Spain tour


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Spain tour

  1. 1. SPAIN My trip to Spain began in Paris on Aug 27. I painstakingly dragged my heavy Samsonite along the busy street going to Gare du Nord to look for Timhotel, getting lost on the way, and finally reaching the hotel past 4pm. We had pizza for lunch in a nearby Indian(?) restaurant along Rue Lafayette, and after the orientation meeting with our tour director, Norton Taylor, Caryle, my roommate in Vienna, Phyl and Val (2 Australian ladies), and I guided them on a walking tour of Sacre Coeur Basilica from Timhotel. The following day, we Tours Station started our long trip to Aranjuez Bordeaux, driving through the Loire Valley at Tours, where I took photos of the St. Gatien Cathedral and the union station despite the rains. (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - 2004 France) After two hours, we headed for Cognac St. Andre where we visited the Otard winery. We arrived in Bordeaux around 5pm and had a nice dinner in a fine restaurant fronting the cathedral of St. Andre. The next morning we drove to the vineyards of Bordeaux, stopping for lunch in Biarritz, the surfing capital of Europe, facing Atlantic Ocean. I went inside the Cathedral of St. Eugenie and lighted two candles Then, we continued via the foothills of the Pyrenées into the Basque country of northern Spain. From here we passed by San Sebastian, and followed in the footsteps of El Cid to Burgos for dinner at Hotel La Corona. Burgos has a perfectly conserved old center of town, and is the birthplace of national hero "El Cid." The 13th century gothic cathedral is among the most admired of its kind worldwide. Specially remarkable are its portal, the "Puerta del Sarmental", considered the best example of gothic sculpture of its century and the Cloister. The 15th century chapel, "Capilla del Condestable", is another work of unique architectonic value. We strolled along Puente San Pablo and Arco de Sta. Maria. (Click here for more photos: e=http%3a//
  2. 2. The next morning we headed to the old stone town of Segovia, with its colossal Roman aqueduct, and famous landmarks like the Alcazar, and its beautiful gothic cathedral. Here we had lunch. Alcaraz castle We arrived in Madrid early afternoon at Novotel and took a sightseeing tour of the beautiful fountains (Cibeles and Neptune) and arches, marveling at such architectural landmarks like the Post Office, the bullring, the Christopher Columbus Monument, and Miguel de Cervantes memorial. Our tour guide took a photo of me before the memorial ( which includes Don Quixote, his beloved Dulcinea, and his faithful Sancho Panza). It is interesting to note that Cervantes died on the same exact date as Shakespeare (April 23, 1616). We also visited the royal palace and Plaza Mayor (see photos below: Cervantes and Cibeles fountain, Post Office building above, and Royal Palace) .
  3. 3. Las Cibeles Don Quixote memorial Post Office Royal Palace The Plaza Mayor is the seat of local government. Not very far is a “meson” where we had a sumptuous dinner of Gazpacho, Seafood Paella, Lechon de Leche, and flambe for dessert. While drinking wine, or sipping café espresso, we were entertained by 3 troubadours with Spanish flamenco music. The evening was capped with a photostop at the underground fountains at Plaza de España. (for more photos, click Madrid album: Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - 2004 Madrid )
  4. 4. Castillian Plaza Mayor Excursions My tour group stayed in Madrid for 3 days at Novotel. (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - 2004 Madrid) While in this bustling city, I went on my own to check out the Prado Museum and took stolen shots (photos & videos were prohibited) of Greco’s famous paintings, and those of Diego Velasquez, Goya, Murillo, Titian, and the only Rembrandt in the collection I also took photos of the Plaza de Toros, the Alcala Gate, and the Independence Arch. Plaza de Toros Before a Spanish paella dinner at a rustic “meson,” we had a late afternoon tour of the Plaza Mayor. The evening was capped with a spectacular display of magical fountains long Plaza de España. View of Toledo and The next day, we went on a day tour of Tajo river Toledo, the capital of Spain from gothic epoch until 1560. (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Toledo entrance gate) The city is like one big museum, from the entrance of fortified walls to the cathedral, the town hall (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Town Hall near cathedral), the streets leading to El Greco’s house, the well-visited chapel of Santo Tome, where the famous El Greco mural (the “Funeral of Count Orgaz”) is displayed.
  5. 5. The Sinagoga de Santa Maria Toledo entrance gate la Blanca is as interesting as the cathedral (built between 1226 and 1492). The St. Martin’s bridge over Tajo River is gothic as well. (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - St ) We also took time to visit a steel factory, and I bought a souvenir (Swords of Toledo). St. Martin’s bridge Aranjuez Palace Our next excursion was via Rodrigo's Aranjuez (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Aranjuez on d way to Cordoba - Royal Palace) and views of its Royal Palace (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Aranjuez - Royal palace monument), we headed down to the La Mancha Plain and stopped at Puerto Lapice where, according to tradition, Don Quixote was dubbed knight by one of the local innkeepers (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Lapice - Iglesia del Buenconsejo). Mezquita walls Lapice church in Cordoba From here we made our way to Cordoba, where we toured the impressive Arabian mosque 'La Mezquita', which houses the magnificent cathedral built in 13th century until Charles V., surrounded by a garden of orange trees. (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Mezquita tower in Cordoba) At the entrance to the Mezquita is the monument to patron saint San Rafael and walking distance is the Jewish quarter with its synagogues and memorials to philosophers like Seneca and Maimonides. We arrived in the
  6. 6. Reliquary at Mezquita cathedral evening at Seville, the capital of Andalusia and home of bullfighting and flamenco music, for our two-night stay After dinner, we took a stroll around and found the Archivos General de Indias but it was under renovation. After breakfast, our morning sightseeing tour showed us the gardens of the Maria Luisa Park and Murillo's House, the Santa Cruz District, and the tower of La Giralda (Yahoo! Photos - View from the bell tower of Sevilla Bullring Cathedral in Sevilla), its famous landmarks. It is a fact that two Roman emperors were born in Sevilla (Trajan and Hadrian). We entered the beautiful cathedral which houses the tomb of Cristobal Colon. Then there was time at leisure to visit the famous bullring (Yahoo! Photos - Bullring in Sevilla. On the second day, we went to Plaza de España (Yahoo! Photos - Plaza de España in Sevilla.) I made my own walking tour to the Universidad Central and took photo of the old building which used to be a tobacco factory , the Archivos General de Indias, and another landmark, the Torre de Oro. View from the bell tower of Cathedral in Sevilla
  7. 7. After Sevilla, we enjoyed a half day drive to the majestic hilltop city of Moorish jewel, Granada, in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, staying at the impressive resort hotel near the Alhambra Palace. A morning excursion to explore the awe-inspiring Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens (Yahoo! Photos - Generalife gardens, Alhambra Palace, Granada) capped the day. The Alhambra (meaning “the red one” ) complex was started about 9th cent. and modified by Mohammad III in the 13th cent., and much later by Charles V. (Yahoo! Photos - Reflecting pool at the Alhambra) It was abandoned by the last Moorish ruler, Boabdil, who was castigated by his mother for weeping in shame for losing beautiful Alhambra, “Now weep like a woman for what you cannot defend like a man.” (Yahoo! Photos - Reflecting pool at the Alhambra) Washington Irving stayed in one of the rooms where he wrote his “Tales of the Alhambra.” Four great halls enclose the Courtyard of the Lions (Yahoo! Photos - Courtyard of the Lions with me). Our next day’s journey took us through the jagged Mora Pass, as we drove towards Guadix. Here we view Troglodyte dwellings hewn out of the soft rock, characteristic of this Spanish countryside. Then we continued to the coastline of Alicante, where gaily colored parasols lined the beaches (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Alicante - Beach view of Mediterranean sea). We walked through tree-lined boulevards, had lunch at a pub beside the beach facing the Mediterranean Sea, and dined at our hotel Campanille.
  8. 8. Day ten was spent driving along the coast of southern Spain, arriving in the sunny garden city of Valencia. Here an orientation tour featured the Town Hall, the Bullring (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Valencia bullring), La Lonja, and the Towers of Serrano and Cuarte. I lighted two candles at the cathedral (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Valencia - Plaza de la Virgen de Desamparados fountain) and basilica (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Valencia - Fountain in front of Cathedral), two separate buildings but close together. Later, we continued our journey to Barcelona for two Montserrat basilica exciting nights. A sumptuous dinner at a seafood restaurant in Barcelona was highlighted by a trip to Plaza de España and the beautiful fountains at the hills of Montjuic (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - Plaza de España, Monthjuic, Barcelona). On top of the mountain, surrounded by beautiful parks, is a fortress of 17th century. The following day, we visited the gothic magnificence of the 14th century Cathedral and the art nouveau fantasies of Antoni Gaudi's “Sagrada Familia.” (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona) The afternoon was spent at an unforgettable excursion to Monserrat (Yahoo! Photos - emeritamanansala's Photos - In front of Monastery in Montserrat). Away from the sea, we climbed the mountain ranges of Montseny, Montnegre to get to remarkable Montserrat, the mythic "Holy Mountain", with its Romanesque Monastery De la Verge de Montserrat, a famous place of pilgrimage (photo shows the façade of the basilica). Here I bought souvenirs of the Virgin.
  9. 9. Photos below show Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia and Plaza de Espana at Montjuic. On the 12th day of this tour, we took a morning drive along the Mediterranean coast across the French border past Perpignan, and into the wine-producing plains of Languedoc. From here we followed the Côte d'Améthyste to the scenic Camargue. Then on through Impressionist Provençal landscapes on our way to Cannes on the glittering Riviera for our two-night stay. Arles is gateway to Camargue, land of the Gypsies and meeting place of the Camargue cowboys, Today the ferias or bull runs and bull fights are held in this very same arena (12,000 seats) that was the scene of the Roman games in the first century! City of festivals, art, and culture, Arles has never stopped attracting artists. Van Gogh stayed here with his friend Gaugain. Picasso, a lover of bull fights, was inspired by them to do two paintings and 57 drawings. Many consider Van Gogh's Arles period (1888-9) to be the most creative of his career. Photo shows his best known work, Harvest at La Crau, produced during his time in this provençal town.