Hot Hot Hot

 

Since we have arrived in Europe I have worn jeans every day. For those who know me they may be a little shocked by this. But in Seville (Sp) that all changed an I cracked out the shorts for the first time – what lovely white legs.

We camped near the river here and were able to walk into the city. Next to the bridge we used to cross the river, was a train bridge that lowered to allow trains to cross. As we crossed the bridge the train bridge was down and a loco came past and waved and tooted the horn at the kids – kind of welcome to Seville.

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First stop was Parque de Maria Luisa where we came across some gum trees which made us feel a little at home, then onto the Plaza de Espana. Plaza de Espana was built for a world fair in the 1920’s. Obviously the Spanish either like tiles a lot or they were very cheap at the time because they are everywhere. The building is very ornate and the fountain in the middle spraying mist over us was nice and cool – I even managed a photo of a rainbow but no pots of gold.

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We visited a military museum here which had a collection of model soldiers through Spains history as well as uniforms and weapons etc. Legoboy really enjoyed looking at all of the models.

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We wandered past the Alfonso XIII hotel which is apparently famous, then found a Tapas place for lunch and sat on the street to eat. We all enjoyed our little taste of Spain.

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After lunch we visited the Cathedral Santa Maria where Christopher Columbus is buried. We had the experience here like we did at the Alhambra of ladies coming up to you and trying to put a piece of plant into your hand and then getting you to pay for it – at the Alhambra the lady grabbed onto SWTTM and tried to get her to take it and then tried to give her a palm reading fortunately SWTTM is a martial arts expert and fought her off (I made up some of that).

You could easily get lost in this church there are rooms all around the place, all extremely ornate and the biggest doors you have ever seen. Apparently this is the largest Gothic church in the world.

We went up into the bell tower which rather than stairs has 35 ramps followed by 17 stairs – not sure if ramps are any easier to climb than stairs – which rang 4 o’clock while we were up there, but it was only one of the small bells so we left with our hearing intact.

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Christopher Columbus’ Tomb – quite impossing, these guys are about 10 feet tall.

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I waited a while for this lady to leave – I have resigned myself to the fact that there will always be some random people in photos while we are in Europe.

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This photo was taken in the bell tower through some bars – obviously the challenge is to get your coin on the ledge without it falling down into the courtyard below and hitting someone on the head.

We wandered back to Max along the river which while still pretty hot was a nice route, obviously being enjoyed by all of the Spaniards who were also there.IMG_7548

 

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Mezquita

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On the way to Cordoba (Sp) we stopped at a little village for lunch called Cabra. After lunch Legoboy and I went for a short walk and discovered a crystal clear stream that was rushing out of the side of a mountain. The water was full of fish and the water was gushing out everywhere. We also encountered Olive plantations (groves?) as far as you could see in all directions.

We were able to camp right in Cordoba so we were able to spend the afternoon we arrived wandering the streets. Our first stop was the Mezquita or Cordoba Cathedral. A church was originally built here in the 6th century. Subsequently this church was demolished and a mosque was built on the site. The mosque was expanded over the next few centuries before King Ferdinand III recaptured Cordoba in 1236. Then in the 1500’s a chapel was built in the middle and chapels were added around the outside walls. So the building is a little mixed up and looks very Arabic as you enter with a very traditional Catholic church in the middle.

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We wandered through the Jewish quarter as well as past more churches and the Alcazar we got a little lost but eventually found our way back to Max.

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The next day SWTTM and Legoboy went to a huge playground around the corner from where we were staying – it was a very popular place with a line up at opening time (1 euro entry fee).

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The girls and I went for a walk to check out the Roman bridge and enjoyed a nice wander along the river. We then went in search of a barra (we would call it a baguette). After a short while we realised that it was Sunday so most shops are closed but we eventually discovered a little bakery.

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The Alhambra

P1040177We arrived in Granada (Sp) and found our way to the top of the mountain overlooking the city. We found the signs to the carpark for the Alhambra and got a park. We could not see any signs for the Alhambra so as we saw quite a few people walking from the carpark up the hill we headed that way. Not sure why but that day there was a lot of people going to the cemetery – the Alhambra was in the opposite direction.

We had read that there can be huge line ups to get into the Alhambra and that you have to stick strictly to the tour time you are allotted for the tour of the palace. We didn’t have to wait too long and were able to get in the afternoon we arrived.

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The Alhambra is a Palace fort. Construction was started in the 1230’s by the Nasrid dynasty and was taken over by the Spanish in the late 1400’s. There are distinct areas from the no nonsense military areas to the highly detailed palace. There are also communal baths and there is now a church where the original mosque stood.

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Outside of the walls is the Generalife Palace. This was a short walk from the main fort and is where the kings etc headed when they wanted to get away from it all.

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It was a very interesting place to visit and it is hard to imagine building a place like this so long ago. It is also hard to comprehend the fighting that must have taken place here over the centuries.

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The Wacky or Wonderful World of Gaudi

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On our second day in Barcelona we discovered the Metro stop we should have discovered on the first day – just a few wrong turns from where we were.
We became Metro and tram pros – we caught seven different trains and one tram. Even though it was a Sunday the longest wait we had was 4 ½ minutes for a train (they have a helpful little countdown timer) and we just turned up each time.
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First up we headed to Sagrada Familia a church designed by Anton Gaudi. The church was started in 1909 and is still not completed although they are working on it. There are four faces to the church the birth, death, resurrection and Glory of Christ. Gaudi started with the birth and this is the only one which was completed before his death. He started with the birth because he felt the public would like this better – rather than starting with the death. The resurrection and Glory are yet to be started and the death of Christ is still under construction.
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In the photos you can see the spires some of which have been completed – these represent the 12 Apostles. If you look at the photo of the model you will see that there is to be a larger central spire that will be 174 metres tall – this represents Christ.
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The design of the church is incredibly detailed and everything has meaning. The interior is designed to give the feeling of being in a forest and to highlight Gods creation.

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The more you look the more you see. It is a little hard to explain so hopefully the photos will express a little how the design and workmanship in this building can bring glory to God.

Some of the doors had text from the Gospels on them. They also included a square with numbers in it, this was in a number of the sculptures as well – if someone could tell us what this is it would be great.

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A Fairytale Setting

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We continued our travels through the south of France to a city called Carcassonne. We had been told about Carcassonne while we were staying at Aigues-Mortes in a if you think this fort is cool you should see Carcassonne kind of way.

On the way to the castle we went through an old part of the city which was pretty narrow, but Jack was guiding us so we knew we should be OK. The problem started when the narrow street we were driving down was having some road work done so was closed – we had to make a turn and this street was really narrow. I may have said this before, but Max is a little like a cat and if the mirrors fit the rest of him will also. The street had cars parked down one side with a small footpath opposite. When my Max’s mirrors were almost brushing against the cars I had no choice but to put two wheels up onto the footpath and drive along like this until we could get back onto the road we were supposed to be on – a little stressful at the time wondering if we would get to a point where we would need to reverse out of here, but funny in hindsight.

Carcassonne was everything we had been told. It is a real fairytale castle with towers, turrets and walls and you kind of wait expecting Rapunzel to let down her hair, or maybe a princess to be trapped in one of the towers.

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Like kids in a candy store

Like Aigues-Mortes, Carcassonne has a village inside that still has people living in it. It also has heaps of shops and resaurants. You always have to keep a look out to scooters and cars as they make their way through the narrow streets where you are walking.

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There is also a church in here and we were fascinated with the detailed sculptures all around the outside.

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We spent a number of hours walking through the village and then a few more walking around the outside between the two walls of the castle. The sun was beginning to set as we walked around so it was very pretty and enhanced the whole fairytale castle thing.

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We camped just down the road from the castle and next morning moved just down the road and had breakfast overlooking it.

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Just a Normal Day

Our day started off in Greasque which is just outside Marseille.

We drove into Marseille and had a quick look around the marina, then we headed up to the Notre Dame.

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This church is right up at the top of a hill looking over Marseille. It was very busy with heaps of people looking around. The view from the church is fantastic and we had a bright blue sky which was nice.

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The church is a cross between a church and a fortress with massive walls and a draw bridge. The interior is very impressive with mosaics all over the ceiling.

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From the church you can see out to the island fort where Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Christo” was set.

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Next we stopped at a town called Arles. This city was taken by the Romans in 123BC and has the remains of the wall of a Roman fort as well as the ruins of a Roman arena.

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We also had a walk through the town square and the Basilica which had a large collection of relics.

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Later in the day we went to Nimes. In Nimes we visited a Roman amphitheatre. The amphitheatre is largely intact and is still used even though it is almost 2000 years old. We were able to explore all over it and into the arena in the centre which as in other places is very strange when you consider how old it is and everything that has gone on there over the years.

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We stopped for the night right next to a Fortress in Aigues Mortes.

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So that was one day in our travels – the crazy thing is we drove passed heaps of other things that we could have stopped to look at but there is only so much you can do.

Mosbach

P1010175We stopped into Mosbach because we know some people who used to live here and also because it is a Tudor style town and MiniM&M was keen to photograph some Tudor style buildings. It was rainy when we were there and it was a Sunday afternoon so all of the shops in the market place were closed so there were not many people around. While we were there it turned four o’clock and the town hall and the local church in the market place started what seemed like a bell ringing duel ( I think the church bells were louder but the town hall had the last dong). The bells rang for a full 10 to 15 minutes which seemed nice and quaint when we were there for one ringing session – not sure how it would be if that is what happens every hour.

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Ringing church bells is something that we have experienced occasionally in Australia – here I think you hear them every day.

While in Mosbach we tried another German treat which was a loaf with nuts and something that looked like chocolate but was not chocolate – this one was not a winner but you have to try these things.

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Schwetzingen

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We stopped for a couple of nights in a town called Schwetzingen. The next day we went for a walk around the town and to the local palace and market place.

It was valentine’s day while we were here so of course, ever the romantic I purchased my lovely wife some Tulips which seemed very European (its still romantic even if you only spend 2 euros isn’t it?).

We also purchased some ski pants for 6 Euros for the kids from Lidl (pretty much the same as Aldi).

We had to sample some more good European treats and figured what could be more German than a Berliner.

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Legoboy seemed to enjoy it.

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Look closely – it may mess with your head.

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Bookworm found a kindred spirit.

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Bring on the Gladiators!!

We are beginning to get used to 900 year old castles and 500 year old houses.

When we went to Trier they took things to a whole new level.
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While we were there we visited Porta Nigra a Roman building that dated back to about 160AD.

The thing that really amazed me was that we were able to go into this building and up to the top of the four floors – the floors were not average height but more Roman sized so the building is actually one of the tallest in the town even though it is almost 1900 years old.
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It is a little weird, you think to yourself as you walk across these old stone floors, “this is almost 1900 years old better be careful or it may fall down” then you think “this has been here for almost 1900 years, it is probably not going to fall down any time soon”.

Most of the Roman buildings in town are no longer standing as they were pulled apart for their building materials. Porta Nigra survived however because there was a hermit who lived in the building who would not allow it to be pulled down – he was latter canonized.

There are a few other Roman remnants in Trier – there is a bridge which I guess survived because people needed to cross the river. There are also some ruins of Roman baths and a ruin of an amphitheater.
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There was also the cathedrals and also the market place in the centre of town.
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And we had to try some local food which was in fact just hot potato chips which somehow tasted different to those in Australia. Ferrero Rocher were also giving out chocolates so we of course had to sample some of that local food.

Trier was a nice place to visit and it was interesting to notice how these old, old buildings just become part of everyday life for the people who live there.

What are those heads doing there??

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Bonn Basilica – with the heads of two martyrs depicted in front.

Bonn is the town where Beethoven was born. From what we could understand (our German is still a little rusty) Beethoven attended the monastery attached to the Bonn Basilica.

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Like a lot of towns we have visited there is a mall surrounded by apartments.
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The Rathaus – City Hall – some may still say the Rat House, but pretty none the less.
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