August 2nd, 2012
Do not touch! Three words that drive me crazy. They turn up in the most inappropriate places these days.
No such problems in Spain. So much in the country begs you to touch it. Thank heavens for that, say I.
Having explored the sights, smells and sounds of Spain; it is now time to get all touchy feely.
There are many interactive museums throughout Spain. Places that welcome your children to touch them.
The Science Park museum in gorgeous Granada has lots of exhibits they can play with. Indeed they positively encourage you to do so. Their motto here is: Please, do not forget to touch.
Year on year i have seen this place become more and more popular. There were forty thousand visitors in the month of January 2012 alone.
The museum opened in 1995, the seventy thousand square metres of space is superbly employed to make sure there is something to interest everyone.
Until the end of September 2012 there is a Tyrannosaurus exhibition, including electronic animation that is sure to spook the younger visitors and make others laugh.
There are over two hundred and sixty fossils on display and the remains of the most important dinosaurs to be found in Spain. It is a mesmerising, life size show.
And up until the beginning of July 2013 there is an exhibition of puppets going back thirty years.
I can never resist an observatory or planetarium, and this fun museum offers both.
Do not leave the museum without going up to the top of the lookout tower. There are great views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, snowcapped for much of the year, and they are are just one of the sights to see when you get so high above Granada.
Now it is understandable that not all museums are as interactive as the Science Park in gorgeous Granada. Not all of them encourage you to touch what is on show. I get that.
In Alicante i saw some American tourists rightly being admonished for getting way too close to some priceless works of art.
In this excellent city there are two museums that display many fine works of art. The Mubag museum which is located in an 18th century mansion, the Palacio Gravina, and the Museo de la Asegurada in Plaza Santa María, directly next to the oldest church in Alicante.
Works by famous artists such as Dali, Picasso and Miró are on diplay. So it is understandable if the security staff prevent the sandwich stained fingers of our cultural cousins in the USA from touching works of art.
But what, i ask, can you touch and feel for nothing in Spain?
What about statues. Yes, they can look great. But have you ever touched them? The Spanish love a nice statue. Every city and town has a statue, or ten.
They are not all made the same. Far from it.
In Alicante – a marvellous city to explore or to stay in for a well located holiday - there is one in honour of a famed literary son of the city, Gabriel Miró. His lyrical novels are still studied at the universities of Spain, even though his best work is almost one hundred years old.
I like to examine with my hands what the statues are made of although, granted, you do sometimes have to be careful to avoid the deposits left by the creatures that fly overhead. And, as you can see above, there’s really no ‘arm’ in it!
My other half likes to touch trees in Spain. Agreed, at first that sounds strange. But she has a point. We do take the trees of Spain for granted. Have you taken a few minutes to marvel at the stripped bark of a eucalyptus tree lately? No, of course you haven’t. But you really should.
They are an amazing colour and so smooth. Got stroke a eucalyptus tree. I guarantee you will feel calmer for the experience.
Like her i did find the trees pictured above to be amazing. They are in central Alicante. It is actually a Ficus tree, but it reminded me of the tree beard creature in the Lord of the Rings movie triology. Spooky trees in the dark they may be, but an amazing sight nevertheless.
You are touching a slice of history when you get up close and personal to such well established trees.
Like the one photographed below in the historic town of Osuna, south of Seville. How long do you think that olive tree has been around.? There are many older olive trees around my way and in what i call the capital of the olive tree, the province of Jaen. But i did like this short, stout one.
Osuna is a town you should take time to discover. It is one of many locations outside of the splendid city of Seville that people miss out on.
In the 16th century the Ducal family of Osuna was one of the richest in Spain and it is they who are responsible for the splendour of Osuna.
Osuna is a culturally rich town that oozes quality. It is home to a wealth of buildings worth admiring and, yes touching.
The vast Colegiata de Santa Maria de la Asuncion is a solid piece of Spanish renaissance architecture that is home to many fine works of art. Within the big church is a little chapel that is the resting place of the wood and stone sarcophaguses of the Dukes of Osuna.
Fine architecture is plentiful. Walk down Calle San Pedro to view some of the best preserved buildings anywhere in Spain. UNESCO declared this street to be one of the most beautiful in Europe.
The Palacio del Marques de la Gomera, is now a twenty room hotel whose interior is less impressive than its façade. At number 16 on the same street is the distinctive Palacio del Cabido Colegial, one more reason why Osuna has been declared a site of historical and artistic interest.
On Plaza Mayor the town casino is not just for gamblers. You don’t have to play roulette to go inside and inspect the 1920’s décor. It gets very hot in Osuna in summer. You are not far away from the town of Ecija, famous for being the so called ‘frying pan of Spain.’
It is tempting to play a hand of poker in the casino, if only so you can enjoy the air conditioning. It may well be less expensive to sit in the shade of the lovely plaza in Osuna, or in one of the charming bars there.
You can do the same in the small city of Motril, at one end of the luscious Costa Tropical in Spain. But when i go this too often overlooked location i make a visit to the port and to where the fisherman land their catch of the day.
To watch and listen to the process as they sell their fish to local restaurants and wholesalers is a memorable experience.
Indeed so many of the senses i have written about recently, as they are employed in Spain, can be seen under the roof of a Spanish fish market.
And, if you are buying, you get to touch the creatures of the sea. But i made do with a lesson in sewing. Not socks, you understand. But fishing nets.
I don’t know why but i had never considered that men sewed fishing nets. Inevitable i guess as they are sure to get torn in the process of landing the seafood of Spain.
My sewing skills were not a patch on those of Luis, a man of Motril for seventy years past. He was so fast and yet precise when making good the wholes in the nets. He has been doing it since he was a child so i guess he could sew a fishing net blindfolded.
He allowed me to touch the fishing net and have a go but soon despaired. “My son will not catch anything this week if you get my job” he joked.
So who better to ask about the noise and the smells emanating from the lively fish sales market behind us?
“What noise… what smell” he retorted.
Maybe if i live here as long as Luis i too will not hear or smell Spain. But i hope not.