Travel Theme

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

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

If your read my post yesterday, Photowalk: Alicante, you will know that I´ve rekindled my love for photography. As I mentioned: I´m not particularly talented or anything, I just enjoy the experience of taking photos.

During the Photowalk through the streets of Alicante on Saturday I became very snap happy indeed, taking near to three hundred photos – as I said : snap happy. In yesterday´s post I  shared a mere 50 photos out of this vast quantity but, when I saw this weeks photo challenge, I was inspired to share a few more!

With that said, in keeping with the theme street life, here are a few more of the beauties I took on Saturday. I hope you have as much fun looking through them as I had while I was taking them!

So, there you have it, my humble entry into this weeks challenge. If you liked it, and would like to see some more, check out these entries:

1. http://dragoneystory.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/daily-post-weekly-photo-challenge-street-life/

2.http://chrisbreebaart.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/weekly-photo-challenge-street-life-oort-bridge/

3. http://shoot2blog.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/weekly-photo-challenge-street-life/

4. http://ledrakenoir.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/street-life/

5. http://myincatrailchallenge.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/weekly-photo-challenge-street-life/

Hope you all are having a great day.

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

Giana xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Theme: Pink.

So, as you might remember, if you think dare to think back to over a year ago, I got involved in Ailsa´s travel theme in September 2012. I loved the concept of this weekly challenge as it combined my three loves – writing, travel and photography. It also gave me the opportunity to interact with so many people who shared my passions. It was fantastic. Ailsa herself was very welcoming and encouraging, which is always so nice. Then, as we all know, life got in the way and sadly, after only two posts, I had to walk away from the challenge.

As I was scrolling through my reader on Monday morning I spotted this weeks challenge. There it was, staring at me ever so boldly, luring me in. Right there and then I vowed that no matter how chaotic my work week got I would find a way, somehow, to fit this weeks challenge in. So here I am, over a year later, finding the time to squeeze this weeks posts in. Let´s face it, doing this challenge is way more rewarding than correcting that pile of corrections sitting on my desk (don´t worry all corrections will get done, no one will suffer for the sake of my joy!)

This weeks challenge is designed to welcome in one of my favourite seasons: Spring. Spring has always been a season that has filled me with joy, apart from those nasty allergies that it brings with it, I love everything about Spring. I love how everything starts to come to live again. The sun is shining brightly, the flowers are dancing in an attempt to show off their amazingly vivid colours and there is a hum of happiness in the air as people take to the street again in celebration of the end of winter.

Ailsa made a great point in her post as she offered up this weeks theme: pink, “It’s a colour you either love or hate, but if you look closely, there’s an awful lot of it around.” And it´s true, the streets are filled with this vivacious colour, there´s no escaping it. So, here is my offering for this weeks challenge. Humble as it may be, I hope you enjoy it.

Welcome to Spring.

Welcome to Spring.

Welcome to Spring

Welcome to Spring

Welcome to Spring.

Welcome to Spring.

Welcome to Spring

Welcome to Spring

Welcome to Spring

Welcome to Spring

Welcome to Spring

Welcome to Spring

 

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: Pink
  • 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.

To check out some other entries, click on the links below:

http://pathsunwritten.com/2014/03/21/travel-theme-pink/

http://esengasvoice.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/travel-theme-pink/

http://windagainstcurrent.com/2014/03/21/travel-theme-pink/

http://loganbruin.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/travel-theme-pink/

http://lagottocattleya.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/travel-theme-pink/

 

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

Giana xoxo

One Day At A Time: Callosa, Part 1.

From a beautiful, melancholic City to an impressive waterfall; our next stop on our adventure brought us to the quaint little village of Callosa de’n Sarria. The Costa Blanca is famed for its long, sandy beaches and high summer temperatures, and so it should be: they´re fantastic; however, they pale in comparison to the cool, crisp waters of this mountain village. If you are looking for something a little different from what the standard sun, sea and sand holiday has to offer then look no further than Callosa de´n Sarria and its beautiful Fuentes del Algar!

Last Monday morning P,J and I set off on an adventure. We had wanted to visit Callosa and Guadalest, a town located some ten minutes from Callosa, for a number of years now but, between everything, never got the chance to. So; we decided that Monday was going to be the day to change all that! As they are both mountain villages we decided to give Betsy, our car, a break and take a tour bus!

I must say it was a fantastic idea, Betsy  would have really struggled on the steep mountain roads and the service that Coach Trips Costa Blanca provided was just fantastic. The tour guide, a lovely bubbly girl from Venezuela, was great; not only did she offer a fantastic run down of each area we passed but also was great to P. She arranged for him to have the front seats to himself, got him a private area in the restaurant and made sure that he got the most out of the trip that he could! It was a completely stress free day and extremely enjoyable. It´s amazing how kind people made such a huge difference to any journey!

The first stop of the morning was Las Fuentes del Algar! We arrived there at about 10.30 in the morning and were told that we had an hour and a half to explore this beautiful area; however, if I´m honest, this wasn´t enough time for me. First we went to the restaurant located at the foot of the waterfalls. We had been told by our guide to go there first as the tickets are half price there and, more importantly, they do the best muffins in the area. Never one to turn down a good muffin I jumped at the chance to try one; they really are worth the hype, fantastic!

Nonetheless, this took a good twenty minutes of our time which meant we only had an hour to enjoy the area, such a shame! This wouldn´t be the only problem we would encounter. After a two-man horsepower journey up a steep hill with the wheelchair we reached the entrance of the waterfalls only to discover that, not only was the whole area on a steep hill but the only access was by stairs, slight problem when you are in a wheelchair. I have to say we were slightly disappointed as we had asked when booking the tour if it was suitable for wheelchairs and we were told that it was, such a pity. Anyway, due to the stairs, P didn´t get to see much of the waterfalls. We were able to rest him at the foot of one of the more beautiful ones but for him, as you can imagine, it wasn´t the same as getting to see the whole experience. So; that is my one bit of advice, if you are not very mobile, even if your are not in a wheelchair but have difficulties with stairs, then I would avoid this area. You´ll only be disappointed otherwise.

Despite our little set back P insisted that J and I saw what was to be seen in this little bit of paradise but on one condition: that I took as many photos as possible so we could share the experience with him afterwards! What a great condition, I do love taking photographs. So off we went to see what awaited us behind the waterfall. Wow, that´s all I can say: wow. It was such a tranquil oasis, while it was full of people everywhere you turned; it didn´t seem to make a difference. Everyone was so relaxed and overwhelmed by what lay before them that no one dared ruin it.

Not only are there impressive waterfalls but also ice cool streams, beautiful flora, striking trees and craggy banks all of which are set against the austere backdrop of the local mountain range; awe-inspiring. The only noise to be heard is the wind rustling through the trees, the calming sound of the water flowing through the rocks, the birds in the trees and the splash of people jumping into the cool water followed by the odd scream or giggle due to the immense chill of the water!

It´s the first place I´ve visited in a long time where everyone was smiling. The young people were giddy from the enticing cool waters, the older people mesmerised by the beauty of what lay before them. It´s a great escape from the realities of life, so peaceful, so relaxing, so enjoyable. It was horrible that we only had an hour to enjoy it!

While it´s not a particularly large area; you do need more than an hour to make the most of it! While I loved every minute I was there I felt like I didn´t get the full experience as I was rushing through it, trying to see it all before it was time to get back to the bus. It seemed such a shame, I would have loved to have joined the numerous people who bathed in the inviting waters or spread out on one of the many rocks which were perfectly situated under the shade of the trees and listened to the water flowing around me. In saying that, rushed and all as it was, I loved it! It was a memorable experience and most certainly a place I will be returning to; however, next time I will go in Betsy that way my time there is my own!

So all that´s left to do now is show you the photos! I always say this, but this time I really mean it, if you want to really see what this place has to offer make sure to check out the photos! They are numerous but worth it, I have failed to capture how special this place is through my words so; please don´t miss out on the opportunity to see just how special this place is for yourself! So here it is, if you wish to see larger photos just click on the first one and it will bring you to a large slideshow, enjoy!

Have you ever been to Callosa? What did you think?

As always, thank you for reading,

Until the next time,

Giana

xoxo

One Day At A Time: Orihuela.

Our next stop on our journey was a bit of an unexpected one and, like most things that are unexpected in life, a beautiful one. We woke last Saturday morning and got ready to go to our local fruit and veg market, both to pass the time and stock up on supplies for the week. Once we had stocked up and were ready to return home P suggested that we go somewhere for the day. Having been stuck indoors all week he was fed up of staring at the walls and eager to get out and see some life! Undecided on a destination, we headed down the road until we met our first sign: Orihuela. So off we went. I love trips like this, spontaneous and exciting, not knowing if the town that awaits you is fantastic or tragic ( very unlikely here in Spain!).

A glimpse of the beautiful backdrop that surrounds this town; mountains, a palace and several churches, through the leafs!

Orihuela is a far cry from being tragic. It´s a fantastic City located at the foot of the Sierra de Orihuela, between Elche and Murcia. I sense a trend starting. I´ve a feeling I might just have a thing for mountains, every mountain area I visit; I instantly fall in love with! Anyway; back to Orihuela. Orihuela is an ideal location with the perfect blend of culture, history and beauty. The streets are filled with ambience, the walls oozing with stories from the past and the old derelict buildings exude such wistfulness that it pulls on your heart-strings, they just seem so melancholic.

As you can see, these old dilapidated buildings are oozing in charm, they exude opulent nostalgia with a modern twist making the city unique and unforgettable!

What I loved about the city was not only how they have manage to preserve the olden world feel through the textures, style and colours of the buildings, but also how they have given each building a touch of modernity. It´s a city that, instead of clinging onto the past, has moved with the times and incorporated an architectonic mix of each society that has graced this city with its presence. The city centre itself is a modern hub of commerce, providing Orihuela with everyday amenities such as banks, restaurants, shops and businesses. While the surrounding area is filled with ancient buildings contrasted against the austere backdrop of the sierra.

Three fantastically preserved buildings contrasted against the rugged backdrop of the sierra.

P, J and I turned into little children as we nonchalantly made our way from the city centre, through the labyrinth of narrow streets, to the old quarter of the city. Each corner we turned unfolding even more beauty than the last. We were filled with wonderment, how could such beauty exist just twenty minutes from our doorstep without our knowledge?

P was taken by the area, he was so engaged as we wandered through the streets, he even said: ” Cartagena has nothing on this place, while it had the beauty, it didn´t have the charm”. Out of all the places we have visited Orihuela seems to be the one that P liked the most. Unlike the other cities Orihuela is wheelchair friendly, meaning that P didn´t miss out on any part of the city. He got to explore everything. The only disappoint was: there was no ice-cream, all the parlours were closed for the afternoon!

A peek at one of the few spacious streets in the old quarter, fantastic!

Unlike Cartagena, which seemed to have it all, Orihuela really does have it all; character, beauty, mountains and sea. Orihuela is the capital city in the area known as the “Vega Baja del Segura” which includes eleven municipalities: Benejúzar, Benferri, Beniel, Bigastro, Callosa de Segura, Cox, Jacarilla, Rafal, Redován and Santomera. Each of these are unique in their own right offering either mountain, sea or in some cases both. Each of these areas are located within close proximity of each other and, it´s recommended, to take in all eleven municipalities on the same route. We didn´t, we were so taken by Orihuela that we didn´t have time, but we did drive through them and they seem just as breathtaking as Orihuela itself.

For me, Orihuela offered something that Cartagena couldn´t; a traditional lifestyle. I think that´s what was missing for me in Cartagena, it had all the physical attributes I love about a place but lacked tradition. Orihuela was seeping in tradition, it was Spanish through and through, not a hint of tourism; even through it´s a popular tourist destination. The streets were filled with children playing, elderly people chatting on doorsteps, locals gathered in the parks watching the world go by, business people carrying on with their daily routines and cafés emitting the most powerful aroma of coffee beans. It was full of life, full of community, full of pride and custom.

I showed this photo already in the weekly photo challenge this week but I love it, it really captures the “life” I´m refering to.

Okay, enough of my blathering, time for the pictures. It´s funny; my blog originally started off centred around my writing now that focus has shifted. I´ve come to realise that nothing I could ever say, no matter how much my writing ability might improve with time, could capture the beauty I´m trying to convey better than photographs. So; as you´ve probably noticed, I´ve begun to allow the pictures do the talking for me; I hope you don´t mind! So without further dawdling here is Orihuela through the eyes of my camera; I do hope the opulent nostalgia and beauty of this city comes across. Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Have you ever been to Orihuela? What did you think?

As always, thank you for reading,

Until the next time,

Giana

xoxo

 

Weekly Challenge: Everyday life.

You may recall from my post yesterday that I failed to meet my grand visions for this weeks photo challenge! Well fail is too strong a word, I do love the photos I posted yesterday, I just had a picture in my mind of what I wanted and didn´t get an opportunity to capture it in real life! Well I´m delighted to inform you that I have a few more humble offerings for you today. One, the first one, meeting the high expectations I had for myself! I hope you enjoy my everyday life: take two!

Street Life:

When I first saw this challenge on Friday I instantly wanted an image of a typical elderly Spanish person. I don´t know what it is about the Spanish; but they age spectacularly. They have the most amazing faces, filled with character. When you look at them, you know they have lived life to the full and have some amazing tales to tell. Already on a high from the excitement of the day, if you can´t tell – beauty turns me into a little child, you can imagine how I reacted when I saw this handsome man resting his eyes while taking shelter from the midday sun. I would have done a dance but then I would have missed this great photo opportunity!

A beautiful image of a man enjoying his daily swim under a highly appealing waterfall, now that´s what I call a good life!

Lovers Lane: A beautiful display on affection, love is everywhere, sometimes you just need to open your eyes that little bit wider!

What a way to spend a sunny afternoon: perched on a rock at the side of a waterfall. This is my vision of heaven!

 

This photo is very bad quality, I do apologise, but I loved it! We were driving past a car park on a bus when I saw these three kids hanging about, I loved it! But a moving bus and limited time after turning on my camera meant I had to sacrifice quality for this beauty of everyday life!

I´m happy now, mission accomplished: one photo of an elderly Spanish person, fantastic! I hope you enjoyed these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them!

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