Monday, 6 February 2017

The fantastic gardens at Marina d'Or, Oropesa

Ripolles? sculpture at Marina d'Or 
I'm going to blog about our new campsite tomorrow, but first I wanted to show you photographs I took at a fantastic nearby park we discovered on our first afternoon here. There is a large holiday urbanization between Camping Didota and the town of Oropesa. It is called Marina d'Or, Ciudad de Vacaciones (Vacation City) and was built in the mid 2000s at the whim of property developer Jesus Ger Garcia. There are multiple campsites as well as dozens of holiday homes and apartment blocks, but in true Spanish style the city isn't finished. Around the resort are plots of waste ground where the infrastructure is all ready - streets, lighting, cycle paths and pedestrian crossings - but additional planned hotels and apartments have never been built. I learned that Marina d'Or was primarily intended for Spanish holidaymakers because this part of the coast isn't especially popular with foreign visitors. However the crash of 2008 caused dire problems with finances and apparently as recently as 2014 many of the apartments were still deserted for much of the year (according to this Daily Mail article anyway!).

Elephant shower 
We strolled into and around some of the resort on Friday afternoon. There were few businesses open, but that is not unusual for coastal Spain on February afternoons. Those that were closed looked just to be shut for the winter rather abandoned permanently. I think Marina d'Or has weathered the worst of its financial crisis and is on the up again. The central street is heavily adorned with Moorish style lighting frames and should look beautiful after dark so we must go back of an evening to see the lights. Along the beach giant fibreglass elephants commemorate Hannibal coming ashore around here with his famous war elephants in 220BC. The modern day ones also provide a practical purpose in that shower heads are plumbed into the ends of their trunks so swimmers can rinse off seawater!

Ripolles? sculpture at Marina d'Or 
The Jardines Marina d'Or park covers a large area and contains differently themed gardens including Koi carp ponds, bird aviaries, a children's playground, a cacti garden and a paved area with a 1950s American Cadillac car. Dotted around are numerous bizarre sculptures such as the ones pictured here and at the top of this post. To our eyes at least they look like the work of Ripolles, a fairly local artist we first saw nearby at Vilafames last year. I couldn't see any name on these works although we didn't get very close. This multicoloured man is reaching out to take oranges from a tree!

Orca mosaic benches at Marina d'Or 
The gardens are liberally provided with beautiful Gaudi-esque benches, mosaiced like those at Park Guell in Barcelona. Some are abstractly shaped and decorated. Others resemble animals and birds. There are also formal gardens, trees and shrubs from five continents, all labelled so we knew what they were, and many birds including swans, peacocks, and ducks. The Mandarin ducks looked particularly elegant and I photographed a Koi carp next to a swan so you can see just how big these fish have grown!

The park is surrounded by brick arched fences and is right on the seafront so we could explore its fantastic sights while hearing the ocean nearby. It is obviously a popular recreation spot for families from Oropesa and I am glad we got to see it at this time of year because I imagine it gets ridiculously busy during the summer months.

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