Wednesday, 26 May 2010

24 May 2010 - Gata

We met in the centre of Gata and used this new riverside walk to reach the start of our walk. We were impressed at how well made it was, particularly on the outskirts of such a small town. No doubt the result of a generous EU grant.

I was not aware that there were rockface climbs at Gata, but Ken was quick to point out on this new information board one that he had done himself.

The summer has arrived at last, and it was very warm this morning. So we were glad to take advantage of one of the many seating areas along the new river walk.

We soon joined the track and started to climb on the walk proper. Fortunately there was a cool breeze, or we would have found it heavy going. It’s only in the past few days that the temperature has risen, and in another few weeks it will be too hot to walk at all – other than a stroll along the promenade on the coast.

We soon entered the woods, and I stopped for a “comfort stop”. I took this photo and then set off to catch up with the group. It was a winding path, and I could see no sign of them. This was a new walk, and I did not know the route. They had turned uphill on a path which was signed as not an official track, and I set off along the path we usually used. Within a few minutes it was clear that they must have turned off, and I had to go back and join the uphill track. I soon caught met up with Pat, who was coming downhill looking for me. Needless to say I got little sympathy for getting lost!

I was pleased to reach the next “water stop”. I was hot and tired having done my extra leg of the walk, and then we had this hill to climb. But at least we could find a shaded area to have our break, and I soon recovered.

Then it was time to tackle Tossal del Mora. It is not as high or steep as Soldates, which is the hill we usually climb from Gata. That is the one with the very steep incline which seems to go on forever. This one is a relatively easy climb, but still a challenge on such a hot day.

David found this “red flag” and we gathered around for this “great explorers” photograph.

There was no shade on the top of the hill, but it there was a cool wind, so we had a short break to recover from the climb and to admire the views of the coast and Montgo.

Then it was time to carry on to our picnic spot. This was the worse part of the walk, as the path was covered in loose rocks and stones. We had to take it very slow, and watch every foot fall. It’s always more difficult going down than up, and you soon feel it in your neck and leg muscles.

Lunch was at Font de la Mata. We have not been here for a few years, and I had forgotten how nice it is. It is a large shaded area, and some kind souls had created a natural table and seating area.

We were almost ready to leave when Peter discovered steps leading down to a deep well. There was a bucket of water on the top of the steps, which David knocked over when he went to explore. So he had to refill it helped by Ken.

Pat then realised that there were a series of stone water containers nearby, presumably for animals and livestock. So she soon organised Ken to help her fill them.

We were sorry to leave our cool lunch spot, but it was time to make our way downhill back to Gata.

As we neared the town we could see the extent of the new river walk, very impressive indeed. An excellent “new” walk or at least one we had not done for a few years. Everyone enjoyed it, and no doubt it will not be so long before we do it again.

Next Week

Meet in the Masymas car park in Javea. I think the walk is to cap prim, not sure as I was not paying enough attention when Pat was explaining it! We start in the car park near Scallops, go along the beach then up the hill and so on. Start at 10am.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

18 May 2010 - Flying visit to Cadiz

Its only 20 miles from Jerez to Cadiz, less than an hour on the coach. It was gone 6pm by the time we reached the city. This was only a “flying visit”, with a drive around the old city and an hour to walk around. This photo was taken as the coach approached the old city walls.

We were particularly interested as Cadiz was important during the Napoleonic Wars as the location of the Spanish government after the French occupied Madrid. We hoped to see something of the city fortifications during our short stop, and were not disappointed. The coach left us near the tourist information office, and they were able to direct us the short distance to the city walls and the main entrance to the city.

We found this near the site of the old city gate. It was on the wall of a collection of buildings which must have been storerooms or perhaps living accommodation for the garrison. This one is in memory of a “Hero of Baylen”, and in the city centre we also found one to the “Hero’s of the Battle of Trafalgar”. The Spanish fleet sailed from Cadiz to fight the battle against Nelson.

The area around the city walls has been turned into a garden and sports play area. This appears to be quite normal; we found the same at Badajoz some years ago.

The city walls and site of the old entrance seems to have little changed, except for this rather strange, and very Spanish, yellow monument. Unfortunately it was not possible to gain entry to the walls themselves.

We were surprised at the width of the city. It is possible to walk from one side to the other in about 5 minutes. This photo covers almost the whole width.

We did not have time to explore any more of the city. But on our coach tour we could see that there was much of interest. Cadiz is now a popular holiday resort, and there is not much of the original fortifications to see. However there are large military looking buildings here and there which now seem to be used as commercial premises. Certainly a city we would love to return to with more time to explore it properly.

Monday, 24 May 2010

18May 2010 - Jerez Riding School

Jerez is 60 miles from Seville and is famous for its Royal Equestrian School and its many wine and brandy bodegas. We left Seville at 9am and arrived at the Equestrian School about an hour later.

The horse exhibition did not start until midday, so we had plenty of time to walk around the beautiful grounds of the school. There were a number of museums and displays, including this one dedicated to making saddles and horse furniture.

Next door to the school was the Sandeman bodega, with its two crane nests. This got as much interest as the horse training areas.

The morning passed quickly and it was soon time to make our way to the exhibition building. By now the grounds were packed with coach loads of visitors, obviously a very popular excursion destination.

Photographs were not allowed during the exhibition, so this one of the royal box is the only one I could take.

We hoped to get buy some postcards of the show, but were disappointed to discover that there were none in the shop. We bought this card in a shop in Jerez town centre, but it was the only one we could find.

This one, showing the finale of the show, was from our Gandia tour brochure. It gives a good idea of how large the indoor show area is, and at least during our visit it was packed with only a few empty seats.

Most of the rest of the coach were booked to visit a bodega after lunch, but we had enough of moving around in a crowd, so we decided to look around Jerez on our own. We had not realised how hot it would be, and after a short walk were ready to find a shaded café for lunch. We though we had ordered a plate of chips, but were presented with a bag of crisps! Despite being a very popular tourist spot, few of the locals seemed to speak any English.

After lunch we set off on foot to explore Jerez. It was not long before the afternoon heat forced us to find shade. Fortunately we found a well shaded bandstand in a square overlooking the Cathedral.

We had an hour to wait before we could rejoin the coach after the bodega visit, and most of it was spent sitting in the shade and watching the world go by.

The Moorish castle looked interesting, and was open to the public, but we had less than an hour to pass and we really had walked round more than enough castles and cathedrals.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

17 May 2010 - Real Alcazar Seville

The Gate of the Lion is the main entrance to Real Alcazar, the first royal palace in Seville and still used by the Spanish royal family when they visit the city. Our guided tour was due to start at 3pm, but delayed by half an hour to allow for another Gandia party to join us. In fact it was gone 4pm by the time they arrived, and the three hour tour was cut short to take them on part of the tour we had done in the morning. So our guided tour only lasted about forty-five minutes!

The palace was built at about the same time as The Alhambra in Granada, but Seville was Christian and Granada Moorish. So it is natural to compare the two. There are a lot of similarities, as Real Alcazar was designed in the eastern tradition, but the décor is much more impressive than The Alhambra.

Parts of the palace, such as this garden, are very similar to The Alhambra.

Throughout the palace there are views of the gardens and after thirty minutes or so gazing at panels and ceilings we were more than ready to get outside and explore them.

The gardens are again similar to The Alhambra, but not as extensive. However they are a delight to explore and all the easier because they are not so large.

Alcazar is not as famous as Alhambra, and though popular with tourists is not so crowded with them. So it was easy to find a quiet spot to sit and admire.

There is no charge for pensionista to use the Real Alcazar, and it must be very popular with retired locals as a spot to spend a few hours on a summer afternoon.

There are at least two peacocks wandering around the gardens, and they make a lot of noise to attract attention. But despite our best efforts they would not display their tail feathers. Throughout our visit they were attended by tourists with poised cameras, but all were disappointed.