To Mr. A. on his birthday

In South Korea it’s almost 6 am of August the 23rd but over here in Western Europe it’s still August the 22nd, close to 11 pm. So, I’m still (just) on time to wish Richard Armitage a happy birthday!

I was delighted this morning with this childhood picture the man posted of himself on Instagram

2019-0822 Childhood picture posted on 48th birthday… and these recent images of Richard arriving in South Korea again for filming.

And there’s an extra delight that I have won a small item in Guylty’s auction for Richard’s birthday and that she has been able to transfer € 2300,- as proceeds from the auction to the Shelter charity! I really love the thought of making a donation to a charity as a birthday present so it’s been a delight to be a tiny part of this. (Modified to add: Servetus also has a fundraiser still going on, as I type this, over on her blog! Check it out if you like!)

As for my own personal birthday wish, let me quote a bit of Alexander Pope’s poem called To Mrs MB on her Birthday for him. So, from me to Richard, it’s basically:

To Mr. A. on his birthday:

Oh be thou blest with all that Heav’n can send,
Long Health, long Youth, long Pleasure, and a Friend. […]
With added years if Life bring nothing new,
But, like a Sieve, let ev’ry blessing thro’, […]
Let Joy or Ease, let Affluence or Content,
And the gay Conscience of a life well spent,
Calm ev’ry thought, inspirit ev’ry grace.
Glow in thy heart, and smile upon thy face.
Let day improve on day, and year on year,
Without a Pain, a Trouble, or a Fear! […]

Happy (almost belated) birthday, Richard Armitage!

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Andalusia, the grand finale

We’re home again and missing the deep blue Spanish skies. It’s cooler here, we’ve had our first rain in 15 days, and we’re thinking back to all the beauties of Andalusia. To round things off, here are some final Andalusia pictures from our holiday (as always, you can click on images to enlarge).

We drove through the mountains down to the coast, to Marbella. We actually drove through that cloud that we could see from afar.

We visited the town of Marbella and after we had lunch there walked down to the beach to take a look.

We then drove on to just outside the actual town of Marbella, to where the villas are located, parked there and made our way to a beach there for some swimming and lazing away in the sun and reading. No celebrities spotted. The water was far colder there than what we remembered from Greece last year, but I guess that’s because we were closer to the Atlantic coast as opposed to the Mediterranean.

We stayed in ‘our’ village of Montejaque the next day, which was also Assumption of the Virgin Mary day in Spain. There was a procession in town with 4 Spanish ladies dressed in their finery leading the procession to church where a service was held after.

That evening, after spending time at the pool, we went into Ronda for dinner (and did that Armitage forensic walk). By the time we went back it was dark and we had a beautiful full moon.

We went to Antequera to visit Dolmens there, prehistoric burial grounds that are some 5000 years old! The entrances of the Dolmens are directed at hills that are shaped as a face profile of someone lying down.

We also visited the town itself where we had a late lunch…

… and on our way home we caught sight of a flamingo colony we had read about, the only one in Europe apparently, where wild flamingos come to breed in summer. We trudged through an empty field to get a closer look but didn’t want to get in too close for fear of disturbing them.

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We were back in the village in the evening where there was a procession with the Virgin Mary statue, with marching band and all.

We also went to Sevilla again to visit the castle there, called the ‘Real Alcazar’. Very beautiful, also with Moorish influcences, and a center for explorers like Amerigo Vespucci at the time. It was busy but less overrun than the Alhambra and maybe that is why I may have liked Alcazar more than the Alhambra…

… or maybe I liked it more because of the initials on their souvenirs?

I didn’t get any of these Richard Armitage… erm… Real Alcazar souvenirs, though.

It was so hot in Sevilla that day (41°C) that we decided to not hang around there for dinner after all, but return to our apartment and take a quick dip in the pool before closing time. We were also planning on going to Gibraltar for a day, but while researching found it all too expensive (with parking fees, bus shuttle fees, cable cars, entrance fees and meals), so ditched that plan and opted for another cool poolside day instead.

Festivities were still happening in Montejaque (last day), so took a peek again at the final party.

And, almost before we realized it, our last day came! Our flight was going in the evening and we had to vacate our apartment by 10.30 a.m. As we were flying from Malaga, we spent that last day in Malaga. When we got there we found ourselves in the middle of a 10 day festival, the Feria de Malaga! Very festive and we also discovered that Picasso had been born in Malaga, so we walked by his birthplace (the last picture in this collage).

What was fun about the festival is that many ladies and kids were dressed in fine Spanish dresses. It was a great way to end our stay in Spain before we caught our plane back to Amsterdam.

Now that we’re back home we’ve been busy with family visits and laundry and sorting through pictures. Luckily work doesn’t start again till next week, so we have some days left to hold on to that holiday feeling. 🌞

Armitage forensics: Ronda

Just before Richard Armitage’s birthday on August 22nd, I have a little Armitage treat for you. Best treat of course is to check out the Armitage birthday auction that Guylty has going on right now! But this is a little extra, a little birthday dessert, if you will.

Last week, after I posted my first Andalusian picture spam, Servetus was so kind as to point out in the comments section that I have been visiting the region in which Richard Armitage filmed an episode of Berlin Station. To regular readers here, it won’t be a secret that I never particularly warmed up to Berlin Station. So, while I did watch season 1 and 2 and little bit of season 3, I never bothered to get into the behind the scenes details of the show. I did know that Richard had filmed in Spain, but I only remembered he’d been to Las Palmas. However, episode 2 of season 2 was filmed in the south of Spain, exactly where I am visiting now on my summer holiday. Our ‘home base’ here is about 20 minutes away from the lovely old town of Ronda and Servetus reminded me that one episode had been filmed in and around… Ronda! Of course, I couldn’t resist, and the following scenario ensued between me and Mr. Esther.

Esther: So, sweetie, we need to do another fangirl forensic trip again. Last year we did Gregory Peck on Rhodos, this year it will be Richard Armitage in Ronda. He filmed an episode of Berlin Station here.

Mr Esther: That show you didn’t like? I thought it was set in Berlin?

Esther: Yes, but they did one episode in Spain. Richard has infiltrated a neo nazi group and needs to pretend to do an arms deal…

Mr Esther: Yeah, yeah. And that is set in Spain?

Esther. Yes, in Ronda. So, it’s images of Richard in Ronda! And I’m here in his footsteps!

Mr Esther: Really? The lengths I go through for you… alright, show me the episode…

Esther (at the ready, starting up the episode on my laptop): Here! I have found out the starting point but you are the Google Maps expert, help me with the rest.

Mr Esther (watching the Ronda parts in Berlin Station): Oh, I recognize that, we walked past there the other day!…. Don’t recognize that (consulting Google maps )… oh, but I know where it is and wanted to walk by there anyway… This will be there (zooming in on Google Maps)… I don’t think there’s a souvenir shop there… And see, in the market scene they don’t show the statue on the square… And look, that’s on the corner where we had dinner… Fine, we can do this, it’s partially in the section of town where we were still wanting to walk anyhow.

I’m lucky to have such a fangirl enabler for a husband. He’s so good at remembering locations, the perfect partner in crime to do this with. The kids just look at me with pity but willingly walked the route as well, as long as we never lingered too long in one spot. So, here goes…

The opening shot for the Ronda section in episode 2 of season 2 comes about 17 or 18 minutes into the episode. This is the screenshot:

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Obviously, we don’t have flying capabilities in the Esther household, so this how we saw that bridge while we were in town and the brige & town from a distance:

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All the scenes that were filmed for Berlin Station were filmed in the older part of town, to the right of the bridge in these pictures.

The first spot the actors stop at I was able to identify myself because of the name of the restaurant you see in the screenshot, the street is a side street off the main road right near the bridge:

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Again, I do not own a crane or a drone or whatever took this bird’s eye shot but we really were there ourselves:

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Richard and Emilia Schüle (who played Lena Ganz) park their car opposite that restaurant:

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And Mr Esther, with eagle eyes, commented: That P-sign is gone but you can see the faint outline of where it used to be! Even the markings on the wall below the P-sign are still visible.

Goes to show how dedicated Mr E is to details and getting them right.

So Richard talks to Emilia just after they get out of the car and walks that little section of street with the group…

To quote Mr E: “You are standing on holy ground, in the exact same spot where Richard stood.” 😉

Richard’s group moves on to another section of town, which is just across the street from the main road. This is where the souvenir shop is located, only in real life there is no souvenir shop there.

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In real life the building on the left with flags is a hotel. We walked by there a few days before we undertook the Armitage forensics walk.

We did get a shot of the door in front of which Rhys Ifans stands:

At one point Richard meets up with Emilia again. That location is a little further up the street from where the fake souvenir shop was located.

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We walked by that location after dinner so it was dark when Mr E took the picture of me there in Richard’s spot:

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Richard then walks to the market place with Emilia, that is just a few steps away from the previous location:

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There was no market there when we walked there, just a square…

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In this following picture with actor Thomas Kretschmann, you can see the iron gate that faces the valley in the background…

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… it’s where my kids stood for this picture before we even went on our forensic tour:

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Last but not least, Richard and group leave Ronda again. There’s a speedy car ride at the end…

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… which was filmed just down the street from the first location where the car had been parked:

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Walking a little further, we came to this point:

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We’re overlooking another, older, bridge over that cliff, situated lower in the old town. The cameras filming the car speeding must have stood on this exact spot as well, going by this screenshot:

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And so endeth the Armitage in Ronda forensic tour. We didn’t find the interior of that café where they talk or of the souvenir shop. We did walk into other souvenir shops in town, I told my kids to look out for a straw donkey souvenir like the one Richard bought…

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I had hoped to maybe offer that as a last-minute surprise item in Guylty’s Armitage birthday auction. The kids helped me look but no such item was to be found in the souvenir shops we walked into. In another town (Antequera) my daughter did point out this decorative item in a shop to me…

Donkey IMG_4456 Antequera… but the item was too large and not for sale anyhow.

As for villas, there are lots of villas that dot the Andalusian landscape. This is the one used in Berlin Station:

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And as we drove the other day, not far from Ronda, I spotted this villa…

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For a moment during the drive I thought that could be the one, but on closer inspection it isn’t. Still, it was a nice thought.

So, there you have it: a little Armitage forensics in action in southern Spain! It was a fun little project within our holiday. It’s our last day here, hanging at the apartment and swimming, we fly back home tomorrow. I think it’s time for me to head to the pool right now while I still can. 😎

Andalusian pictures – segunda parta

So, the Andalusia holiday continues, these pictures are from the middle part of our holiday.

Close to where we’re staying there are caves. In this particular one, the Cave of La Pileta, they found pre-historic wall paintings from 10.000 – 5.000 BC. Pictures were only allowed at the entrance of the cave but Mr Esther snuck two in (without flash). That last one was of a calender, with those lines counting the days. The fish belly drawing we saw as well, the picture included here is from the information board outside.

What was most impressing were these huge stalagmite and stalagtite columns that had grown together and when you hit them they reverberated with sound. The guide called them the “organ”, pre-historic people would make music hitting those columns, each column had a different pitch. Totally fascinating and a pity we couldn’t film what that looked and sounded like.

We also went to Granada for a day. Nice town…

…and we made our way up to the Alhambra palace, which overlooks the city. The Alhambra, as in The Tales of the Alhambra mentioned in North & South by Fanny Thornton. The book was even for sale in the souvenir shops, but I decided against buying it because, in all honesty, I don’t think I’ll ever read it.

The palace and grounds are huge, it was a hot day, so we took many shade and drinks moments. We had booked tickets to the main palace a few weeks ago and good thing that we did as the tickets were all sold out. We got in, though, and viewed the palace with many, many other tourists. It was a bit over-run to my liking but beautiful nonetheless! The palace was built by the ruling Muslims in the 14th century near the end of their reign and all the Arab decoration is still there today. Very beautiful!

It’s a huge place with many buildings, so I can imagine that justifying any amount of tales! On our way out of the palace grounds we came across a big fountain with close to that a statue of Washington Irving, the author of The Tales of the Alhambra.

We ended the day with dinner in a village halfway between Granada and where we were staying and there, in Archidona, there was an evening festival…

What we didn’t realize before coming here is that Spanish villages here in Andalusia are full of festivities and celebrations in August, even here in ‘our’ village. We stayed for a day at the pool and that evening took a peek at the rock festival in the village square around the corner… it was Spanish rock, not the best ever, but entertaining enough.

We also spent a day in Cordoba, which, together with Sevilla, was our fave city to visit.

The 9th century (!!) Le Mezquita mosque which later also became a church was stunning. For the newest era, it also included the first painting of Mother Theresa that I have ever seen in a church.

We came across a lovely middle-eastern looking tea house in the city and went inside for a drink. I had one of the best ever chai tea lattes there.

We walked through the Jewish quarter, where we didn’t have the time (or the kids have the energy) to go to the Sephardic Jewish Museum but we did pass by the synagogue (one of the oldest in Spain). We had wanted to visit that but alas it was closed for the day by the time we got there. We did get to see the nice statue of Maimonides in the nearby square.

On our drive back we were treated to a beautiful moon rising in the sky and a stunning sunset.

The next day Mr Esther and I left the kids by the pool while we drove around the nature reserve area around here with stunning mountains, beautiful vistas, half stripped cork trees and eagles circling in the skies.

I haven’t looked at the last set of pictures yet, but there will a part three to these (we fly home again on Monday so probably after then). So many beautiful things here in Andalusia!

Andalusian picture spam

It’s so beautiful here, I just have to share a whole lotta pictures.

This is en route to where we are staying:

 

Ronda is the nearest big town from where we are. Apparently Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles liked to come there, their plaques are right next to the bull fighting arena that we refuse to visit. It’s a beautiful town, situated on top of cliffs with a bridge across a very steep valley. We had dinner in a side street that was filled with restaurants.

 

In ‘our’ village Montejaque there was a cultural festival. I was too tired to go see the Queen tribute band (they started playing half an hour after midnight) but we did catch some Flamenco dancing earlier in the week.

 

Close to the village we took a beautiful, not too long (as my ankle is still not fully healed yet), hike which included vultures checking us out. The scenery here is stunning!

 

We also had lunch in Setenil de las Bodegas, a small town with buildings built inside, or really set up against, caves.

 

Sunset outside our apartment the other evening…

 

Yesterday we went to Sevilla, with the cathedral that holds the Christopher Columbus grave monument and still shows its Moorish roots in its arches for instance, then out in the streets there are sheets covering some streets to offer shelter from the sun. We plan on going back again later to visit the castle.

 

We ended yesterday in Ronda again, this time looking up at the city from below and then having dinner there in a square.

 

We’ve also had time to swim and just hang.

And these were only the first 4 days… I love holidays!