So what if it rains in Spain? Seville is still glorious! I LOVE this city. Yes, we did get caught in a cloudburst or two, or three, but that just made us appreciate the sun even more.
High winds prevented us from entering the Plaza de España at the scheduled time, but we got lucky. As we were leaving Seville, JuanJo noticed that the plaza had been reopened, so off we went. Because we were there so early, we had the plaza to ourselves.
What made Sevilla so wonderful? Well, the city preserved the incredibly beautiful buildings from the 1929 World Exposition. The architecture is beautiful— even better than Disney World!
For the history lovers, a visit to the Cathedral is a must.
It is here that you will find the massive tomb of Columbus. And yes, he really IS in that big box. National Geographic did a story about the DNA analysis that was performed on the box’s contents. It matched the DNA of Chris’ son and brother. (There had been some doubt about who those bones REALLY belonged to).
The people standing beside the tomb will give you an idea of how enormous this memorial is.
Columbus set sail for the new world from Seville, and it was here that he (and others) brought all the gold plundered from south and Central America.
Seville has its legendary martyrs. Justa and Rufina, two sisters, are honored with a stained glass window and in a painting.
Their story? They refused to sell their pottery for a pagan festival, so after much crockery breakage, (on both sides), the sisters were imprisoned, stretched on the rack, made to walk barefoot to the nearest mountain range without water or granola bars. Justa died of hunger and thirst,
but Rufina hung in, only to be tossed to the lions.
As you can see from the painting, the lion didn’t finish her off. Finally, she was either strangled or beheaded (or both, it isn’t clear). It was hard to keep a good woman down back then!
If history and religion doesn’t do it for you, not to worry. Seville offers much more:
Cobblestone streets lined with shops and restaurants,
Carriage rides around the old town,
We weren’t here long enough. Seems like I’m saying that a lot on this trip.
By the 8th day of our Grand Circle tour, we had visited Madrid, Toledo, Granada, Cordoba, and Torremolinos, with a side trip to the very British Gibraltar. Next on our itinerary was Malaga, but Mike and I decided to engage in an Australian tradition and “Chuck A Sickie”. For those of you that didn’t have the pleasure of spending two weeks with an Australian Global Volunteer, that term roughly translates to “Playing Hooky”.
Although the Costa del Sol averages over 300 days of sunshine per year, today was the first time I needed to wear my sun hat.
I’m sure our fellow travelers had a perfectly marvelous day enjoying the sights of Malaga, and the home hosted lunch in a nearby village as much as Mike and I enjoyed spending the morning strolling along the beach, taking in sights like this.
I would have loved to see what this tribute to Elvis looked like before the rain decapitated him.
But what about those other glorious cities? Don’t worry, I’ll do a little flashback, with visuals.
We got just enough of a taste to determine that one of these days, we will be back to those lovely cities, and next time, we will linger.
Our time in Toledo was limited to a few hours enroute to Granada. The old city sits 6 escalator rides above the new city, and let me tell you, we were all very grateful we didn’t have to climb all the way up the hill in the rain.
Our stroll through Toledo’s Jewish quarter ended at the oldest synagogue in Europe. This unique building was constructed by Moors, because at that time they were reputed to be the best builders. Of course, they were not familiar with synagogue construction, so the Jews ended up with a building that had a distinctive Muslim flavor.
For anyone planning a trip to Toledo, please be aware it is much more than amazing history, great food and panoramic vistas. Thrill seekers, take a look.
One of the many things that I love about traveling with Grand Circle and OAT is the unexpected stops along the way. We had a bathroom and refreshment break in Puerto Lápice, a little village in Castille La Mancha, where we discovered a three room Don Quixote museum.
I love that Don Quixote is sculptured out of words
Who would expect such art in a little village museum? Not me.
Because I spent so much time in the museum, I had to order my glass of wine “to go”, which I proudly did in Spanish. An important phrase: “para llevar”. But the effect was spoiled, just a bit, when the bartender started speaking to me in perfect English.
Not surprisingly, most of our time in Granada was spent at the Alhambra. Okay, so we all know that Washington Irving wrote “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, but how many know that he also was instrumental in saving the Alhambra from being destroyed? His “Tales of the Alhambra” caused the Spaniards to take a second look at what is now the most visited attraction in Spain.
Alhambra ( Al = “the” in Arabic ) is a palace, a fortress, a small city, overlooking Granada. Unfortunately, when Napoleon conquered Spain, his soldiers removed all of the furniture, rugs and tapestries, ( I believe the correct term is “looted”) but the walls, ceilings and courtyards give you a hint of the grandeur that once existed. Check out the ceiling in the women’s quarters.
The exteriors of Moorish buildings were very plain. All of the ornamentation was inside, in the private spaces, like these beautiful courtyards.
The Moors ruled Spain for almost 800 years, and their impact on the Spanish language continues today. Many places begin with “Gua”, like Guadalcanal, Guatemala, Guanajuato — all derived from the Arabic word for water.
Another city with beautiful Moslem architecture is Cordoba. The Roman temple/Church/Mosque/Cathedral is an architectural wonder. Walking through its spacious interior, you literally travel through time, starting with the preserved Roman tiles, below the existing floor—
to the former mosque, built with recycled columns, which was wisely preserved by the Catholics —
and now is in the center of the mosque.
Cordoba is magnificent!
I guess some place has to be the least favorite, and for me, Gibraltar gets that honor. Maybe it was because the limestone WW2 tunnels were dripping water, and were dark and gloomy,
as was the weather.
Whatever the reason, I was not as wowed as I was by the other places we’d visited. Even the Barbary apes were a disappointment. We only saw four.
Two more days in Spain, three in Portugal, and then we are back to the USA.