And what an adventure – the general idea at the start was to leave Galera (right on the map – we’re looking at the south end of Spain here) on Monday, pop into Baza for an early morning sandwich and then head off down to Gibraltar to spend a little time with Gemma Vasquez and her husband (Gemma heads up the GFSB – the Gibraltar Small Business organisation over there – and as a Brit who has been there more than once and listened to the traders and local government complaining, I have considerable sympathy for the hassle they are getting from the Spanish authorities) and then head off to Huelva in Spain for some history.
Well, as it happens, all of that mutated into something completely different and we scrapped the Gibraltar trip PARTLY due to fears of horrendous queues at the border and partly due the inevitable restrictions caused by Maureen’s bust foot – which I have to say is coming along very well). As it turns out I emailed Gemma to apologise for our change of plans – and it turns out indeed that the queues are as bad as ever – with a change for the worse which apparently allows Spanish traders into Gibraltar without issue while making everyone else wait!!! I wonder if our press have picked up on that yet.
So – the revised plan took us to Rio Tinto and Huelva. Let me explain – Rio Tinto is a small town and also a mining area in South West Spain not far off Portugal, famous for a river that runs blood-red due to the iron oxide and other chemicals in it. Turns out this mining has been going on since Roman times until about 10 years ago and one of the mines is as deep as the Empire State Building is high!!! Worth a look, surely, we thought.
So, we set off on Monday and, as you do, we stopped off along the way, discovering Spanish towns we’ve never even thought of before – and once we passed late in the day seemed to have two suns resembling the fictitious Star Wars planet Tatooine – we figured we’d check that out on the return trip. We’re glad we visited Huelva – very nice – see ships lower down.
Moving on, we had arranged bed and breakfast in a little place called Rio-Tinto – straight off the Internet as you do – and what a winner. Ok, I’ll grant you we had a little issue that neither the owner nor his wife spoke much English but we managed – between Google translate, enthusiasm and arm gestures… we managed – what a REALLY nice couple – she has her own paintings all over the house – he was into gadgets and he’d taken the time to study my blog with the aid of Google…. the house was pristine, neighbourhood pleasant and they had a pool – a NICE pool.
The reason we travelled to Rio-Tinto was to see the river, which runs red due to iron oxides. We were not expecting the history we found – turns out they’ve been mining there for the last 5,000 years!!! More photos at the end of this blog entry.
All done with Rio Tinto we headed off to the Algarve in Portugal – to Vila Real to be precise – just for a quick visit before heading off home. It’s a long time since we’ve been to Portugal and I have to say after settling down for dinner at the sea front, I’m not in any mad rush to go back.
So then we headed off back home – and again the strange “suns” resembling Tatooine in the movie Star Wars – We had to investigate – the result – STUNNING – the twin solar collectors of Seville – 2000 mirrors, designed to produce 30MW of electricity, a world’s first. 20Km west of Seville this plant generates power from steam – receiving up to 15 hours of sunlight in summer per day… I really can’t explain how bright the tops of those towers are except to say you can see them from a long, long way away. 624 moving mirrors ensure the towers are hit with concentrated sunlight all day. Check out this link for more information.
And so here are some pictures of our trip… more on Google+ shortly…
The mining area..
Yes, the water really IS a strange colour…
The main roundabout at Rio Tinto… yes that’s a full size steam engine – more pics coming…
Christopher Columbus history at Huelva
And inside the ships complete with sound effects..
We finished our visit at the museum where we learned all about the mining operations and the fantastic range of materials they got out of them – Galena, Yeso, Quartz, Galena and much more.