Tag Archives: architecture

Exploring to the west

Exploring to the west

Looking south from our house we could see that there were some old railway tracks, so we decided to spend the next day doing some exploring. We drove along and found the old Arboleas station. A ruin, now, but had some character. We parked the car across the street and had to climb up a little hill and battle some weeds and brambles to get to it. Of course just taking a picture from the road was not good enough for me! I had to go inside.

Arboleas train station

The old Arboleas station

Arboleas station

Do you see the prickly pear cactus growing on the roof??

Totally run down and falling apart, the station is only used as housing for the birds. They obviously eat the prickly pears and have “deposited the seeds” on the roof! The inside of the building was in bad shape. Originally it must have had some nice tiles on the floors, but now it is a mess!

Inside the station

Inside the old station

We liked the tiles with ARBOLEAS on them, though.

Arboleas

Since it was January, we thought it would be fun to drive about an hour to the west toward Baza and see some snow as we got further toward the mountains. So we took off for a little drive west and made a loop to the south and east to return back home.

Driving west

Driving west

Toward Baza

There’s some snow!

Sheep

Sheep!

It was a really nice drive. We were amazed at how different the terrain was just going about an hour west. Our casa is in a great location because about an hour east or south and we are at the beach; about an hour west or north and we are close to the mountains… we have so much to explore!

 

 

The Alcazaba

The Alcazaba

Spur of the moment sightseeing is awesome as far as I’m concerned, so I was excited to see what this Alcazaba was all about. We drove through Almeria, not really knowing where we were going. Luckily the Alcazaba is on a hill, so we knew which direction we should be heading in, and there were some signs here and there to guide us. We finally reached the Alcazaba and parked along a narrow road, thinking that we could just walk up the road to get to the fortress.

The Alcazaba

The Alcazaba

When Curt parked the car, and we got out, I notice a HUGE amount of dog/cat poop along the side of the road. Geez! It was crazy. Talk about landmines… this fortress didn’t need walls, the poo could keep people out!

The road was steep on the way up, and there were some crazy daredevils on motorized scooters zipping along; and a man walking two dogs, one of which was just skin and bones, but other than that we didn’t see any tourists coming to visit this huge fortress and we thought that was a little odd. No matter, we just kept hoofing it up the hill. All of a sudden, Curt thought he might have left the car unlocked, so we went back down and this time decided to drive the car up to the top. When we reached the top of the hill, there were some stairs to what seemed to be one of the towers.

Alcazaba stairs

 

Alcazaba tower

The views from up here were beautiful, and we hadn’t even gone up the stairs yet! We were really interested to find out what would be at the top. (**insert ominous foreshadowing music here… again**)

View of Almeria port

View of the port of Almeria

Okay, so we climbed up the stairs and found that they led to… nowhere. I mean, pretty much nowhere, because they just led to the backside of the fortress where it seems that young people probably hang out and drink or smoke. There were lots of cigarette butts and broken beer and wine bottles, but other than that it was not an entrance to the rest of the fortress. We head back down the stairs, and back down the narrow road…

Down the stairs at the Alcazaba

“Nothing to see here, folks…”

Alcazaba road

Along the road we met up with a one-eyed cat. He looked pretty hardscrabble.

One-eyed cat Almeria

“You’d be cranky too if you had to walk through all these stinky ‘land mines’ !”

When we got to the bottom of the hill, we realized that we had driven right past the main entrance. (oops) We parked the car along the side of the road again, and made our way to the ticket office.

Alcazaba entrance

The actual entrance

At the ticket counter, the man asked where we were from. When we said “Los Estados Unidos” he said, “Oh, then it’s free.” Not ones to question ‘free,’ we went on in. I’m not sure what the fee is if you are not from the U.S.

We knew nothing about the Alcazaba before visiting it, but you can read all about it here. It was a beautiful fortress with a lot of history.

Alcazaba archway

Beautiful arches

Alcazaba gardens

Gardens

Alcazaba Looking out

“Who goes there??”

Alcazaba

Steep sides!

Alcazaba

Irrigation

Irrigation system

Archeological remains are still being excavated in one portion. In this area you can walk through what were once baths, pools, and palace rooms.

Ongoing excavations at La Alcazaba

Ongoing excavations at La Alcazaba

It was in this part of the Alcazaba that we met up with Los Gatos de La Alcazaba! Okay, so I have no idea if they have such a name, but if not, they should. There were cats everywhere. Sunning themselves on the walls, sleeping in planters, napping on windowsills…

Alcazaba cats

Alcazaba cat

Sleeping Alcazaba cat

Fuzzy Alcazaba cat

sleepy Alcazaba cat

Alcazaba Cat

Many Alcazaba cats

How many can you spot in this picture?

After walking through this area, we got to the third enclosure which was the Christian castle. The backside of this was where we had been when we first went up the narrow road and up those stairs. Seeing things from inside was much more interesting!

Alcazaba

Alcazaba Christian Castle

Alcazaba Christian castle

Alcazaba

Alcazaba view

Alcazaba cannons

cannons

Cannon

The view was really pretty from the highest vantage point. You could see over the port of Almeria: all the houses, buildings, and ships.

view fromt he Alcazaba

The view from the Alcazaba

We left La Alcazaba. I was glad that we stopped here and had a look at this fortress. It was a good way to spend the last part of the day. We made our way back through Almeria and drove to Arboleas.

Almeria

Almeria

Almeria to Aroleas

On the road again…

 

 

An evening out in Madrid

An evening out in Madrid

Madrid is such a beautiful city, and we had only explored a tiny portion of it, so we decided to take a walk east of the Hotel Victoria and see what we could see. We walked to the Museo del Prado, one of the most famous museums in all of Europe. It houses the largest collection of Spanish art, including some of the best works by El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya.

Museo del Prado

Museo del Prado

When we got to the Prado, there was a HUGE line that literally wrapped around the building! We thought that this was a line to see one of the temporary exhibits or something, but it was just a huge line of people waiting to get into the museum for FREE. (Yay for free stuff!) It turns out that the Prado museum is free to enter from 6 pm to 8 pm Monday through Saturday and from 5 pm to 8 pm on Sundays. We had no idea, but it saved us from spending the 10 euros per ticket!

After we browsed around all of the paintings and sculptures in the Prado, we walked over to the Cheuca neighborhood to check out El Tigre, which is a bar well known for generous servings of tapas provided with each round of drinks. El Tigre is located at Calle de las Infantas, 30. This is a fairly small street, and at first we weren’t sure if this was a “nice” neighborhood or not, but it actually seemed to be fine in the end. On our way over we did pass by a small plaza that looked like it was the hangout for neighborhood teenagers… and I mean ALL the neighborhood teenagers! There were a lot of people hanging out there!

El Tigre, Madrid

El Tigre for tapas!

When we walked in, the place was fairly crowded. It is a narrow space, with a small entry area and then a long bar directly on the right. We wanted to scope it out and then decide where to plant ourselves, so we squeezed through the crowd past the bar. Beyond that there was a sort of “hallway” with long, narrow, wooden bar tops attached to either side of this narrow room. No chairs here. Just sidle up to the tabletop and someone will come take your order. It used to be customary to get free tapas with any drink all over Spain, but this is more of a rarity now, so we were really interested to check out El Tigre and see what this was all about. We ordered a beer and a sangria (6 euros each for larges) and this is what we got:

Tapas

Yum! Tapas!

It got more and more crowded as time passed. People were really friendly and seemed to enjoy chit-chatting, especially when they found out we were Americans and from Texas. (yeehaww!) A lot of university students hang out a El Tigre because, as some of them told us, they are almost always broke and with free tapas you can get a decent meal. Some nice girls took a picture of us.

Us at El Tigre

On the way out we were baffled because someone had just come in with a BABY. Curt had to help hold the door open for them to get their stroller back down the steps and out the door. That was pretty weird because it wasn’t like they just popped round the corner and *poof* found themselves in the middle of a bar. They had to get that stroller in the door and up a few steps to end up in the entry area. Ah well… who knows what those people were thinking? At least I’m guessing they didn’t stay long…

All we knew was that we we had a great time at El Tigre. The people were friendly and the food was decent. It was a fun place to hang out, and we would definitely go back again!

Madrid at night was really pretty! The walk back to the Hotel Victoria was nice.

Madrid at night

Madrid at night

Madrid

Gran Via

Madrid after dark

Metropolis Building

Hotel Victoria, Madrid

Hotel Victoria, Madrid

Our room at the Hotel Victoria was on the top floor and was interesting because it was set into the roof line and had a different sort of layout than you would expect. It was modern and clean, and while the bed was not anywhere as comfortable as my dreamy cloud bed at home, it was just fine.

Hotel Victoria

Hotel Victoria room

To look out of those windows beyond the desk, we actually had to stand on a chair, but it was nice at night because we just left the window open and although it was a little loud (what with the happy, singing Madrid partiers) the January night air was cool and made sleeping quite comfy.

Hotel Victoria views

Views over the rooftop

 

View Hotel Victoria

Out the window and looking down a side street from our room.

 

We went for a walk down that side street and this next picture is a view looking back at our hotel room. It’s the one at the top left with the window that we (ooops) left open.

View to Hotel Victoria room

See the top left dormer? That’s our room!

Beautiful Madrid!

Beautiful Madrid!

Madrid Sol

The architecture in Madrid is awesome, and we enjoyed walking around and soaking it all up. There were lots and lots of people everywhere, especially at Puerta del Sol, but the bustling vibe is what made it even more interesting. The Puerta del Sol translates to Gate of the Sun. It gets its name because this was the location of the city’s eastern gate which let in the rising sun.

Madrid

This building above was just across the street from a Starbucks. Just to let you know, Starbucks is no big deal after having a coffee at the Plaza Mayor!

Sol

The statue above of Carlos III was in the Plaza del Sol.

Even the view from our hotel windows was fantastic. We looked out over a street in one direction and then out of the other window we could see a relief carving that was on a building next door.

Out the hotel window

Little plaza in front of Hotel Plaza Mayor

Looking to the right from the hotel window

Wall of adjacent building

Plaza de Toros

Plaza de Toros

Bullfighting is such a cultural tradition in Spain, and while I hate the thought of animal cruelty, we decided to go see a bullfight to experience this tradition first-hand. The Plaza de Toros in Ventas is a beautiful building! You can really see the Moorish influence in the architecture: amazing tile work and lots of arches throughout the entire arena.

Ventas is within Madrid and we were able to take the subway from Puerto del Sol to the Plaza de Toros. The day had been quite warm but as the sun went down and we sat outside waiting for the doors to open, it became very chilly. We sat on a bench and did more people watching. It was funny because we could spot the Americans instantly! We hoped that we weren’t so obvious!

The inside of the Plaza de Toros was pretty, but it was COLD and the seats were stone benches. I was only wearing a sundress and sweater, so I was freezing!

I have to say that we didn’t enjoy the actual bullfight because it really was brutal. The bull was just taunted and it was cruel. The highlight for me (I hate to say) was when one of the matadors got caught by the bull and was speared in the behind! I found myself rooting for the bull!

Note the hole in his pants!