Two Cities ~ Two Countries

My wife and I recently visited Niagara Falls this past August in our quest to escape some of the summer heat.  I had been there two earlier times as a child and a parent.  The town of Niagara has seen betters days.  Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to be there at night.  It is run down and the areas near the falls are tacky.  I was also disappointed to see the casinos on the Canadian side of the river.   We took the proverbial pictures of the falls, but not of Niagara.

We discovered Niagara on the Lake in Canada, a short drive from the falls.  On the way we stopped at a number of wineries before we hit the town and Wow! what a contrast between Niagara, NY and Niagara on the Lake in Canada.

There were flowers everywhere, in window boxes, along the street, on street posts and in store windows.  There were quaint shops with a wide variety of wares along with ice cream shops bed and breakfast inns and restraints.  We shopped a while then had a drink at the country club along Lake Ontario and the mouth of the Niagara River across from Fort Niagara, NY.

Fort Niagara
Fort Niagara

 

 

 

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Vacationing in Andalucia, Spain

We took our first Spanish vacation in Andalusia. It is the southern most area of Spain and boarders the Mediterranean Sea on the south and the Atlantic on the west.  The the Mediterranean beach area is called Costa del sol.  The territory has eight provinces that also match the names of the cities in the provinces.  Of those we visited Seville, the capital of Andalusia, Cordoba, Granada, and Malaga.  We also visited Gibraltar, a small peninsula in Andalusia on the Mediterranean Sea that is part of the United Kingdom.  And I took a day trip to Tangier Morocco.  See other posts in this blog for more about those locations.

Andalusia’s history, culture and language has been heavily influenced by the Iberians, Visigoths, Romans, Greeks, Jews, Muslim Moors and Christians.  The name is derived from the Arabic  word Al-Andalus.

Our “base camp” was a condominium in Calahonda, a small town southwest of Malaga. We lived in a neighborhood that was interspersed with a few hotels. You could see the influence from the Muslim Moors in many of the buildings.  We found this a very relaxing environment.  It was quiet, peaceful, with beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea. On a Sunday afternoon we found a large flee market that was fun to visit

Calahonda
Calahonda
Mediterranean Villa
Mediterranpan Villa
Calahonda Flee Market
Calahonda Flee Market
Local Road to Condo
Local Road to Condo

The Luna Beach and all the beaches in Calahonda were within close walking distance. The  beaches consisted of sand and very tiny and medium sized stones. Larger rocks were near the beach in the water, which was a beautiful blue. Many people were sun bathing, fishing, or walking along the beach. There were few swimmers as the water was on the cool side.

Luna Beach
Luna Beach
Playa del Luma
Playa del Luma
Calahonda Beach
Calahonda Beach

We had an opportunity to eat at a new restaurant called Max which was part of a beach club on Max Beach. The views were great, service and food were excellent.

Max Beach Club
Max Beach Club

We took a local bus to Marbella and Fuengirola on two separate days.  They both have yacht harbors, nice beaches and lots of good restaurants and shopping.  We explored the towns on foot for a few hours, but much more time can be devoted to both towns.  In Marbella we found a local church that looked very old.  It is quite a contrast between it and the large cathedrals throughout Spain, but this is the type of place where most people worship.  Both towns are old with narrow streets that have lots of flowers and courtyards.

Marbella LocChurch
Marbella Local Church
Inside Local Church
Inside Marbella Local Church
City Street
Marbella City Street
Marbella City Street
Marbella City Street
Marbella Local Street
Marbella Local Street
Marbella Side Street
Marbella Side Street

Most of our time in Fuengirola was directed to a huge market that was held each Tuesday from about 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. There were some tourists there, but mostly local people. It was great fun. The merchandise was good and the prices fair.

Fuengirola Market
Fuengirola Market
Fuengirola Market
Fuengirola Market

Cruising the Guadalquivir River

The Guadalquivir River is the fifth longest river in Spain and the only navigable river in the country.  At one time ships could travel all the way to Cordoba, but silt has filled in many places.  Today river craft are limited from the Gulf of Cádiz to Seville.

Our river cruise started at the Torrre del Oro, golden tower.  It is referred to as the golden tower because its dome is painted gold and the color of its outer materials reflects yellow/goald in the river.  It is a dodecagonal watchtower built to protect Seville.   The initial construction began in the 13th century.  It was a prison in the Middle Ages and anchored a large chain that was strong across the river to prevent ships from sailing further up the river.  Today it is a maritime museum.  Interestingly it was restored and opened as a museum in 1944 during WWII.

Torre del Oro (Golden Tower)
Torre del Oro (Golden Tower)
Torre del Oro Door
Torre del Oro Door

Saville is made up of many neighborhoods. The river separates the Triana neighborhood from the centre of Seville. People in Triana consider themselves Trianeros before they consider themselves Sevillanos.

Triana Neighborhood Apartments along the Guadalquvivir River
Triana Neighborhood Apartments along the Guadalquvivir River
Triana Neighborhood
Triana Neighborhood

Another neighborhood is Prado-Parque de María Luisa. It is opposite the Triana neighborhood and lies near the Alcazar Gardens.

Prado-Parque de María Luisa Neighborhood
Prado-Parque de María Luisa Neighborhood

Jardines de Catalina de Ribera

Not far from the Saville Cathedral are part of the gardens of the Alcázar.  In 1920 these gardens were created in two parts, one called the Jardines de Catalina de Ribera, named after its benefactress.  It has a statue and fountain to commemorate Christopher Columbus.

The Alcázar (Palace) of Seville remains in this part of the city and is still used by the King of Spain when he visits. The Alcázar is situated near the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. The Alcázar was initially occupied in the 8th century BC. A series of other buildings were built on the same spot including the College of Orlearians, a Visigothic Christian Basilica, and a Caliph residence.  Ultimately it became the palace for the royal family of Spain in the 13th century.

Statue and Fountain to Commorate Columbus
Statue and Fountain to Commorate Columbus
Alcázar of Saville
Alcázar of Saville
A gate to the Alcázar of Seville
A gate to the Alcázar of Seville
Outer wall of the Alcázar of Seville
Outer wall of the Alcázar of Seville

Behind the Alcázar is the Barrio de Santa Cruz.  It is a historical jewish section of the city.  It consists of hotels, local residences, shopping, and beautiful courtyards.

Street Map of Santa Cruz
Street Map of Santa Cruz
 Alcázar Outer Wall
Alcázar Outer Wall
Former Jewish House, now a hotel
Former Jewish House, now a hotel
Former Jewish House
Former Jewish House
Santa Cruz Street
Santa Cruz Street
Santa Cruz Courtyard
Santa Cruz Courtyard
Santa Cruz Courtyard Orange Trees
Santa Cruz Courtyard Orange Trees

Many Spanish homes reflect the architectural design of the romans where the house surrounds an inner courtyard. We caught a glimpse of some private courtyards that serve as a quiet oasis from the noise of the city.

Spanish Courtyard
Spanish Courtyard, Santa Cruz
Spanish Courtyard
Spanish Courtyard, Santa Cruz

Saville Cathedral (Catedral de Santa María de la Sede)

The Catedral de Santa María de la Sede, Saville Cathedral, originally started out as a mosque built in 830 AD. This was later supplanted by a larger mosque completed in 1198.  The Christianization of the mosque began with the conquest of Saville by King Ferdinand III in the 13th century.  Building and remolding continued on and off for nearly 300 years.  There are over 40 chapels within the cathedral. The Saville Cathedral is considered the third largest cathedral in the world and was designated a UNSCO World Heritage site.  It has the longest nave of any Spanish cathedral.  The current building reflects many types of architecture.  The court yard built with the original mosque and enlarged by the later mosque is retained as part of the cathedral.

Door of the Assumption
Door of the Assumption
Saville Cathedral
Saville Cathedral
Mosque Wall
Mosque Wall
Mosque Door Sealed by Cathedral
Mosque Door Sealed by Cathedral
Cathedral Courtyard
Cathedral Courtyard
Cathedral Baptismal Font
Cathedral Baptismal Font
Cathedral Nave
Cathedral Nave
A Cathedral Alter
A Cathedral Alter
Cathedral Silver Alter
Cathedral Silver Alter
Cathedral Relics
Cathedral Relics

 

The most famous person buried in the Saville Cathedral is Christopher Columbus.  His tomb is not easily missed.

Christopher's Columbus Tomb
Christopher’s Columbus Tomb
Under the Columbus Tomb
Under the Columbus Tomb
Columbus Tomb
Columbus Tomb

The Giralda, bell tower, was originally built at the minaret for the mosque.  It stands at 343 feet high with the bells placed on top.

La Giralda (Bell Tower)
La Giralda (Bell Tower)

Gibraltar in 2019

Gibraltar, is a unique geographical outpost of the United Kingdom.  Located on the tip of Spain, it is close to North Africa.  The “Rock” has provided a military strategic advantage for centuries dating back to the Moors and the latest during WWII.  Visitors will find remnants from the fortifications built on Gibraltar over time.

Moroccan Fortress
Moroccan Fortress
Exterior Wall
Gibraltar Exterior Wall (Moroccan)
Gibraltar Fortification
Gibraltar Fortification (British)
WWII Gun
WWII Gun

Gibraltar is made of of very narrow, steep roads, many man made tunnels, and caves.  The roads are usually bounded by rocks, steep cliffs, or both.  It can be a little scary when navigating them in a bus, even a small one.

Gibraltar Tunnel
Gibraltar Tunnel
Gibraltar Road
Gibraltar Road

Saint Michael’s Cave, named after a cave in Apulia Italy, is located in the “Upper Rock” of Gibraltar. It is made of of limestone. The areas open to the public are well lit and have stairs with railings. There is a large natural amphitheater with seating. The natural acoustics enhance the sound from concerts played here.

St. Michael's Cave
St. Michael’s Cave
St. Michael's Columns
St. Michael’s Columns
Bottom of St. Michael's Cave
View from the bottom of St. Michael’s Cave
Cross Section of a stalactite/stalagmite
Cross Section of a stalactite/stalagmite
Natural View
Natural View
Accentuated with Color
Accentuated with Color
Cool Green
Cool Green

Around St. Michael’s Cave you’re likely to find Barbary “Apes,” actually monkeys that were brought over from Morocco. At one time the British Army cared for the apes, designating one part of the hospital for their care. Today their care is outsourced to a company. They are very tame, often posing for pictures.  There are steep fines for feeding the “Apes.”

Barbary "ape"
Barbary “Ape” at the mouth of St. Michael’s Cave
Barbary "Ape"
Barbary “Ape” in woods near the St. Michael’s Cave

At the tip of Gibraltar is the Straits of Gibraltar where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. The views are beautiful and on a clear day you can see the coast of Morocco.  Gibraltar is a very crowded peninsula.  The engineers have started to reclaim land to build more housing.

Straits of Gibraltar
Straits of Gibraltar
Gibraltar Light House
Gibraltar Light House at Europa Point
Land Reclaimed from Mediterranean
Reclaimed Land for Living Space on Gibraltar

 

Finally, what would an excursion be with out shopping. Main Street in Gibraltar has become devoted to shopping and eating as well some interesting architecture.

Hotdoggers drive Wienermobile

Winermobile
Watching the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile go down the street is something that will catch your eye.  The first Wienermobile was created in 1936 by Karl Mayer, nephew of Oscar Mayer, founder of the company.  There are six Wienermobiles that crisscross the country every year.  You can’t miss a hot dog driving down the road.  I have had unusual luck seeing them on the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana campus.  The company recruits drivers from college campuses.   When a college student is selected as a hotdogger, he/she attends “Hot Dog High.”  Here they learn how to be a good ambassador for Oscar Mayer.   When the Hotdogger hit the road they make visits to charitable organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House, Red Cross Foundation, and retailers selling Oscar Mayer products.  They provide goodwill, enhance public relations, and hand out thousands of wiener whistles.

I usually see them every year on campus.  This last time I was able to take a quick peak inside before they started their next excursion.  It was extremely roomy and comfortable looking.

InsideInside

Grand Ole Oprey

The beginning of the what is now Grand Ole Opry began in 1925 at the National Life and Accident Insurance Company, moving from place to place until it found its “permanent” home at the Ryman Auditorium in 1943.  Country talent graced the halls of the auditorium from 1943 to 1974 when it moved to its current location called the Grand Ole Oprey.

The Ryman Auditorium has quite a history.  Originally built as a church by Thomas Ryman, a wealthy riverboat captain, it was called Union Gospel Tabernacle and later after it use expanded, the name was changed to the Ryman Auditorium.  The building was later given a second floor in 1897 and a stage in 1901 where national and international talent performed (John Phillip Sousa’s Peerless Band, The Imperial Russian Ballet, Katherine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Edward Strauss and his Vienna Orchestra, CarusoKatherine Hepburn, Bob Hope).  Lectures by leaders of their time gave public lectures (Susan B. Anthony Booker T. Washington, President Theodore Roosevelt, President William Howard Taft, etc.).

Today the Ryman Auditorium has live radio country music performances with audiences four times per week.

Ryman Auditorium
Ryman Auditorium
Inside the Ryman
Inside the Ryman Auditorium
Ryman Stage
Ryman Stage

Because the Ryman Auditorium had deteriorated a new build was built called the Grand Ole Opry.  It opened on March 16, 1974.  It continues to host top names in country music and comedy as well as offer new talent while packing in crowds of enthusiasts every week.

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Grand Ole Opry

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We attended the 9:00 pm show and it went until 11:30.  The music and comedy were great.  Well worth the price of admission, but buy your tickets ahead of time. Depending on the time of the year, it may be hard to get into the show.

Honkey Tonk

The general honkey tonk area of Nashville runs from second through fifth streets on along Broadway.  The buildings have become historical landmarks and can be modernized from the inside, but must remain the same on the outside, some dating back to the late 1800’s.

From about 10 am to late morning the next day you can find good bands in all of the bars, many without cover charge, they survive on tips.  We found the music and food a great way to spend an afternoon unwinding .

Broadway
Tootsies on Broadway
Inside Tootsies
Second Street
Second Street
BB Kinds on Second Street
Canadian birthday girls, mother and daughter
Young visitors from Sweden
Red Dog on Broadway
Jason Aldean’s on Broadway
Rock Bottom on Broadway