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.

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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.

Last look at our Easter trip to the Isle of Wight now (I know – I am so behind on catching up!)

Our final stop is in the quaint little harbour town of Cowes.

There’s plenty of pretty pastel toneed houses to keep me entertained.

While the man is happiest when he’s close to the water – in this case waiting for the town’s water taxi!

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We didn’t stay long as it was early evening and all the shops were shut. Just enough time to get some pictures of lovely doors!

And that’s the end of our whistle stop tour of the delightful Isle of Wight.

Beautiful Bembridge

We’re headed to the pretty seaside town of Bembridge now with its lifeboat station.

Bembridge is claimed to be the largest village in England, with a population of approximately 4,000 residents.

The new Bembridge Lifeboat station stands offshore and was built in 2010.

The natural timber building is an iconic sight and one of the most photographed structures on the Isle of Wight in recent years.

As we head across the bridge to the lifeboat station we can see lots of cute little beach huts in primary colours on the shore front.

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The shiny Alfred Albert Williams lifeboat takes pride of place in the new lifeboat station.

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While salty sea dog heroes of the past keep a careful watch over the new recruits.

The sea is incredibly clear and a beautiful colour for an English coastline.

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Winery tour

The man has always wanted to tour a vineyard and winery and we get the chance at a cute little winery on the Isle of Wight.

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Rosemary’s Vineyard is one of the largest producers of English Wine and covers 30 acres. Below is some old technology for grape squishing!

The vineyard’s shop offers tastings of some of their delicious beverages including honeyed wines, ciders and fruity liqueurs.  (if you can get anywhere near the samples!)

We have a little mosey around the distillery too, below the man demonstrates the scale of the vats.

Sticky labels ready to go and oak pupitres – Pupitre is a Spanish word but they are often known as ‘riddling racks’ which help remove the yeast sediment during the fermentation process.

Back in the shop we eye up the rows of golden, honey flavoured wines. I buy the obligatory magnet and the man stocks up on ciders!

The vineyard was planted in 1986 and covers 30 acres at almost 60 feet above sea level.

We finish up with one of the largest, most calorific cream teas we have ever had! Check out the scone on that!

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Quarr Abbey

We’re visiting an unexpected architectural gem on the Isle of Wight now – Quarr Abbey.

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It’s proper title – Abbey of Our Lady of Quarr – is a monastery that is home to a small group of Benedictine monks.

Construction on the abbey started in 1911 and it was consecrated on October 12, 1912.

The abbey itself is a gorgeous chunk of red brick that feels more at home in mainland Europe which makes sense as the original monks were exiles from France.

I love the way that the brick glows under the early sunshine and contrasts with the spiky palms that add a more Mediterranean feel to the scene.

There’s a wonderful walled garden that provides fresh fruit and veg for the tearooms and farm shop as well as the ruins of a far older abbey as well.

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Definitely worth a potter around for an hour or so. You can learn lots more about the abbey here.

 

 

Ventnor Bay

Normal blogging service is resumed after a glorious 10 days in stunning Sardinia (much more of that later!)

We carry on with our micro-tour of the Isle of Wight. Next up is Ventnor, a very traditional little seaside resort and was a famous Victorian health resorts due to its unique micro-climate.

There’s a pretty stretch of sand and shingle beach with all the traditional paraphernalia.

Loving all the little nautical details dotted around the town, including this nod to holding back the tides.

Plus there’s a neat little row of pastel toned beach huts in mouth watering colours.

We enjoy a bracing walk along the golden beach, hair and eyebrows are nearly intact!

There’s a variety of sealife to be found (and avoided too!)

We end our day at the beach at the Spyglass Inn that comes complete with all manner of sea themed curiosities!

The Needles

Next up on our sight seeing tick list are one of the Isle of Wight’s most famous landmarks – The Needles.

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The Needles is a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise about 30m out of the sea.

But before we visit them we spot an ‘interesting’ little display in a local garden . . .

There are some wonderfully coloured cliffs tumbling down to Alum sands beach.

Alum Bay has 21 recognised shades of sand and these have been collected and made into souvenirs since early Victorian times.

After a blustery and brisk walk we finally find the main attraction – The Needles!

The chalk formation takes its name from a fourth needle-shaped pillar called Lot’s Wife, that collapsed in a storm in 1764. The rocks that are left are not needle-like, but the name has stuck.

Another attraction close by is the experimental rocket testing site at High Down.

The site was built and operated in secret, from the 1950s and still houses some of the old technology that you can have a nosey around.

 

Godshill

Nest up on our tour of the Isle of Wight is the beautiful little village of Godshill.

It is full of charming thatched-roofed cottages and a winding main-street lined with traditional tearooms and quaint shops.

This psychedelic little splash of joy is the Oracle Gallery.  It’s a cross between channel art, and guided meditation.

According to the artist “Visionary art is a way of creating spontaneously that encourages a complete letting go of the self.”

You can find out more about the artist Nicola Gibbs here.

The Bats Wing is a stunning 16th century tea room festooned with glorious purple wisteria.

It’s a delightful thatched cottage with overtones of a witchy hidey hole.

Every detail is a little delight, even these little signs to the church.

Below we come across one of the most stunning little cottages we have ever seen.

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It feels straight out of a fairy tale complete with swathes of bluebells and twinkling little lead pane windows.

Then a few more of the lovely little dwellings. What lucky people live in these!

There is also a delightful medieval church, All Saints, it sits on a hill and overlooks the village.

The church dates from the 14th century and is the fourth built on this site. The hill on which the church stands was once used by pagans as a place of worship.

Legend says the building of a church started at the foot of the hill but over three nights stones were removed from the site and placed where the present church now sits.

For the first two mornings work was restarted at the foot but by the third day it was assumed that God wished the church to be built on the hill – hence the name Godshill.

All in all Godshill is a gorgeous little village that is well worth exploring.