Exploring Pula and the Amphitheatre

Day 16, Wednesday. September 20, 2017

Today was cloudy, but thankfully we didn’t have any rain.  It certainly makes a big difference in our enjoyment of the day and our walk about. This post will be a bit picture heavy, there are just so many interesting things to show you.

Pula’s old buildings are either very dilapidated looking and/or they have been colourfully painted. Here are a few of the streets we walked today.There are a few more people out and about today now that the rain has stopped.Loved these balconies with all the pots of plants. I think a gardener lives here!This is the biggest ship we have ever seen. it was way more than a block long and it is simply enormous!
We went into the Temple of Augustus, only 10 Kuna each, or $2.00 Canadian.  These huge feet were my favourite exhibit inside. They were incredibly detailed. That is my foot in black at the bottom of the picture to give an idea of their size.More narrow streets…
and interesting balconies. You must look up in these cities or you miss so much.Here are some interesting fishing boats. We noticed that they all had lots of lights for attracting the fish at night. We thought that this was illegal, but I guess it isn’t here?

We sat for a while in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, enjoying the quiet simplicity of this cathedral. It is so different from all the very ornate churches we saw in Spain and Portugal on our last trip.I thought that the church’s Madonna was particularly beautiful This seems to be the church’s bell tower, but I am not certain about that. It is right in front of the church.Next stop is the Roman Amphitheatre that we walked around yesterday. It is the sixth largest amphitheater in the world. It held up to 20,000 spectators and was built in the 1st Century AD., so it is over 2,000 years old! Gladiatorial games were banished in the beginning of the 5th Century and after that it was neglected and gradually fell into ruin.Today this arena is used for festivals and performances in the summer months.Seems we were into ‘selfies’ today!Note the remains of an arched entrance in the foreground.There were rooms and chambers around the arena, some were used to hold wild beasts, and I am not sure what the others were used for. This animation video give a better idea of what the arena and the area around it looked like when it was intact.  The very beginning of the video looks fuzzy but it quickly gets better. Underneath the Amphitheater is a display about making olive oil with many ancient amphoras.Guess what I thought these look like?As we were leaving we saw a pair of lions guarding the entrance into the arena.Here is an artist’s print of the Arena as it is today.We found some more interesting streets to wander, and stopped for some tea and nourishment. All this sightseeing is hard work! We seem to walk between 13,000 to 16,000 steps each day according to my Fitbit. Just a few more steps than I usually walk at home.We climbed up to the Marine Museum but elected to walk around it rather than go inside.  There were some great views of the city and the Amphitheater..As we headed back to our car we were treated to the sights and smells of a little flower marketIt still seems bizarre to me that we can walk down a city street and there it is, a 2,000 year old Roman Amphitheater!

Picasso Museum, Frederick Maré Museum

I know I am terribly slow finishing these last few posts from our trip but finally, I am going to get it done. Thanks for hanging in and being patient.

Sunday, December 6, 21015

We only have four days left until we leave for home and there is still so much we haven’t seen. It is difficult to believe we have been travelling for almost three months and now it is almost over.  Today we are going to visit the Picasso Museum and the Frederic Maré Museum.  They are both free today as it is the first Sunday of the month.

On the way to the Picasso Museum we pass the MEAM (European Museum of Modern Art) where we saw the Odd Nerdrum Exhibit way back in September. All the streets in this area are very narrow and I am glad Bob seems to know where we are going, because I certainly don’t!FullSizeRender

The Picasso Museum is always busy and today we need to line up and wait to get in but the line moved fairly quickly and we were entertained by this very talented group of musicians while we waited.FullSizeRender

There are no photos allowed inside the museum and they are very strict, so I have no pictures of what we saw, but here is a link to the museum collection if you want to see some of the work on display. FullSizeRender

FullSizeRenderThe Picasso museum is located in five large town houses or palaces. The original palaces date from the 13th-15th centuries, and the buildings have undergone major restorations. The museum is quite ornate and has many interesting architectural details and courtyards. We spent several hours here, there is so much to see; there are 4,251 works in the permanent collection!

On our way to the next museum we stop to visit the Santa Maria Del Mar.FullSizeRender

This church was damaged by fire in 1936 and we can still see soot on the walls and ceilings, and the damage that the fire did to its columns.  FullSizeRender FullSizeRender

The columns are spaced 43 feet apart, the widest of any Gothic Church in Europe. This church was built in just 55 years, from 1329 to 1384 and it is the only surviving church in the Catalan Gothic style.  The interior is quite beautiful, and full of light even though it is not ornately decorated like so many of the churches that we have seen.FullSizeRender FullSizeRender

We climb some old stone steps and there is a great view from the second floor behind the altar looking towards the front doors and beautiful stained glass windows.
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Next stop, the Frederic Maré Museum.  We had a very brief visit to this museum in September but it was closing so we had to dash through the little bit of it that we saw. It was a fascinating place and we wanted to return for a more leisurely visit.  There is a lovely secluded courtyard right outside this museum so we stop for a much needed rest and a rather late lunch.

This quote from the museum’s site explains this rather curious museum, and a virtual reality tour gives a better idea of our visit to this fascinating museum.

“The Museu Frederic Marès is a unique collecting museum that preserves the collections assembled by its founder, sculptor Frederic Marès (1893-1991), which came to form part of the patrimony of the city of Barcelona through his donation in 1946. Two years later, this museum was inaugurated in a part of the old Royal Palace of the Counts of Barcelona in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. Its original Verger or courtyard garden, still remains intact.

Frederic Marès turned sculpture into something beyond his artistic calling. Throughout his lifetime he amassed an extensive Hispanic sculpture collection which ranged from the ancient world until the 19th century, in which religious polychromed carvings predominated. This now makes up the most uniform section of the museum. Marès also donated part of his own sculptural oeuvre, which is on display in his Library-study.

The Collector’s Cabinet is the home to a display of tens of thousands of objects that make up a vast collection of collections that documents past lifestyles and customs, mainly from the 19th century. There you can find amusing, unique items like fans, pipes, clocks, jewellery, photographs, toys, keys, pharmacy bottles and reliquaries, all presented in an intimate atmosphere evoking Marès private universe.”

Here are some of my pictures of this incredible collection.FullSizeRender

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There was an old picture of the Liceu Opera House, where we will see an opera tomorrow.FullSizeRender

We make our way back to the Barcelona Cathedral to get a picture.  Last time we were there, a large tent and stage ere erected in front of it which made picture taking difficult.  Today there is a Market in the square in front of the Cathedral, so there are balloons in my photo and lots of people everywhere.  FullSizeRenderFullSizeRenderThere were Christmas tree vendors, and several families were buying their trees,FullSizeRender

and there were rows and rows of stalls selling nativity scene figurines and crèches of all styles, sizes and shapes.Image-1

We leave this busy street and catch the metro back to our neighbourhood and our narrow, quiet street.FullSizeRender

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Valencia

Friday, November 27, 2015

Our apartment in Valencia is a short metro ride from the old part of town.  We bought four tickets to get us into town and home again.  However when it came time to go home our tickets weren’t working. Turns out we purchased four tickets that had to be used all at the same time so the other two were no longer valid.  It cost us over € 9 for two one way tickets because we had also chosen too many zones.  We bought two tickets to get home for only €3, however we later discovered that we could purchase ten tickets for €7.20, only €.72 a ride!

First stop today is the Mercado Central, a market held in a huge iron, glass, and tile Art Nouveau building. The meat and fish aisles are always interesting, so different from our stores back home.Image-1

Hams are a big seller in Spain and I still find it strange to see them hanging in shops.  No refrigeration seems to be needed, and take a look at the prices, up to €149 a kilogram!Image-1

We bought some fruit for a snack and then headed towards the Valencia Cathedral.  Yes, another cathedral!FullSizeRender

Some refreshments and a rest in this lovely plaza and we are ready to check out the cathedral. FullSizeRender_2

After skirting past the gypsy women begging on the streets and the church steps we enter yet another magnificent cathedral. Originally built in 1262, it has been added to throughout the centuries and it now has three entrances. The one we chose gave us this view of the cathedral as we walked through the doors.FullSizeRender

The day light just before the altar comes from this beautiful octagonal dome.FullSizeRender_3

There is another gorgeous dome over the Chapel of St. Joseph, which is one of twenty eight smaller chapels located in this cathedral. Most of them are incredibly ornate with lots of gold and jewels and carvings. Although these magnificent cathedrals are truly awe inspiring, we wonder about all the money that has been spent building them and we are also quite aware of the church’s role through out history.  So many horrors have been perpetrated in the name of religion. It is a strange sort of paradox.FullSizeRenderThe high altarpiece and the frescoes are amazing.  We sit for quite some time just in contemplation.  This is Bob’s favourite altar of all that we have seen so far. The frescoes of musical angels on the dome above the altar were only discovered in 2004 during some restoration work.  They had been covered by a wooden ceiling and no one knew they were even there.   Click here if you want to read more.

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Here is another view of the main aisle and one of the side aisles with the smaller chapels.FullSizeRender

These life size statues of the Apostles are from one of the entrances to the cathedral.  They have been replaced by copies and the originals are now kept inside the cathedral museum for safe keeping, but it was closed for renovations so they were displayed in an alcove.FullSizeRender_5An intricately carved altarpiece, built in the 16th Century holds the Holy Chalice, which is said to be the chalice Christ drank from at the Last Supper.FullSizeRender_3

And here is the Holy Chalice, aka the Holy Grail.  There is more information about the history of the cup here.  We were told that there is more scientific investigation currently taking place to prove that this is indeed the cup that Christ used at the Last Supper.FullSizeRender_4

We climb 207 steps to get to the top of the Torre Del Micalet. Construction of this bell tower started in 1381 and it is one of the most important landmarks in Valencia.image

Here is El Micalet, cast in 1539, and weighing 11,000 kilograms.  Shortly after this photo the bell chimed the hour.  It was very loud!  All cathedral bells have names, and this cathedral has 14 bells ranging in size from 11,000 kg to 260 kg.FullSizeRender

We spend quite some time up here, admiring the view, and enjoying the sunshine. The octagonal tower on the roof in the center of the picture is the outside of the white dome above the altar and the dark domes are above the side chapels.FullSizeRender_5The two curved buildings just visible on the skyline on the far right hand side of the picture are part of the City of Arts and Sciences Complex. We are going there tomorrow.FullSizeRender_2

Now we need to descend the 207 spiral stairs that we climbed to get to the top of the tower. We have certainly done our share of stair climbing this trip.FullSizeRender_3

Valencia has a ‘dragon house’ so of course we have to find it.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was a bit disappointed to only find one small dragon sculpture over the doorway and two pillars with a little dragon on the bottom of each of them. In case you didn’t know, I love dragons.image

Bob finally gets to try the seafood paella he wasn’t able to have on his birthday.  image

We make our way back to the Cathedral for a concert. Bob thought we would be way too early but when we arrived about forty five minutes before the concert it was already packed. We managed to find seats in the side aisle near the altar, which was actually behind the stage, but there were TV screens so we got to see most of it.  We both enjoyed the performance even though we weren’t exactly sure what it was all about. A young boy sang several songs and it seemed to have something to do with Christmas.image

The Christmas lights were on after the concert.  It still seems strange to see Christmas decorations without any snow.image

Granada Cathedral and Alcaiceria Market

We are back home and although we had a good flight home it was still 24 hours from the time we got up until we arrived home. It is going to take a while to get back on Alberta time. I have fallen behind on my blogging but I am going to continue posting until I have it completed. Thank you for following along with us so far and I hope you will enjoy the rest of our trip.

Saturday, November 21

We spend another day in Granada, as we want to visit the Cathedral and the Alcaiceria, which is a reconstruction of the Moorish Market that burned down in 1843. This market is a maze of narrow streets and colourful shops that are absolutely crammed full of merchandise. We purchase a few souvenirs and Bob has a few laughs at my rather pathetic attempts at bargaining.

IMG_2488The Cathedral is right beside the market so that is our next stop.  Upon entering the front door this is the what we see.FullSizeRender  Here is a closer view of the magnificent dome over the altar.  FullSizeRender_3This cathedral has a very ornate very large organ. FullSizeRender_4I spotted this stand with several huge medieval books but it was in a roped off area so I couldn’t get any closer to get a good look.FullSizeRenderA bit further on down one of the side aisles I was thrilled to find a display of these ancient books. They were behind glass but I was able to get a much better look at them.FullSizeRender_4The lighting wasn’t the best, but there were several cabinets with books inside. While I was absorbed in studying the calligraphy and painted images, the lights in the cabinets shut off and it was too dark to see them anymore.  I had no idea why the lights shut off and although we returned a couple of times to check if the lights had been turned back on I was out of luck. I am glad that I at least had the opportunity to see what I had.
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We have seen similar skull and crossbones in almost every cathedral we have visited. They are on tombstones embedded in the cathedral floors.FullSizeRender_2The pillars and ceiling are quite ornate and the space they enclose is immense.  Notice how small the people are.
FullSizeRender_3This is a view of the back side of the Cathedral, seems I didn’t take one of the front. If you want to know a bit more about the Cathedral check out this link.  http://www.thousandwonders.net/Granada+Cathedral  It also has some nice pictures.DSC01159There is a suggested walk through the Albaicin, on the hillside opposite the Alhambra so we head out to explore it.  The beginning of the walk was quite nice.FullSizeRender_3I quite liked this ‘Granada’, or pomegranate, on the front of one of the buildings we passed on our walk.FullSizeRender_2We do find this lovely little garden and one other garden attached to a little museum along the way.  In the museum garden there are several orange trees loaded with ripe oranges, and we ‘borrow’ one to eat later.FullSizeRender

We spent a fair amount of time checking our map and trying to figure out which way to go. The route was not well-marked and we had to backtrack more than once. It was a long walk up lots of steep roads and really for what we saw we weren’t sure it was worth the effort and time, but at least we got some exercise.FullSizeRender_2

This is a view of the Alhambra from a viewpoint on a terrace by some restaurants near the end of our walk.FullSizeRender_4

On the way back to the bus we pass this building with its ‘street art’ and bricked up windows.  We saw so many apartments and buildings like this, empty and/or abandoned, right beside occupied buildings and shops. I sure wouldn’t want to be living in an apartment next to an abandoned empty building.  FullSizeRender

Tangier, Morocco, Africa

Sunday, November 15

I am behind on my blog, as you already know. I really wanted to keep it current but it hasn’t been possible. I will just continue to post when I can and I will finish blogging about our holiday after we get home if need be.

We are still in shock over the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday.  I spent a month in Paris last fall and it holds a special place in my heart.  ‘My’ neighbourhood was just north of where the Bataclan Theatre is located.  Having a connection, even one as remote as this, makes these attacks seem a little bit closer than they may have been otherwise.  It is scary and I can’t help but wonder where it will all end. We check the internet for updates and try to figure out the Spanish news on TV.

Today we have a day trip booked for Morocco so we catch a 10:00 bus to take us to the ferry at Tarifa on the southern corner of Spain. This is Tarifa looking out from the ferry.image

Before long we are in Morocco! This is the third time we have been to Africa.   We have traveled from the East to the West coast of South Africa on a train called the Shongololo Express and we have spent a couple weeks in Egypt.  Bob really wanted to go to Morocco, I wasn’t so sure. Egypt was quite challenging and we had lots of difficulties and I wonder if Morocco will be a similar situation. This is our first glimpse of the city of Tangier, Morocco from the ferry.imageThe tour we booked is excellent.  There are only five of us in our group and we have a guide and a driver.  We first drive through the city to get an idea of what Tangier is like and we are surprised by how beautiful the city is.  It is clean and it has lots of trees and flowers planted along the roads.  We are shown an area with palaces for Kings from Morocco and royalty from several other countries.  Then we drive along the ocean to Cap Spartel, which is Africa’s most north westerly promontory, and see the place where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Oceans meet. There are street vendors here but they are no where near as aggresive as the ones we had encountered in Egypt.image

Our next stop was an unexpected surprise. For just 2€ we have a camel ride!  When we were in Egypt I wanted to ride a camel but it never worked out.  Today I get my camel ride!image

Next stop, the Caves of Hercules. These were several really big caverns and if you look closely you can make out where round disks were cut from the rock to be used as mill stones.  There is also an opening in one of the caves that is the shape of the continent of Africa in reverse.imageOn the way back into town we were almost in a car accident.  A car came within inches of crashing into the side of our van right where I was sitting. I think that the driver’s wife was in labour, she looked very pregnant and very scared and her husband was driving like a crazy man! We were very lucky that he managed to stop before hitting us.  Once back in the town, we spend a couple hours on a walking tour through the medina in the old town of Tangier. The streets are narrow and twist and turn in all directions. Our guide also shows us a couple places that were used as sets in the Bourne Ultimatum movie and the new James Bond movie.image

Without a guide we would have been hopelessly lost.  One area’s buildings were all painted a bright blue colour.image

We stop in a Spice shop where a young man, who tells us he is a trained massage therapist, convinces us to buy a special oil that is good for aches and pains.  Bob gets a hand massage to try it out.image

While we have our lunch at a local restaurant these musicians provide the background music.imageAfter our meal we check out the local veggie and fruit markets.  The ladies in the interesting costumes and hats are from the hill towns outside Tangier.  They dress in their traditional costumes to come to market twice a week. We buy the biggest pomegranate we have ever seen for 1€. I think it must be hard to make a living selling produce.  Some farmers just have a small table, or a cloth on the ground with a few items for sale.

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The shops are very tiny, sometimes just a few feet square and we see a couple shops that bake bread for the locals in wood fired ovens for a few cents a loaf.

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We also visit a fabric shop and I buy a shawl.  I am sure I paid too much for it as I am not a very good bargainer!image

Finally, we visit the once grand Continental Hotel.  Many famous people and movie stars have stayed here but it does not appear to be doing all that well now.  We sit on the balcony just to the right of the red flag in the picture below, overlooking the Mediterranean sea and have mint tea and chat with our guide and one of the other fellows on the tour.  He doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Italian but we both managed to communicate in French and our guide speaks to us in English and to our new Italian friend in Spanish! We talk about life in Morocco and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Flags in Tangier are flying at half mast because of this.image

It is a long day by the time we get back to Tafira and then we still have a bus ride back to our car in Algacires. We don’t get home until almost ten, but we were both quite impressed by Tangier and I think I would be willing to spend more time in Morocco some day.

Quiet Times in Portomáo, Portugal

Saturday, October 31, Halloween

Halloween isn’t a big event in Portugal.  We see a few kids in costume on their way into a party but that is about it. I am missing my grandkids today but we do manage to connect for a great FaceTime visit and then they send us these great pictures.imageI am fighting a cold and not feeling very perky at all so I have a pyjama day and Bob goes for a walk along the river in Portimáo.  This boat is actually a restaurant.  image

Sunday, November 1

The quiet day yesterday was nice but it hasn’t helped my cold very much so I decide to stay put again today. I’m taking lots of vitamins, Echinacea and drinking lots of fluids, doing everything I can to get better quickly, but so far no luck. Bob went for a walk again today, he forgot his map and the cell phone but he managed to find his way around and get back to the apartment.

Monday, November 2

Our Airbnb hosts are so nice and they have asked us to go to a local market with them this morning.image

We get some fresh fruits and veggies and then we go for coffee and pastries.  We have a nice visit and learn a bit more about what it is like to live in Portugal. They are a lovely young couple with two children fairly close in age to our own two grandchildren. I have been using this down time to catch up on our blog and I am very happy to finally be caught up! Now, if I could just get my journal caught up And get rid of this cold all would be well.

Palacio Real and Templo De Debod

Wednesday, October 14

The Palacio Real is the official residence of Spanish Royalty and the building we tried to visit Monday that was closed for a State Function.imageBob read somewhere that there are over 2000 rooms in the Palace but we are quite content to visit the twenty or so that were open to the public.  This is half of the grand staircase at the entrance, there is also a set of stairs on either side of this one that continues to the second level. The red crest at the top of the stairs is the personal crest of King Felipe IV, who we almost saw on Monday!imageThis is the view up above the staircase.  It was very ornate but only a taste of what we saw inside the Palace rooms.imagei did take one picture of the Royal Chamber of Carlos (Charles) III also known as the Gasparini Room.  We spent about an hour and a half touring these lavish rooms, each more ornate and incredible than the last.  We even visit the Throne room and the Crown Room where the Royal Crown and Sceptre are kept along with other State treasures.  There are the ordinary sort of Museum ‘guards’ but there doesn’t appear to be a lot of security inside the Palace.  Mind you, there are lots of police everywhere outside the palace.imageDo I look royal walking down the Palace stairs?  Just picture me in a beautiful ball gown, all decked out in jewels!imageWe visit the Armoury through these old doors. imageTurns out it is one of the most important collections of parade and tournament armour in the world!  Everything is beautifully displayed on two floors and there is even armour for children and ponies.  No photos allowed, but here is a photo of a photo from a little calendar we bought.

imageAfter a tea break in the Palace Cafeteria I do go back and sketch this interesting old helmet from the 1400’s. It was one of the first exhibits we saw when we entered the armoury, and of course I love dragons.  It was also small enough to sketch in a short time.

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We walk through the Palace Gardens on our way to the Parque del Oeste which is on a hill high above the Palace.

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There we visit the Egyptian Temple de Debod.  The neat thing about seeing this temple is that we actually visited its original location, where the Aswan Dam flooded many temples, several years ago. Now here we are in Madrid, seeing this temple that was saved and given to the Spanish people in thanks for their help in saving the temples at Abu Simbel.

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Two of the original entrance arches to the temple.imageA view of the back of this 2000 year old temple and some of Madrid’s newer buildings.image  I thought this dome was different all in coloured tiles.image  A view of the Palace.  We can see for miles from the top of the park behind the Temple of Debod.imageOn the way home we stop for tapas at the Mercado de San Miguel that we visited the other day.  This is basically a glorified food court in a neat old iron and glass building.  We find some tapas for Bob, and one for me.  Bob has two delicious pastries and I have to be content with taking pictures of desserts. It is hard to find any for me when I don’t eat gluten, eggs or dairy.  I do get a fruit cup…imageThis picture is for L & M, yummy little hedgehogs and Marzipan fruit and veggies with faces.image