On the back road to Aranjuez- Torcas de Palancares | las torcas

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.

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

First Mascleta of Fallas 2015!

Here’s a short explanation and two photos from the first mascleta of Fallas 2015!

 

http://www.garyjkirkpatrick.com/#!First-Mescleta-of-Fallas-2015/c18cl/0F305F7E-3123-4642-99F6-F28632D58C30

MUVIM museum, The History of Thought and Marionnettes

The link takes you to the article.  Some great marionettes!

http://www.garyjkirkpatrick.com/#!Marionettes-at-the-MUVIM/c18cl/881EB8C5-3B9A-4923-981A-C44C10D0B89A

Hola de Valencia

Here’s my latest post on the art blog:  http://www.garyjkirkpatrick.com/#!Hola-from-Valencia/c18cl/ECDBD1CE-1AD3-4137-9C59-08EF27329318