I got back to my room from Spain around midnight last night, and while I loved my time there, I’m ecstatic to be back! All the travelling was absolutely exhausting; in nine days we hit up eight cities: Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Barcelona, Madrid, Avila, Segovia, and Toledo. Whew! I’ve got literally hundreds of pictures, so I think I’ll post a few times and break up my pictures by region: Andalusia, Catalonia, and central Spain. Because I’m pretty logical minded I’ll go in chronological order of my trip, starting from the beginning so up today: Andalusia.
After checking into our hostel we did one of the "free" walking tours - first stop was the cathedral of Seville, the tallest cathedral in the world though originally an Islamic mosque. Guess how many stairs to get to the top of the tower? Answer = 0! Imams would ride donkeys to the top back in the day, since they'd have to call out prayers five times a day.
I forget what building this was... but it's beautiful! Ha. By the way - notice that I bought a new camera before I left! Woohoo! I picked a Sony one because of the panorama feature, which I definitely put to good use on this trip
A very famous bullfighter outside Seville's bullring. Look at his figure and see if you can find something slightly awry on/in his pants...
Seville's neighbourhoods are divided by a river
Another gorgeous building of which I forget the purpose!
The fountain outside of Plaza Espana
After our tour we enjoyed a lovely meal outside. To start, I got the gazpacho - cold tomato soup, which was absolutely perfect given the 26 degree weather.
We walked through this park back to our hostel
It's so hot in Seville, this retail street hung sheets bridging the buildings to provide some shade to entice passerbys to walk down it
Near the cathedral we came across a hustling bustling marketplace where vendors set up stalls. So many cheese samples, I loved it!
This bakery had the most amazing looking pastries
We came across what I'm going to assume to be an economic protest. Spain has a massive 20% rate of unemployment right now, so I'm not surprised at all.
That night we watched a flamenco show - no pictures during the show so I snapped one before it started. The dancers had the most intense faces! It was so emotional, the singing and the dancers with their anguished expressions. We enjoyed some lovely vino dulce (sweet wine), which tasted amaing, but practically put me to sleep.
The cathedral at night.
I forget what this building is - but isn't it pretty?
After our show we went to a tapa bar recommended to us by our hostel's receptionist. Ho-ly, we had to wait an hour before we were seated because we got there at 10, when all the locals start having dinner. The food was worth it though! Here's the marinated octopus salad we shared.
This tapa was absolutely incredible. This massive thing of bread topped with the most amazing jamon (it's like prosciutto, only thicker and to die for), monchego cheese, and a fried quail egg. All the locals were ordering it, so we knew it had to be good!
Stuffed chicken with almond sauce and potatoes
The next day we took the train to Cordoba. Here's a picture of the Mezquita, a UNESCO world heritage site, from the outside - the arches were gorgeous.
Inside the courtyard
So many orange trees!
The cathedral tower. Unfortunately, because we went on a Sunday they were holding mass, so we couldn't go inside :(
The tourist information center was housed in this incredible looking old church
This bridge is another UNESCO heritage site
Since the Mezquita was closed we went to the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. The inside of the palace was a little lackluster, although I thought this balcony provided an interesting view of a courtyard they're now excavating.
The walls of the Alcazar were definitely neat to walk around on, and provided an amazing view of Cordoba
The highlight of the Alcazar by far was the gardens though - absolutely gorgeous! Maybe not in this picture, but keep reading...
So many giant koi!
This courtyard was also filled with orange trees
The gardens and the fountains were an absolute delight to wander through, especially with such amazing weather
The orange trees were so neatly pruned and cute!
The Alcazar from the outside
After Cordoba we took the train back to Seville to grab our luggage, and then took the train to Granada. We got there quite late, and immediately after checking in to our hostel, set out to find what Granada is famous for: free tapas when you buy a drink! This was the first place we went - I got a "jamon bocadillo con roquefort" - ham bagel with roquefort sauce
This was the second place we went - the beer was really good here! And I got an amazing chorizo kebab.
Our third tapa bar - the Michael Landon. This place had the most hilarious interior decor! It was filled with pictures of terrible 80s tv shows and movies, like Baywatch and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Those three glasses are our limonada de vino - red wine with lemonade. Basically just cheap sangria, but so good!
After these burgers we had to call it a night, 6 euros down and we were absolutely stuffed!
The next morning we woke up EARLY to go to Alhambara, notorious for being the #1 attraction in Spain, or at least Granada, so that we wouldn't have to wait too long to get inside. Here's a picture of the fountain halfway up the climb to get to the top.
The buildings in Alhambara, a former Islamic palace/fortress that was taken over by the Catholics, all had absolutely gorgeous architecture.
The view from the top. We hiked the hill all the way up from somewhere down there!
The Nasrid palace had the most amazing architecture.
Tons of postcards use this picture from the Alhambra, so I had to snap one too!
I pretended to not see this no photo sign and quickly snapped a shot as I walked inside... These lion sculptures were gorgeous! The used to be outside as part of a fountain and are being restored right now. Each lion is carved differently, so their forms are the same but the faces and designs in their fur and manes are unique.
I can't remember the name of this room, but it was by far my favourite in the Nasrid Palace! It had the most amazing ceiling.
We explored the gardens a bit - massive, but not as impressive as Cordoba's Alcazar's gardens.
We went inside the Palacio de Carlos V, which housed several museums. If you stand in the very center and sing your voice is projected throughout the structure - I squeaked out a few notes to try it out. The acoustics are incredible!
The view from the Torre de la Vela looking onto the Plaza de Armas. You can see all the foundations of the houses the army used.
This is the other side of the Alhambra. The site is absolutely massive!
The Water Stairway
After our visit we tried out a really gorgeous restaurant, which reminded me of Brix in Vancouver. It's in a covered little courtyard so it feels like you're outside even though you're "inside" since the ceiling is glass and is as high as the surrounding buildings. Here's the russian salad we got as a starter.
Mmmm tapas and sangria. The tapas consisted of omelette with mushrooms, jamon, monchego cheese, these amazing pea/bean things, fried zucchini slices, and a salad made with fish, oranges, and olives.
For our main - Paella! It looked absolutely amazing, and I wish I could say it tasted the same but the rice wasn't cooked thorougly and it was too salty. Waaah. The seafood was delicious though.
This is probably another cathedral in Granada, there's too many to keep track of all their names!
After our lunch we headed back to our hostel to grab our things and head to the airport: we were off to Barcelona! I think Barcelona was my favourite city in Spain, you’ll see why in my pictures soon!