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Posts Tagged ‘bulls’

The Road Trip Part 2

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Ok, story so far: We have arrived in Martigues tired, hungry and feeling dirty from travelling.  So after booking into the Ibis motel and taken a much-needed shower we went down to supper, enjoyed a couple of stress relieving drinks then went to bed. We were woken by the noise of the traffic, now you have to remember that we do not hear any traffic noise at home so what was normal city noise to most of you was loud to us, but it was a good thing as we were able to have breakfast and get an early start.  We headed for Port St Louis which is one of the “gateways” to the Camargue.

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Now this is the place we were originally heading for. It’s a nice little port with a wide promenade and yacht basin and two hotels one at each end of the promenade.  As you can see from the pictures Michael is still fond of his boats, and headed along the pathway by the marina looking at the boats.  We also found the small market where local fishing boats sell their catches, very modern and run by the fishermen’s cooperative.  The boats, yachts and fishing boats were all intermingled including the lifeboat, with the visitors pontoon along the main edge of the promenade, as we sat in the shade of a bar drinking a fanta this one turned up.

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After our walk round Port St Louis we headed for the ferry to cross the Rhone. This is one hell of a wide river and the ferry is obviously  a very popular crossing. There was quite a queue and very busy even taking the odd lorry.  It cost us 5 euros to cross but the experience was well worth it as you can see from the pictures the Rhone is wide enough for large shipping.

Once on the other side we turned right as the map (yes we had one the tourist office was very kind) and headed out in to the Camargue.  Now I have always had this image of the Camargue as being marshy with lagoons filled with wild Black Bulls, White Horses and Flamingos.  In actuality we could not see much of anything in places as the canes and rushes were so high they blocked your vision.

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So our first sight of the Flamingos came suddenly when we came out into a clear part which gave us views of the lagoons. Off to the right was a large lagoon filled with Flamingos but a bit too far for our camera to get a good shot. This made the Navigator a little bit miffed so off she went along this little path that led to a fenced off standing space nearer the lagoon and got her picture. Not as clear or near as she would have liked but a little further on we had better luck. Here there were pull in’s for cars and coaches and as you can see the Flamingos were used to tourists as they carried on feeding despite the oos and ahhs from a coach load of Japanese tourists. Off went my Navigator  to take her pictures returning a happy soul. But although we had travelled quite a way we had seen neither Horses or Bulls then our luck changed……

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As I was driving along a tree-lined avenue I spotted some dark animals moving in the fields, we had found the famous Black Bulls.  Obviously we could not get closer but sat and watched as they munched away moving towards the cover of a small clump of trees.  Now all we had to do was find my horses!

First Glimpse

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First Contact

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Kiss Goodbye

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We were driving along when my Navigator said “Horses! Stop!”  so being a well-trained Driver I did as I was told. (really??)  What can I say, it was wonderful seeing them in their natural habitat. I spent a long time just talking to and stroking this wonderful animal, and watching the others enjoying the shade and their meal. One happy chappy had a wonderful day.  But it was not over yet nor had the weather finished with us.

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By now we were hungry so I headed for the coast and the small town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. It’s a pretty little place very popular with tourists and locals alike so we had a job finding a parking space but eventually we found a spot opposite a fish restaurant.  We wandered across and ordered up mussels with a side of chips plus a salad. Boy what a mistakea to makea, oh nothing was wrong with the food it was the amount that floored us.  I was really enjoying the meal when I heard a rumble and looking up I saw the sky was darkening and it began to rain ooops….  you can tell from these photos that my Navigator was trying to ignore all that.

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But we didn’t let it spoil our day we finished our meal and enjoyed our coffees as it poured down. Then we made a mad dash for the car oh these Flamingos? they were outside the restaurant plus this is a close as we got to Flamingos.

On the way back we went through several squalls and managed to get lost in Arles AGAIN….  After taking yet more detours round the area we eventually ended up on the right road and two tired but happy chappies headed for the hotel and bed.

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I had been promising my wife we would take a trip to the Delta to try for some photographs of birds and other things for a story I’m writing. So when we woke and found that although very windy the sun was shining and it was warm we decided to go. On the way we passed through an avenue of  Beech trees, it is, in my opinion, a typical continental thing. When they are in leaf  it looks very pretty.  We should have had a warning of what was to come as there were bits of tree’s in the road.  Further on as we neared one of the roundabouts the police were directing all the lorries into a side parking area, ah we thought they are doing a road inspection wrong…  Approaching  the road to go round Amposta, we found the traffic slowing, police and workmen were by the bridge that crosses it and there at the side of the road was the direction sign from the bridge – wind had blown it over the safety rail and down onto the road. 

Avenue of Beech Trees

The drive down there is pleasant. You follow the river Ebro to Tortosa, then on through some of the rice-growing finca’s untill turning right on to the road round Amposta. After this you travel the N340 to St Carles de la Rapita. This is a pleasant little seaside town with a marina, good beaches and some nice restaurants and bars.  We have a favourite Tapas bar and beach bar. So looking for a coffee we headed first to the beach bar which was shut and had also had some slight wind damage. So after watching the men cutting up the tree that had been blown over, we turned and headed along the water front to the Tapas bar, passing the marina and its occupants.

Go Find Your Own Bar

 

At the bar we had Patatas Bravas, Calamari Romanos, sausage’s, spiced and prawns.  Then we drove out to the Delta and the sea. The route we took was an arc, taking pictures as we went.  Driving along we saw the tractor that is used to plough the rice fields a strange contraption, a sort of military vehicle with slatted  wheels. But it travels over the paddy fields with no problem unlike a normal tractor which would soon get bogged down.  

Rice Tractor

My wife spent a lot of time trying to get a close up of a Marsh Harrier much to our glee it proved to be a real task.  When she crept towards it waited until she was close enough to get a good shot then took off, again and again.  She did get a few distance ones but not close up.

Marsh Harrier

 

We then came across  this water-mill. Instead of a windmill with sails to pump the water these are in the form of an Archimedes Screw, which pumps the water round the water beds and ditches.  With the little house painted white,  they are both cared for and in working order. It sits on the bank near to an observation hide where you can watch the various birds on the marshes.

Archimedes Screw

The wild life was fascinating.  The shots of waders, flamingos, ducks, heron and seagull were taken from the viewing hut. Several more were taken as we drove back towards the main road, so all in all it was a success.  I even managed to get a shot of the long-horned cattle that graze there.

You Really Wanted a Seagull

 

 All in all it was a pleasant if windy day.  The Sun was out it was warm 17c and relaxing. So when we reached the N340 we found the wind had picked up a little.  Well, that was an understatement, it had picked up a lot and we had not gone far when approaching a bridge saw just how much.  There on their side were two lorries, a small one and an articulated one. The articulated lorry was on the barrier of the bridge with its window screen smashed from the outside so I suppose they had to get the driver out that way.  I really hope he was ok.  We finished the journey on the flat using the El Perello pass, seeing all the windmills feathered against the wind.   

This brought home just how powerful nature is.

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It is a fact of nature that water reflects the sky.  A sunny day and the river has put on a shimmering blue dress as she runs towards the Mediterranean.  If it’s a cloudy day she will wear either a greenish grey dress with a mirror coat reflecting the trees along her banks, or she will try to cheer us up by wearing a shimmering dress of a silvery grey colour which now and again gapes to give a glimpse of a blue petticoat as she rushes on her way.   

Sometimes if it has been raining very hard she will drag fallen trees along, sending them bobbing and turning as they round stones and other hidden obstacles in the water.  But on a sunny day she will flow gently with the occasional ripple as she runs over large rocks and sandbanks on her way to the Mediterranean.

Passing under bridges of history from the Civil War, which were destroyed then re-built gently washing them as though remembering the pain when the bombs dropped laying waste the arches and tipping rails and masonry into her waiting arms.   

 

Last Templars stronghold at Miravet

Then on she flows towards the delta past Templer strongholds, castles of history who’s down fall is played out each year as part of the local history.

On through gorges with fields of vines on the banks, past orange groves, and relics of bygone factories harking back to the days when there was trade on the river. 

 

Then after a while she reaches the weir, which she slips over quietly, then on she glides towards Tortosa slipping through the town at peace with her surroundings. Past rice fields irrigated by her waters, past small towns, ever onwards to her destination, the Delta. 

There you will find majestic beaches of golden sand, the occasional palm tree their tops gently moving in the sea breeze. There is always something of  interest to be seen, especially when they are fruiting, grouped on the beach surrounded by the golden sand against a back drop of a blue sea and sky. You would be forgiven for thinking you were some where exotic and expect to see a camel appear with sheik to carry you off.

                                                                                        

Here the river fills the delta pools with her water where the Flamingoes forage for shrimps, and bulls roam the marsh fields while Marsh Harriers fly over head hunting for their dinner.

The irrigation is helped by small pumping water mills compact and picturesque, leaving you with images of times gone by, a hard but seemingly peaceful life. It is here more rice is grown along with a variety vegetables, watered the generous river.  

So, after she arrives and joins the sea all that is left is to turn north to the mountains where she first breathed life as a small stream then gradually grew up into the lady we now know, La Rio Ebro.

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