Word a week challenge: Metallic

Sue, of  ‘A word in your ear’ blog’, has a new challenge. This time the word is “Metallic”.

My first image, taken through a coach window, is of one of Spain’s most famous bulls, the ‘Osborne Veterano’. These enormous black metal bulls are named after the fiery Spanish brandy they were originally erected to advertise. Each bull weighs four tons, stands 38 feet high, and has a surface area of more than 150 square yards. In 1988, a law was passed banning advertising hoardings on public highways. When the government ordered that the bulls be removed, there was a public outcry, and a ‘Pardon the Osborne Bull’ campaign was put into action. The result was that the iconic bulls were allowed to stay in place, but with no advertising. Over time, the five hundred bulls have diminished to only ninety-seven, and are now considered to be part  of Spain’s cultural and artistic heritage.

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In Bangkok is the ‘Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangklaram Ratchaworamahawihan’ temple which happily is more commonly known as ‘Wat Pho’. The temple which is home to a thousand Buddha images, is one of the largest and oldest in Bangkok, and is covered in gold. It’s a really spectacular sight.

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Taking up most of the space inside the temple, is the statue of ‘The Reclining Buddha’ which is 46 metres long and 15 metres high, and is covered from head to toe in solid gold plate. He’s pretty impressive, but there isn’t enough space to step back in order to take a full-length photo, so this is the best shot I’ve got.

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From the sublime to the ridiculous now. I couldn’t resist posting my pic of the blingy manicure which I spotted on a flight from Lamanai to San Pedro. The Belizean lady proudly informed me that the safety chains were necessary because her ‘pinky’ nails were crafted from solid gold. :)

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my metallic photos. To see more bloggers’ interpretations of the theme, just click here.

Architecture…. Hola Spain!

Jake’s Sunday Post theme, architecture, made me think of all the different and varied styles of buildings I’ve seen on my travels. I could of course do a real hotchpotch of  a post, and show you examples from many countries around the world, but I decided to limit my photos to Spain, a country renowned for its art and architectural excellence. Spanish architecture is an exotic mix of early Moorish influences and surreal modernism.

Talking of surrealism, one cannot visit Barcelona without marvelling at the astounding imagination and genius of Antoni Gaudi. Here is the Casa Mila, better known as La Pedrera, meaning ‘The Quarry’. It caused quite a sensation when it was being built,  because of the bold form of its undulating stone facade and the wrought iron decoration of the balconies and windows,

This is one of the sculptures on the roof of the Casa Mila.

and this huge mirror cleverly reflects another part of the roof.

The design of the beautiful windows of the Casa Batllo, is astonishing. This house was nicknamed ‘The House of Bones’ because the balconies at the lower floors, have bone-like pillars, and those on the upper floors look like pieces of skulls.

Surely his absolute masterpiece though, has to be La Sagrada Familia, ‘la cathédrale des anges’, which was started in 1882, and when we were there in 2004, was still not completed. This is the original old part.

and here is the newer construction. Which do you prefer?

The Royal Palace in Madrid, is the official residence of the Spanish royal family, although now it’s only used for State ceremonies.

The palace has 135,000 square metres of floorspace and contains 3418 rooms, making it the largest in Europe. The interior design and decor and was just breathtaking. Just take a look at all those chandeliers!

I could just imagine myself sweeping down this magnificent staircase, not in my jeans and t-shirt, but in a sumptuous, bejeweled ball gown, and with a diamond encrusted coronet on my head. :)

Of course, Granada is famous for its absolutely stunning Alhambra Palace. I posted some pics of the gardens yesterday for the green theme..

It was so delightful to walk around this beautiful place.

Some of the detail was really exquisite,

and around every corner, there was something new to admire.

In Cordoba, we visited the Mezquita, the Great Mosque-Cathedral, which was begun in 600 AD, and is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Islamic architecture. When I walked into this vast hypostyle hall, I was absolutely dumbfounded.

I felt so tiny as I gazed up at those 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble and granite.

The richly gilded decoration of the cathedral in its centre, defies description, so here’s a photo instead. :)

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at some of the architecture I saw on my trip. To see more interpretations of Jake’s theme. just click here.

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WordPress challenge: Green

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  Lao Tzu                                                                                                Click on any image to get slide show. To see more entries for this green challenge, just click here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Here are my photos for this week’s ‘Near and Far’ WordPress Photo Challenge. The first was taken from our colourful long-tail boat, as we were ferried around the ‘Khlongs’ in Bangkok. This one was taken from the Moorish castle which … Continue reading

Ailsa’s Travel theme: Silhouette

Ailsa’s travel theme this week had me searching through my photos. At first, I was sure that I had nothing, except for this one, which isn’t really a silhouette, but a shadow. I took it on our beach when we went to have a look at the local air show a couple of months ago. We sat there until the sun started to go down, and it began to get cold. I saw our shadows on the sand, and couldn’t resist capturing with my iPhone.

I was wrong however, about not having any suitable photos and found these three. The first one, of sunset on Sunset Beach in Hawaii, I’ve posted before, but I think you won’t mind seeing it again. :)

The second was taken at sunset from our hotel window in Tahiti.

Lastly, I have a photo taken through the coach window, as we travelled  in Spain. The Osborne sherry Bull “El toro de Osborne” is a 14 meter high black silhouetted image of a bull in semi-profile, and is regarded as the unofficial national symbol of Spain. The bull was created in 1956 by Manolo Prieto. These hoardings of cut-out bulls dominate the landscape across Spain. Spaniards see the image of the bull as a national symbol, as it reminds them of bullfights and the beauty of this strong animal.

Just click here, to see more silhouettes which have been entered for Ailsa’s theme.

 

 

 

Jake’s Sunday Post: Solid

Jake’s Sunday Post theme this week, ‘Solid’, immediately brought to mind that old saying which I believe must be a universal idiom, “As solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.” This term is used to describe any person who is totally reliable and trustworthy, or any thing that has strength and endurance that is indestructible.

The Rock of Gibraltar, which is the Crown property of the UK, was known to the Romans as Mons Calpe. This enormous rock is 426m high and is the northern of the two ‘Pillars of Hercules’, which in ancient times, according to the Phoenicians, marked the limit to the known world.

We visited the Rock when we did a tour of Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Gibraltar, a few years ago. The charming Mediterranean town’s main street was jammed with pubs, restaurants, cafes, tiny shops, as well as a handful of famous British chain stores such as Marks & Spencers.

We had a minibus ride right to the top of the Rock, stopping en route to see the ‘Tower of Homage’, Gibraltar’s first permanent settlement, built around 711. This castle was rebuilt after the second period of Moorish occupation, in the early 14th century.

Here I am with my friend, who didn’t want to miss the photo opportunity.

No this isn’t my travelling companion, but one of those cheeky Barbary Macaques which seemed to be everywhere. We were warned not to have any food visible, as it would be snatched, and sure enough, one of our fellow travellers was followed onto the bus, and just as she was about to enjoy her packet of chips, it was stolen right out of her hand by one of these fearless bandits.

Here is our farewell view of this massive rock, as the ferry transported us across the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco for the next leg of our tour. Looks pretty solid to me.