Visiting Elx and discovering palm trees

 

During our stay in Alicante we visited some surrounding cities, one of them was Elx or Elche. Via Santa Pola we took the bus to Elx.

Municipal Park Elx

Without a specific plan we walked to a major park close by. It turned out to be the Municipal Park, where I found the amphitheater, and in the rear a pigeon tower.

Amphitheater and Pigeon Tower in Elx
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After that we took a tour through the city by tourism miniature train. During this tour we found out what Elx is famous for: palm trees. During the Arabic reign of Spain these palm trees were imported. It is estimated that currently there are 200,000 to 300,000 palm trees in the area of Elx. It is really unique in Europe to have so many palm trees together. In November 2000, Elx was elected the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site.

Botanic garden Huerto del Cura in Elx
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Then we decided to continue our discovery of Elx by going to the botanic garden called Huerto del Cura (garden of the priest), located in the older parts of Elx. It is a relative small orchard, however, packed with many exclusive palm trees, cactus, and other plants. I took quite a few pictures there, which you can find below and here. Some of these pictures were taken in Manual mode, like the one below, because there was not enough light to work with Aperture mode, resulting in a slightly higher ISO.

Cactus in Huerto del Cura

During a break I also managed to take a picture of the Basilica of Elx. Although it was not the right time of the day because of the very bright sun coming from the right. I wanted to take a picture standing more on the left of the church, however, this was impossible because  of the overwhelming sun behind the tower. So, I had to settle for this one.

Basilica Saint Mary in Elx
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Late in the afternoon we had an excellent lunch in an Italian restaurant called Ristorante Gourmet. Looking back, Elx gave us a lot more than we expected. It is definitely worthwhile to visit.

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Strolling through the streets of Alicante

Harbour of Alicante in Spain
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Alicante is a nice Mediterranean port on the east coast of Spain. From The Santa Barbara Castle you have a nice view of the harbour and the city. Walking down from the castle you end up in a mesh of very narrow streets and squares, going up and down stairs. It is a beautiful part of the old city.

Calle San Rafael in Alicante
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It is a very colourful neighbourhood with lots of red, blue, and yellow. And, of course,  many plants. 

Blue in the streets of Alicante

It is wonderful to stroll through these colourful streets of Alicante and taste the history and the Arab influences (the palmtree is just an example). Enjoy the pictures of the streets of Alicante.

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Fallas in Valencia

Fallas Valencia 2018
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My wife told me to put Fallas in Valencia on my bucket list. So, this year we decided to participate in this festivity. The origin of the Fallas is the commemoration of Saint Joseph. The word Fallas both refers to the event and to the structures they build. The event  is really a community festivity for the whole family. 
Every day during Fallas at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento there is La Mascletà (video of La Mascletà). For five minutes there is an explosion of very loud sound; you can physically feel the vibrations going through  your body. To be close to the fireworks you have to be on time (at least one and a half hour in advance). 
Every neighbourhood builds it own Falla. So, walking through the city you will find many Fallas, which mostly consist of one main “doll” surrounded by many smaller ones, often expressing national or international political issues, for example, sources of fake news.

Sources of fake news

At the top of this post the Falla that had a very prominent position at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Below one that received a lot of prizes. 

Prize winning Falla

Another activity is the parade of Valencians dressed in folkloric costumes to take flowers to the Virgin Mary (video L’Ofrena de flors) at Plaza de la Reina. On the way going there we met this beautifully dressed lady being very proud to wear her folkloric costume.

Fallera

After sunset the streets near the Fallas are beautifully lighted, often with live music, places to have a drink or take a bite. 

Lights in the evening

After midnight the day ends with a spectacular fireworks. Fallas in Valencia is another check on my bucket list. 
Many more pictures and videos were taken with my iPhone X, except for the top one, this was taken with my Nikon D800.

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Santa Barbara Castle in Alicante

Downtown Alicante
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

To celebrate my retirement as full professor at the university we decided to visit Alicante and Valencia. In this post I will focus on the view from Mount Benacantil and in the next ones on other parts of Alicante and its surrounding cities and on Valencia (Fallas!). Although not intended as a photography trip I selected 21 pictures which are all accepted by Dreamstime.
The first thing we did was to visit the Santa Barbara Castle. Originally founded by the Arabs, it was conquered by the Spanish on the feast of Saint Barbara. Explaining the name of the castle. It stands on the Mount Benacantil (166m) and from there you have a nice overview of Alicante and the beach. Above you see the colourful buildings in downtown Alicante in the neighbourhood of the Co-cathedral of Saint Nicolas of Bari (100mm).
Center of Alicante
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View on Cape de l`Horta in Alicante
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Above a much wider view of the center of Alicante and  its harbour and Cape de l’Horta on the north side of Alicante.
In an old fortress it is always nice to play with shapes. Here an example of a perspective of Cape de l’Horta through a small gate. It took some time before all tourists were out of sight. 
View on Cape de l`Horta in Alicante
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

All pictures were taken with a Nikon D800 and the general-purpose zoomlens (28-300mm). Here you will find all 21 pictures of my Alicante trip accepted by Dreamstime. In processing the pictures I added quite a bit of vibrance and saturation. Because of the slightly clouded weather the pictures looked kind of bleak. 
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Architectural photography

My enthusiasm for sharing pictures started when I submitted my pictures of Maastricht, a city along the Meuse river, to Dreamstime. They were the first two. Both still have a top ranking as far as sales is concerned.

Maastricht at night
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Maastricht along the river
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Whenever I visit a city I always want to take pictures of both the old and the new buildings. I enjoy the tension between them. Architectural photography has become my thing. For that reason I love to go to Barcelona (see this blog) and Valencia (see this blog) and take pictures. In Valencia they did something spectacular. In a dry river they built some manificent, artistic buildings (Hemesferic and Agora, see below).

Hemesferic and Agora, Valencia
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Also Rotterdam is famous for its new architecture. For me Rotterdam Central Station and the Food Market Hall are the winners. Buyers particularly like the train station. It has already been sold nine times.
Central Station Rotterdam
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The Dom Tower in Utrecht is popular at Werk aan de Muur.
Dom Tower Utrecht
Dom Tower Utrecht

Roombeek in Enschede is the rebuilt quarter after the fireworks explosion of May 2000. Here are my two favorite pictures.

Museum and restaurant in rebuilt Roombeek
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Symbol of fireworks explosion Roombeek
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Enjoy the architectural pictures of the various cities I visited and if possible visit the places yourself!
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Valencia: old and new together

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Valencia is one of the bigger cities of Spain. We stayed in Las Arenas Balneario Resort, a hotel along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. A really nice hotel with a beautiful view of the beach and the sea.
The old city (founded 138 BC) is nice to stroll through and to enjoy the food and the view. The cultural influences of the various occupiers on the architecture and the food is visible everywhere. We walked from Porta de Serrans to Estacio del Nord. We really enjoyed Plaça de l’Ajuntament, there are a lot of nice places to eat.

Typical streets of Valencia
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Another interesting part is the dried-up river Turia. Part of it is turned into a public garden with play grounds and cultural centers. Going through it by bike really gives a special sensation, seeing the high walls of the old river going more then ten meters up, and knowing that there used to run a lot of water between these walls.
Near the end of this old river it turns into an Art and Science park with many extraordinary buildings: Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Hemisfèric, Museum of Sciences, and Agora. The contrast with the old center is enormous.
Hemesferic and Palace of the Arts, Valencia
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Valencia is of course also famous for its fallas. Visiting them is high on my photography list. Here are my Valencia pictures on Dreamstime and here are some others.
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Barcelona, a nice place to be


Last summer we spent a couple of weeks in Barcelona. It is a truly internationally oriented, mediterranean city,  where sun, sea, and food play a central role. Everywhere there are nice restaurants.
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We had rented an apartment close to the Diagonal in a very luxurious area of Barcelona. Shops of all major brands were present, all of them having a doorman. Given our budget we just had a look from the outside 🙂
Barcelona is of course also the city of Gaudi: La Sagrada Família, Park Güell, Casa Milà, Parc de la Ciutadella, and many more places worth a visit.
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Here you will find my Barcelona pictures approved by Dreamstime, including many nice pictures of the interior of La Sagrada Família,
and here some pictures of the many nice districts of Barcelona, each having their own character. Enjoy!
Normally, I take my Nikkor 28-300 mm while visiting a city. It is a very convenient lens. However, this time I took my 16-35 mm and 70-200 mm. For example, the pictures of details in La Sagrada Família required a small depth-of-filed (f/2.8), so I used the 70-200 mm lens.

La Sagrada Familia: Jesus Christ
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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