A Travellerspoint blog

May 2015

Doh......RUINS means they are in ruins!

My first bus ride into Rome took me 20 minutes into what is considered the centre of Rome, the Piazza Venezia. It took me past hundreds of apartment buildings, many with shops on the ground floor, and many with signs of a city that has given up on dealing with crude graffiti, which together with some areas looking run-down and unloved, made me wonder "where was the eternal city of Rome". It wasn't in the overcrowded suburbs. The next day my judgemental stance had softened as I realised my preconceptions about the splendour and glory of Rome could not survive in the 21st century. Rome just is what it is, and it isn't Hollywood Rome. Getting off the bus I'm confronted with what some Roman's call the Wedding Cake, the National Monument to Victor Emmanual ( the first king of a unified Italy). It is a grand statement in gleaming white marble, which was built into the side of the Capitoline Hill, in 1920. In 1921 the Tomb of the unknown soldier with an eternal guard and flames, was added to the front of the monument. In the Monument are several displays and a museum devoted to the Italian Armed forces. After spending an hour or so looking around I decided to join the hundreds of tourists heading in the midday sun down past the Roman forum ruins to the Colosseum. I walked past enclosed areas of ruins on either side, which may have held more value if I had paid to go on a guided tour with someone who knew their history, but it wasn't until I got into the shadow of the Colosseum, that I really felt that I was somewhere special. I mean this place had been built by the year 80 AD, and that makes it really ancient. Ther was about a 2 hour queue to pay to go inside so I headed back in the hope of finding my way to the Pantheon. It was a real mission and I got lost a couple of times , and then I turned a corner and there it was. The Pantheon is a circular building, finished by the emperor Hadrian in 126 AD, and almost 2000 years after it was built it is still the worlds largest unreinforced concrete dome. The first thing that you notice when you walk inside is the central circular opening to the sky through which sunlight streams through to shine brightly on and reveal a section of the interior wall leaving the rest of the space in semi darkness by contrast. Since the 7th century it has been used as a church, which continues to hold services even as the tourists walk around taking photos. It is a truly impressive place, and it is one of the very few buildings of that age in the world that are still standing. From there I wound my weary way home for a glass of my favourite Pata Negra 3 euro a bottle red wine and a lie down. Rome had worn me out....

monument to Victor Emmanuel

monument to Victor Emmanuel


walking up the steps

walking up the steps


to the Tomb of the unknown soldier

to the Tomb of the unknown soldier


Victor Emmanual on horseback

Victor Emmanual on horseback


Statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius

Statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius


One of two ancient statues to the Gemini twins

One of two ancient statues to the Gemini twins


early Egyptian lion

early Egyptian lion


view of Piazza Venetia

view of Piazza Venetia


ruins

ruins


more ruins

more ruins


and more

and more


and more

and more


and more

and more


and more

and more


the big beautiful Colosseum ruins

the big beautiful Colosseum ruins


once more

once more


that's all folks

that's all folks


shabby street leading to Pantheon

shabby street leading to Pantheon


and another

and another


until you turn a corner and see this

until you turn a corner and see this


pillar detail at entrance

pillar detail at entrance


first thing you see when entering is the light

first thing you see when entering is the light


it lights up different areas

it lights up different areas


inside is a 43mtr circular building, 43mtrs high

inside is a 43mtr circular building, 43mtrs high


church service in progress

church service in progress


outside crumbling a bit

outside crumbling a bit

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Museum of Fine Arts Sevilla

On my last day in Seville I met Linda and Carlos by the Cathedral again to catch up with her before I moved on to Rome. He wanted to show me the Famous Golden Tower which Has stopped Seville being invaded by ships up the river for 700 years. A big chain was stretched across from one bank to the other. It was also reputed to be the place where a lot of the gold which was taken from the Americas by the conquistadors was ofloaded and stored. We then found our way to the Museum of Fine Arts that Linda had not seen before. After a tour of their amazing local artwork (mainly religeous works from the 14th to the 16th centuries that took me to one of the famous bullfighter cafe/bars to try Spains version of a burger. It is death by pork and absolutely filling and delicious. We had a look round some shops and then both parties called it a day and after hugs all round, took of in different directions. I had to throw in a lunch meal I had in a cafe I found the other day, where for 8 euros I got a salad, a pork and roast potatoes, bread, beer, and a fabulous chocolate orange desert. I'm writing this from Rome where at the local supermarket I picked up and heated up for tea a double portion of homemade minestrone soup with every vegetable known to man in it. I will just keep taking it like medicine until I catch up on all the vitamins and minerals I've been missing out on.....

Entrance to Museum

Entrance to Museum


Seville's own 16th century artist Murillo

Seville's own 16th century artist Murillo


Shady tree in front of museum put to good use

Shady tree in front of museum put to good use


lovely 14th century piece about 15cm square

lovely 14th century piece about 15cm square


detailed expressive piece of pottery

detailed expressive piece of pottery


Jesus as a child dancing 15th century, innocence

Jesus as a child dancing 15th century, innocence


one of the saints

one of the saints


One of the saints

One of the saints


looking out to courtyard

looking out to courtyard


Inner courtyard of Museum

Inner courtyard of Museum


Looking down the length of the room

Looking down the length of the room


Hall of Murillo masterpieces

Hall of Murillo masterpieces


Showing the scale of Murillo masterpieces

Showing the scale of Murillo masterpieces


and a little of the ornate ceiling

and a little of the ornate ceiling


'Death 'of the Maestro' - Jose Villegas Cordero

'Death 'of the Maestro' - Jose Villegas Cordero


so cute I had to include it.

so cute I had to include it.


Interesting expression

Interesting expression


cheeky altar-boy

cheeky altar-boy


quintessential postcard from Spain

quintessential postcard from Spain


This one beautifully captures movement

This one beautifully captures movement


another interesting expression

another interesting expression


captured his essence better than a photograph

captured his essence better than a photograph


socio realism from 20th century

socio realism from 20th century


Linda's favourite painting

Linda's favourite painting


Kids still had same look in 1850

Kids still had same look in 1850


The Tower of Gold built in 1220

The Tower of Gold built in 1220


classical flamenco guitarist at the cathedral

classical flamenco guitarist at the cathedral


One of the most beautiful buildings in Seville

One of the most beautiful buildings in Seville


detail from the building

detail from the building


bullfighting cafe/bar

bullfighting cafe/bar


No matador heads..funny that.

No matador heads..funny that.


Roast pork Serranitos for lunch 4.5 euro

Roast pork Serranitos for lunch 4.5 euro


Sorry officer I was only borrowing it..

Sorry officer I was only borrowing it..


potato salad and pork and fried potatoes

potato salad and pork and fried potatoes


chocolate orange cheesecake for dessert

chocolate orange cheesecake for dessert

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Virgin of Hope Macarena, bullfighter's Patroness

This was a short journey I made to see our Lady of Hope (Senora de la Esperanza), which is a bejewelled statue of the Virgin Mary and is the most revered religious icon in Seville. It is held in the Basilica de la Macarena, and during the Easter Festivals is paraded in all her splendour through the streets of Seville. This 16th century statue (also known as the Queen of Seville) is dressed like a queen and surrounded by all of the regalia of royalty. She is made of wood and down her cheeks flow five glass teardrops. The early 20th century basilica is small but furnished in the most extravagant style in gold, silver, and jewelled decorations. It is one of those jaw dropping experiences when you first see inside and you can't help but whisper "oh my God, this is beautiful " She is also known as the Patroness Saint of Bullfighters, and on his death bed Jose Gomez Ortega ( the maestro bullfighter) left five rose emerald brooches to be attached to her dress. During his funeral is the only time in history that the statue has worn only black vestments as a sign of her respect for the famous bullfighter Before I made the 2km walk back to my flat in the 34degree 3pm heat I called in to a Chinese cafe/bar that was advertising a 5 euro lunch and was well pleased with what I got, No dinner for me that night...

The basilica of Macarena

The basilica of Macarena


Only a small church

Only a small church


looking towards the alter

looking towards the alter


La Macarena in all her glory

La Macarena in all her glory


another view

another view


A side chapel in different vestments

A side chapel in different vestments


another side chapel

another side chapel


and another

and another


My sixth floor apartment block

My sixth floor apartment block


salad, chicken noodles. fried bread 5 euro lunch

salad, chicken noodles. fried bread 5 euro lunch

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Plaza de Espana Seville is Amazing

On another scorcher of a 35 degree day I headed out to see the number one attraction in Seville, which is what Tripadvisor calls the Plaza de Espana ( sounds better than Spain Square in English). In my humble opinion, it is a cracker of a place and well worth the effort to find it, ( of course I got off at the wrong bus stop and had to ask an Aussie, who had just visited it, how to find it). "Just follow your nose mate, it's just around the corner", he said, and blow me down, it was. It was built in 1928 for a World Fair, and is a beautiful piece of what you might call " Spanish ArtDeco". The buildings behind the facade are now used for Government Offices, and also used as the headquarters of the Spanish army. The have a really good free museum to explore in part of the building. It was interesting to find out that groups of people come from all over Spain to have their photos taken in front of the alcove which represents the province they come from, (a little pilgrimage). It is the thoughts behind and the amount of detailed tiling that goes into each individual alcove that for me turns the Plaza from a impersonal architectural statement to a place where individual Spaniards can feel holds a piece of their home at its heart. I found it too hot to explore the park areas surrounding the Plaza, which are supposed to be worth seeing. Maybe if I return another time when the temperatures are at least 10 degrees cooler than they are at the moment. Very few places in the world have that absolute WOW factor, and this is one of them..

Near entrance to park and Plaza

Near entrance to park and Plaza


El Cid near Plaza

El Cid near Plaza


bloody van driver...nice building though

bloody van driver...nice building though


My first sight of plaza...wow

My first sight of plaza...wow


double wow

double wow


triple wow

triple wow


south tower and river/moat

south tower and river/moat


view to south tower across Plaza

view to south tower across Plaza


central building of semicircular complex

central building of semicircular complex


central building with bridges across moat

central building with bridges across moat


Even the pebbles are pretty

Even the pebbles are pretty


North tower of complex

North tower of complex


58  alcoves, showcasing each province of Spain

58 alcoves, showcasing each province of Spain


one alcove showcasing Salamanca

one alcove showcasing Salamanca


shaded colonnaded gallery

shaded colonnaded gallery


Star wars scenes shot here

Star wars scenes shot here


half a mile of tiling just on gallery ceiling...

half a mile of tiling just on gallery ceiling...


battalion flags from all over Spain

battalion flags from all over Spain


displayed in an inner courtyard

displayed in an inner courtyard


courtyard

courtyard


courtyard ceiling

courtyard ceiling


a two level military museum

a two level military museum


toy soldiers

toy soldiers


military hats

military hats


The artillery

The artillery


a military uniform/ the birth of the hoodie

a military uniform/ the birth of the hoodie


generals little uniforms for little men.

generals little uniforms for little men.


Whereas common soldiers wear normal size uniforms

Whereas common soldiers wear normal size uniforms

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Magic mushrooms, but not what you're thinking..

Seville is a town that I have taken a while to get the feel of. It is big and the tourist attractions or sights are scattered all over the place, It doesn't help that I chose to stay away from the centre so I have to be aware of the many buses and the routes they take around town, and how I can get back to where I am staying from where I am going. It doesn't help that I don't speak Spanish and few people speak English, and it doesn't help that daily temperatures are hitting 35 degrees. Having said all that I feel like I am getting the feel of it. Today I took a trip to see the Metropol Parasol or as the people call it the five mushrooms, which was completed in 2011 at a cost of $160 million nz, and claims to be the biggest wooden structure in the world. It looks amazing , but like the Valencian structures I saw last year, it has turned into a white elephant. There is a fish and produce market on the first floor, and you can get a lift to take you for $5 to a walkway on the top, but today once again was too hot for people to be up there. Walking in the backstreets in the area I found a cafe that was advertising a 3 course lunch menu with drink and coffee for 8 euro, and as it was 2pm I thought I'd give it a go. My choices were what you'd expect since my grandmother was Irish. It was just luck that I ended up with two plates of meat and potatoes and gravy, followed by a big pudding. It was all delicious and after filling myself up with enough carbs and protein for two days I had to head home for a long siesta to sleep it off. I took one trip into the city to meet up with Linda and Carlos last Friday at the Cathedral. This involved a bus followed by a 20 minute walk. It is a truly awesome sight ( much bigger than anything I saw in Paris). Next to it is the Giralda tower, which was built in 1150 as a mineret for the mosque which was later built over by the Cathedral. The tower has 34 ramps that you climb up to the top for a view over the city, the ramps were put in so that the muezzin could ride his horse to the top when it was time to make the call to prayer. It takes an effort to climb 35 ramps in 35 degree temps so I might pass this trip. The tower was converted to the belltower for the Cathedral when the Christians regained power. A couple of other photos were taken on short foraging trips, and a bus trip I took to find out where to catch the shuttle to the airport at 6.30 on Saturday morning. I managed with Carlos's help to buy a plastic loadable ten trip bus card and so my bus trips now only cost about $1. Of course I couldn't find out where to buy them, and it turned out that only tobacconists sold them.

Magic mushrooms

Magic mushrooms


the old and the new

the old and the new


Stunning artwork

Stunning artwork


An unbelievable alice in wonderland sight

An unbelievable alice in wonderland sight


from every angle

from every angle


students playing hackysack football game

students playing hackysack football game


Spot the ball?

Spot the ball?


Impressive cathedral

Impressive cathedral


Massive Cathedral

Massive Cathedral


huge entrances

huge entrances


Giralda Moorish tower/ing over cathedral

Giralda Moorish tower/ing over cathedral


Linda and Carlos admiring architecture

Linda and Carlos admiring architecture


Old town walls at Macarena since Roman times

Old town walls at Macarena since Roman times


in 1836 a moat constructed to repel invaders.

in 1836 a moat constructed to repel invaders.


Old town gate at Macarena

Old town gate at Macarena


The back of bus station plaza de armas

The back of bus station plaza de armas


Christopher Columbus's ship high & dry

Christopher Columbus's ship high & dry


300 year old shadetree

300 year old shadetree


Even the horses need shade at 35 degrees

Even the horses need shade at 35 degrees


1. calamari and potato curried soup/stew

1. calamari and potato curried soup/stew


2. Melt in mouth chunky pork in a tomato gravy

2. Melt in mouth chunky pork in a tomato gravy


3. double creme caramel/chocolate sauce and cream

3. double creme caramel/chocolate sauce and cream

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)