Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Spain

I have always been fascinated by doors. Is it the mystery of what lies behind them or the curiosity of who has entered them in the past? Wherever I travel I tend to take pictures of doors. The older the better.

Dan Antion over at https://nofacilities.com/ runs a series called Thursday Doors. This is what he has to say:

Welcome to Thursday Doors! This is a weekly challenge for people who love doors and architecture to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos, drawings, or other images or stories from around the world. If you’d like to join us, simply create your own Thursday Doors post each (or any) week and then share a link to your post in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

Dan also writes some wonderful books https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BC23MDLV you might want to check out.

I decided to join this challenge and share some of the door pictures I’ve collected over the years. I’ll start today with some doors I’ve discovered while exploring a place near us here in Spain. Let me know what you think of them.

I captured these doors in an amazing place called Guadelest. Oh, the stories these doors could tell if they could talk!

So many stories this door could tell.

Guadelest Castle. Some doors are harder to reach than others.

I’m going to enjoy sharing my door pictures.

Copyright ©2023 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

Caravaca de la Cruz

I love horses and enjoy equestrian events. I was delighted to spend a day in the town of Caravaca de la Cruz during the annual Caballos del Vino Fiesta. The horses were proudly paraded around town in all their splendour, the streets teamed with local families wearing black, white and red outfits, Knights Templar, Moors and Christians mingled and various bands played. The air was filled with excitement.

Moors
Christians
Knights Templar
All ages take part in the festivities. This little caballero is so cute.
One of the many bands

At one point I became stuck in the middle of a parade on a narrow side street. I had no choice but to join in and dance along with everyone else as we followed the band. So much fun.

The main event is held later in the day when the wine horses race up the side of the mountain accompanied by four horsemen on foot. The horse with horsemen that arrives at the top in the fastest time, is declared the winner. Should one of the horsemen let go before reaching the top, the horse is disqualified.

Why do they do this? Like most things in Spain, it is based on a legend. Legend has it that during the time the Castle of Caravaca was besieged by Muslim troops, the Knights Templar went in search of water for the starving citizens. They only found wine. Dodging the enemy, they raced up the mountain beside their horses loaded with filled wineskins. They were considered heroes and their horses were decorated in appreciation. This tradition is now carried on as a competition once a year at the beginning of May.

The horses and their elaborate silk mantles, embroidered with fine gold thread, are the central focus of the festival. Each mantle can take a whole year to make and cost thousands of euros. There are prizes for the best-decorated horses as well. It was hard to pick which one was my favourite.

Decorated from head to tail
Pretty in pink
Interesting mantle with pictures of famous people.
The castle that had been under siege
The path the horses have to run up. There are many more spectators at the time of the race.

We did not stay to watch the race as it can be dangerous for spectators, but I did watch part of it on a big screen TV at the restaurant where we enjoyed a paella lunch.

What an amazing event. One I was glad to have attended and will not forget.

There are some great YouTube videos of the event. Here’s one:

I am pleased to be featured on a wonderful blog called Canadian Writers Abroad

In our ongoing tenth anniversary series, Darlene Foster answers three questions. Foster is the author of the Amanda Ross travel adventures series for children. (The cover of Amanda in Holland is perfect for spring.) She hails from Alberta, and divides her time between British Columbia and Orihuela Costa in Spain. Darlene Foster first appeared in Canadian Writers Abroad in 2017, with a guest post from Spain, “Foster’s Dream Life.” -DM

CWA: Where were you ten years ago?

read my answers here

Check out the interesting blog where Debra Martens interviews other Canadian Writers who have made their home abroad.

A few years ago I visited Valencia and loved it. I realized I hadn’t written a blog post about this marvellous city located halfway between Alicante and Barcelona. It is often overlooked in favour of places like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Toledo and Granada. All great cities, but I would also highly recommend a visit to this, the third-largest city in Spain. It’s a wonderful example of the old and the new blended together perfectly. Valencia is rich in history, amazing architecture, an oasis of art, culture and leisure, and the home of paella! It’s also one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.

After a few devasting floods, the city planners diverted the river Turia three kilometres south of downtown and turned the former river bed into a pleasant ten-kilometre green space enjoyed by all. Parks, gardens, sports facilities, children’s play areas and walking paths fill this fifteen-hectare space.

Turia Gardens in the old riverbed
Turia Gardens
Sporting events held in the former riverbed

I took a hop-on hop-off bus tour which enabled me to see most of the city. The architecture is amazing. Here are a few samples. Some of my pictures were taken from the bus so are not as good as could be, but you’ll get the idea.

At each end of the bridge called, Puente del Real, stand religious statues.
The Tower of Santa Catalina
The Bank of Valencia building
The Micalet belltower, part of the Valencia Cathedral built on the site of a former mosque, and before that a Roman temple.
The Serranos Towers once guarded an important entrance to the city.

I remember enjoying the 1961 film, El Cid, starring Charlton Heston and Sophie Loren. (Yes, I loved historic movies way back then already) I was excited to find a statue of the popular 11th-century warrior who fought to free Spain from invaders. He is a popular Spanish folk hero and has been called The Prince of Valencia.

The famous Spanish warrior, El Cid
Plaza de la Virgin with a fountain representing the river Turia
Front of the Church of Los Santos Juanes

There are so many wonderful museums to visit, but I didn’t have much time so chose the Ceramics Museum housed in the Palace of Marquis de Don Aguas. The splendid facade of the building is worth the visit alone. Inside are fabulous pieces of ceramics dating from pre-historic times to the present day as well as tapestries, jewellery and furniture. This visit requires a post of its own.

Palace of the Marquis de Don Aguas, home of the Ceramics Museum

In my previous post, I mentioned the troupe of traditional dancers I came across. I love when this happens! They were so delighted with my interest in them, that they gave me a front-row seat to watch their performance. The children were adorable.

The men’s traditional Valencian costume
The dancing was terrific. It made my day!

Valencia also has Art Nouveau buildings as well as modern structures including a world-class music hall, an art centre, a group of buildings that make up the futuristic City of Arts and Science and a Science Museum. Something to check out on another visit.

I had such a wonderful time and certainly plan to return to this incredible city.

It is the stuff of legends. There are many tales written abut the Holy Grail, the cup believed to have been used by Jesus at the Last Supper, and a number of places claim to have it in their possession. When I visited the Spanish city of Valencia, I happened to stop in at the Cathedral of Valencia. And there it was, in its own side chapel, the Holy Grail! At least that is what was claimed. I took a picture at the time but didn´t think much about it. It was hard to believe that this goblet or chalice could indeed be the original Holy Grail. Scholars are not even sure one existed.

The Holy Chalice in the Cathedral of Valencia

The chalice in Valencia is a finely polished agate cup that archaeologists consider to be of Eastern origin from the years 100 to 50 BC. The finely engraved gold handles and foot, as well as the jewels that decorate the base, were added in medieval times. More about this Holy Chalice can be found here

The story is that Saint Peter entrusted it to Saint Lawrence who eventually sent it to his parents in Huesca, in the north of Spain for safekeeping before he was martyred during religious persecution. The Holy Grail was subsequently hidden in different places around Spain for the next 450 years before its final arrival at Valencia Cathedral in the 15th century as a gift to the king. And it has been there ever since.

Recently I saw this short video that provides some facts indicating it could be the original chalice. I would like to think it is and that I was lucky enough to see it. Who knows after two thousand years? What do you think?

https://www.bbc.com/reel/playlist/ancient-mysteries?vpid=p0bt6xl9

Valencia is an amazing city and worth a visit should you be in Spain. I will write more about it and the troupe of dancers I was lucky to meet outside the cathedral, in another post.

Dancers in traditional Valencian dress.

Everyone loves a beautiful bride! I know I do. I´m always excited when I stumble upon a bride while travelling. Here are a few of them.

Barcelona, Spain

Outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, also known as Barcelona Cathedral, the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, I came upon a bride getting ready for a photo shoot.

Getting the gown just right
Don´t they just look adorable?

Aix-en-Provence, France

In Aix-en-Provence, we came upon a bride in the courtyard outside the town hall, waiting for a civil ceremony. One of the flower girls was having a rest.

Almost time.

Genoa, Italy

As we left a cathedral in Genoa, the bride had just arrived.

Notice how enthralled the little girls are.

I know I have more, but these are a few I was able to find in my thousands of pictures.

Have you encountered brides or weddings on your journeys?

I am so pleased to be reading from my book, Amanda in Spain, on Tea Toast and Trivia.

Bookstores, libraries, and coffee shops are great places for book readings. There is something extraordinary about hearing the voice of an author reading their stories. Their voice and intonation are nuanced by the many hours of effort putting pen to paper.  They created the characters, structured the plot, and lived every twist and turn that creates bumps in the storyline. 

Living in the reality of Covid-19, book readings at public libraries and bookstores have been curtailed.  We are learning to embrace technology in new ways.  Welcome to the podcast series, “Authors Reading their Books”, which will recreate the reading spaces in a virtual venue.  I invite you to put the kettle on and join the conversation on Tea Toast & Trivia. I am your host Rebecca Budd, and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

I am thrilled to introduce Darlene Foster who has graciously agreed to be our guest author reading from her novel, Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting (Amanda Travels #2) which is available on Amazon.   I am looking forward to meeting up with Darlene and joining Amanda on one of her many adventure.

You can listen to the podcast here

https://teatoasttrivia.com/2021/05/31/season-3-episode-22-darlene-foster-reading-amanda-in-spain-the-girl-in-the-painting/

A favourite place to visit near us is the historic village of Guadalest located on a pinnacle of rock with spectacular views all around. It requires driving a twisty, narrow road that winds up into the mountains. At one time Guadalest was only accessible by donkeys. I think it is the same path. But it is so worth it when you get there! I wrote about the Museum of Torture we discovered on one visit, but there is much more to see and do.

There are many shops selling souvenirs, crafts and local produce such as honey, wine, and handbags. There are also a number of unique small museums and great restaurants offering Spanish tapas and full meals. The cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses are straight out of a storybook.

A highlight is Guadalest Castle (Castell de Guadalest), built in the 11th Century by the Moors, which is accessed by walking through a 15-foot long tunnel carved out of the rock, known as the Portal de San Jose.

Portal de San Jose

Once through the tunnel, it’s like you have entered another time. The old village houses surround a square with a statue of a famous bishop in the centre. The restored house of the Orduna family, an important family of Guadalest, is a museum that gives an idea of what it used to be like living in the village many years ago. It also houses an art gallery. From this house, a path leads to the bell tower.

Bell tower of Penon de la Alcala

The most famous attraction is the picturesque white bell tower of Penon de la Alcala, precariously perched on the mountainside and found on most postcards. If you don’t mind a bit of a hike, a well-maintained path takes you up to the bell tower. The twelve stations of the cross dot the side of the path, and near the top is an old graveyard. The hike is worth it as at the very top, you are treated to fabulous views of the valley and reservoir.

A view of the castle from the path.
An easy path leading up to the bell tower with stations of the cross along the way
The stations of the cross are painted on ceramic tiles
A lovely sign as you near the cemetery in four languages
The gate to the cemetery, with a view
The bell tower and the castle in a gorgeous setting
A fabulous view of the valley and reservoir
I love Guadalest as you can tell. (Picture taken by Donna Cluff)

Text and Image copyright © 2020 Darlene Foster  – All Rights Reserved

Hi Readers! Dot here. I just turned five years old. I had a little party and got two of my favourite bones and a cup cake. I´m one lucky dog.

I have a good life here on the Costa Blanca of Spain since mom and dad adopted me. I thought I would share some of my favourite things with you, because mom said I could.

I love the beach and playing with my friends at the beach
I love going to the park and chasing squirrels
I just wish I could climb trees!
Sometimes I make friends at the park. I love my warm jackets for cool winter days too.
I really love playing with my best friend Patch. I´m so happy I´m smiling.
I love ice cream and wait in line patiently when the ice cream lady comes every Monday. She told us last week it would be her last visit until March. I don´t know if I can wait that long!
I love the children who come to visit and play with me.
I especially love my comfy blanket
I love my comfy chair too
My chair is a good place to watch for Dad to come home. You can see why I´m called Dot.
Sometimes I sneak into mom and dad´s bed and have a really good sleep.
It´s Remembrance Day on Wednesday and I hope everyone remembers those who gave their lives so we can all have a good life.

Thanks for reading about me and my good life.

Dot the Dog

Guadalest is a great place and only about a little over an hour from our home in Spain. We often take out-of-town guests there for a day trip. I plan to write a post about it soon. But for today, I want to tell you about one of the many museums in this amazing place. The Torture Museum, perfect for Halloween! For those who write horror stories, you may get some ideas.

The museum is housed in a heritage building that feels creepy as soon as you enter.

The buliding consists of eleven small rooms on four levels with displays of more than 70 instruments of torture and execution used by the Inquisition, royalty and governments, not only in Spain but throughout medieval Europe. Some of the detailed descriptions were too gruesome for me to read. But the displays were well done and not too terrible to look at. Here are a few of them.

Hanging cages

The French Bishop who invented the hanging cage ended up in one. How ironic is that? They could be seen hanging in alcoves of the royal castles to warn others what might happen should they disobey the king. Prisoners were often left to starve to death hanging in the cages, like this poor fellow.

The barrel pillory

The barrel was used to humiliate drunkards and people who spoke against the government or king. An iron mask was often put on the subject who would have to walk around town in the barrel while people threw slop and garbage in it.

The rack, used for interrogation since the Roman times
The grill, as old as the Roman Empire or maybe older.
Chastity belts, humiliation for women
Don’t touch or you may lose your fingers, or your head.
The wheel, a nasty means of execution.
I didn’t need to be reminded not to touch the guillotine.
Lots of cool old doors in the building leading to rooms holding more torture devices
Don’t ask. I stopped reading the descriptions by then.

I know these were used a long time ago, but I still couldn’t get over how cruel mankind can be.

We eventually found a friend who seemed harmless enough.


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