Zesty Mumma's Words

A life lived without passion is a life half lived

Archive for the tag “festival”

The King and Queen of Merida Invite you to take Journey Back In Time!

image.jpeg

As I am sure most of you realise I am an Australian and this is an important fact in understanding of this weeks blog. In Australia we have very little architecture that is over 150 years old. In fact on the Sunshine Coast where I live the majority of the buildings are actually under 30 years. Yes you read correctly, under 30 years old. To say we are a young country in architectural terms is an understatement to say the least. So if any of you Europeans out there feel my prattling on about Roman ruins is a little “ho hum” then I hope the facts I have just shared explains my position. It is simply mind blowing to me that the amazing designs and workmanship of humans living a minimum of 2000 years ago still exist and functions in our modern world.

Which brings me to my tourist destination of the week – Merida, Badajoz Provence, Extremadura Region.

Merida is simply amazing!

A relatively small city of approximately 60,000 residents, it sits quietly in a lovely rural area that produces grain crops and wine. Lying in a south westerly direction approximately three hours from Madrid, it is easily accessible by both road and rail. What I had originally planned to do was stop in Merida on my way to Sevilla and I have now come to realise was actually the best idea, oh well you live and learn and I got there anyway!

Why is Merida amazing, simply put it is the sheer number of buildings and structures that not only exist but in some cases are still functioning, such was the skill of the Romans, much of which is an easy walk from one site to another. As with the other historic towns I have visited these sites are generally situated in or around the original heart of the city.

We begin our walk on the edge of the city centre and head to a path that follows the Rio Guadiana. My first taste of the Roman ruins that Merida has in abundance is the Acueducto de los Milagros or Miraculous Aquaduct. Tall and proud it stands in the middle of a public park, with an actual walking track running under one of the arches. This in itself miraculous, no guard rail to keep you a safe distance away no hordes of tourists. In fact the day we were there I only saw one other tourist taking in its beauty.

image

The next stop the Roman Bridge, built in 25BC, over the Guadiana River is a marvel to this day, thanks mainly to incredible Roman workmanship but also to conservation efforts by the subsequent invaiders, the Visigoths and Moors to name a couple. This bridge still retains 60 of its original 62 arches and is today a foot bridge for residents and tourists but was still in use for vehicles up to 1993 and was in fact the main access route into town. At 700 mtrs in length it is the longest Roman Bridge in the world one of the most beautiful.

image.jpeg

The overlapping of conquering nations truly epitomises Spain’s cultural heritage, it’s sometimes hard to tell when one period of rule ends and the next begins. At the enterance to the bridge stands the Alcazabar (Arab fort) that the Moors seemly built in every major town they at one time controlled. In the shade around the northern wall we found tables and chairs set under pencil pines and other trees, with only two other customers it was peaceful and cool. The food was rustic and extremely tasty and perfect way to break our sightseeing for an hour. I chose a nice meal of chicken, salad and homemade chips for €6.00 but I could of had goat stew or partridge pie for approximately the same price.

image.jpeg

Resuming our wandering we passed the remaining ruins on the way to the prize. The Temple of Diana, Portico del Foro and other historic sites, all however, pale into relative insignificance in comparison to the King of Merida, the Roman Ampitheatre. The Ampitheatre in particular demands your imagination to picture not only the crowds cheering gladiators but the slaughter of man and beast. It is a powerful place and a prime example of what is good and bad about mankind.

An interesting but sad side point for me was the realisation that bull rings of Spain were actually throw backs to these Roman sports. For me the round shape was the give away and when I researched it I found this was in fact the case, present day bullfighting is a continuation of entertainment popular in Rome.

image

The highlight for me however, was the grace and beauty of the Queen of Merida, the Roman Theatre, which stands regally next to the ampitheatre and serves in contrast as an reminder of what height of culture and art the Romans achieved. On the day of my visit a theatre performance was scheduled for that evening only 2041 years after the first performance in 25BC.

Merida is beautiful clean town that has obviously taken to heart the message of the poster below.

image

 

It reads in English ” educate your owner”. I personally think it should also say ” I can’t do it on my own”

In closing I just want to say if you don’t ever go to another Roman historic site, go to Merida, everywhere else cannot compare.

Tips

  • Try making your trip in either spring or Autumn. The heat of summer is the only thing that will marr your visit. I used a parasol all day but I still felt like I could almost get heat stroke by the time I finished at the theatre.
  • On the same note make sure you carry a huge bottle of water. There is age eat fountain at the entrance but no other water for the rest of visit around both the Ampitheatre and Roman Theatre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Dunedin is Not a Sunny Place – But Who Needs Sunshine for an Interesting Holiday

Dunedin is not a sunny place, but having said that, it is quite possible that the Scottish Farmers that were the founding fathers of the city probably thought it was in comparison to what they left behind in Britain. To put this in perspective when you are planning your trip, the average maximum temperature in January is 18.9 degrees Celsius where as Sydney (also in the Southern Hemisphere) has an average maximum of 25.9 for January. Trust me, this is not a place you plan on visiting for a beach holiday

But here in lies a certain amount of contradiction. The photo below is taken at a beach on the eastern side of the Otago Peninsular. During my first visit I sat on a log eating my lunch, the warm sunshine super heating me through my jeans (it was November and the only sunny day during my three days in Dunedin (the other two being drizzly and cool) and I was overwhelmed, as I often am, by the desire to swim. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t been in the ocean for a few weeks or the beach looked so much like home that I just had to try it.

Otago Beach

After changing in to my swimmers I made my way down to the shore, the squeaky alabaster sand ran through my toes as I walked. The same clear blue Pacific Ocean water that I had known for most of my life rolled in lovely shore breakers towards me, I was feeling very positive.

When the first wave touched my toes it was a bit of a shock. Like little needles really and very, very, sharp ones at that. By the time the water had reached my calves I think my legs were about to change from fire red to vivid purple and I ran from the water just like all the “cold-a-phobes” I’d always bemoaned. I did eventually manage to get to the point of lying in the water, but the moment the wave rolled over my back I was out of there, never to return.

1511496_10203102823759551_1462636245_n

But the Otago Peninsular is a visually splendid place. The road hugs high cliffs most of the way around and presents amazing, “to die for”views, which doesn’t take too much imagination to believe to be quite possible. Such is the height of the hills on the peninsular, one minute you can be driving along admiring the view and the next thing you are driving through low-lying cloud as thick as any London pea soup fog.

1600977_10203102828399667_1212100038_n

Things were no different on my second visit to Dunedin. The gothic nature of many of the churches and other buildings seems extremely fitting in respect to the weather. Otago stone is a renowned building material in New Zealand and has been used extensively in and around Dunedin giving the entire city a solid, stoic feeling. One of the best things to do really is looking at the architecture, built on incredibly steep hills this can be quite a physically demanding thing to do, but fantastic “old everything” is everywhere.

302086_2425401282485_2078897885_n-2

If you like good food, make sure your visit includes a Saturday. The farmers market held at the world famous train station (also made out of Otago stone) is an awesome place for breakfast. You also have the chance to wander round the station, which really does deserve its notoriety. My second visit also coincided with the Thieves Alley Market, which sees the Octagon (centre of the Dunedin CBD) and surrounding streets closed for the day. On this particular day many of the Artisans from Christchurch were there and it made a fabulous market.

I stayed in the Manor House Backpackers on my first visit and it was fine, great old house close to the Octagon. Unlike the place I am too embarrassed to mention (Penny Backpackers) on my second trip and would advise you to avoid like the plague.  One of my fondest moments for the first trip was watching “500 Days of Summer” with an American Girl, two German Girls and a Chinese Student at The Manor House. The American and I may have been the only ones laughing but you knew the other girls got it they just weren’t as loud as us.

I have watched that movie many times since then and I always think of Dunedin. It helped me realise that a good chick flick can break down even the biggest language barrier.

Tips and Extras

• Port Chalmers, where the cruise boats dock has some interesting quirky shops and is a nice drive, well worth the trip, and good coffee.

• Also visit the entrance to Port Otago

• The Otago Gallery in the Octagon is great art gallery.

• Dunedin has the best op shops

Never Give Up, You Just Never Know What is Going to Happen Next

Alex 2

Huge walls of hydraulic energy thundered down on the helpless coastline, Cyclone Joan had done her job well. On the beach the surf contest continued attracting spectators all morning. The wide expanse of sand in front of the surf club resembled Central Station at peak hour. Rubber duckies bounced high in the air as they jumped over the surging white water, then roared with intensity up the beach. While hovering helicopters fought for supremacy with loud speakers narrating the progress of each competitor in piercing tone, the confusion was complete. Out of the activity, a little way up the beach, Gail swam alone all the time wary not to venture beyond the shore break. The destructive power of the thunderous surf made survival for anyone caught in its iron grip impossible.

Where the girl came from Gail didn’t know but there she was a tiny figure alone in a sea of white water, screaming in terror as the surge tried to sweep her out to sea. The human instinct to help rose swiftly inside Gail and fought valiantly with her logical brain that accurately concluded she too would be fighting for her life if she did. The minutes ticked by like hours; scared she would loose sight of the girl if she went for help she desperately tried to attract attention. Gail’s frantic cries for help fell unheard below the roaring Jet engine of the raging surf. Desperation tightened its grip as she watched the girl’s tenuous grasp on life slipping away.

Out of nowhere a surfer appeared from under a monster wave.

“Do you need a hand to get in” he called in an amazingly calm voice. Gail’s compunction to laugh was almost unbearable. Didn’t he realise there was a ferocious beast hell bent on devouring her life and that of the other swimmer?

“I’m Okay, but there’s a girl in trouble out there,” She yelled back to him.

It wasn’t till the girl was safely on her way to shore that Gail realised the rip had taken hold of her and it wasn’t letting go.

Between breakers the ocean became a cauldron, as the sweep took her she was pounded by wall after wall of white water. Screaming until she was hoarse her voice was no match for the malevolent surf. As each new wave approached Gail steeled herself for the pounding she was about to receive, there was only enough time to gasp for air before being dragged down again. Sound no longer came from her open mouth.

A brief glance through the tumult revealed ants on the beach that used to be people.

Having reached the point of hopelessness, death seemed the inevitable next step.

Out of nowhere the surfer appeared beside her again, having taken the other girl to the safety of the beach he then realised Gail was the one in trouble now. Making his way back out through the treacherous conditions, he knew there wasn’t a minute to loose. Though the fog in her brain was thick, Gail felt herself lifted across the board and then blackness.

Gail opened her eyes and an ocean of water ran uncontrollably from her mouth. Coughing and spluttering she tried to sit, encircled by a crowd and totally unaware she was naked, her string bikini no match for the gigantic surf.

Inexplicably, after thanking her saviour Gail began crawling up the beach to where her husband and friend sat watching in oblivion. It was an unexplainable truth but fact is no one offered her a towel or help back to her family. She collapsed on a towel beside them. Feeling the thud as she hit the sand, Darren turned his head and asked in total innocence, “Where have you been?”

With all the strength her battered body could summon, she said in a gravelly whisper,

“You’ve got to be joking!”

Byron Hippies, Wrinkled Rockers and Rabid Hampsters

 

The huge amber globe that is the easter full moon hung with regal prescence as my car approached the Byron Bay turn off, its radiant glow illuminating the gateway to Hippie Kingdom. In spite of the fact that my old Astra was sounding exactly like a road train since the exhaust pipe fell off a few days before, it was Bluesfest time again and life was good.

The new Bluesfest home at Tyagrah was easy to find and access two days later. My friend and fellow “festy”Marg was just as excited as me. We exchanged our tickets for wrist bands and chirped our way towards music Nirvana. The afternoon sped by with amazing artists and never to be repeated performances. Like Steve Kilby from the church singing “Under The Milky Way and the last ever concert by Leonardo’s Bride”. We made no attempt to get into see Ben Harper, it would have been a miracle, so we opted for a cuppa.

 Rodriquez time was fast approaching and the end of Ben Harpers performance chimed, only 2 hours to go. We entered the tent as his last song finish and the crowd, which by this time had been jammed together like sardines for about ninety minutes, turned around and walked out. It was amazing and we took the opportunity to find a position centre stage third row. There was nothing on this earth that could make me move. Whatever torture I would have to endure for the next two hours till Rodriguez walked out on that stage would be worth it. I just didn’t realise that it would infact be torture.

 There were thousands like me, fifty plus and determined to see our teenage memories bought to life. Joan Armitrading was amazing but she wasn’t Rodriguez. Age did not weary them, nor the heat, the lack of water or the cramped conditions. But for me personally the Y Gen almost suceeded where nothing else could.

 While the stage was being cleared at the end of Joans performance, a tall blonde American boy came and stood behind me and his girlfriend locked in her position next to me. The fact they were smashed wasn’t immediately obvious. His attempt to pour vodka from a snap lock sandwich bags into a can of lemonade causing me to be showered exposed his innebreated state.

 At the same time the girlfriend, who was five foot nothing and as equally hammered, entered into an argument with another festival goer, who had tried to push her way to the front. Not cool I know, but lets face it, who hasn’t done that. The trouble was that I had a raging headache, I think I had a hot flush and my feet were going numb. Her shrill voice went on and on and on. The other woman was speaking in a whisper but I don’t think the young girl had ever heard of such a thing. She ranted and raved about her great dream of seeing Rodriguez. I know that I should have stayed out of it, but the previously mentioned symtoms made that impossible. I leant slightly sideways and said, “ Would you just calm down (or something like that). I should have known that nothing would shut her up and it didn’t. I know the other lady was extremely grateful cause she now focused her total attention on me. I have to tell you I really did attempt to ignore her. However, as Rodriguez was about to enter the stage after a rain delayed start, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I again turned sideways and said.

Would you just shut up, you sound like a rabid hampster and your voice is like a buzz saw in my brain”, using hand signal for emphasis.

 I then turned to the front before she knew what had happened. It did stop her in her tracks but only for about a minute. She then spent the next hour screaming and singing at the top of her lungs, doing everything she could think of to goad me into retalliating.

 She mentioned her screechy voice a couple of time over the next hour so she definitely remembered what I had said. It’s funny how actions speak louder than words. She spouted before the concert began that it was her dream to see Rodriguez, but then spend the next hour trying to ruin it.

 What she never realised was that I am a mum and I learnt along time ago to block out children who were screaming for my attention. My perception of what tomorrow would bring for that young woman consoled me when her behaviour threatened to ruin my day. There was no doubt in my mind that she would have lost her voice when she woke, this fact I am sure her boyfriend would have been really grateful for. Secondly, the pain in her head would be so unbarable, I doubt that any meds but the strongest would have helped.

And lastly but by no means least, she will never, never, never forget that she is a rabid hampster with a voice like a buzz saw.

 I say take note Gen Y, don’t mess with a Zesty, late baby boomer mumma, who can eventually regain composure and has an exceptional vocabulary. Rock on

Post Navigation