Tag Archives: Spaghetti Western

Summer Visit 2018 (avoiding Cat-Talk)

A somewhat random post that covers our recent trip and some thoughts that have been with me since I got home.

We booked flights for late July for another 10 days in the place I sincerely want to call home someday. I had arranged to meet up a few people who I had met on social media (not girls, already done that and got the t-shirt 🙂 ).

I love Granada Airport particularly because there is nowhere to get lost and everything is close to hand. On arrival I collected my bag and went to sort out our hire car, I was ready to collect the girls as they arrived out of the Arrivals gate probably no more than 10-15 minutes later. The rest of the journey consists of crossing the road to where the car was parked, jumping in and driving for about an hour to Mercadona at Baza. I must add here that I love the drive, you skirt the edge of Granada City and head up and between the Sierra de Huétor mountains then as leave the mountains you are greeted by The Hoya de Guadix (which is a natural plain). The scenery changes from snow, greenery and craggy light coloured rock to orange and yellow sandstone plateaus and troughs with pale green poplars in the lowlands and this is where the cave houses start appear in almost every spot imaginable spot and plenty of unimaginable ones too. The A-92 skirts Guadix and as you are leaving you may spot the Railway Station on the right which was used as a location for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or The Old Sugar Factory which was used as a location for Sergio Leone’s “Duck You Sucker/Fistful of Dynamite” (actually there are few locations in and near Guadix used in this particular film)….. digressing again…
The last bit of the trip is up and out of Guadix and on towards the lower edge of the Sierra de Baza, the scenery now changes into dry valleys and flat plateaus with pretty little dilapidated farms and small holdings scattered among olive and almond groves followed by the imposing greenery and craggy peaks of the Sierra de Baza on the right. Another 10 minutes and a little bit of normal road driving and we are at the Mercadona (or maybe Lidl because we like to mix it up a bit).

We went to a music night in the Cortes at Jairo’s Bar which was very well attended by immigrants/expats or whatever you want to call them and plenty of locals. There isn’t a massive  British community here, which is one of the reasons I like the place so much but it was however interesting to see so many of them all in one place at the same time…… still disappointed that I am missing the Fiesta though !

We had also arranged to hook up with Danny and Josie who run the One Foot in the Cave blog for a bit of exploring. This was a great afternoon shuffling around Baza and being shown things that I had either heard of but not seen, not heard of and not seen. I will say here that the Arab Baths are well worth a visit partially because what looks like a public toilet block from the outside is actually very nice on the inside and it’s free to visit which is always a bonus. The Alcazaba is worth a look to even though there is next to nothing left of it… the views of the Sierra de Baza are fantastic. Danny takes a lot of interest in his surroundings and local history so was a great guide and host. I did my usual thing of expecting to go exploring when the temperature is in the 40’s and immediately found myself in the position of wanting to sit down and sup cold lagers, fortunately this is Spain and it’s accepted here.

We did a little more cave viewing at various friends houses and both got the standard issue “Cave Envy” that seems to rear it’s head when you see other peoples places. They are all so different. It’s nothing like viewing “actual houses” the different curves, arches, niches, quirks and odd little things that make caves so special really don’t happen the same in “actual houses”. To a passer by cave houses are anything from a Hole in the Hill to the front of a Villa slapped
on the side of a cliff but all you’ve seen is the outside. I guess the years of hard working families tinkering about to make them suit their needs, digging out a new room, an animal feeder, an almond store or a shelf is what makes them all so unique.

Just go and stay in one, in fact go and stay in lots…… some are going to be like glamping and some are going to be like palaces with everything in between.

 

This week I have mostly been flicking through this: Once Upon a Time in Almeria by Mark Parascandola

I stumbled across Mark’s Blog about a year ago while looking into the possibility of visiting “El Condor” (the remains of the purpose built filmset Fort used for the film of the same name). His blog had a post talking about his visit to the site then going on to explain that the land owner had turned up with a gun and loosely threatened to shoot him. Obviously I was rather put off by this idea as I never trained to be a teacher in Trump’s America and would therefore be unable to overpower him. Reading on I discovered that Mark was a photographer with a fondness for the Almeria region and also a huge interest in Spain’s historical Spaghetti Western film history.

He has spent many years documenting the villages, forts and farms that are slowly being reclaimed by nature. So much so that to the untrained eye there isn’t a village with a bar, a church and a ferreteria at all where Alex Cox filmed his 1987 movie “Straight to Hell” and previous to that Charles Bronson took the lead as Chino in “Valdez the Halfbreed” in 1973 right beside the  Autovia A-92 just outside Tabernas……

……. after reading through Mark’s blog I discovered that he had book that was very close to being published featuring lots of photos of his visits and naturally I had to own one.
To cut a long and tedious story of how my mind (doesn’t) work it arrived at the beginning of this week and It is fantastic…. Lots of lovely photos of places I’ve visited and some that I haven’t  that aren’t all totally overexposed like mine always are.

Credit: Mark Parascandola

Fun Fact: The “Flagstone” Set for Sergio Leone’s 1968 Once Upon a Time in The West Movie was also used in the KLF’s 1991 White Room Film (find it here on Youtube).

If you have any interest in the Spaghetti Western genre then this is a great book to have,
It’s about £25 (find it here on Amazon)

** I’m not selling it by the way **
** I’m just informing you because I like it very much 🙂 **

BOOK INFO
Paper over Board, 10 X 12 In. / 148 Pages / 70 Color Photographs
ISBN 9781942084396

Tabernas Desert Film Sets (Part #1) Straight to Hell and Chino

Something we love doing when in Spain is visiting filming locations, as you probably know the Tabernas Desert in Almeria was and still is used as the setting for many a Spaghetti Western. Films such as The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars, A Few Dollars More and Once Upon a Time in America were all largely filmed in the area. I’m starting here with a somewhat less obvious one, the location for  The 1986 Alex Cox film Straight to Hell which starred (to name but a few) Joe Strummer, The Pogues, Elvis Costello, Grace Jones, Dennis Hopper, Sy Richardson and Courtney Love. This set was originally built in the Tabernas Desert for the 1973 Film Chino starring Charles Bronson.

We headed down here on our way to San Jose and in typical (of me) fashion we arrived in the midday sun that was hitting the low 40’s and what was supposed to be 1 mile as the crow flies was about 3 miles each way….. Blistering Heat and No Water (not the best combination).

As you can see from the photos most of the site has now collapsed and is slowly eroding back into the desert so I guess in another 10 or 15 years or so there will be nothing left here to see except for some roof tiles and broken bottles.  I was rather taken with how close the site is to the motorway but how out in the wilderness it feels. To me there is something quite special about walking around this area knowing how many famous feet have trampled here, In the UK you would expect to see a parking area with an Ice Cream van and people trying to sell you  Cowboy Hats and Cap Guns but in somewhat typical Spanish Fashion it has just been left to crumble away.

More Info on these two movies can be found by following the links below:
Chino aka Valdez the Half Breed
Straight to Hell


I will post some other sets I have visited over some time so if you are interested please check back 🙂