Category Archives: Beaches

Southwold Pier

Located in the coastal town of Southwold, this old school pier is a little like a step back to a more innocent time. Originally built in 1909 the pier has suffered many ups and down having been destroyed by storms in 1937, 1955 and again in 1979 reducing it to a length of 60 ft. After much renovation, today’s pier extends 620 ft into the North Sea.

Southwold Pier

Southwold Pier

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English Sunbather or Crime Victim. You decide.

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Bench Armrest

The Under The Pier Show

While many classic English seaside piers have been in decline the Southwold Pier is enjoying renewed popularity, partly due to the “The Under The Pier Show” which features a range of automata, machines and games designed by Tim Hunkin, an English engineer, cartoonist, writer, and artist living in Suffolk. They are about the most peculiar arcade games I’ve ever seen.

pirates

Storm the super yacht and get even with the super rich.

microvacation

Sit in the chair and travel on holiday, moved by the magic carpet. After manic flight and coach ride, arrive in tropical paradise and get brief suntan from heatlamp.

fly

Sit on the fly’s proboscis and experience a fly’s eye view of the world. Stop to eat for as long as you dare, but beware of the fly swat.

dog

Place hand in dog’s cage and hold it there for as long as you dare. Dog pants, dribbles warm saliva and other disgusting things.

disgustingspectacle

I’ll let you work out where the finger goes.

brainwash

Sit with head half inside processing chamber and watch through mirrors while your scalp is removed and your brain is scrubbed clean. Made by Will Jackson.

bathyscape

Turn the dive lever and descend to the seabed. After witnessing many marvels, get swallowed by a giant fish which causes the craft to leak. Fortunately reverse thrusters are provided for escape.

mobility

Start training for your future today! Cross the motorway using the zimmer frame.

rx

Hold stethoscope again chest and let the doctor diagnose your complaint and write out an illegible prescription.

rentadog

Wendi’s favorite. Stand on the treadmill, hold the dog’s lead and go for a walk. Includes stops at several interesting sights.

Focusing time and space to bring you everything you could possibly want to see through a pier telescope.

Quantum Tunneling Telescope – Focusing time and space to bring you everything you could possibly want to see through a pier telescope.

Beach Huts

These bright colored Beach Huts are small wooden boxes just above the high tide mark. Many were former fishermen’s huts and boat sheds that are now used as shelter from the sun or wind, changing into and out of swimming costumes and for the safe storing of some personal belongings most incorporate simple facilities for preparing food and hot drinks by either bottled gas or an occasional generator.

Southwold Beach Huts

Southwold Beach Huts

You cannot live in these and the length of stays is closely monitored. They were originally offered for hire at £12 10s per year, now they can sell for £40,000 or more.

The Walk of Mirrors

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99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall

The Beer Man

The Beer Man

People come to Europe on extended vacations for all sorts of reasons. I read in Conte Nast about a man that spent months on the continent searching for the perfect Sachertorte. Another fellow spent his entire summer holiday seeking out every topless beach in Europe. Noble as these quests may have been, they didn’t inspire me. I came thirsty for a premium beverage. Alas, I never found the perfect beer. Try as I may, once I thought I had finally discovered the Holy Grail of Hops, that beer would be followed by one that was equally as good and most often even better. You can only imagine the pain and disappointment. Undeterred, I trudged on for hundreds of kilometers and four countries. I have tried beer on mountain tops where it was as cold as a well diggers posterior and at beachfront cabanas were it was as hot as Hades on a sunny day and I’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that the best beer will always be the next beer.

Beer1T Beer2T Beer3T Beer4T Beer6T Beer7T Beer8T Beer9T Beer10T Beer11T

Beer5T

More Useless But Interesting Facts

The Andy Kaufman Routine:

The highly repetitive and ultimately boring nature of “99 Bottles of Beer” means that only a child or a lunatic will actually finish it. Comedian Andy Kaufman exploited this fact in the routine early in his career when he would actually sing all 99 verses. Kaufman was deliberately provoking the audience. Once they realized that he actually intended to sing all of the verses, catcalls, booing, and sullen silence were common responses. Toward the end of the sketch, Kaufman would feign recognition that the audience was not enjoying the material, and he would leave the stage with only 5 or 6 “bottles” to go. At that point, the audience would begin calling for him to return to finish the verses.

“Infinite bottles of beer on the wall.”

Mathematician Donald Byrd wrote this song “Infinite bottles of beer on the wall, take one down and past it around, now there are infinite bottles of beer on the wall.” Repeat. “To Infinity & Beyond”.

I’ve got to go. 

Urinal






Benicassim

Benicassim Train Stop

Benicassim Train Stop

The name, Benicassim, is derived from the Banu Qasim tribe, a segment of the Kutama Berbers, that settled the area during the 8th century Moorish conquest of Spain, although none of the original history survives. With a population of 18,098, the town is a beach resort who’s main economic activity comes from tourism. Benicassim has some of the most important artificial beaches in Europe and is famous for the music festivals FIB and Rototom SunSplash, which flood the town with thousands of visitors in July and August.

Vormar Beach

Vormar Beach

East of Benicassim

East of Benicassim

Benicassim has 6km of white sand beaches and a great promenade. Promenade

Grass Umbrellas

Grass Umbrellas

Things

Things

WC

WC

The eastern end of the promenade is lined with villas from the late 19th and early 20th century.

VillaVictoria

The Villa Victoria. Renowned photographer Cartier Bresson is reputed to have spent a summer here.

VillaPons

Villa Pons

VillaPaquita

Villa Paquita

VillaAmparo

Villa Amparo

Tree

A little more thought might have gone into the placement of this tree?

The western end of the beach is dominated by high rise  buildings from the 60s and 70s.

Edificio Helena

Edificio Helena

The Rambla

The Rambla

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The ”Vía Verde” is a 5.5 km cyclist and walking coastal route that shows a natural rugged coast with beautiful coves and cliffs between the resort towns of Benicassim and Oropesa.

Benicasim

Vía Verde

 This is clearly a Catholic nation. The saints seem to peek at you around every corner. Almost all the heritage sites have their roots in the church one way or another.

Santa Agueda

Santa Agueda

La Purisima Concepcion

La Purisima Concepcion

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Altar7

Roadside Altar

That been said, we only bumped into one festival. We noticed on Saturday that the police had stopped all street parking downtown and barricaded off all the side streets. By Sunday morning they were covered with palm frond designs.

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By noon all the bells started to ring, they struck up a dirge and the procession began.

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Parade7

Lighting candles

Lighting candles

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On a lighter note, a couple odds and ends.

As De Copas Delivery Truck

As De Copas Delivery Truck

This some kind of sealant. We've seen it on quite few  buildings.

Tossa de Mar

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My good friend and spiritual advisor Big Dog Beller has been telling me for years to go to the Costa Brava and stay in Tossa de Mar. We finally made it and he was right, of all the coastal resort towns we have seen, it is the most charming. A little remote, not too crowded, nice shopping district, some quaint family run restaurants, two small beaches and a terrific walled old town. The place has kind of an old South Beach feel, but with history. We even stayed at the Hotel Florida.

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The road winds northeast up the coast for about 30 km, hugging the shore and offering fabulous views of coves and inlets with the clearest water you have ever seen.

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CB17Tossa de Mar’s additional claim to fame is as the location of the 1951 hit movie “Pandora & the Flying Dutchman” starring Ava Gardner and James Mason. There are pictures all over town of Ava cavorting with the locals while Frank Sinatra, her husband at the time, maintains a somewhat jealous vigil on the activities. They have even erected a statue of her on the ramparts overlooking the town.

Poster

The Need For Standardization

The Dog's Cajones

The Dog’s Cajones

As you can see from the storefront above, the Spanish seem to like dogs. There are quite a few around and they all seem fairly friendly. We are in an urban area with a lot of people so I understand the need to control pets and in particular where they leave “Nature’s Callings”. But there needs to be some standardization in signage so that everyone is on the same page. Without a clear and concise message these things are open to interpretation. Things can spin out of control. The result could be pet anarchy. This sign is a perfect example of a generic municipal sign. The dog depicted is completely bland and figureless. This could be any dog, which is the point. There is no room for error.

Perfectly Generic Dog Sign

Perfectly Generic Dog Sign

On the other hand, I’m not even sure that this one is a dog. From what I can see of it behind the red bar it’s a wolf. Of course nobody wants a wolf on the beach. What are you crazy?

Wolf?

Wolf?

Now this one’s a puppy, a friendly puppy. Who doesn’t like puppies?

Adorable Puppy

Adorable Puppy

This one is just sad. Why have they decided to embarrass this poor dog? I think that we’re all smart enough to know why we don’t want the dog on the beach. Do we really have to humiliate the poor creature? And what’s with the perfect dog in the lower right? Go ahead just rub it in a little bit more.

Just Humiliating

Just Humiliating

This one’s not a dog. It’s a hand puppet, right?

Hand Puppet

Hand Puppet

This dog’s just a little crazy. To me the sign says “No Ditzy Dogs On The Beach”.

Crazy Dog

Crazy Dog

I find this one particularly troubling. This is not a generic dog. This is a very specific dog. We were so certain that they were singling out a particular canine that we went around the neighborhood showing people the picture and asking them if anyone knew this dog and what exactly had he done. He looks like a pretty nice dog to me.

Whose Dog Is This?

Whose Dog Is This?

They keep telling us, “he went away” or maybe it was, “you should go away”.

Jose The Good Dog

Jose The Good Dog

Peniscola

We spent a toasty afternoon in Peniscola, a terrific little seaside city with a great beach and promenade. It was a hot day and the beach was covered with sunbathers and multicolored umbrellas for miles.

Peniscola Playa

Peniscola Playa

Peniscola

Stock Image

The beach sits at the bottom of the old town which clings to a rocky promontory that is crowned with the city’s big attraction, the Castell del Papa Luna. The castle was built in the late 13th century by the infamous Knights of Templar, but really made it’s mark as the residence/hideout for Pope Benedict XIII, i.e. Papa Luna.

The Church of the Castle

The Church of the Castle

Luna was named Pope during the Great Schism that split the Papacy in the 14th century, but was deposed in 1414. He lived here until he died in 1423 and complained about losing the job until the bitter end.

Papa Luna greets all visitors

Papa Luna greets all visitors

Because of the Castle’s position, being surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean, some have called Luna “Pope of the Sea”.

From the ramparts towards the beach

From the ramparts towards the beach

Lighthouse from the main entrance

Lighthouse from the main entrance

Chapel Door

Chapel Door

To the top lookout

To the top lookout

From the ramparts out to sea

From the ramparts out to sea

From the ramparts soulth to the harbor

From the ramparts south to the harbor

Across the Old Town

Across the Old Town

Peniscola’s fame was reinvigorated in 1961 when Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren arrived to film the epic spectacular EL Cid.

El Cid 1961

El Cid 1961

A little footnote for you film buffs. Sophia sued because her name is below Charlie’s. The suit read, “It is impossible to determine or even to estimate the extent of the damages which the plaintiff will suffer.” Maybe a whisper touchy?

My trusty companion braves the afternoon heat

My trusty companion braves the afternoon heat

 

Alicante

Alicante is our favorite coastal city, so far! This historic Mediterranean port  has a population of about 400,000. Since the 3rd century BC it has been invaded and conquered by cocky Carthaginians, rapacious Romans, vicious Visigoths, moody Moors, clobbering Castilians, volatile Valencians, rascally Republicans, nasty Nationalists and finally an Armada of Cruise Liners.

Invading Foreigners

Invading Foreigners

The bustling core of the old city sits right on the waterfront and is full of wide palm tree shaded walking arcades, great historic buildings and a labyrinth of narrow streets and open air markets.

Marina

Marina

Explanad De España

Explanade De España

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Meat

Meat Lovers

Pension

Pension

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Setting Up The Street Fair

Setting Up The Street Fair

Cheese

That’s A Lot of Cheese

Alicante has two, not to be missed, art museums. Both El Museo de Bellas Artes Gravina (MUBAG) and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Alicante (MCAA) are terrific museums that are the perfect size, big enough to be really interesting and small enough to be experienced in a couple hours. And they’re free. They both house great Spanish collections and, like all great museums, the buildings themselves are terrific works of art.

MUBAG

El Museo de Bellas Artes Gravina

Necesita Usted Modelo by Fernando Canto

Necesita Usted Modelo by Fernando Canto

Museum of Comtempory At Alicante

Museum of Comtempory Art Alicante

Assume The Position

Assume The Position

MCAA1

 Bye for now. We’re going to go drink a little.






Oropesa del Mar

We have finally recovered from jet lag and have begun to explore the area. Took our first trip was to Oropesa, an interesting little seacoast city, which, like every other city in the region, is waiting with baited breath for the tourist season to start.

Oropesa del Mar

Oropesa del Mar

As you can see the beaches are deserted. It was a beautiful day and the only people frolicking in the sand were an elderly couple, one topless sunbather and two boys playing hooky.

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Oropesa de Or

There are literally miles of beaches and locals assure me that in about three weeks every one of them will be packed like a can of sardines with all manner of British and German tourists. You’ll have a hard time finding space to spread out a towel.

Oropesa de Or

Oropesa de Or

The southern coast of Spain has got to be Dean Martin’s spiritual home. Almost every bit of coast we’ve seen is lined with vintage high rise apartment complexes dating from the fifties to the early eighties.

The Las Vegas I

The Las Vegas I

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Sheets – Quilts – Towels – Shoes – Bags – Baggage

Bye for now. We’re going swimming.

Oropesa de Or

Oropesa de Or

Hasta Luego.

 

No Turning Back

Our 2014 home exchange has begun in earnest and I’ve decided that it’s a little like international skydiving. All the pictures and planning in the world won’t save you. You’re not exactly sure what you’ve gotten into until you’re plummeting towards earth at breakneck speed. In the end it’s just an act of faith. Regardless of any turbulence you encounter on the way down, you have to trust that the parachute will open and you’ll land softly on firm ground.

SeaTac - No Turning Back

SeaTac – No Turning Back

This trip is no different. It began calmly enough. We met our fellow exchangers, Magda and Manolo, at SeaTac. A lovely couple, full of energy and rip roaring ready to go. After they treated us to dinner we exchanged hugs, set the GPS to home and sent them on their way.

Magda & Manolo

Magda & Manolo

Then it was a hour through security, another hour at the gate and nine hours on Lufthana. We arrived in Frankfurt, Germany completely toasted, only to discover that Booking.com had us reserved for August 3rd instead of June 3rd. The story has both a good and bad ending. The good part was that the Hilton next door had a room, unfortunately it costs three times as much as the first room. Oh well, that’s the way the bee bumbles.

FranfurtAP

Frankfurt Airport

The next day’s flight to Valencia was perfect. Magda’s brother, Vicent, drove us to Benicasim and had us set up in no time. The only thing left to do now is recover.

The View From Our Apartment

The View From Our Apartment

On The Edge

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare,  Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

Like many before me, I’ve been called to the sea.” TW

Welcome to the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s premier disembarkation point for the netherworld. I don’t mean to demean the sheer awe-inspiring grandeur of the Cliffs. The place is indeed jaw droppingly beautiful. Sadly though, a few folks don’t just come to look, but view it as a more interactive activity. This is a hugely popular tourist attraction so it’s not really in anyone’s best interest to keep an accurate count. In 2008 there were four documented suicides, a relatively small numbers when compared to places like the London Underground which loses 150 – 200 people a year. Bear in mind, the actual number of deaths is not widely known and the vast majority are classified as accidents, but with 30 mph wind gusts and warning signs every few feet, I tend to think of it more as stupidity. We watched at least 50 people ignore the warnings in order to have their picture taken as close to the edge as possible. The last jumper was a young Estonian doctor who bought a one way ticket to Dublin, drove a rented car across the country, walked out of the parking lot directly to the cliff and, without hesitation, she leapt 750’ to the sea below. Oddly, neither the one way ticket nor the CCTV footage was enough to convince officials it was a suicide.

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare,  Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

By all means don’t let my love of odd statistics scare you off.  Come to this amazingly beautiful place, but be extremely careful. I don’t know if there have been any definitive studies, but can anyone deny that a huge precipice, like a magnet, draws the mind to the edge?

Memorial - Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

Memorial – Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland