My Spanish Escapade
Hey, there! I’m in one of my favorite countries in the world, Spain. The food and the sites have been so amazing. I can hardly believe I’ve stayed away for over 15 years. I love this place and have been eating everything delicious in sight. I’ve had ice cream and croissants every day I've been here and I currently cannot fit into at least one pair of pants that I brought with me. It's a good thing that I tend to over-pack.
After arriving in Madrid early Saturday morning we headed to Segovia, home of the Roman aqueduct. A visit to the Alcázar gave us a glimpse of medieval Christian Spain.
The following day we left Segovia and made our way to the ancient city of Toledo, which was Spain’s capital until 1561. It is a vivid reminder of the centuries of co-existence of the three great cultures of Spain: Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The spectacular baroque style Cathedral, with its medieval stained glass windows, ornate altarpieces and wonderful collection of art, contrasted vividly with the beautiful simplicity of one of the oldest synagogues in Spain, now converted into a museum.
Our next stop was Córdoba, birthplace of Seneca, Maimonides, and Averroes, as well as the capital of the legendary Umayyad caliphate of the tenth century. The world-famous mosque or “mezquita" with its double arches and amazing mosaics of the quibla were a powerful introduction to Islamic Spain. Córdoba’s mystique appeared around every corner of the Jewish quarter and the historic center. The city is filled with beautiful orange trees. I learned that the oranges are too bitter to eat and are used for making marmalade, so picking them is actually against the law. I’m glad someone warned me! I also got a chance to see an impressive collection of El Greco paintings. That afternoon we made our way to Seville and had a lovely dinner that ended with delicious profiteroles drenched in chocolate sauce. Did I mention how good the food was?
Before the rain began to fall for most of the day in Seville, we enjoyed a tour of the gardens of the Alcázar, the Royal Palace used by Almohad sultans and Castilian kings. I was delighted to learn that it was one of the locations used to film one of my favorite shows, “Game of Thrones.” In an attempt to stay as dry as possible,we headed to the third largest gothic cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as the Seville Cathedral. To burn off some excess calories we climbed up the famous Giralda tower, symbol of the city and best vantage point for sweeping views of this city by the Guadalquivir river. After that, we ate tapas or “tapeando” for lunch and went shopping at El Corte Ingles and along the Calle Sierpes.
The following morning we were blessed with some sunshine and walked to Seville’s Parque de Maria Luisa, created for the 1929 Iberoamerican Fair. It houses some of the most emblematic buildings of this fair city; none more so than the sweeping, majestic Plaza de España. It was absolutely gorgeous and not surprising to find out that it was one of the locations used to film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. After lunch in the cool Triana neighborhood, we hopped back on the bus and made our way to the magical city of Granada.
In Granada, the last Moorish kingdom conquered by Ferdinand and Isabel, I definitely felt the presence of that unique legacy in the narrow streets of the market and the Albaicín. After a quick dinner we ventured into the Sacromonte neighborhood and visited an authentic gypsy cave to see a flamenco show in its most natural setting. The show was very sexy, powerful, and moving. I loved it and now know what it means to have a “gypsy body”! Afterwards, we walked to the Mirador San Nicolás to catch a stunning view of the Alhambra palace lit up at night.
While the flamenco show was amazing, the highlight of the entire trip so far was our guided tour of the Alhambra. Strolling through the palace of the Alhambra and the gardens of the Generalife, we were swept back in time to the days when the Nasirid sultan ruled Granada from that site. After eating tapas and more ice cream for lunch, we traveled back to Madrid, our final destination of our visit to Spain.
I’m sad to be leaving Spain in the next couple of days, but I’m also happy to have rediscovered my love for this wonderful place. I plan to come back again very soon to visit our tour guide and new friend, Margaret.
My next blog post will be sent from the Mayan Riviera. I can’t wait to celebrate my birthday on the beach - it’s been a long winter and this girl needs some sun!
Now I want to hear from you. What are your favorite destinations to visit? Where would you like to go next? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more travel and adventure pics.
Thanks and lots of love,
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