Category Archives: Spain’s Towns and Cities

Salamanca: Of Frogs and Astronauts

I do love quirky things. Some of you may have noticed. And Salamanca has quirkiness by the bucket load.

Just to set the scene: Most of the town’s historic sandstone buildings are embellished with amazingly elaborate carvings. We’re talking stuff like this:

Cathedral DoorIt’s one of the portals of the New Cathedral. “New”, in this case, refers to 1513. (That’s when they started building it.)

As you can imagine, regular renovations of these facades are necessary to maintain their splendour. But it’s not all saints, angels and glowering gargoyles.

How about an ice-cream-eating, bare arsed dragon...?

How about a bare-arsed, ice-cream-eating dragon? Doesn’t look in the least bit vanilla to me…

Yup, it's an astronaut. He joined the ensemble in 1992.

Yup, it’s an astronaut. He may have missed the launch when he joined the ensemble in 1992, but he looks happy enough.

Salamanca also has a frog obsession. There’s one hidden in the masonry of this portal belonging to the University of Salamanca:

What, you can't spot it???

During daylight hours, come rain or shine, you will find a conglomeration of tourists outside, squinting their little eyes out. Spotting the frog is meant to bring good luck. What, you can’t see it??? Let me help you… [And one of these days, I’ll learn to take a straight photo…]

Look at the pillar with the three skulls. The frog is on top of the skull furthest to the left.

Look at the grey part of the pillar and you’ll see three skulls facing down. The frog is on top of the skull furthest to the left, i.e, in the centre of the picture.

That frog has spawned copious offspring leaping about in hundreds of Salamancan shop windows.  This lot here seems to be keeping the astronaut good company :)

That frog has spawned copious offspring leaping about in hundreds of Salamancan shop windows.
This lot here seems to be keeping our astronaut good company 🙂

I had to crane my neck a bit to take most of these pics, so I’m linking this to travelwithintent’s weekly Look Up, Look Down photo challenge 🙂

 

 

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Castellar De La Frontera – Pretty Doors, Pretty Views

This is the penultimate picture post from my Andalucía trip a month ago. Perched high up on a hilltop in Cádiz Province, you’ll find the whitewashed village of Castellar De La Frontera. The drive up the narrow road with its hairpin curves was a bit nerve wracking, to say the least, but it was definitely worth it for all the charming quaintness awaiting us.

The doors quite took my fancy. Maria's sister was kind enough to pose for this shot :)

The doors quite took my fancy. Maria’s sister was kind enough to pose for this shot 🙂

Blue Door

 

Door with Flowers

Green Door

A man and his eagle

A man and his eagle

A very tired pair of donkeys

A very tired pair of donkeys

Rooftop viewLemon Tree HouseHippies

Just Passing By Ávila…

My friend Noelia and I have just spent a lovely weekend in Salamanca, visiting friends, who not only showed us their splendid town, also fed us very well 🙂

The drive from Toledo to Salamanca is exceptionally scenic, and while I sort through my zillions of photos, I’ll leave you with a couple of shots I took, in passing, of the ancient city of Ávila, which has existed since at least the 5th century BC. It is famous, amongst other things, for its medieval town walls.

Those walls aren't easy to overlook!

Those walls aren’t easy to overlook!

Avila wall

Reservoir lake just south of Ávila. The landscape is green and covered in granite builders of all sizes

Reservoir lake just south of Ávila. The landscape is green and covered in granite builders of all sizes

I’ve been to Ávila once before, and it is certainly worth a visit, but you’ve got to come prepared… it’s just about the coldest place on Earth. My ears nearly froze off.

Caught In The Act…!

On our Andalusia trip three weeks ago, rather than snapping away at the region’s dramatic landscapes, outstanding culinary delights and splendid beaches, Maria decided to turn her camera on me instead.

I was totally oblivious to her surreptitious mission to capture my hunchback poses and contorted grimacing until it was all over.

Here is what she sent me:

Seducing a dessert

Cornering a defenceless dessert in a tapas restaurant. If only I could muster that degree of concentration while I was doing the work I’m actually paid to do …

These were taken in sunny Cádiz:

The seagull proved even trickier. My own pics didn't turn out...

The seagull played hard to get. Every time I’d lock it into focus, the blasted bird would hop an inch further away from me. I’m guessing the Medusa hair didn’t help…

Blue flowers

Flowers can’t escape. But don’t these damn things shake, rattle and roll in a stiff seaside breeze!

Cádiz cathedral

At least a cathedral can be trusted to remain steadfast.

Cadiz sea

There’s nothing like getting your lens splashed with murky salt water…

Tree

Those trees are amazing.

A pic from Algeciras beach, with Paula (Maria’s sister) and her happy, bouncy, delightful dogs:

Homing in on Gibraltar

Am too busy for jollities. I’m homing in on Gibraltar…

And here we are, on Gibraltar:

Gibraltar Harbour

Gibraltar, Lighthouse

No wonder the monkeys dashed off in a wild panic earlier on, I must have given them the same scary look…!

The last two pics originate from the little mountain top village of Castellar:

Castellar Lane

Cute village lane

Castellar, Orange tree

I do love a handsome orange tree 🙂

So, has anyone played candid camera on you recently? And are you still talking to them…?

Colourful Cádiz

Cádiz is a truly beautiful Andalusia city in southwestern Spain. It enjoys a stunning setting as it’s a peninsula, so there’s sea on virtually all sides. As you’ll probably have gathered from recent posts, we went there for a little day trip last weekend, as it’s only an hour’s (and a bit) drive from Algeciras, where Maria and I were staying.

Cádiz Cathedral

Cádiz Cathedral

Cádiz seaside walkCruise ship & Bus

King of his castle :)

King of his castle 🙂

Sea & rocks

Bathing Beauty...

Bathing Beauty…

Patio

Sightseeing bus

Sightseeing bus

Building

Lantern

I usually finish off with food, but we’ve already had that in a previous post, and so, for a change, the last word goes to fashion. Rather unwise fashion (in my opinion), though colourful it is…

WHO, I ask you, in their right mind, would wear something as hideous as this?? And on WHAT occasion? I'm totally baffled...

WHO, I ask you, in their right mind, would wear something as hideous as this?? And on WHAT occasion? I’m totally baffled…

See-through plastic lace-ups, anyone...?

See-through plastic lace-ups, anyone…?

 

 

And For Lunch… A Slice Of Fascism

On our way down to Andalucía on Friday, Maria told me about an infamous restaurant situated by a mountain pass that crosses a gorge evocatively named “Despeñaperros” (= plunging  dogs [from a great height]).

The restaurant, innocuously named Casa Pepe, is a veritable shrine to General Franco, the Nationalist dictator who ruled Spain for four decades. Maria had never been to this place, but suggested we check it out on the return journey.

So, today, on our way back, we were looking for it, but couldn’t find it at first, so we ended up having a rather mediocre lunch in some other place. However, just before we re-joined the motorway, we stumbled across Casa Pepe after all. We didn’t want to linger for too long, but I managed to take a couple of snaps:

Casa Pepe

Maria in front of Casa Pepe

Maria in front of Casa Pepe

Maria in front of Casa Pepe

Maria in front of Casa Pepe

Wine