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. 🌞

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!

Christmas part two

So, Christmas is always two days here in The Netherlands. Christmas Day on the 25th and what is Boxing Day in the UK is called “Second Christmas Day” over here.

Traditionally, we celebrate Christmas Day with my in-laws. Mr Esther is an only child, so it’s only the 6 of us. The in-laws came over in the afternoon of the 25th and stayed for a nice low-key but festive dinner that Mr Esther prepared (he enjoys doing that way more than I do)…

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Yesterday, the 26th and Second Christmas Day, we always celebrate with my family at my mother’s apartment. I have loads of brothers and sisters and only one of them and his kids couldn’t be there, they’re in Israel. The rest were able to come, even my brother and niece who live in London. So it was pretty busy with my mom, my aunt, 6 siblings with 2 partners and a friend, and 7 nephews and nieces. My mom always starts with reading a passage from the bible and a little speech, this year it was about having compassion for others.

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My dad is still very much missed and was also commemorated…

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We then celebrated Christmas with a few gifts and everyone had brought something to eat for a buffet dinner. There was music and dancing and a lot of jolliness…

… and within no time my younger brother J spawned an idea: he wants to take my two kids (17 and 15) and my other brother’s daughter (14) to London to stay with my third brother D and his daughter (also 14) over New Year’s! D and his daughter were totally up for it, and after checking flight info it became clear that this idea was very affordable. So, within an hour of the idea being born, a flight for four was booked to London and the four of them will be staying at D’s around New Year’s! This means that for the first time in 17 years Mr Esther and I won’t have a New Year’s Eve with our kids… that makes me sad but at the same time I am also thrilled that they are going on this mini adventure with my brothers! Great cousins and uncles bonding time.

The upside is that Mr Esther and I can go off and do something on our own. So, we booked a hotel in Hamburg and will spend a few days there around the New Year, just the two of us! I’ve only once ever very briefly passed through Hamburg before, know little about the place but am told it’s a fun city. Now we’ll get to see for ourselves. If it’s going to look anything like this, it’ll be cool!

This Christmas break keeps on giving. Perfect respite after the shit time I’ve been having at work. I hope to be so filled up with joy and happiness that by the time I return to work, I will be energized again and maybe things will feel a little lighter.

The Rhodos-Navarone-Peck trail

This past summer I was on the Greek island of Rhodos, it was beautiful there (I wrote about it here, here and here)! It was also the location where a lot of the movie The Guns of Navarone was filmed.

My first real fangirl crush in my teens was Gregory Peck and I still love the man. I went on a Roman Holiday pilgrimage in Rome 8 years ago, which is 4 years BB (Before Blog), so I’ve only gotten around to mentioning that in passing here. Now that I’m already 4 years into blogging (I’m just realizing as I write this that I missed my 4 year blogiversary at the end of September), I’m aware that my latest pilgrimage could also be blog post material. So, here is an account of my pilgrimage from last summer: figuring out where exactly Gregory Peck & team filmed The Guns of Navarone!

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In a movie challenge I once did here on blog, I named this movie as a favourite war movie. I can appreciate a good war movie but tend to not watch them more than once. The Guns of Navarone is one of the few exceptions, mainly due to Gregory Peck. Even though the movie is 57 years old (filmed 10 years before I was born, released 9 years before I was born) I realized while I visited the island that there are still traces to be found of the time when Navarone was filmed there. I discovered that it was mostly filmed in Rhodos city and Lindos and the stretch of land between those two towns.

Near the (extremely touristy and busy) Faliraki (halfway between Rhodos and Lindos) there is a hotel called the “Gregory Peck Beach Apartments”! Of course, I just had to drive by that… If I had realized this existed before booking our holiday, we could have rented rooms there, but in the end I think we were happier with where we were. So, I just took some quick drive-by pictures of the Gregory Peck beach hotel…

A little further south of Faliraki you can find the (also extremely busy) “Anthony Quinn bay”. Anthony Quinn bought that bay while he was filming Navarone, although I understand that in the 1980’s the land was reclaimed by Rhodos. Whatever the squabble with that was, the bay is still called “Anthony Quinn bay”. We didn’t swim there (too crowded) but I did get out of the car to take a few pictures there as well:

In the nearby Kalithea springs (right next to the cat sanctuary we visited) there were pictures on the walls commemorating the movies made there, most prominently Navarone…

I’m not sure what was exactly filmed at Kalithea, maybe this scene?

Kallithea maybe

… but cool to see the film referenced there!

I have screencapped some locations shown in the movie and I have my own pictures (and some of Mr Esther’s) that we took this past summer. Putting those side by side made me see how much of the fictional place of Navarone was photoshopped (or whatever they called that technique in the early 1960’s). Navarone is made up of parts of the town of Lindos mixed in with parts of Rhodos city, but more about that later.

The film opens in a temple, which is the temple of Lindos…

Lindos templeI don’t know if they reconstructed the temple somewhat for the film or whether more than 50 years later the temple has just fallen into more disrepair. This is what it looks like now…

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Here are some more pictures of the temple in the film next to my own; these columns for instance…

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… or stairs on the temple grounds…

Lindos temple (5)Lindos temple now (1)Lindos temple now (8)

… which makes me suspect they put in more coast scenery in the film than I remember actually seeing there.

In this following comparison, my picture was taken pretty much on the spot where Gregory Peck himself stood! Now if that isn’t following in Peck’s footsteps, then I don’t know what is.

Lindos temple (4)Lindos temple now (10)

Early on in the movie Gregory Peck awaits some of his team at a harbour, this was filmed in the old harbour of the city of Rhodos…

Rhodos harbour (1)Rhodos harbour now (3)Rhodos harbour now (2)

When we came back to the harbour on another day, there was a boat covering the arch, but I stood on the same pier Gregory Peck had stood on (didn’t go much further, so not quite in Peck’s spot, as this pier was a private gated area that we had asked to take a quick look at).Rhodos harbour (2)Rhodos harbourRhodos Harbour now

The real photoshopping happens when you look at the fortress rock with the guns and the town at the foot of that rock. This is what we see in the movie…

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That was filmed in Lindos with that horseshoe bay, which actually looks like this…

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In the movie, the town at the foot isn’t white, like Lindos is, but dark and it’s also fortified. They had also added on a huge rock where the guns from the movie title are situated. I found an archive picture of the rock add-on:

Guns rock set

There is also a little fortress at the foot of that rocky mountain which houses the guns. That little fortress in real life is nowhere near Lindos, but is another part of the old Rhodos harbour, so this was photoshopped into the frame as well for that location.

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The gate to the fortress, at the bottom of the fortress hill, is in actual fact one of the gates of Rhodos city…

There’s a shot inside the gate and while going through our pictures I found a shot of ours inside a gate which I think may be the same location:

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There is a gate to a bridge with at the other end another gate and that one I immediately recognized from my own pictures. It was a nice spot, also in Rhodos.

Another gate was visible in the movie, which is in actual fact also a Rhodos city gate…

There was a shot of a street with at the end what I know to be a mosque in Rhodos…

Rhodos mosque backgroundRhodos mosque background now

And there was some action filmed on a square, which I think may be a square that I photographed as well. The stairs on the left in the screencap are, I think, the stairs on the right in my picture. Also in Rhodos.

Rhodos townRhodos town now

In the movie we see our hero Gregory in front of what looks like a little gazebo. It’s actually the washing place of what used to be a mosque, yet again in Rhodos…

At the beginning of the movie, the team must scale some cliffs…

During a boat tour we did near Lindos, we stopped at what the captain said were the cliffs that action sequence was filmed on…

And these scenes…

… look like they may have been filmed in the aforementioned Anthony Quinn Bay (not far from where those cliffs were scaled)…

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Somewhere halfway through the movie you see a wedding party walking through a very white-washed town…

Although I wouldn’t exactly know where that is, it looked an awful lot like Lindos which is completely white-washed…

A little further on the wedding party was celebrating outside on a square. While I don’t remember an open space large enough in Lindos for this to be set in (it’s all quite narrow there), there were many elements that still made it feel like this may also have been filmed somewhere in Lindos, possibly right outside town where there are now parking lots. In Lindos, but also on some other parts of the island, there were white-washed tree trunks, also seen in the movie…

VIllage (5)Village now painted treeAnd the town square, though different, made me think of the town of Psynthos where we ate lunch a few times.

VIllage (3)Village now

The tower shown at the beginning of the film even looked a little like the Psynthos tower or another tower we saw in Archangelos…

VIllage (1)Village tower now

Of course, while I was in Rhodos I wasn’t aware of most of these locations having been in the film. I did know the harbour and Lindos bay were in it, but I came across the rest of the locations when I compared screenshots I took from the film to the photos we’d taken. Normally this would be a very Mr Esther-like project, he has far more patience for this stuff,  puzzling over where what was in history and what it looks like now. It was fun combining his historical buildings fascination with my movie-love. He was helpful in finding the exact pier in the harbour that Gregory Peck had stood on or pointing out that the small fortress below the guns was actually located in Rhodos harbour. I’m thinking he may enjoy reading this post and who knows, maybe more changes / comparisons / corrections may come from that. 🙂

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