Touristy Torremolinos

Heading back towards Malaga we stop off in the tourist mecca of Torremolinos to see what attracts so many people each year.

Torremonlinos was the first Costa del Sol resort to be developed back in the early sixties when it was little more than a sleepy village.

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At the peak of its popularity in the 50s and 60s it became a go to resort for the cheap package holiday crowd but also became blighted with endless high rises.

We only had a quick wander along the beach front which is lined with endless boutique shops, cafes, bars and beach gubbins.

There’s very little of traditional Spain to be found here but it is actually quite a nice stretch of beach.

Having always been a bit of a closet package holiday snob I have never really seen the appeal of the Torremolinos and Benidorms of this world, but each to their own!

With every thing on hand (and on tap for the beer lovers amongst us) Torremolinos offers an easy, safe and relaxing option for holiday makers who enjoy soaking up the sun and completely relaxing.

Not our usual style of holiday but sneakily, as I get older and older, I am starting to see the appeal of curling up on a sunlounger with a good book in one hand and a cocktail in the other .  ..

Load of bull ..

This short post is dedicated to a thorny Spanish cultural issue – Bull fighting.

I’ve always believed that part of visiting other counties is about appreciating the many varied parts of their culture and traditions.

However there are always some difficulties for me when it comes to certain elements of societies that celebrate the unnecessary suffering and pain of animals.

So I can’t reconcile myself to the Spanish tradition of bull fighting. Regardless of its revered history I find it abhorrent and cruel with no place in a modern society.

In case you feel this is anti-Spanish I am also anti fox hunting, badger baiting, cock fighting and horse racing. And I’m a lifetime long salad munching vegetarian… (so there!!!)

Splash of sunshine

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As we travelled between Spanish cities through the open countryside we couldn’t help but notice the endless swathes of vivid sunflowers.

As far as the eye can see these cheerful yellow flowers stretch to the horizons.

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It’s an incredible sight, bound to raise a smile in even the most world weary traveller.

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Sun baked Cadiz

After a whistle stop tour of Seville we head to the sunbaked city of Cadiz.

Cádiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain and one of the oldest in western Europe.

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One of Cádiz’s most famous landmarks is its cathedral. It sits on the site of an older cathedral that burned down in 1596. The current replacement was started in 1776,

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The old town is full of sprawling alleys interspersed with elegant open public squares.

We then head to the Tavira Tower, a 45 metre high 17th-century watchtower which offers a panoramic view of the city and the bay.

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There are some lovely views from the top of the tower but I only snapped a few on my phone so the quality isn’t great.

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We then spent 15 minutes in the tower’s Camera Obscura that gives a bird’s eye view of the entire city and bay before wandering through one of the colourful parks strewn with vibrant bougainvillea.

 

Ideally we should have spent a night in Cadiz as it felt like rather a rushed visit and I would have liked to have got a boat trip to enjoy the views of the city from the water.

 

 

Spanish touches

Alongside the stunning cathedral, Alcazar and other beautiful sights to be found in Seville, there are also a wealth of tiny details to be found everywhere you look.

Whether it’s the eternally fascinating, detailed alazulejo tiles that serve as everything from wine adverts to house numbers, to the old tourist posters from yester-years.

Even rows of cheap leather cuffs take on a more exotic enticing air under the Spanish sunshine.

Multi painted plates, tiles and even thermometers are given the colourful treatment.

Even though the days of straw donkeys and plastic maracas might be a thing of the past you can still find plenty of sterotypically Spanish items to buy.

I love the tiny little Spanish dancer outfits! And a final drizzle of Seville’s Spanish flavour.

 

 

Seville Cathedral

Seville cathedral, AKA, Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See is the largest cathedral in the world.

This is because the world’s two largest churches, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and St. Peter’s Basilica, are not the seats of bishops.

In 1401, city leaders decided to build a new cathedral to replace the grand mosque that had served as the cathedral until that point. It took until 1506 to complete.

According to local legend, the members of the cathedral chapter said: “Let us build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will think we are mad”

Sadly, just a few years after completion, in 1511, the crossing lantern, or cimborrio, collapsed and work on the cathedral had to start again.

It collapsed again in 1888 and work on the dome continued until at least 1903.

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The builders kept some elements from the original ancient mosque that stood on the site.

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The mosque’s sahn, that is, the courtyard where the faithful would conduct ritual cleansing before entering the prayer hall. Today it is known as the Patio de los Naranjos.

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However, the most well known is its minaret, which was converted into a bell tower known as La Giralda, and is now the city’s most well-known symbol.

So that’s our incredibly fast whizz around the cathedral. It’s a beautiful building that warrants a longer tour than we gave it, but as mentioned before, you have to get up very early to miss the immense queues or wait until nearly closing for a fast visit.

Splashes of Spanish colour

Some more colourful snaps of our exploration of Seville now and I am especially captivated by this vivid orange building.

The yellow trim pops against the hot orange walls and the detailed traditional tiles.

I also love these fragrant selections of spices that are just begging to be sniffed.

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Seville is packed to the hilt with delightful traditional tiles, known as Azulejo. They are a form painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework and adorn many buildings.

Then there’s rows of delicious tourist tat commemorating all things sterotypically Spanish like guitars, fans and flamenco dancers.

Escape the hordes in the main square and duck into some of the quieter back streets to be rewarded with simple architecture in pastel shades.

I love the castellated walls of this rich ochre building set against the clear blue sky.

Then it’s back to the main square to see if the hellishly long queues to get into the cathedral have died down – tip, get there very early or go in an hour before closing time, or you’ll spend all day in a hot, angry line . .

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Stunning Seville

Next on our Spainish tour is the beautiful cathedral city of Seville – capital of Andalusia.

First tourist snap of the day is the intriguing Torre del Oro or Tower of Gold. It is one of two anchor points for a large chain that would have been able to block the river and was used as a defence for the city to stop large ships floating up.

*Wikipedia alert* Constructed in the 13th century, the tower served as a prison during the Middle Ages. Its name comes from the golden shine it projected on the river, due to its building materials mortar, lime and pressed hay.

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Then we get the first glimpse of the lovely Cathedral, framed by palms and purple jacaranda trees.

Its official title is Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See and was completed in the 16th century.

*More Wikipedia* It’s the third-largest church in the world as well as the largest Gothic church.

The world’s two largest churches – the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and St. Peter’s Basilica – are not the seats of bishops so Seville Cathedral is still the largest cathedral in the world.

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Aint she a beauty! Lots more to come from this lovely city soon.

Turquoise lakes

Hitting the road from Malaga we’re heading for our next destination – Seville. One route I spot several of these iconic bull silhouettes high on the hillsides along the way.

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The Osborne Bull is the black silhouette of bull that stands on hilltops and along the roadside in many  Spain.

It began life as an advertisement in 1956 when the Osborne Group wanted to promote ‘Veteran’ brandy. Artist Manolo Prieto suggested the bull and the rest is history.

In recent times there have been attempts to remove the bulls on traffic safety grounds but this raised such a stink that they have since been classed as Andalucian heritage.

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West of Alora you will find Malaga’s “Lake District”. A series of stunning turquoise lakes surrounded by fragrant pine forests.

It’s actually three artificial lakes created by a dam built across the incredible 200 metre high Guadalhorce river gorge, known as the Garganta del Chorro.

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The Conde de Guadalhorce dam was officially opened in 1921 by King Alfonso XIII of Spain.

During the visit he took a walk along a specially constructed catwalk, called El Caminito del Rey meaning The King’s little Path.

The elevated walkway hugs the cliffs in a vertiginous, adrenaline junkie’s wet dream.

Below is a close up of the Guadalhorce river gorge with its vertigo inducing, bridge strung precariously across the middle.

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Back to Spain

Whizzing through this year’s travels now. Next up on the trail in May was a return visit to Malaga combined with Seville and Cadiz.

I’ve not got too many snaps of Malaga as it’s already been fairly well covered in previous blog posts.

Being a particularly useless travel blogger today as I just can’t remember which little village these pretty tiles were snapped!

The same village provided these lovely decorative walls, from a natural organic green garden wall to a faux view on a whitewashed wall.

But the main event of this holiday, and the reason for returning to this area is coming up – Seville and Cadiz.