Walking the Via la Plata; Spring 2014

Walking the Via la Plata, Spring 2014

March 2014

If you have been following the blog, you will know that we have been walking the Via la Plata in Spain. For those of you who might not be familiar with the walk, it is a route follows the Christian pilgrimage route from Cadiz to Santiago de Compostela. Prior to the Christians using these road, Moor and Romans built and used the road to transport commodities and move armies. Continue reading

Walking through wine country along the Via la Plata, Spain

new vineyards in Extremadura Spain, along the Via la Plata

new vineyards in Extremadura Spain, along the Via la Plata

We had another day of walking while a harsh cold wind blew in our face! But the country side is beautiful.

Continue reading

Walking with the Romans; Part 1

When we think of Roman Architecture, we think of Italy and Rome, where significant structures still exist that forge the link between the past and present, the Colosseum, Pantheon, The Column of Marcus Aurelius, and The Appian Way, just to name a few. However the Roman Empire covered an immense geographical area, such that many significant lesser know, but equally impressive structures can be found in other countries. Spain is one such place. Ruled by Rome for a number of centuries, Spain was a source on great wealth for the Empire and produced some of it’s immortalized leaders and emperors (Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius). It is here that we find the Via the Plata (silver route), an ancient pilgrim journey,which is part of the El Camino de Santiago, that two thousand years ago served as the main thoroughfare for the transport of mineral wealth (silver) from the far north of Spain to Seville, from where it was shipped to Rome.

Appropriately, Seville will serve as the starting point for our walk, as we retrace the steps north that many Roman once took and now modern pilgrims take, on the road to Santiago de Compostela. In a small lively square in Seville, know as the Alameda de Hercules, you will find two ancient columns.

Columns of Hercules and Julius Caesar in Seville Spain

Columns of Hercules and Julius Caesar in Seville Spain

Atop the columns sit carved statues of  Julius Cesar and Hercules, who, according to legend, are the two founding fathers of Seville. Dating from the 2nd century, these to columns are the oldest monuments in Seville. In many respects, the Alameda, has the air of a Roman Circus, a neighbourhood with many bars and terraces where you can enjoy coffee, evening tapas and beer, or late night drinks. The area has a certain bohemian air,  where every Sunday morning, an open market is held that ironically sells antiques and second-hand goods on the promenade.

Moving north and not far from Seville can be found the small village of Santiponce. Here lie the ruins go the ancient Roman city of Italica. Founded in 206 BC by the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, and was the birthplace of the Emperor Trajan. It grew to become the third largest city in the Roman Empire, with a population that exceeded 8,000.

Beginning in 1781 Italica became a major archaeological site and is under continuous excavation. Here are photo’s of a few artifacts hat have been discover thus far. A section of one of many Roman roads that have been uncovered that await the same rejuvenation.

Roman Road at Italica

Roman Road at Italica

Here thousands of  years ago Roman legions were stationed in this area to protect Roman interests and the western frontiers of the Roman Empire.

As well a number of home have been uncovered, many with rooms which have beautiful mosaic floors still intact, some of which have undergone remedial work. However, given they are 2000 years old, they are still intricately beautiful in their art and workmanship.  Most famous are the floor from the Diose y Astros which literally translated means “Gods and Starts”

Dioses y Gods; Mosiac floor at Italica, Santiponce Spain

Dioses y Gods; Mosaic floor at Italica, Santiponce Spain

The Amphitheatre, which is still in need of significant restoration, is estimated to have held 25,000 spectators.

Amphitheatre Italica, Santiponce Spain

Amphitheatre Italica, Santiponce Spain

Amphitheatre passage way;  Italica, Santiponce Spain

Amphitheatre passage way; Italica, Santiponce Spain

It is not hard to imagine gladiators, standing and waiting in the passage way waiting for their call to enter the ring.

We are looking forward to visiting more Roman Ruins as we head north, toward Meride and Salamanca.

Guest Post by W.E.Foreman 

Foggy Walk from Fuente de Cantos, on the Via la Plata, Spain

foggy walk to Jafra Spain on the Via la Plata

foggy walk to Jafra Spain on the Via la Plata 

Yup, yesterday I was raving on about the wonderful spring weather along the Via la Plata, and sure enough we wake up to fog! Temperatures were reasonable enough for walking about 10 C  and it didn’t rain on us. The fog cleared about 11 am, in the meantime I tried to get creative with the landscape photos.

foggy landscape along the via la plata, Spain

foggy landscape along the via la plata, Spain 

later in the day, after the fog cleared we came across small stream that had to be crossed, our biggest challenge; not getting the boots wet or falling down.

crossing the stream along the Via la Plata, Spain.

crossing the stream along the Via la Plata, Spain. 

Always something new along the Via la Plata.

 

 

Happy First Day of Spring, from the Via la Plata, Spain

El Castilllo de las Torres, El Real de la Jara

El Castillo de las Torres, El Real de la Jara, Spain

it is the first day of spring, and I must say that Spring in Spain has been wonderful. Most days when we are walking temperatures start about 13 – 15 C and be mid day when we are done around  23 – 25 C. Yesterday we did get a sprinkle of rain, but most days are clear or there is only a light cloud cover. Did I mention it is nice?

It is hard to document the sounds that we hear. At times there has been roosters crowing to walk us up, is sounds pleasant, and I guess it is, but at 4 am not quite so nice! At least some of the goats, sheep, and cows are wearing bells, so we can hear them clang in the distance. The occasional farm dog barks as we go by. Most of the roads are quiet, the occasional car, or tractor, although we have had times where we had to walk on or near the highway, and we had to listen to the cars swish by us at great speed, this was a little unnerving. Most of the time we are walking in the beautiful quiet country side, listening to song of the birds.  A wonderful way to spend a spring day.

 

Almaden de la Plata to Monesterio, Spain; Via la Plata Day 6

Leaving Alamaden de la Plata

Leaving Alamaden de la Plata 

The walk the last couple of days has been very pleasant; we walked through pastures, farmland, and part of the Sierra Norte de Seville, a nature reserve that protects more thank 177,00 hectares. We have walked past farms, and seen sheep, pigs, goats, cows, horses,  and of course plenty of farm dogs. We walked groves of olive, orange and apple trees, as well as oak and cork trees. The spring flowers are blanketing the meadows, growing along the ditches, and beside the lanes. While we have also spent a little time walking on dirt roads, and highways, the last two days has been very pleasant. We have also seen a couple of old castles, one in El Real de la Jara that are being restored, the one pictured below is about a 10 minute walk along the Via la Plata from El Real de la Jara, and has been left to the storks….

via la plata, leaving El Real de Jara, Spain

via la plata, leaving El Real de Jara, Spain 

resting in the shade

resting in the shade 

baby goat

  baby goat  

daisies

daisies 

wild lavender

wild lavender 

Castle Towers near El Real de la Jara, Spain

Castle Towers near El Real de la Jara, Spain 

The towns have been small and quiet, and we are finding our way.  We have only met 3 – 4  pilgrims, and seen a few more on the road from time to time, but very few in comparison to the Camino Francis, the most well known of the Camino routes.  I remember the Camino Francis and walking out-of-town each morning we would see a line of pilgrims in front of us and behind us. While on the Via la Plata we can walk all day and not see anyone, except the occasional passing vehicle, or farmer driving a tractor, so the walk is much quieter. I realized on this walk, just how much we relied on other pilgrims to interpret for us, as we speak little or no Spanish. In fact to say we speak a little Spanish would be an exaggeration, but we have been able to get by, with the help and patience of some friendly people; sign language, the occasional passer-by that speaks a little English, and by using goggle translate when we have wi-fi.

Overall spring is a beautiful time in Spain and we are enjoying the Via la Plata….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seville Spain

Plaza Mayor, Metropol Parasol.

Plaza Mayor, Metropol Parasol 

There is so much to see in Seville that you would never see anywhere else. Here the Metropol Parasol, often called the Mushroom of Incarnation. It is both beautiful and functional it was built as part of the rehabilitation of the city centre.

boy chasing pigeons

boy chasing pigeons 

It doesn’t seem to matter where you go or what plaza you sit in, there will be pigeons, someone will feed the pigeons, a small child will try to chase them away, and I can’t help to try to get one picture. One of the many subject I like to watch and take pictures of.

Seville Cathedral and Giralda at the Plaza del Triunfo Seville Spain

Seville Cathedral and Giralda at the Plaza del Triunfo Seville Spain 

We sat in the Plaza del Triunfo watching people, the horse carriages and the sunset. By this time of day the tourists and locals alike have drifted away from the square and all was quiet. A beautiful finish to a wonderful day. It was time to find a Tapa bar and a glass of wine.

 

 

Portimao and Silves Portugal

visiting the castle at Silves Portugal

visiting the castle at Silves Portugal 

today was our last day in the Algarve region of Portugal, there is so much to see I am sure we will be back! On the hill behinds us is the Castle of Silves, built-in the 12th and 13th centuries, and beside it on the hill the Silves Cathedral, one of the few remaining Gothic monuments in the Algarve.

tiny pedestrian streets of Silves

tiny pedestrian streets of Silves 

we found mostly quiet pedestrian streets near the castle and cathedral. I am guessing, since it was about 11 am on Sunday most people were either at Church, but it could have been some were hiding from the cool windy day….

Praia da Rocha

Praia da Rocha  

we wondered back to Portimao, and the beachs of Praia de Rocha

pier at Portimao Portigual

pier at Portimao Portigual 

Portimao is a lovely seaside town, that is very quiet at this time of the year. I have been assured by my cousins that during the summer months it is bustling with activity. Today the only activity on the beach was the wind and the crashing waves….

We are off the Seville, so I guess we will have to come back another time to check out the beaches…

 

 

 

 

Watching the waves; Lagos Portugal

watching the waves at Lagos Portugal

watching the waves at Lagos Portugal 

We spent part of the day, yesterday wandering around Lagos Portugal a beautiful little seaside resort in south Portugal. We also spent sometimes sitting in the harbour, watching the waves and testing out the Var Fader II filter, a neutral density filter that can add 6 to 11 stop to the time exposure allowing for the movement in the waves, and the white water.

The Var Fader II filter is one of the few “extras” in the camera bag.

 

a view from the airplane window

de-icing the plane

de-icing the plane

a view from the airplane window

a view from the airplane window

a view from the airplane window

a view from the airplane window

flying over the Canadian Winter Wonderland

Canada’s winter wonderland, a view from the airplane window

a few images taken during our flight from Calgary. the window did have some frost on it, so the images are not as crisp and clear as I would have liked. The other thing that happened, with all the flights I have been on, I think this is the first one that was de-iced just before we left, I love the spray of the water, and the out of focus equipment.

I love flying, and for me the best part of the flight is that moment of take off, the nose lifts, and you can feel the wheels leave the ground. The adventure begins…..

What is your favourite part of the flight.