Tag Archives: history

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!

 

 

A walk around Arboleas

A walk around Arboleas

We spent the morning cleaning up around La Casa. The previous owner left a lot of things that we wanted to go through and reorganize. I lined the shelves of the upper kitchen cabinets (he had tiled the bottom cabinets — nice! easy to wipe clean!) We went through all the tools and what not that he left, and did some rearranging.

After that we took a walk over to Arboleas. The walk to the village takes us through a small olive grove and across the bridge which is surrounded on either side by lemon and orange trees.

Arboleas

Looking toward Arboleas

Olive tree

Olives

Lemons

Lemons!

Citrus groves

The groves along the bridge to Arboleas

Oranges

Oranges

Oranges

…just one, honest!

Arboleas is a small village, and while there are a couple of places to eat, and a few shops, it is a very low-key place. The narrow streets are winding, and it was a little confusing to find our way around.

Arboleas streets

Arboleas

There is a church and a Moorish watchtower, which are both very prominent among the other buildings, so we went to visit those. The Iglésia de Santiago was built in the late 19th century. The original church of Arboleas was built in 1492, after the expulsion of the Moors, but it has since been destroyed and nothing of that original church remains today.

Arboleas Church of Santiago

Church of Santiago

The Arboleas watchtower was built during the 15th century, but I don’t know much about it other than that.

Torre de Arboleas

Torre de Arboleas

View from the Arboleas watchtower

The view from the Arboleas watchtower

During our walk around Arboleas, we happened upon this interesting little park. It was full of these weird exercise machines. You just know we had to try them all out…

Arboleas exercise

Arboleas workou

Ooof!

Arboleas exercise park

Tony Little, eat your heart out!

There is a square in front of the city hall, and next to that is a small park with stone benches and a statue of Al-Arbuli. From what I have gathered, Arboleas was named after Abdalacis Ben Abu Al-Arbuli who was a 14th century Moorish scientist. Al-Arbuli was a resident of the city and he wrote a book (called Food Treaty) about the foods of Andalucia. The book is in the Spanish National Library, so it definitely holds some major significance.

Arboleas City Hall

The City Hall of Arboleas

Al-Arbuli Arboleas statue

Al-Arbuli

 

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…

 

 

Off to Spain again!

Off to Spain again!

We arrived at Madrid’s Barajas airport. The last time we flew into the older part of the airport, but this time we arrived in the newer part, which is beautiful. A bit of history: The airport was originally built in 1927 and of course has gone through numerous remodels since then. This newest terminal was built in 2004, so it is quite new. The architecture is very attractive!

Madrid Barajas airport

Barajas airport

This time while in Madrid we decided to try out a different hotel. We really liked our stay at the Hotel Plaza Mayor last time, but just wanted to stay somewhere different. We picked the Hotel Victoria because it was located in what seemed to be an interesting side street very close to Puerta del Sol.

Across from Hotel Victoria

See what a cool side street?

There were all these awesome tiles decorating the exterior walls of shops and restaurants.

Beautiful tilework

So pretty!

…and it was right down the street from the Museo del Jamon!

Museo del Jamon

Remember? We went there on our last trip.

There were quite a few photo opps just within the block outside the Hotel Victoria. Here is Curt being oh-so-serious in front of another set of tiles. (We did NOT go to another bullfight, by the way. Once was enough for us, I think!)

Toro tilework in Madrid

So serious!!

 

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!

 

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor, MadridDuring the Middle Ages, the Plaza Mayor was a market place outside the city walls; eventually it was made into a real square. There is a lot of history that goes along with this plaza. Its surrounding buildings used to be wooden and actually burned down and were rebuilt multiple times. The Plaza has been used for all sorts of festivities: from bullfights to soccer games to the crowning of kings! It was also the location of more gruesome activities such as executions during the Spanish Inquisition.

The Plaza Mayor is surrounded by beautiful red buildings. Apparently, after Franco was no longer in power, a vote was put to the city and the people were allowed to choose the color for the buildings. Some of the buildings also have really beautiful murals and there is a large statue of Felipe III in the center of the Plaza.

Along the perimeter there are many restaurants with patio seating and this is where we had bocadillos con jamon y queso, sangria, and a great cup of coffee.

Bocadillo!

This was  a fantastic spot for people watching! The Plaza Mayor is closed to traffic (there is parking underground.) It was fun to watch the tourists, and there were many street performers for our entertainment as well. Actually, I use the term “performers” loosely, because while there were some true entertainers, like these musicians:

Musicians, Plaza Mayor, Madrid

there were also some strange people dressed in costumes in hopes of having people pay for candid shots with them. Surprisingly enough, many tourists did pay to have a picture taken with the less than svelte Spiderman and the psychedelic cabrito.

Spidey at Plaza Mayor

Cabrito at Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor was packed with people, but it was a great place to sit back and relax…

Spiderman at Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Even Spiderman needed to take a load off