Aranjuez, the summer palace of the Spanish royalty

Palcio de Sivela, Aranjuez

Aranjuez is just south of Madrid and home to the summer palace.  It was built in the second half of the 16th century under Phillip II.  The town was originally inhabited only by the court but now is a small but vibrant town dominated by the tourists who visit the palace. The main entrance is … Read moreAranjuez, the summer palace of the Spanish royalty

On the back road to Aranjuez- Torcas de Palancares

Lagunas de Cañada

December 6, 2016

We set off on our journey from Valencia to Aranjuez at 7am on Sunday.  The train route takes you west through massive fields of grapes dotted by the occasional and equally massive wine storage units jutting some 25 meters toward the clouds, stopping in a seemingly endless number of small towns along the way.  Progress is slow and the it gets much slower as then we enter the National Park known as Torcas de Palancares, leaving the farms behind.

The ravines (barrancos) along the train route from Valencia to Aranjuez dig deeply into the rocky orange soil. Because it has been raining, itself a bit of a refreshing oddity, rivulets flow beneath the train as it slows to 20 kph as we inched across trestles, looking straight over the side at the rocky bottom far below.  You don’t feel confident out there in the middle.  They are going that slowly for good reason.

There are more people on the train – so vacant we practically got on a first name basis with the conductor- than live in the protected zone portion of the journey, judging by the total lack of dwellings and just the occasional dirt road.  A large bird, a hawk or perhaps even an owl, swoops across the tracks, looking for an unwary rabbit.  The boars are too big to lift so they are safe from his talons.

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Alcoi and La Sarga, Spain with photos of the cave paintings (rare)

We rented a car Alcoi is a small town in the hills to the south of Valencia, Spain.  It is best know for the rock paintings in La Sarga, just 10 kilometers away, that date to 10-6000 BCE.  The Museo Archeologico there is small but very well done, especially the slide show from which these photos come.  The slides show the paintings as you would see them if you walked in to the sites and then enhance them, which is what I show here, having taken these of the slide show.  There is a paltry lack of these on the internet, so I am glad I took these:



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Cáceres: you could shoot a medieval movie here and wouldn’t even have to remove the cars

Cáceres has an old walled town in its center.  Walk around and you are in the middle ages, given the buildings, the stone streets and total absence of cars.  There is a blend of Roman, Moorish, Gothic and Italian Renaissance architecture, not to mention the stork nests.   There are thirty towers from the Islamic period still standing.

Humans have inhabited the area since prehistoric times. Evidence of this can be found in the caves of Maltravieso, with cave paintings dating to 25,000 BCE.  The city was founded by the Romans in 25 BC and is a Unesco World Heritage Site, quite justifiably so.

Cáceres is in the part of Spain called Extremadura.  I always thought that the name Extremadura referred to the extremely hard (dura) quality of the soil and life there but more accurately extremadura is from Latin words meaning literally “outermost hard”, the outermost secure border of an occupied territory.  During La Reconquista it was the westernmost holding of the Christians.

caceres cathedral

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Cuenca, Spain: City on a cliff

Cuenca, Spain: City on a cliff Cuenca is situated northwest of Valencia and southeast of Madrid, just an hour from either on the AVE, the fast train.  It is known for the houses perched on the cliffs and for the Júcar and the Huécar, two rivers (well, streams is a better word) which encase it.  The town was … Read moreCuenca, Spain: City on a cliff

¡Hola de Valencia! First drawing from Palau de la Musica

We are back in our favorite winter quarters, where the sky is always blue and the winter temperatures moderate, the street life vibrant, the food fresh and varied, and the people warm and friendly.  It’s a place that brings smiles to our face the moment we look out the window or go out the door. … Read more¡Hola de Valencia! First drawing from Palau de la Musica