had trouble finding an Airbnb near the old town so I splurged on a hotel, the Capitol Boutique Hotel. It was a good choice.
As I have stated in the past postings, each town is a new experience, and the first day is generally about finding my way around. From the airport I took the EA bus into the middle of the city, got off the bus and called the hotel for directions. Unfortunately they didn’t speak much English. One obstacle I have had this complete trip, is the lack of data/internet on my phone. Verizon was extremely expensive, and when I purchased a SIM Card for Europe with phone and data, the data/internet piece failed to work. Bummer! Anyway, I decided to wave down a taxi. I provided the address, which the driver looked at, he looked at me, said something, and we were off. A left turn around the square, a right turn at the corner, a right turn at the next street, and there in the middle of the block was my hotel. Now I know why the driver looked at me funny. What could I do?
I was only scheduled to be in Santiago de Compostela for two days, so I needed to get exploring. My first stop was the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, believed to be the burial-place of Saint James the Great.
The Camino de Santiago or The Way of Saint James is a pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago De Compostela. The pilgrimage has many routes and distances.
As it would have it, there was major reconstruction of the main entrance while I was there, forcing me to enter one of the sides.
I knew about this “pilgrimage” prior to getting to Spain, and therefore wanted to come here for that reason. There is a good movie with Martin Sheen, called “The Way”. I recommend viewing this movie.
Butafumeiro means smoke expeller. Incense is burned in this swinging metal container. All day, and each day I was there, you would see hikers coming in from their pilgrimage.
When I was eating at the Café Casino, I talked to a man whose wife and friend were finishing up on their pilgrimage of 33 days, and were expected there in Santiago de Compostela in two days. He was planning to meet up with them about 10 miles out. I wished him the best!
To the side of the front of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was a Hostel for travelers, although not your every day traveler. It is a 5 star Hostel and averages $200 Euros per night. As I said, not your normal hikers stop. I believe it was the place Martin Sheen and group stayed upon arriving in Santiago de Compostela.
Outside the Cathedral you could hear the non-stop playing of bagpipes. I finally found this guy playing in kind of a corridor between plazas. The location helped to spread the music multiple directions. Over the course of the two days, I saw two other bagpipe players. They just played and played! The music was great!
On my walk I ran across several other Iglesia or Churches.
A loop around the outskirts of town led me to Parque de la Alameda.
I enjoyed walking through this beautiful park.
I ran across an old church, closed and boarded up, on top of a hill, right next to a Ferris wheel. I didn’t know if the Ferris wheel and other rides found in the park were a passing event, or more permanent. In researching, I found a picture of the church and Ferris wheel from 2008, so I guess the carnival is a permanent site in Parque de la Alameda.
The old church was called Iglesia de Santa Susanna . She has seen better days. At the same time, there was a piece of artwork nearby that I never found any information on. As you can see, it is a rock, with a molded ghostly body imprinted.
I started looking for a hike as soon as I got there, stoping at the Tourist Information Office. A young lady overheard me discussing possibilities and gave a recommendation. My oldest daughter also sent me a possibility hike, so I was set. I headed out to go to “Sacred Peak” or Pico Sacro, outside the city limits of Santiago de Compostela, in the parish of Lestedo. This option soon disappeared as I walked to the central bus station only to find out I had just missed the bus to Lestedo, and the next bus was 2 hours away. Waiting didn’t leave much room for error for a return bus, so it was on to option B.
Monte Predoso, or “Stony Mountain”, was a hike you could start from the Cathedral. I was told it was a 3 hour round trip hike. I followed the information provided by the tourist bureau, which led me to a dead end. I was a little disappointed in markers and directions at times. There was a creek nearby, and I felt adventurous, so I followed the creek. It was like a greenbelt.
The trail was peaceful, no other trekkers. I ran into this guy along my route.
Reminded me of the Banana Slug I saw while staying at the Jedediah Smith Campgrounds in the Redwoods State Park, just outside the Redwoods National Park. Possibly a cousin? Along the path I found wild strawberries. This path led me a couple of miles to a small town called Lermo. I had to adjust my route, so I headed back to the left, down a road until I came to a small park, adjusting my route back to the right. I came across this beautiful little house and garden as I continued up the mountain.
Next I came to a large park on the side of the mountain. It may have been Parque de la Granxa do Xesto. It was a quaint little setting.
The frog choir was out in full force. I spotted this guy along the creek bed.
A few other friends of the park!
There were many beautiful and colorful flowers and bushes leading up to this park. (move to before)
At the top of the mountain, was a great view of Santiago de Compostela.
The top of the hillside had this beautiful bush with yellow flowers. The bush reminded me of sage, yet it was prickly.
Coming down from Monte Predoso, I took a completely different route. It swung me around to the far side of the town. At one point I was hiking on a Camino de Santiago trail. Should have taken a picture of the marker! The trail lead me through some abandon areas.
Up and over hills, into the backside of Parque de Alameda.
It was a very nice hike. I believe it was supposed to be a 3 hour hike, and I turned it into a 5 hour hike. I enjoyed every minute of it. I highly recommend a visit to Santiago de Compostela. Nest stop, Seville, Spain.
I had a great time in San Sebatian, but it was time to get back in Madrid. My home base this time was in a completely different area, on the outskirts towards the Airport, but it was located close to the Metro so I could get around easily enough. I set off on the Metro across town getting off at the “Opera” metro stop. Walking over to the Puerta de Sol I came across a couple of musicians, a violinist, a fiddler, and a keyboard player. They were quite good! I called one a fiddler and one a violinist, when they are really the same, it was primarily the style that each were playing that caused me to say this.
As I got to the square,
There was a little commotion. A young couple getting married, preparing to drive off in a Royals Royce, although the Royals Royce had to get a jump start to be able to drive off. Everyone applauded.
Leaving the plaza, I ran across the Monasterio De Las DesCalzas Reales, but it was siesta time, and wouldn’t be open for 1.5 hours so I didn’t get to go inside.
As I walked through the city I passed the “Teatro Reale” at Plaza de Isabel II,
On my way to the “Royal Palace Madrid”, there was a quaint little park or garden (Plaza de Oriente) in front of the Palace.
I chose to go to the Cathedral de Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena de Madrid first.
The Royal Palace Madrid was a nice experience, except you couldn’t take pictures in any part of the Palace except for the entry way.
The armory was incredible. Body armour for men, horses, and children or extremely small soldiers. There were beautiful designed swords and lances. Fancy crafted pistols and rifles that were gorgeous. The rifles were crazy with their fancy designs. Some of the rifles were 10 feet long. All the information was in Spanish, so I am not sure what these rifles were specifically used for.
Walking through the rooms of the Palace was fascinating with the different old décor/designs. The dining room had a table setting for 104. Would hate to have to wash all those dishes! After the palace, I headed back to the hotel.
The following day I was back over in the same area.
The night before I headed out in an attempt to find the Temple of Debod. I was told it is beautiful at night, but after searching for over an hour, I called it quits.
As it turned out, I was only a block or two away from the temple the night before. One of the things I have noticed is that Madrid could use more informational signs. For instance, I had made it to the Plaza de Espana, and there was a sign or arrow pointing to the right for the Temple of Debod. I followed. As it turns out, there should have been another sign on the other side of the park to turn left, but there wasn’t so I walked on past for 4 or 5 blocks. I found the Temple of Debod the following day. I enjoyed it. It was easy to see that it would be nice at night, all lit up.
The Temple of Debod is an ancient Eqyptian temple from southern Egypt, originally built near the cataract of the Nile, near Philae in the 2nd Century. In 1960, Egypt was constructing the Aswan High Dam which posed a threat to numerous historical archeological sites. The Temple of Debod was donated by Egypt to Spain in 1968, at which time the temple was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid, Spain in the Parque del Oeste.
Just off to the left of the Temple of Debod was a nice little park. There was ritual dancing and music, gentlemen acting out sword fencing, while others were lounging in the shade, or playing with their pets.
I couldn’t tell if this was a White German Shepherd or not, but he was cute.
Each Sunday from about 9:00 until 15:00, in the Plaza de Cascorro there is a huge flea market called El Rastro, possibly the most popular open air flea market in Spain. You have the Plaza de Cascorro, and then streets and streets lined with booths, with everything you could think of. There were all kinds of leather goods – handbags, backpacks, wallets, belts, you name it. You could fiind shoes, clothing, draperies, scarves, jewelry, knifes, pots and pans, anything you want. I called it a flea market, even though most of the goods were new, with a high percentage being hand-made. The streets were lined with people.
After El Rastro, I started working my way over towards the Royal Palace Madrid area.
I had decided to work my way back over to the gardens near the Royal Palace Madrid. Along the way I passed the Puerta de Toledo.
I wanted to stop in at the Real Basilica de San Francisco el Grande, but poor timing on my part only allowed me to see the outside of the church.
I finally reached the grounds of the Jardines de Sabatini, or Royal Palace Madrid gardens. This garden wasn’t open to the public until 1978. I enjoyed my walk in the garden as I get a lot of pleasure from the outdoors, so when in the city, I enjoy greenbelts, parks, and gardens.
I didn’t get as much done this time around in Madrid, but I enjoyed every minute of it, whether viewing parks, architecture, history, city culture, it is all grand! .
Next stop, San Sebastian! I had heard many good things about San Sebastian, and I was very pleased with my visit there. San Sebastian or Donostia, is a coastal town on La Concha Bay, with the River Urumea splitting the town in half.
Leaving the train station, I crossed the Puente de Maria Cristina Bridge with four monumental obelisks, located at its ends, copies of the Alexander III bridge in Paris, crowned by sculptures.
After checking in, I headed out to explore and familiarize myself with the town. I came upon a nice and unique plaza
right in front of the San Sebastian Ayuntamiento, which is actually City Hall.
This was right off the beach. La Concha beach was beautiful.
After enjoying the view of the beach, I continued on, which lead me to the Basilica Santa Maria.
As I wondered through the “Old Town”, I came across another church, although at the time I didn’t know which one it was. I later discovered it was the Church of Saint Vincent.
As I continued walking the town, I came across Constitucion Square, which has been used for Bullfighting in the older days, and is currently used for major city events.
Working my way back to my hotel, I ran across a lovely park. It was the Guipuzcoa Park or Plaza de Guipuzcoa. Very peaceful.
One of my reasons for a stop here in San Sebastian was an adventure I was told about, a hike from Zumaia
to Deba, along the coastline, for approximately 8.37 miles, if you make all the correct turns!
I took a train from San Sebastian over to Zumaia. It was a cool foggy morning.
After picking up a trail map and some rations, I was off and running.
You climb up a hill to a small old church for the start of the trail. It jettisons out to the end of a thin ridge high above the water. What a view!
The path leads down the ridge, along the coastline, and into the country-side.
There were beautiful farms, fields of sheep or ponies, and fantastic views all around!
The trail I chose is marked in Red and White (R/W). There was another trail following along marked in Yellow (Y).
When I got to the small, make that a very small town of Elorriaga, there was a sign with 7 or 8 different arrows providing directions, none where for the R/W trail, so I continued down the road about ¾ of a mile. At that point I had seen 2 (Y) arrows and no (R/W) markers, so I headed back up the hill, back to Elorriaga. Coming from this direction, I saw the R/W marker behind the original set of signs. It pointed me down what I will call an alleyway. This separated me from any other hikers. I saw several hikers going downhill, down the road, on my way back up to the little town, but I didn’t see anyone else on the R/W trail the rest of the hike.
A little ways down the trail I came to a pasture with a sign on the gate showing a body being thrown by a bull, and guess what, the bull was laying at the next gate. There I was with my burnt orange jacket and my “red” backpack. The bull stared me down, but never got up, thankfully. (-: I don’t know why I didn’t get a picture.
There were many hills or mini-mountains, and miles of trail to be had on this journey.
I finally came around a bend, and the coast was right in front of me.
One of the reasons for taking this trail was to see the rock/Flysch formations on the coast.
Flysch is a sequence of sedimentary rocks that is deposited in a deep marine facies in the foreland basin of a developing orogen. I stole this from Wikipedia. I guess I could ask my youngest daughter the geologist to put it in layman’s terms! (-:
As I sat down to take a quick break, and snack on my rations, I heard a bell, and a heard of sheep were rolling in.
On up and over the hill, to the next wrong turn. Seeing a trail with a R/W marker, I headed up a cliff. It was very steep. I came to a part where the fence was missing. By now, I had figured out it was an animal trail, or old trail, very narrow and too close to the edge.
Continuing on down the trail.
After correcting myself and getting back on the right path, I was on the last leg of the hike. Somewhere around 1.5 miles from Deba, I thought I was following the R/W trail, but once again the markers disappeared about the time I got to the bottom of the hill.
Once more, back up the hill, correction made. My engine was just about out of gas. I passed an old rundown church that I didn’t even get a picture of as I was too tired to walk up, around, and in front of it to get a picture. I regret that.
I finally finished and headed for the Deba local train station to ride back to San Sebastian.
The next day it was raining off and on all day, and rather cool, but I still had a few things on my list to see. In some of the pictures already shown, you may have seen a statue on a hill in the background. That is the Jesus Statue on top of the Castillo De La Mota. The Chateau sits on top of Monte Urgull.
You can tell that the Castillo De La Mota was quite a fortress in its time, going back to the 12th Century.
Walking the Castle you can still see the cannons and the arrow slits used to defend it.
Walking this “Monte” is fun, and quite impressive. Be sure to check out Monte Urgull if you go to San Sebastian. From the hilltop, you have a good view of the other beach in San Sebastian.
As I worked my way down from Monte Urgull, I came out right at the San Telmo Museum. The building was originally a convent of Dominican friars, built around 1562. The friars were expelled in 1836, and the building was used as an artillery barracks. Around 1902 it became a museum devoted to illustrate the evolution of the society Basque.
A couple of other sites to take in while in San Sebastian:
My time ended quickly, as it has in most cities. It was time to return to Madrid, but I enjoyed every minutes of San Sebastian/Donostia.
Madrid is a beautiful town full of museums, history, and incredible parks. It is Spain’s central capital and has a population of approximately 3.25 million. Madrid was a short ride from Valencia, but I learned an important fact, double check your train ticket the night before. Yes, I almost missed my train! At 8:53 am I realized my train was at 9:15 am. A half mile run with two 20 lbs backpacks, a taxi from the Estació del Nord train station to the Joaquin Sorolla train station, a misplaced ticket, another dash into the train station, and somehow I made it with thirty seconds to spare.
The Airbnb I stayed at was conveniently located right across the street from the Atocha Railway Station.
After working out a game plan I headed to the Reina Sofia Museum of Arts. On my walk over to the museum I saw a familiar Austin site, a Pub-Crawler.
The Reina Sofa was another grand museum with Picasso’s, Van Gogh’s, and many other paintings.
One of my favorites, the Picasso “Guernica” is massive, as well as incredible, but you couldn’t take a picture of it, so here is a picture from the internet.
Imagine this painting being 11ft 6 inch x 25ft 6 inch. Now you have the “big” picture. Background: Spain acquired the mural “Guernica” from Picasso in 1937. When WW II broke out, the artwork was moved to the custody of New York’s Museum of Modern Art for safekeeping. It wasn’t until 1981 that the piece finally returned to Spain.
“Pablo Picasso’s motivation for painting the scene in this great work was the news of the German aerial bombing of the Basque town whose name the piece bears.”
After completing my stroll of the Reina Sofia, I headed to the Madrid – Real Jardin Botanico Garden. This was a lovely and relaxing walk through a beautiful garden.
The Iris’ plants were incredible. Such a simple flower, but the colors were so vibrant! As a child we had several different Iris plants, and it reminded me of my youth.
It was good to see some Agave plants, reminding me of home and Austin.
I ran across a couple of cute little ducklings enjoying a dip in the pond at the botanical gardens.
We never could get our “Little John” dwarf bottlebrush (callistemon citrinus) to grow like this! This is actually a cousin.
A little lavender anyone?
I didn’t catch the name of this beautiful flower.
The roses were quite beautiful too!
One of my many meals while in Madrid.
One of my favorite museums in Madrid was the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It had quite a collection of art work. Here are some of my favorites from the Thyssen-B Museum:
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the artwork. After the Thyssen-B Museum I continued on down Paseo del Prado to the Palace of Cibele, also known as CentroCentro,
followed by the Plaza de Cibele, an iconic symbol for the city of Madrid.
Behind the Palace was the Puerta de Alcada.
I continued my trek down Gran Via and up Calle Fuencarral Street to the Museo de Historia de Madrid. This museum provides an idea of the evolution of Madrid both historically and from the perspective of its urban development. You can see paintings, prints, maps, scale models, drawings, photographs, postcards, sculptures, precious metalwork, fans, furniture, weapons, coins and medals on display.
Much of the information was in Spanish, but it was still very interesting. Here are pictures of fans from the 1700’s – 1800’s,
and a beautiful table piano from 1785.
If you like parks, then you need to go to Park Retiro. It is a very large and beautiful park with many trees and paths covering about 345 acres. I entered the park walking up a large hill. People were laying in the grass under the trees, resting, picnicking, enjoying themselves.
There were paved paths for rollerblades, jogging, and bike riding. There were mazes of walking trails, and playgrounds for children.
Hiking through the park I came across a glass building (Palacio de Cristal ) in front of a small pond. Here I found guitarist, groups of people sunning or chilling, admiring the views. Nowadays exhibitions of modern art are regularly scheduled inside the Crystal Palace.
Next was the Monument to Aflonso XII, King of Spain. Another fantastic sculpture/statue in front of a large pond or reservoir with recreationists enjoying the day rowing boats on the pond.
The Park Retiro was a nice treat, and for individuals who enjoy the great outdoors, a must see.
As I was headed for the Atochoa train terminal to leave Madrid, I stumbled across this nice surprise. This garden is part of the Atocha Train Station.
There is much more in Madrid, and I hope to cover additional pieces like the Temple of Debod, and the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande when I am back in Madrid in a few days.