Thursday, February 17, 2011


The next stop was Granada, which is also in the Andalucía region. Its main claim to fame is the Alhambra palace, however it is also popular for its University, the nearby Sierra Nevada  ski hills, and maintaining the age-old Spanish tradition of free tapas with your beverage.

Granada is also another Spanish city that retains the many cultural influences of its past. A city with a history that extends back to Roman times, the cityscape bares witness to the influence of numerous cultures. In addition to the Nasrid Alhambra, teahouses, tapas bars, Christian Cathedrals and hookah bars are numerous. So we went straight to the busiest Shawarma restaurant we could find!

We reserved the entire afternoon of our second day to the Alhambra. Only so many people are permitted entry per day so you have to book in advance. The Alhambra is a massive “palace city” comprised of the residential palaces, gardens, and orchards surrounded by a defensive wall with several watchtowers.

The Lion’s Palace within the expansive Alhambra is the most popular destination. With our tickets we had to also reserve a specific time for visiting the palace. One of the most famous images of the palace is the Court of the Lions; a small courtyard with a marble lion fountain and running waters that stream away from the courtyard centre in the four directions. In 2007 a major restoration project began; due to the destructive nature of running water. The entire fountain was dismantled, and the lions restored to their original state. The restoration was still underway while we were there. The individual lions had been completed and were on exhibition in a separate space of the palace, but the exterior fountain grounds were still being excavated. 

After spending the afternoon walking the entire grounds we were exhausted. We ended the evening with a few tapas, the next day we left Granada to our sunny southern final destination: Malaga!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Orange Grove

It was a rainy day in Seville when we arrived. We walked from the train station to our hotel taking shelter under various arcaded terraces and trees from the down pours. After checking in and short reprise, we braved the elements and walked around the old city centre through orange groves and winding streets. 

That night we went to see the infamous flamenco dance. We found a recommendation in our trusty guidebook for a little bar that has free performances; La Carbonara. When we arrived we entered into a small room with a small fireplace and several patrons playing their own Spanish guitars. But we noticed many of the new arrivals were continuing past this small room, to another room, which we discovered was the “flamenco stage.” The rows of hockey arena like bench seats filled quickly. The performance was phenomenal. The dancer seemed to float across the stage.

As  you can see I love  Flamenco!

The next day was New Years Eve! We went to the Alcazar of Seville. The cathedral line up was gigantic so we too refuge from the rain in the Alcazar, a massive place and gardens; which we were very happy to stumble upon. The gardens were amazing and incredibly peaceful; due to the rain there was barely a soul in sight. 


Sharing the twelve grapes

To celebrate New Years Eve we joined the throngs of other tourists in the Plaza Nueva for the count down. Champagne and grapes were sold on every corner. It is the Spanish tradition to eat twelve grapes for every chime of the clock on the stroke of midnight.

We ended the night watching the fireworks along the Guadalquivir river. The next day we left Seville, to continue heading south!

A clock for the count down!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


From Toledo we went to the city of Cordoba in the Andalucía region.

Cordoba is another city that I have wanted to visit for its architecture; that of the great mosque of Cordoba.

The Mosque of Cordoba is another inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Click here to read more about its designation.

We arrived in the morning by train and took the local city bus to the historic city centre. The mosque was absolutely beautiful; there are no words to describe it. I was expecting the immensity of the forest of columns in the interior, but the beauty and serenity of the courtyard filled with orange trees, that mirror those interior columns, caught me by surprise.

click the "play" button below to watch a video about the mosque produced by UNESCO

I do have to admit that we didn’t venture far from the mosque and our hotel located directly beside it. We were both more than a little worn out, and when we discovered the delicious Tortilla served at "Bar Santos," two doors down there was no reason to leave!
 Click here for a recipe and more about the delicious Spanish Tortilla, not to be confused with the cornflour tortilla wraps

It was a only a short stay, the next morning we walked back up to the train station sticking out like store thumbs with our immense backpacks walking through the residential streets.

Next stop, New Years in Seville!