Barcelona – Bilbao

last night in Spain, trip is almost over.  Barcelona is just another large Spanish city of 4 million. Most live in 5-6 story apartment buildings that cover almost the whole of the city.

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House of Lieo Morera
This is the house that most confuse with Gaudi. Once again hundreds of tourists and the notorious selfie stick.
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This is the house of a former textiles tycoon and had Gaudi renovate it. It is known as Mila House.
The selfie and Japanese
These are some of the thousands of young Japanese tourists and the selfie stick. I happened to ask them how come young students could afford to travel the world taking selfies. They told me that their parents were working double shifts in the Toyota making Land Cruisers, Prado’s and Hilux utes for the Australian market
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This is the famous Basilica of La Sagrada Familia. originally started by Gaudi in 1883. He worked on it up to his death in 1926. Work has continued in fits and starts up to the present stage. I personally think it will never be finished as its such a money spinner. 18 Euros each to enter, which can 30 mins to buy the ticket and another 2 hour wait to get in for a look. Didn’t seem to bother the Japanese much.
Part of the street known as the Ramblas
This is part of the street they call the Ramblas. Its about 1 km long and has dozens of portable shops and cafes. Very little harassment as it is well policed.
Bullring after conversion to a shopping centre
The residents and government of Barcelona banned bull fighting several years ago and turned the local bull ring into a modern shopping centre. A much better option than tormenting bulls to death.

 

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Kay in front of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao
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The Guggenheim designed by Frank Gehry and covered in sheets of Titanium

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The Guggenheim museum at night time from the bridge across the river.

This is the last post from Spain as tomorrow (Wed local) we leave for Hong Kong and face a trip to Dubai of 6.5 hours and then onto Hong Kong and a 7 hour trip.

 

 

 

Valencia & Sylwia

We  arrived in Valencia about 10.30 pm and went straight to our hotel and to bed. The following morning we were met in the lobby by my cousin Sylwia Czochara. It was great to catch up with her after first meeting her as an 11 year old 15 years ago on our visit to the homeland. She has finished her business administration degree and after spending 6 years in Spain is fluent in Polish, English and Spanish. She works as an executive in a global company that supplies Hotels with all kinds of foods.

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Cousin Sylwia and yours truly at the start of our walk around the arts precinct

It seems the folks in Valencia diverted the river and in the space provided built a heap of stuff at a cost of many billions of Euros.

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The Science Museum
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Kay and I in front of the Opera House which to me looks a bit like the architect used the USS Enterprise from Star Trek as a guide

For lunch Sylwia took us to see the Mediterranean Ocean. Kay and Sylwia demolished a lobster paella while I had sea bream and a few Estrella beers, very nice I have to add.

lobster pialla

After lunch Sylwia took us to her new flat which was very tastefully being redecorated after which we walked into the old city. We saw lots of Plazas and churches before having dinner and meeting her partner Juan Jose, a really nice guy and they make a nice couple.

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A typical street scene in old Valencia
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I think this one was called the Plaza of the Virgin

Finally we said our farewells and I must say how great it was to spend the best part of the day with cousin Sylwia. We promised to go back for her wedding.

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The plaza at which we had dinner

 

Postscript to Madrid – Seville

After seeing the bull rings and having been told of the horrors and agonies suffered by the bulls and that up to 10,000 bulls die in agony each year in Spain alone I just had to see if just occasionally the bulls had a win. I have included a few images where the bull had a moment of satisfaction over his tormentor.

wpid-spanish-bull-fighter-pedro-muriel-gored-where-it-hurts

one for el toro

one for el toro#4

one for el toro#3

one for el toro#2

SPANISH BULLFIGHTER JULIO APARICIO GORED IN THE THROAT...MADRID, 21/05/2010.- Spanish bullfighter Julio Aparicio is gored in the throat by his first bull, of the Juan Pedro Domecq cattle raising, during the San Isidro Fair bullfight held at at Las Ventas Arena, in Madrid, central Spain, 21 may 2010. EFE/Gustavo Cuevas
SPANISH BULLFIGHTER JULIO APARICIO GORED IN THE THROAT…MADRID, 21/05/2010.- Spanish bullfighter Julio Aparicio is gored in the throat by his first bull

one for el toro#5

Madrid-Seville

We left Paris via the Charles de-Gaulle airport a freezing 4 degrees. After a 2 hour flight arrived in sunny Madrid, a very pleasant 20 degrees. We stayed in the city centre and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Madrid, a city of over 6 million.

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Our Hotel in Madrid Centro

We took a tour of Madrid and saw all the usual tourist sights including the Bull Ring which is still being used.  I find it difficult to understand how the Spanish consider torturing  a bull to death is a sport, I guess its similar to our duck hunters consider slaughtering our water birds a sport.

Madrid bull fighting ring
The Madrid Bull Slaughtering ring

We visited the commercial end of Madrid and saw these two leaning towers, they lean at the same angle as the famous Pisa leaning tower, about 4 or 5 degrees from vertical.

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The leaning towers of Madrid

We also saw the stadium of the famous Real Madrid Football team. A huge stadium that can hold over 80,000 spectators.

Real Madrid Stadium

The next day we took a tour of Toledo. a very old town built on a hill with lots of narrow streets and lots of churches. I learnt more about the catholic religion that day from our guide than all the years I spent in Maryborough at Saint Augustine’s Primary school.

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Toledo as seen from the next hill

The following day we took the very fast train from Madrid to Seville. The trip is about 540 km and takes about 2 and a half hours. Imagine leaving Melbourne Southern Cross station and arriving in Sydney Central a little over 3 hours later instead of the current 9 hours. We all know it isn’t going to happen.

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The very old Islamic Tower in Seville

Seville was delightful, a mixture of the old town with its hundreds of narrow winding streets, where one can easily get lost, to the wide streets in the modern Seville.

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Kay doing some window shopping in old Seville

Seville still tortures bulls in the bull ring but we and an English couple let our guide know that we considered it barbaric and something a civilised society wouldn’t participate in. He agreed with us.

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Inside the Seville Bull Ring

We also came across this very old and very large plaza in Seville and were at a loss to work out what purpose it served other than to entertain hundreds of Japanese tourists with selfie sticks and Americans on segways.

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Grand Plaza

That same evening we left Seville on another fast train for Valencia. We got very close but only got to 299 km per hour. Bit of a shame as I really wanted to crack the 300 barrier. Maybe next time.

almost 300km]h on train to Valencia