Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Markets and (Shitty) Museums - Barcelona

Our plan had been to get to the food market first thing in the morning, in time for morning tea. That didn't quite happen as anticipated. Our first stop on the Ramblas had been the tourist information centre to find out about tickets to the Palau Musica. The woman there had advised us to book the tickets in advance, something which could only be done at the Palau itself. As we had a very specific day on which we wanted to see it, this made it advisable to head there directly so we didn't miss out (tickets to the towers of the Sagrada Familia were already sold out).

However, along the way we stumbled upon an antique market something Mum and I are more than happy to have a rummage though. It was a knicky-knack kind of market with lots of jewellery of varying ages, and I noticed (because it is an interest) lots of dressing room pieces; pince-nez and spectacles, tortoise shell combs and little cases and a considerable amount of Ivory. I had a field day and could easily have spent longer time and more money there after a good rummage.

Also on route was the Roman Necropolis, once considered beyond the other walls of the Roman city Barcino, but now well within the heart of town. It was rather sweet, a city square with a view down to the Roman level where a little garden path led between two rows of tombs.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Modernisme in Barcelona: Hospital Sant Pau and Park Guell

Our day of travel from Seville to Barcelona was not the best of days, with problems with our initial connection, difficulty getting our bearings on the map, walking to the wrong address (thankfully only a block from the real address) and experiencing problems paying for the accommodation. As a result, once we had settled in, we decided on the simplest of tasks for the remainder of the afternoon.

Our apartment was located within walking distance of the Sagrada Familia (and spitting distance of Hospital Sant Pau) and so we wandered down the Avenue de Gaudi in search of the tourist bureau. There were a few things we needed to know;
a) what would be open on January 1 what with it being a religious holiday?
b) would any other days during our stay be affected?
c) what is the best way to buy tickets for the Sagrada Familia given we wanted them for a different day?

As it was dusk, we got to see the building in day light and at night and so were fortunate enough to send messages to family and friends commiserating our proximity to this unfinished monstrosity.

Being within spitting distance of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, having just read about it in the plane magazine and knowing it hadn't been open when my Aunt and Uncle had visited Barcelona last, we decided that the following morning, this had to be our first stop.

I'd stumbled upon it on my initial reconnaissance of the area and a glimpse of the facade was enough to decide it was worth doing first and foremost while we still decided what to spend the rest of our days seeing.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

A Day Trip to Ronda

Scrolling though photos on one of the many blogs I follow I stumbled upon this photo and realised that it was in the (general) vicinity of the places we would be visiting whilst in Spain. This led to a flurry of emails between the family to determine who was interested in going, and subsequently, when we should go. 

With Mum and Dad interested, we hired a car to embark on a day trip from Seville. 

When we'd woken that morning the whole of the city had been covered in fog, and I at least was dreading that yet again, the one day we'd decided to visit a famed vista it would be too foggy to see anything. It had happened earlier on the trip when Mum and I had visited Neuschwanstein and as a result I somewhat expected it to happen again. Particularly as our other days had been so clear and sunny. 

The fog remained as the sun rose in the sky and we wound our way out of Seville. 

Thankfully, as we headed south east, it slowly cleared and the sun appeared leaving us with the perfect day for sight seeing.

Along the way Dad had spotted a scenic stream, still partially shrouded in mist.

It was scenic, and surprisingly Australian. Much of the area we had been visiting was typically Mediterranean; rocky and with groves of oranges and olives, much like the Cote d'Azur, bits of Italy and, as I would discover later, much of Greece. Here however was a grove of Eucalyptus trees (which also grow voraciously around the Mediterranean) that could as easily have been a place Down South.

Having arrived and parked in Ronda, in a space barely big enough for the wanky car we'd been given, we started to wander towards the famous bridge. Only to stumble upon this view. 

Ronda is built to the very edge of a cliff, with the new town divided from the old by that solid stone bridge spanning the top of the deep canyon. Around the other side was a slightly more gradual incline and a less dramatic bridge, but it was this bridge that tourists (us included) had come to see.
As a tourist town (just a short day trip from Malaga), the edge of the cliff has been given over to public gardens and scenic footpaths enabling us to take as many photos as we desire of the sheer drop below as we gradually wind our way around to the bridge. 

Being afraid of heights, Mum chose a safe looking ledge from which to cautiously peer out at the void, while I went for the cantilevered balcony. 

(passing the bullfighting ring on our way)

From the bridge, the view west.

From the bridge, the view east. 

This is what we'd come to see. 
Having wandered down the steep and winding path we reached the vantage point. Actually it was several vantage points scattered along the side of the cliff each with different vegetation and providing slightly different angles of the bridge. 

Dad and I were like three legged mountain goats, camera in one hand, scrambling over rocks or down slippery banks to get the best photos possible. 
Mum on the other hand found herself a cliff to lean back against, or a very big, very immovable rock to tie herself to (almost but not quite) so she too could perch out and get some pictures. 

Okay, so it's not quite Dinotopia. but it sure reminded me of it.

Having gazed in awe at the bridge and taken more than enough photos, we wandered back up onto the plateau and continued exploring.
Between eating and things closing for siesta time, we did manage to enter one museum, an early history of Ronda museum that looked at the prehistoric and classical history of the area and the Roman town discovered on another plateau in the area. It was only a small museum but very interactive and ideally suited for primary school kids.

We made our way back to the car via the smaller bridge built at the other end of the gorge, around the corner from the bridge. 

Then the long drive back to Seville. Though it was the same route we'd taken to get to Ronda, the morning's fog meant it was all new scenery.

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