Jeff Harris Travels

Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

Last “Photowalk” in Valencia

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I went out, a couple of days before leaving for Bulgaria, into Valencia to take some photos one last time.

Here’s the slideshow of those photos:
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Written by Jeff

June 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Photos, Spain, Valencia

Time Panoramas

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One of this semester’s assignments for my Painting & Photography class was to create something that dealt with time. It was entirely free in what was created and what medium it was created it, as long as it focused on time.

So I created three “time panoramas.” I set up my camera at the beach, the port and the City of Arts & Sciences and took photos, usually about an hour or so before the sun started to go down. Later I stitched the photographs together in Photoshop to make a “panorama” of a place through time. I pretty happy with the way it turned out. My favorite is the City of Arts and Sciences one. The others just seem like practice ones.

I have yet to print them, so hopefully I’ll locate a place that prints photos in the next week or so. Only two weeks left of classes!

Ciudad Time Panorama
City of Arts and Sciences (view the LARGE version by clicking here)

Playa Time Panorama
Beach (view the LARGE version by clicking here)

Puerto Time Panorama
Port (view the LARGE version by clicking here)

Written by Jeff

May 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm

The Bullfight

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In celebration of Our Lady of the Forsaken, a patron saint of Valencia, bullfights were held at the Plaza de Toros this weekend. Since they don’t occur too often (not every weekend, like some might think, including myself), I thought I’d take the opportunity to see one.

Before going I had some apprehension about this part of Spanish “culture.” I turns out the apprehension was valid. I can safely say that was my first and last bullfight.

The “sport” of bullfighting is a sport of stabbing a bull, usually about ten times, with several kinds of sharp impaling utensils over a period of fifteen to twenty minutes, slowly bleeding the animal until it can “fight” no longer. Its spectators consisted of old cigar-smoking men and tourists from all over. The stands were made of concrete and brick, surely putting many rear-ends to sleep.

I took over 800 photos spanning the demise of five bulls; I wanted to document as much as I could. The gore was easily captured in many a shot. If you can stomach it, view some photos from the day by watching a slideshow of 150 photos or by clicking the link after the slideshow to see photos presented individually. Warning: Some of the photos are graphic and bloody.

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Written by Jeff

May 10, 2009 at 7:23 am

Posted in Photos, Spain, Valencia

L’Oceanogràfic and L’Hemisferic Visit

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On Saturday I finally visited Valencia’s aquarium, L’Oceanogràfic. It’s stated that the aquarium is Europe’s largest. In comparison to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, this aquarium seemed slightly larger. In contrast, L’Oceanogràfic is subterranean and visiting different exhibits requires the visitor to walk from point to point outside, which on a beautiful Valencian day is no problem. The aquarium’s tanks are organized into categories like the Arctic, Mediterranean, and Temperate and Tropical. The aquarium also features an outdoor dolphin show, and a sea lion exhibit.

As part of the City of Arts and Sciences complex of attractions, combination tickets are offered, so I took advantage of that, along with my fifteen percent student discount, and bought a ticket for the IMAX film about ancient Egypt at the L’Hemisferic. L’Hemisferic is the half-circle like building I’ve taken many a photo of. All in all it was a good film, but sitting near the stairs, to the side is not such a great location, mostly because the screen is actually a very curved wall that distorts the image.

Take a look at photos from my weekend at the City of Arts and Sciences by clicking the link below the photo.

L'Oceanografic
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Written by Jeff

May 3, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Photos, Spain, Valencia

America en Valencia

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For my Psychology of Art: Photo II class I’ve been working on my project for the semester, which I’m calling “America en (in) Valencia.” I’ve been taking photos of signs, stores, restaurants and anything else that shows anything that might be familiar to an American or English-speaking person. The point of the series is to make the viewer question the place where the photos were taken. Take a look at some of the photos I’ve taken, presented below.

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Written by Jeff

May 1, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Photos, Spain, Valencia

Madrid & Marrakech

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My trip to Madrid and Marrakech, Morocco was definitely a unique and enriching experience. On Saturday, April 11 I traveled by train to Madrid. After checking into my hotel, I took the metro it down to the Reina Sofía and Prado art museums. I first went to Reina Sofía to see my favorite painting Guernica by Pablo Picasso. I was able to snap a few photos with my phone, which I suppose is better than nothing. After checking out the other works of art in Reina Sofía, I walked over to the Museo del Prado, which houses older works of art. There I got to see my second favorite painting Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. Seeing the works in person after studying them last semester in Art History II was amazing and was something I didn’t think I’d get a chance to do. It was an interesting contrast to see these artworks the day before traveling to Morocco.

Guernica
Guernica by Picasso

Garden of Earthly Delights
Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch

After a night in Madrid, I departed Spain for Morocco. It had only been a week since I had solidified the plan for the trip, and luckily everything went near perfectly. No lost passports this time!

Once I arrived in Marrakech I exchanged some euros and dollars and hopped on the bus headed into the city. For 30 Moroccan Dirhams (about $3.50) I got a roundtrip ticket for the bus. I’m sure it was much easier and potentially cheaper than trying to settle on a price with the taxi drivers!

Once I got off the bus, the loudness and liveliness of the Djemaa el Fna (the main square of Marrakech and what Marrakech is known for) was overwhelming. Carrying luggage made me a target for lots of teenagers trying to make a buck, directing tourists to their riads (like the equivalent to a bed and breakfast). I had the map in my head, so I knew I was in the right area, but after passing where I later learned I had to turn and noticing the sun setting fast, I gave in and accepted help. The lowest denomination of money I had was a 100 dirham bill (about $11.71), so I figured I had no other choice. Once I made it to my riad, the Amour de Riad, my guide’s friend showed up and said that I owed him money too. Ha! I made sure when I first agreed to let them show me that I said 100 dirhams only, not per person. No more. And when we turned into the dark alley leading to the riad, his friend stayed behind. As I refused to pay more and hoping one of them didn’t have a knife I rang the doorbell of the riad and a pleasant woman managing the place opened the door. It was a relief to be inside someplace calm. Once I made it to my closet-sized room containing a bed, a coat rack, a plastic stool, two power outlets and a window and door, I thought what did I get myself into? Seeing women covered head to toe, walking past carts pulled by donkeys, and being hustled for help was a bit overwhelming at first. I didn’t venture back out until the morning.

On Monday I walked all over the place. And again I was hustled by the young and old. They would say “the place you’re looking for is closed,” or “there is nothing good that way, follow me,” or “come look at my shop, I give you good price, best in Marrakech!” Usually I would just brush them off and tell them I was just walking, taking in the sights. Other times they were more persistent so I would just ignore them. One time a boy warned me that an area I was headed towards was closed. I pretended to know only Spanish. Surprisingly the boy replied with “my amigo, cerrado” (“my friend, closed”).

The people in Marrakech were awful friendly. They all considered me to be their friend. Whether it was the orange juice sellers or the shopkeepers, the waiters or the young Moroccans trying to make a buck by selling their knowledge of Marrakech’s street plan or their hashish, they all wanted to be my friend (in case you couldn’t tell, I’m being sarcastic : P).

For dinner on Monday night I walked the outskirts of the food stalls in the Djemaa el Fna. The waiters stood outside, along where people walked, trying to get each passerby to take a look at their menu and spread of food. Being pushed around or pressured is a real turn off for me, but every single stall did it, so finally gave into the pressuring and settled on stall 114. I ended up eating there the next two nights, partly because I didn’t feel like getting pressured by the other stalls and partly because they had pretty good couscous the first night. After making it back to the riad after my first real Djemaa el Fna experience, I settled in for the night, a little more confident that I could withstand the culture shock.

On Tuesday, after a hearty breakfast of a crepe, croissant and orange juice and coffee (with lots of milk added since I’m not really a coffee drinker) in my riad, I bought a 24 hour ticket for the hop-on hop-off double decker, open-top tour bus. After a few circuits around the city, I got off near the Bahia Palace. There were a lot of similarities between this palace and the Alhambra in Granada. The tiles and wall calligraphy were almost identical in some instances. The gardens were beautiful and lush and the courtyards were expansive.

Next, I rode the tour bus another time and took more photos from my seat atop the bus. After a thirty minute ride, I got off at the Djemaa el Fna stop and had walked the five minutes back to my riad. After a little siesta, I walked back into the Djemaa el Fna and to stall 114 for dinner. I had a chicken tagine with a orange fanta for dinner. The complimentary mint tea was refreshing!

By Tuesday night I had a change in perspective. I was disappointed that I only had Wednesday left, which was a great change from the feelings I had on Sunday night.

Wednesday morning came and I made it out into the medina to catch the sightseeing bus one last time, before my ticket’s validity expired. After the tour, I had pretty good understanding of the layout of the city, though I never traveled out of the medina by foot.

After getting off at my usual stop at the Djemaa el Fna, I decided to walk through the souks and to the Musée de Marrakech. I never found the museum and didn’t think it was worth it to hire a guide. I was offered hashish several times though.

After that little walk and getting lost in the souks after thinking I knew where I was going, I made it back to the Djemaa el Fna with the aid of the Koutoubia mosque’s tall minaret. I decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the square. I was there for nearly two hours, I reckon. I had some chicken couscous with carrots and some sort of squash (I think). I took hundreds of photos from my seat, snapping shots of the snake charmers, monkeys, and henna tattooers. It was nice to get some photos without being hassled for money at street level.

Dinner at stall 114 on Wednesday was bittersweet. In the three days I had eaten there, me and my waiter Akheem had developed a rapport and I wished I had more days to try a variety of other Moroccan foods. After saying our goodbyes, I made by way over to the orange juice stands and sipped a glass among the locals. While on my way back to my riad for my last sleep in Morocco, I bought some Moroccan pastries I had first tried in Granada.

Thursday morning came too fast. I hastily ate breakfast and headed to the bus stop to catch the bus back to the airport to make my 1 o’clock flight back to Madrid. Everything went smoothly and I made it to Madrid’s Atocha train station with a couple hours to spare before taking the train back to Valencia, arriving back to my apartment at about midnight. My trip had been a success.

That’s one spring break I’ll always remember!

Slideshow instructions: Once you click the play (triangle) button, you can use your keyboard’s arrow keys to advance or regress through the photos. Use the space bar to pause or play the slideshow. Click the photo to see its flickr page.

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Written by Jeff

April 18, 2009 at 7:12 am

Saturday Walk

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Today I went for a five mile (eight kilometer) walk into Valencia’s older area and then across the old riverbed of the Turia and into the Jardines de Real and on to the Avenue of Blasco Ibáñez.

Here are some photos from today. I felt like I had a bit of an off day today, photography wise.

Plaza de la Reina

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Written by Jeff

April 4, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Photos, Spain, Valencia