Acquitaine France and finding family!

Garden gnome

Garden gnome

My mother has been doing family research for years, as a result she has been able to find several members of her father’s family who come from Wales. One member of the family Richard now lives in the Aquitaine area of southern France. Mom first met Richard’s father George quite some time ago, and Richard has been kind enough to send mom a lot of his father’s family history research filling in blanks or branches in mom’s family tree, as well as an open invitation to visit his home if she was ever in the area.

We, Bill and I decided that we would pay a visit to Richard on mom’s behalf. It was a lovely visit to Aquitaine, and while there Richard took us to visit the Castle of Bonaguil, high on the hill just north-west of Agen.

Bonaguil Castle; copyright jmeyersforeman

Bonaguil Castle; copyright jmeyersforeman

Bonaguil Castle; copyright jmeyersforeman

Bonaguil Castle; copyright jmeyersforeman

We went out to a wonderful restaurant for dinner with some of his lovely friends, and watched the sunset over the beautiful valley.

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sunset after the rain; copyright jmeyersforeman

sunset after the rain; copyright jmeyersforeman

Richard also took us for a ride in his 1954 Austin Healey.

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Meeting and visiting with Richard was wonderful, he can’t thank him enough for the warm hospitality. It was a great treat to have someone show/drive us around the beautiful French countryside for a closer more personal view.  Thanks Richard for a wonderful two days.  We are off to Bordeaux!

 

Sunset at Llanes Spain

Bill at sunset: Llanes Spain

Bill at sunset: Llanes Spain 

Llanes, Austrias Spain has a very nice little harbour, a couple of nice beaches, and a lovely town centre with wonderful restaurants and shops, it was a nice relaxing place to spend a couple of days.

We were out one night trying to find a nice spot to watch the sunset, and capture a lovely view of the harbour for our memories of this wonderful little seaside town. When I looked back and saw Bill standing in the perfect spot I knew I had my photo. Yes, it could be anywhere, but I will remember that it was taken in the harbour of the lovely town.

Sunsets on the Atlantic Coast; Baiona Spain

Sunset at Baiona Spain

Sunset at Baiona Spain  

When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this  – Van Morrison 

I have to admit that since arriving in Spain I have been looking forward to watching the sunset on this side Atlantic Ocean. Sunset is a wonderful time of day; the day’s business has been done or at least what could get done has been done. I know there are a few of you that burn the midnight oil either by choice or habit or a job, but for me being a morning person, the day’s business has been done, and a day where I can sit and watch the sunset reminds me of the Van Morrison song “Day’s like this” 

I hope you are having a  “day like this”

 

Sunset, Ciudad of Arts and Science, Valencia Spain

sunset at the Ciudad of Arts and Science, Valencia Spain

sunset at the Ciudad of Arts and Science, Valencia Spain 

Along an axis of just under two kilometres that was formerly the bed of the River Turia, in Valencia Spain, this complex of striking architecture – designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela – and an endless capacity for entertaining and stimulating the minds of its visitors. In its various buildings, known as Ciudad of Arts and Science, people can get to know different aspects of science, technology, nature, and art.

I previously posted about the Oceanografic which is part of this Science and Art Park, it was unfortunately the only building we were able to visit. The building on the left of the image, L ‘Hemisferic is home to an IMAX theatre, a planetarium and a laserium, while the building to the right just behind it is the El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia is home to an opera house and performing arts centre.

Most nights when we head out to do sunset photos we are alone, the evening settling in around us and the lights of the city start to flicker, Last night it was quite different, while we were standing at the northeast corner of the “pond” that surrounds the buildings waiting and watching for the sunset we were joined by a small class of photographers, experimenting with ND filters and long exposures, tourists from various parts of Spain, Holland, and the US all chatting away, enjoying the sunset and the shared experience of the beautiful evening.

 

 

Tarragona Spain

Tarragona Spain, at sunset

Tarragona Spain, at sunset 

While I have many wonderful photos and stories of Toledo Spain, we have moved onto Tarragona. About an hour south of Barcelona along the Mediterranean Sea, we thought a few days of rest with an ocean view would be a nice change from the hills of central Spain. It has been reported that Augustus Cesar wintered here, and there will be a big celebration during the month of May honouring his life and times on the 2000 anniversary of his death.

 

Hunting for the perfect Toledo Cathedral Photo

Toledo Cathedral, Toledo Spain

Toledo Cathedral, Toledo Spain 

Toledo is filled with narrow streets, and it is seemingly impossible to get a great view of the Cathedral. We are either peaking between buildings as we are here,  or looking up at it, as we were in the previous post. So today, I was on a mission to see the Cathedral, and get a memorable image. The image below is from the Alcazar Tower.

Toledo Cathedral

Toledo Cathedral   

We walked out-of-town, crossed the Tagas River on the Alcantara Bridge, a Roman bridge and headed to the Valle Hermitage, high on the hill for a sunset view of Toledo and the Cathedral.

Toledo at sunset

Toledo at sunset 

Toledo Cathedral at sunset

Toledo Cathedral at sunset 

Finally I found the near perfect reflection in the window of the tourist information office. I thought it appropriate the town map was hanging in the window.

reflection in the tourist information office

reflection in the tourist information office

Los Milagros Aqueduct, Merida Spain

Los Miagros Acqueduct, Merida Spain

Los Milagros aqueduct, Merida Spain 

The Los Milagros aqueduct was built between 1 B.C. and 3 A.D., it was 830 meters long and 25 meters high, made of brick and concrete it was faced with granite ashlars. It was used to transport water from the Prosperina lake to the Roman colony of Emerita Augusta know today as Merida Spain. Today about 38 arches still stand.

Los Milagros aqueduct, Merida Spain

Los Milagros aqueduct, Merida Spain  

The Los Milagros aqueduct is one of three aqueducts build in the area, and preserved as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Merida.

 

Walking with the Romans: Part 2

Roman Bridge over the River Guadiana. Merida Sapin

Roman Bridge over the River Guadiana. Merida Sapin

Merida is not a large place, with a population of around 64,000 people. A pleasant place, it is not different from many other Spanish towns, with friendly people, many bars and restaurants with one exception, that being that as being one of the Roman Empires capitals in the Iberian Peninsula it is home to some of the best preserved Roman Ruins in Europe. As a result in 1993 it was established as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.The town was founded in 25 BC, with the name of Emerita Augusta which means discharged soldiers – of the army of Augustus, who founded the city; the current name Mérida was derive from this, changed and altered by its conquest by the Muslims and other down through history. Its main purpose for all these conquers was to protect a bridge over the River Guadiana.

The path of the Camino Pilgrim will take you over this bridge with 64 granite arches that remain intact and in use to this day as a pedestrian walkway and is one of the longest Roman bridges remaining in existence.  At the end of this bridge stands the Alcazaba a fortress that was initially built by the Romans, but later occupied by the Moors. Over it main gate you will find a reference dedicating it to Allah.

from the Alcazaba in Merida Spain.

from the Alcazaba in Merida Spain.

In more recent history it was taken and occupied by Napoleon, and both opposing side of the Spanish Civil Wars, such was its strategic importance. Further into the town you will find sitting side by side, a Roman Forum and Theatre. The former similar to that found in Italica, was use for gladiator fights and as you proceeds down the stairs into the ring it offers life-size mock ups of the different types of gladiators, their specific armour and who they would normally fight. However of the two the theatre is the most spectacular. While breathtaking as a tourist attraction, it is still used for plays and festivals by the local population.

Roman Forum, Merida Spain

Roman Forum, Merida Spain

Roman Amphitheater, Merida Spain

Roman Amphitheater, Merida Spain

Equally as spectacular is the Temple of Diana. Surprisingly this building is surrounded by a simple fence low fence to protect it from errant tourists, is located close to the centre of town on one of Merida many pedestrian walkways, such that hundreds of working Spaniards walk by it ever day on the way to and from work.

Temple Diana, Merida Spain

Temple Diana, Merida Spain

more great stories and architecture tomorrow….

Text by W.E.Foreman Photos by JMeyersForeman

Plaza Espana, Merida Spain,

Plaza Espana, Merida Spain on a Saturday night

Plaza Espana, Merida Spain on a Saturday night

We were sitting having a glass of wine in the Plaza Mayor, here in Merida last night. It was full of kids playing, parents with strollers, and old people walking hand in hand.  Thought out the square there are about 4 or 5 Tapa bars where music was playing, and people were visiting. I decided a long exposure showing people moving about was a wonderful way of capturing the light, and the life of the square.

Photos are available through my gallery.

Henry Moore visits Seville

Henry Moore visits Seville

   Henry Moore visits Seville 

Henry Moore in Seville

Henry Moore in Seville 

It’s hard to know where to start in describing Seville Spain, but my mind returns to something my father once said….“ you should be thankful that you have been born into a country like Canada” and I am, as it has allowed me the freedom and income to travel to so may beautiful places around the world…yet if there is such a thing as reincarnation, please let me come back as a Spaniard in the city of Seville. The old town is a place of immense beauty so interwoven, that like a poem about a love between a man and a women, the new and the old mingle together such that harmony is the only word to describe it. History (Seville Cathedral), and the modern (exhibition of Henry Moore Sculptures), stand side by side, each accentuation and complementing the beauty of the other, not competing for the stares of the passers by…but leaving them with something to keep and remember as they live out that day.

Can you tell, we are enjoying our time here in Seville!

Bill and Janice