Saturday, 19 October 2013

City of arts and science - futuristic architecture

We took a leisurely stroll to see the futuristic City of Arts and Science.

There's plenty to do inside the buildings if you're feeling flush and have some dosh.

But it is equally worthwhile just to wander around the outside of the complex, gawking at the amazing buildings and soaking up the sun.

Kids scramble around in inflatable balls on the water, squeaking and flailing, while groups of teenagers try to sneak a toe into the tempting waters.

Set in the bed of the River Turia, this complex was designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela and is a dazzling white display of sci fi like buildings set in tempting pools of azure water.

Cooling as the water looks, you're not allowed to paddle! A man in a golf cart whizzes around blowing a whistle if you try . . .  . so of course we broke the law (a little).

The complex is made up of a variety of different buildings including the Hemisfèric (IMAX cinema and digital projections) designed to look like an eye floating on the water.

There's also the Principe Felipe Science museum, the Oceanográfico (the largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 marine species) and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía.

The deep blue Agora hosts concerts, exhibitions and other things.

There's also the Umbracle a landscaped vantage point and car park.

There's a peaceful winter garden type affair to stroll through which is very welcome for a break from the sun and the crowds.

There are also some planet and astronomical type installments that you can try out.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Trip to Sagunt

We hopped on the train to Sagunt, a little town about half an hour from Valencia. Mainly to take a look at the castle at the top of the hill.

We trekked up the hill in the scorching heat, armed with supermarket picnic, ready for a cultural adventure. 


It was closed.

When will I ever learn. Spanish castles are never open. Here's Neil in a hole instead.
Here's a bit of blurb, in lieu of any actual pictures of the inside!
Sagunto Castle covers an area of almost one kilometre in length.  It was declared a National Monument in 1931.

So instead of the castle we had a roam through the back streets of Sagunt (which apparently used to be a city called Arse!!!)

Inside the main town the old Jewish quarter is a lovely, attractive quarter with narrow, cobbled streets, medieval houses and arches over the entrances to some streets.

 It was the home of the Jewish community until they were expelled by the Catholics in 1492.

Here's a traditional back street scene complete with Bouganvilla and cracking paintwork!

Image of the day - working girl

Here's my latest image of the day. Taken in the market place in Jodphur again, after a busy few hours in the Clock Tower market place. A bustling, frenetic whirl of humanity, stalls and produce.

This little girl just happened to meet my gaze and her carefree grin is at striking odds with the physical load weighing her down.

It seems to be capturing the last vestige of an all too short childhood as she teeters on the threshold of an adult world that is already full of responsibility and toil.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Valencia - sun, markets and epic firework displays!

So blog fans, I'm back from five days in sunny Valencia, the lesser known of Spain's main cities.

Crammed full of gorgeous architecture both old and brand spanking new, amazing food markets, botanical gardens, beaches and castles.

We stayed at the Hotel Senator Parque Central, a nice, spotlessly clean, if somewhat impersonal, hotel within walking distance of most sights.

About 20 minutes walk to the old town and same again to the city of arts and science. Check it out here:

Even though the weather had given it around a tepid 22 degrees, cloudy and with showers we were optimistic as I seem to attract the sun, especially as I do not want to!

Needless to say it was 30 degrees every day, cloudless and beaming sunshine!!! Que some painful leg sunburn . . . . .

First up on my list of must sees is the Central Market, one of the largest food markets in Spain with around 1,000 stalls ranging from fresh fruit and veg to spices, pastries, seafood, offal and all manner of meats.

As well as being full of food the building itself is architecturally amazing.  With blue and yellow tiling to the outside, lovely modernist stained glass and train station style metal roof arches.

Of course I was in photo heaven!! The market opens from 8am to 3pm and gets very busy on a Saturday. (closed Sundays)

Here's some photos!

Mixed mushrooms are just one of a multitude of foodie delights!

Piles of fresh produce, grown in the farmland that surrounds Valencia, are mounds of jewel bright eye candy.

Lots of dead stuff too! Angry fish and skinned rabbits. There are endless stalls selling every conceivable animal from pig faces to sea anemones.

Hmmm don't fancy getting too up close and personal with this pair!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Image of the day - backstreet art

Wall art is just one of the incredible sights I saw in Northern India.

From Maharajahs riding horses on pulled down shop shutters to elegant goddesses adorning dirty backstreet walls, every passageway, building, wall and brickwork is adorned with decoration.

Udiapur is one of the places with the most prolific artwork.

Blue skinned Vishnus stare over stacks of motorbikes, prowling tigers stalk homesteaders and a pantheon of deities stand guard over the lake city.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Image of the day - monkey love

Today's image of the day is of this adorable pair of langur monkeys taken in Pushkar. These inquisitive, long tailed creatures are considered holy by Hindus.  

They are seen as a symbol of the deity Hanuman whose monkey army rescued Sita from the demon king Ravana. 

Hanuman himself suffered burns in the attempt and the monkeys' black face and hands are seen to represent that.

Pushkar is one of the oldest cities in India and is located in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan.

It is one of the five sacred dhams (pilgrimage site) for devout Hindus.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Images of the day - the potters yard

This adorable group of Bishnoi children were being co-opted into a photo shoot by a very insistant group of snap happy Japanese tourists.

The youngest boy was not amused, especially when made to hold a goat . . .

The potter still throws his pots in the traditional manner, propelling the wheel by hand with a large wooden stake used to speed it up.