culture

Rediscovering Ireland: Eagles Flying, Ballymote.

From graveyards to wildlife. My next post brings us to the beautiful Eagles Flying Centre, a sanctuary for Birds of Prey and Owls. The sanctuary, located amid the beautiful landscape of North-West Ireland, is one of the biggest centres for Birds of Prey and Owls in the country. The centre, which is run by Zoologist Lothar F. Muschketat, is very different from anything I had ever experienced before. Not only is the focus of the centre on educating people about these glorious species but, also, they have a hospital and rehabilitation centre where they dedicate their time to healing injured birds from around the country.

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Eagles flying is situated on 27 hectares of land. As you make your way around the grounds you really feel like you´re in another world. There are some donkeys, peacocks, hens, pigs, goats, rams, dogs, cats, and ferrets – to name but a few animals, roaming freely in their well-kept habitats. It´s so refreshing to see animals being allowed to wander freely; such a change to all the zoos that I have been to before. Somehow, whenever I go to a zoo, I instantly free sad. Seeing those beautiful animals caged up just feels wrong to me. However, the atmosphere here is completely different. The animals are lively, friendly and uninhibited by human contact. In fact, some of the animals, come running up to you as soon as they see you, which, in my mind anyway, shows just how well looked after they are when they are not afraid or threatened by humans.

How big is that pig?! Goose

The whole experience was a fun one. I was lucky enough to go with a friend and her godson. I say lucky because the staff are fantastic to young children. They were bubbly, full of chat and made the children feel so at ease around the birds and animals which, considering the size of some of the birds, is not an easy task. One of the staff members, who found out about my fear of mice through my friend, even tried to help me get over my fear. However, unlike with the children, he failed to put me at ease! But, hey, at least he tried, right? It´s not his fault I´m a lost cause!

Shortly after we arrived the interactive flying show started. The show itself was overseen by the knowledgeable and humorous  Zoologist Lothar F. Muschketat. I have to say that I loved every minute of the show. The main stars of the show were Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, Vultures and Owls. All of  the birds delighted in the act of swooping over your head or, in some cases, landing next to you to say hello. During the show each bird has a moment in the spot light. And, while the birds themselves focus their attention on wowing the audience with their grace and beauty, Lothar provides the audience with detailed information about each bird including their unique hunting and flying skills. One fact that I took away with me is that birds only fly for three reasons: the first one ( quite obvious) is to get from A to B, the second is when they want food and the third is when another bird is attempting to eat them. The rest of the time the birds remain happily perched on branches watching the world go by. While this is actually logical – common sense, really,  I had never taken the time to think about it.

After the show it was time to head to the petting zoo. Which, if I´m honest, was one of my favourite parts. Seeing how excited the children were as they got to play with rabbits, with mice, with sheep and have real piggy backs on the humongous pig was just priceless. At one point Lothar even brought out a snake for the children, and me (the biggest child),to play with. He was so patient with the children, teaching them how to stroke the snake, how to behave around the snake and telling them all about the dangers of being around snakes. He was fantastic. Even when one of the younger kids thought it would be a good idea to run and jump beside the snake Lothar remained calm and just explained the danger of the child´s actions. They did think I was a bit different though;having a fear of mice but yet being able to hold and play with a snake. However, once I quickly explained that any animal that eats mice is a friend of mine, they laughed and saw the funny side of my illogical fear.

All in all, it was a memorable experience. So many things stuck out for me while I wandered through the centre. It was great to see how at peace the animals and birds were in their home, how much freedom they had to roam about, how friendly the staff were and how much time and dedication they gave to each of the animals. It´s an experience I would most certainly repeat again. It´s something that I feel would provide you with a different experience each time you go because, as we all know only too well, animals and birds are spontaneous so each visit would be unique.

If you would like some more detailed information on the sanctuary then feel free to click here to be brought to their website.

That´s it for today´s post. I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventure. Stay tuned for tomorrow´s post.

Just a quick little note before I go. I have just managed to be featured on Expats Blog, a site which brings the expat community together, and I need your help.
My link is lacking some comments. If you have the time, and you enjoy my blog, please go to this site, vote for my blog and leave a little comment. It will only take a minute and I would really appreciate the support. Thanks very much.
http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/6591/chasing-butterflies-sunshine-and-freedom

Hope you all are having a great day.

Thank you for reading and I will talk to you in my next post.

Giana xoxo

Rediscovering Ireland: The Grave of William Butler Yeats, Drumcliffe.

Having satisfied our thirst for the outdoors, by visiting the Gleniff Horseshoe, we decided to stop off in Drumcliffe on our way back to Sligo. Drumcliffe, or Drumcliff as it is written in some places, graveyard is a famous landmark in Sligo. As many of you may know, and those of you who didn´t have probably guessed from the title, Irish poet W.B. Yeats chose this peaceful place as his final resting place.

imageThis stunning churchyard is located at the foot of the Benbulben mountain. The scenery there is striking, especially on a sunny day! Apart from the churchyard, and some gravestones, there is a lovely little tea house and craft shop located on the grounds. Just in case you feel a little hungry – the cakes did look amazing in the tea house! However, being celiac, I settled for just a coffee and a quick browse around the craft shop!

So, short and sweet, that was my trip to Drumcliffe.  It´s a sweet little village. However, if it weren´t for W.B. Yeats, I feel that it would go unnoticed. If you plan on doing the Gleniff Horseshoe, then this makes a lovely little stop off: either on the way there or coming back. Especially if you feel like a slice of cake and a warm cup of tea!

I’m going to leave you now with a poem from W.B. Yeats about Drumcliffe. Along with a few photos, unfortunately, due to storage problems on my camera, I have lost most of the photos that I took here that day. Hopefully, though, from the few I managed to retrieve from Facebook (thank god I decided to upload while I was there), you will get a feel for the place.

“Under bare Benbulben´s head

In Drumcliffe churchyard Yeats is laid.

An ancestor was the rector there

Long years ago, a church stands near,

By the road an ancient cross

No marble, no conventional phrase,

One limestone quarried near the spot

By his command these words are cut:

Cast a cold eye

On life, On death

Horseman, pass by!”

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Just a quick little note before I go. I have just managed to be featured on Expats Blog, a site which brings the expat community together, and I need your help.
My link is lacking some comments. If you have the time, and you enjoy my blog, please go to this site, vote for my blog and leave a little comment. It will only take a minute and I would really appreciate the support. Thanks very much.
http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/6591/chasing-butterflies-sunshine-and-freedom

That´s it for today´s post. I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventure. Stay tuned for tomorrow´s post.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Thank you for reading and I will talk to you in my next post.

Giana xoxo

Alcoy: The City of Bridges.

It´s funny how things work out sometimes. We all make plans and, some of us, even go as far as making bucket lists. I´m most certainly one of those people. I make lists for everything. Lists of work goals, lists of life goals, lists of things I want to do and places I want to see. Some of these lists being easy to accomplish while others, hmm, let´s just say: debatable.

So; you may be wondering; what´s this got to do with Alcoy? Well; simple. When I first moved to mainland Spain, four years ago now, I was bright eyed, bushy tailed and eager to get to know my new country. I sat down with a pen, my much loved notebook and a map. I started making a list of places I wanted to visit within a two hour radius of where I was living. A realistic bucket list, or at least, that´s what I thought at the time.

Made the connection yet? Yes, I knew you would. One of the lovely places that was lucky enough to make it into my trusty notebook, and onto that glorious list, was Alcoy. Sadly though, I didn´t get to see it before I moved to Córdoba.

That said; once I moved back here, to Murcia, I dragged out that little list, which, by then, had started to gather a thick layer of dust. I vowed to myself there and then to start ticking these places off my list. So; I thought – why not share my experience with all of you?

Enough rambling, onto Alcoy.
Alcoy

When I first heard of Alcoy I was immediately intrigued by it. First of all, because the guidebooks I had read had referred to it as “The real Spain”, quite a bold statement if you ask me. And, secondly, because of its nickname: the City of Bridges. Having been there I can see what the guidebooks meant.

The minute you enter Alcoy you are faced with a mass of Bridges. Alcoy, being a town with many furrowed cliffs and steep drops, needs these bridges due to the natural lie of the land. Some of the bridges date back to the 17th century. Apart from their functional uses, such as providing access to both the industries which border the River Riquer and the more modern parts of the town, they are structurally stunning.

So; apart from the bridges, what has Alcoy got to offer? And, more importantly, why has it been referred to as “The real Spain”? That, I believe, is due to the evident remains of the cultures that once occupied this town. The Moors occupied Alcoy from the tenth to the thirteenth century. Their imprint has remained throughout the centuries and, quite strangely, the Moorish ruins lie beneath the modern day town. It seems that from the fifteenth century, when Alcoy came to prominence and its military might was invaluable to the Alicante region, that Alcoy began to construct a new town. I would imagine, as I haven´t read much on this, that the purpose for this was to accommodate the growth of the town. However, nowadays the town that lies below is not functional and all that remains are ruins. While it is a shame to see a mass of ruins lying below the town, it does add a touch of quirkiness.

Today, Alcoy is a lovely town. As you walk through the streets you get a sense of pride from its inhabitants. One thing that struck me as I walked around was the people. They were all dressed so well and each and every one of them was so friendly. I particularly loved Plaza España as not only was it surrounded by classic architecture but it seemed to be a meeting spot for some of its locals. It was filled with a buzz between the people congregated in the central square and the little shops which had brought their products out onto the street to make shopping a much more inviting experience.


I also loved the little parks that were dotted around this quaint town. They were filled with people and animals and, overall, were pleasant places to visit.

So; the only question that remains is: Is Alcoy worth a visit? Most certainly. Alcoy is a unique town with lots to see. It makes a refreshing change to the busier international holiday resorts in the area. This inland little hub is surrounded by mountains which serve as a backdrop to every street. The natural lie of the land itself is visually pleasing and the numerous bridges and viaduct are spectacular. Alcoy offers something a little different and its people are so welcoming and traditional that it´s a delight to spend time there. While Alcoy may not be everyone´s cup of tea, it´s most certainly a place that can be appreciated by all: especially if you´re keen on history!

I hope that you enjoyed reading about my little  trip and that you´ve all had a fantastic weekend.
Thank you for reading and I will talk to you in my next post.

Giana xoxo

A little Sunday Drive: Novelda, Spain.

A few weeks ago, on a Sunday, my mum and I were a little restless. The sun was glorious, little Betsy (our car) was ready for some action and my growing list of places worth visiting was burning a hole in my pocket. Everything was pointing us in the direction of a little adventure – and what an adventure it was.

Men Hard At Work.

We got our things together and set off on a little road trip – destination: Novelda. Novelda is a sweet little town tucked away in the Valle del Medio Vinalopó, about 241 meters above the sea. It´s a town which is rich in modernist heritage. It boasts many magnificent squares, which are full of character, lots of beautiful parks and a lovely market place. What I liked about it though, even more than the architecture, was the people. They were all conjugated in the copious squares basking in the evening sunshine while catching up on the day´s gossip.


While the town itself is quite special, filled with charm, its biggest surprise is located roughly 3km from the town centre; St. Mary Magdalene´s sanctuary. This modernist building was designed in the 19th century by José Sala Sala, who was born in Novelda, and took his inspiration for its design from Catalonian Modernism.

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I have to say that, while the town itself was delightful, nothing could have prepared me for the beauty that awaited me at the sanctuary. I had heard a lot about this place, both from my mum and several guidebooks I have read. However, despite this, I was totally caught off guard by sheer beauty that unfolded before me. Located at the top of a steep hill, overlooking the Vinalopó Valle, the setting truly is picturesque. The upward trek is astonishing with the rich colours which spread out across the mountainous countryside serving as a backdrop to this breathtaking building decorated with modernist motifs, ceramics and bricks. I have to admit: it´s hard not to be blown away by what the area has to offer.

By the time I reached the sanctuary I felt exhilarated and quite excited to see what this enticing building was like up close. I am delighted to say that I wasn´t disappointed in the slightest! Its authenticity and originality added to its character. I found myself completely lost in the splendour that surrounded me, every minute uncovering a new beauty.

It´s easy to see why this hidden gem is the symbol for the town. While writing this post I came to a startling realisation. That realisation being: pictures fail and words let you down when it comes to sharing the beauty of this place, you need to see it in person to really appreciated it. José´s design is out of this world and it couldn´t have been built in a more complimentary area. If you haven´t yet visited Novelda, and you happen to be in the area, I suggest a visit. You won´t be disappointed.

I hope that you enjoyed reading about my little Sunday trip and that you´ve all had a fantastic weekend.
Thank you for reading and I will talk to you in my next post.

Giana xoxo

Travel theme: Statues

So, it´s that time of the week again: time for Ailsa´s travel theme. This week the theme, if you hadn´t already guessed from the title, is statues. I have to admit that I found this weeks challenge a little more difficult than I had anticipated. I spent hours going through the copious amounts of photos I have accumulated over the last few years and, to my amazement, very few of them were of statues.

The vast majority of my photos are of street life or fashion. I seem to just love capturing moments as they unfold before me. I just get caught up in the beauty of life, flaws and all, and, I have to admit, I love aging beauty: the older the better. To me age is beauty; whether it´s a dilapidated old building which is bursting at the seams with history or an older person who, through the wrinkles on their face, you can tell has a story to share. I guess what I´m trying to say is that I find everyday life more intriguing than still life.

That said, I did manage to dig up some statues for this week´s theme. Each one of them coming from Cartagena in Spain. It´s funny, if you read my post on Cartagena, you may recall that I found Cartagena to be a bit of a let down. While I enjoyed my trip there; I found it lacked the usual charm that Spanish cities are filled with. However, I must have loved the statues there as I took quite a few photos of them during my trip.

So, all that remains now is to share them with you. I hope you enjoy my humble offerings to this week´s theme.

If you would like to get involved in Ailsa´s travel theme challenges then here is all the information you need:

If you would like to join in (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:
•Create your own post and title it Travel theme: statues
•Include a link to Ailsa´s page in your post so others can find it too
•Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
•Don’t forget to subscribe to her page to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes.

If you would like to see some more of this week´s offerings then check out the links below.
http://geriatrixfotogallerie.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/palacio-de-mateusportugal
http://esengasvoice.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/travel-theme-statues/
http://browsingtheatlas.com/2014/03/28/wave-to-the-mermaid/

Thank you for reading and I will talk to you in my next post.

Giana xoxo

Time to face reality: I only have time for one post a week!

Image taken from google images, click here to be brought to the page.

I feel so blessed, as I´ve said numerous times before, that I have met so many nice and caring people through the blogging world. I´ve been missing for a while as I´m struggling to find a balance this work year between work, new courses I´m doing to improve my career, writing blogs and finding time for my family and for me. It´s times like this that I really wish there were more hours in a day but I have to learn that I´m only human and can only do so much, take a leaf from my own book, one day at a time, and learn to stop trying to achieve everything. Who knows maybe then, when I stop putting so much pressure on myself, I might actually achieve what I want to achieve!

I guess what I´m trying to say is I´m not telling myself that I´m going to write three posts a week anymore because what ends up happening is: I don´t get time to write three, end up feeling guilty and therefore end up not writing anything. So; I´m reducing my goal. I going to write one post a week as a minimum and if I get time I will write more. I think it might actually work out better for me, if I don´t have yet another deadline to meet then I might actually be more productive! We´ll see!

Thank you to everyone for being so patient with me and understanding that sometimes, no matter how much we love doing things, we just don´t have the time for our hobbies.

I´m starting out on a good note today, I came down with a bad cough and sore throat on friday which forced me to take a day off yesterday and do absolutely nothing. It´s funny how our bodies let us know when we´ve had enough even when we don´t realise it for ourselves. Anyway, today I feel all the better for it, I feel rested and ready to write. So I plan to make the most of this new-found energy and write a few posts, The first one, being this one, to explain my new approach to this blog, the second one being the weekly photo challenge as it seems to tie into my new start and the third one, one which is long overdue, an awards one to thank and acknowledge those of you who constantly support me, even when I don´t always have the same dedication as the rest of you; no matter how hard I try!

Okay, enough rambling, and time to get on with my writing but first a spot of lunch with some friends! I hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday, wherever you are, and that it´s a relaxing one!

As always, thank you for reading,

Until the next time,

Giana

xoxo

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Another great photo challenge this week, what a great way to get back into the swing of things again! I´m glad to say that the stresses and strains of the last few weeks have finally subsided and I finally have time to breath again and actually do what I love: blog!

Thank you everyone for your patience, I will be posting three times a week starting from today. Not as frequent as before, I know, but have less time at the moment! Looking forward to getting back into it now and also to catching up on all the posts I have missed!

So without further delay here is my humble attempt at this weeks photo challenge. I hope you enjoy!

We are shaped by our thoughts, we become what we think when the mind is pure. Joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. 563 BC – 483 BC Buddha.

So that´s it from me for today, next post will be up on Tuesday. Hope you´re having a fantastic Sunday!

To see what other bloggers have come up with for this weeks challenge click here.

What did you think of this weeks theme? Did you have fun with it?

As always, thank you for reading,

Until the next time,

Giana

xoxo