A Travellerspoint blog

Southern Spain

Our trip to Andalusia - Granada and Seville

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View 2012 RTW on Drifters's travel map.

Hey there, friends!
Ryan has been incredibly diligent with blog entries, and I have been slacking.. So, I decided it would be my turn to describe the rest of our journeys in Spain. So after walking around Madrid and taking some more great photos, we moved on to our next destination.
We left Madrid on the 5th of August early in the morning on the bus to Granada, home of one of the most stunning architectural and historical ensambles on the planet - Alhambra. We opted for a bus journey as opposed to a train, because prices were much lower - it allowed us to save almost 100 euro! The journey was great and lead through beautiful valleys with olive orchards and grape fields for Spanish wine - just like you would imagine Spain to be. Granada is a relatively small town with a great transportation system, so we did not have any issues with getting to our hostel by bus. We stayed in a really nice hostel right by the main Cathedral of Granada, so it was very central and allowed us to walk anywhere we needed. Upon setting our bags down and taking a breather we went up to Alhambra. It is a very popular site, especially at this time of year when a lot of Europeans take vacations, so we had to pre-order our tickets on-line and we had to be there at the time specified. It took us about 30 minutes to walk up to Alhambra and we were able to explore the fortress of Alcazaba and also Charles V palace, which was hosting a beautiful exhibit of Sorolla´s paintings of Alhambra´s gardens. After climbing around the fortress in the blistering sun, we opted for a bit of a shade, and then queued for the famous Nasrid Palaces and Generlife gardens. After a little bit of the wait we were admitted to the palace, which was absolutely spectacular. It is great in size and every room is specially decorated, and has fantastic views of Granada and gardens. We were absolutely amazed at the incredible mastership of medieval Moorish artisans.

Alhambra

Alhambra

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After exploring the palace and beautiful courtyards we moved on to Generalife gardens, which were also incredibly amazing and provided much needed relief from the mid-afternoon sun. We easily spent the whole day in Alhambra and left tired, hungry and thirsty, but greatly satisfied with what we had seen.

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Alhambra Gardens

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Afterward we had some tinto verano (concoction very close to Sangria, but less in alcohol) and some great cold beer with free tapas, went to our hostel, rested for about an hour and again set out to "tapear¨, Spanish for having tapas. We spent all evening tapa-hoping in various restaurants, and had plenty of wine, beer and tapas, and went to bed really late. Next day we decided to go to the Cathedral, which was founded in the fourteen hundreds and was by far the biggest cathedral we have both seen to that point. It is beautifully decorated in Baroque style, with incredibly high ceilings and beautiful cloisters and altars.

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We took a bunch of pictures and marvelled at the architecture and went on to explore the old Muslim neighbourhood in Granada - Albayzín. We climbed and climbed and climbed, trying to read our map and pinpoint our location on the confusing medieval streets, but, we were unsuccessful. We both lost all sense of direction and after wandering in the blistering heat for a great part of afternoon, both were ready to give up and have some cold beers. We did stop at some beautiful lookouts and saw caves, which are inhibited by people, a site both of us thought a bit bizzarre. We spent the evening shopping and resting and getting ready for our trip to Seville the next morning.

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In the morning we arrived to the bus station and could not leave until 3 o´clock in the afternoon, because tickets were sold out. It took us about 3 hours to get to Seville, and even though our hostel was really close to the bus station, we decided to take a taxi and not wander around in 100 degree heat with our backpacks. The hostel was really nice, typical Seville style with a covered courtyard and tiled floor and A/C, which is crucial in these parts of the world! We were happy to find a clean and spacious room and after relaxing went out to have a bit of tapas. Seville is beautiful and being much bigger than Granada, still incredibly quiet. I guess it is so hot here all the time, that everyone just sits around and takes it easy...

We only had one full day in Seville, so the next morning we started with the Cathedral, largest in Europe, built on the place of a Moorish mosque, hence the size, and still housing remnants of it - the Giralda Tower. It was build to profess the wealth of Seville, and houses an incredible number of art objects, and jewels and paintings of Renaissance and Baroque artists.Christopher Columbus is buried there as well.

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We spent a good deal of time walking around and exploring the sites, and then left to wander around an ancient Jewish neighbourhood right next to the Cathedral. Next on our agenda was the Alcazar Palace, holding the title of the oldest functioning palace in the world. Seville was a residence of Spanish kings for a long time and was very important to visit the palace, architecturally and historically so crucial, where Columbus presented his plans to Queen Elizabeth for conquest of Americas. In one of the exhibits we learned about making of Sevillian tiles - ¨Artista¨, there and how ancient Arabic design became integrated with designs of Northern Renaissance, thus producing unique style of Sevillian. Adjacent to the palace are beautiful gardens, cultivated and perfected in the hundreds of years since Alcazar´s Muslim origins. It was absolutely amazing and breathtaking, and we must´ve spent a few hours there. The whole illusion of walking through a kings palace was completed by real life peacocks walking about in the garden. We loved it!

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Upon leaving Alcazar, we walked around a bit more, but it was 109 degrees and we were getting pretty beat. We visited Spanish Plaza, and decided it was time to head back and get some much needed rest. However, we stumbled upon a great tapa place with cheap cold beers and could not miss it for the world! So, we got home a bit later than planned, set around on the roof patio listening to Bob Marley on my IPod, and watching day become night. Next morning we head out to the airport to go North and do the Dali triangle, but it is also the next blog!

Ciao!

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Posted by Drifters 07:27 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Adiós Americas

With an unexpected trip to Europe

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It is hard to believe, but we have already spent 6 months travelling through Central and South America. There are so many more places we would love to visit, but we are ready to move on to see a new part of the world. Plus we want to get to Russia to visit friends and family before it gets too cold. We enjoyed our time in Buenos Aires and got some well needed rest, although it was not our favorite city in South America. With the unstable economy and government there we found it difficult to do some things we had planned, and everything was much more expensive than we had expected. So in that regard we were happy when the day came to board our flight to Europe, although it is hard not to reminisce about all the amazing things we have seen and done so far on our travels. Of course we enjoyed the big tourist attractions we saw like Machu Picchu, Galapagos Islands, and Chitchen Itza; but some of the less known and less travelled destinations really stand out too. Enjoying the deserted coast line in Ecuador, visiting a Shaman in the Amazon, diving in the Bay Islands, hiking glaciers and mountains in the Andes, and too many other great times to list here. It is already hard to remember everything we have done, and we both still remind ourselves all the time how lucky we are to have seen what we have. But enough of the past, now we are ready to enjoy some sights in Europe.

We found a great deal on a flight to Russia that had a two week layover in Madrid, so we booked it immediately. Spain is one of my favorite countries and I only have fond memories from a previous trip here, so I was more than happy to get another opportunity to visit. Plus we were tired of the winter in Buenos Aires and actually welcomed the hundred plus degree temperatures in Spain right now. And it gives us a couple more weeks to continue to improve our Spanish. Luckily I got my passport back with my Russian visa in it just a couple days before our flight was scheduled to depart. (It had to be mailed back to the States) We had a 12 hour overnight flight directly to Madrid which was fairly uneventful, and then we walked through customs in 2 minutes without even a single question. We exchanged the few remaining Peso´s we had left, because it was impossible to get dollars or Euros in Argentina (That is a whole different story) and then got on the metro to our new home for the next few days.

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Instead of booking a hostel this time, we tried out a new website that I found a couple weeks ago. It is www.airbnb.com and it has been great so far. The premise of the site is that people who have an extra room or two in their house can rent in out to tourists at a low rate. We thought it would be nice because right away you get to meet someone that lives in the city and more than likely can give you suggestions for places to visit, or help you out with anything you need. In Madrid we are staying with a really nice couple and their dog Gizmo and we basically have free rein in the house for whatever we need. Plus it is only $30 per night, which is cheaper than most of the hostels here. We both immediately remembered our fondness for Spain upon our arrival. The weather is fantastic, the food is fresh and good, (Plus free tapas come with a drink) the city is extremely easy to navigate, and the people are open and friendly. We have spent the first couple days here wandering around the city. We went to the Prado first and then today to the Reina Sophia museum and saw some really good art. We strolled through some of the parks in the city, visited the San Miguel Market, and we took some pictures at Plaza Mayor in the city center. So many of the countries we have visited over the past few months were colonized by Spain, it has been interesting to come here and see the ¨real¨ Spanish culture. We have plans to stay in Madrid for a couple more days and then we are off to Granada and then Seville. So until next time.

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Posted by Drifters 10:47 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

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