Sunday, January 31, 2016
Today was primarily a travel day. We took two buses and walked. As we were leaving Seville we passed the runners competing in a half marathon. The pictures are through the bus window.
For the next two nights we are staying at the Parador Mazagón. It is right on the coast. It is surrounded by the Doana National Park a big wetlands area. Columbus lived in this area for a while and left from near here on his voyage of discovery.
Tonight we ate at the Parador restaurant.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Today we explored Seville. Our first stop was the Archivo de Indies which Lonely Planet describes as
“The main archive on Spain’s American empire, with 80 million pages of documents dating from 1492 through to the end of the empire in the 19th century”
They had a fascinating exhibit about the Battle of Santa Maria and the sinking of the treasure ship Mercedes in 1804. An American company salvaged 17 tons of gold and silver from the Mercedes. They were sued by the Spanish government and the gold was returned to Spain.
There was a long line to buy tickets to go in the cathedral but the tourist office told us yesterday that you can buy tickets at the church at Plaza Salvador with no line and get into both places so we visited the Parroquia del Divino Salvador.
Next we went to the Metropol Parasol a giant recently built structure that is supposed to be the largest wooden building in the world. They have a long viewpoint walkway on top of the structure with great views of Seville in all directions.
Next a quick book store stop.
Then on to the Cathedral. It is enormous! We saw Columbus’ tomb.
Then we climbed up the former minaret, now a bell tower. To get to the top a ramp winds around the inside of the tower. A ramp was used so that guards could ride horses to the top
When we took a break in our hotel room Property Brothers dubbed in Spanish was on TV!
For dinner we had tapas with sangria. My favorite was the grilled peppers.
Friday, January 29, 2016
This morning we took the train from Cádiz to Seville. On the way to the train station Duke got a good picture of the Torre Tavira that we visited yesterday.
In Seville we are staying near the Cathedral in the old Jewish section of town called Barrio de Santa Cruz. After checking in to our hotel we went for a walk to do some exploring.
Here is the Cathedral.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped for beer and olives. They cost about $2.80.
Tonight we went to a flamenco show.
And then had tapas for dinner.
We are in the west of Spain. Today the sunrise was at 8:29 am and sunset is at 6:46 pm. So we got this great shot of the sunrise from our hotel window.
Today we explored Cádiz. We walked through the market
and checked out the cathedral.
Then we visited the Torre Tavira and climbed to the top. In the 1700s Cadiz was a rich trading city. The trade with the Americas flowed through Cadiz. The merchant families built towers so they could watch their ships coming and going. According to the Torre Tavira website of the 160 towers Cadiz used to have 126 are still standing.
The tower itself was interesting and the view from the top was great. But the coolest thing is that at the top they have a Camera Obscura. I didn’t even know what a Camera Obscura is. Essentially it is like a periscope or one of those tubes you can make to see over crowds. It has a mirror and two lenses. The guide turned off the lights, opened the mirror and the natural light projected an image of the city on a concave screen about 5 feet in diameter. There were about 10 of us standing around the screen. As he moved the mirror around we had a detailed view of the whole city and he gave us a commentary about what we were seeing. Cadiz has a big new bridge that just opened this year, many old churches and inviting rooftops. The long focal length meant that the detail was fantastic and it is all done with just a mirror and two lenses!
Then we visited the Museum of Cádiz. They have an archaeological exhibit of things that have been found in and around Cádiz. The exhibit starts with Prehistoric objects. Then there are collections from the Phoenicians. They have two enormous Phoenician marble sarcophaguses from the 5th century BC. The male one was found in 1887 and the female one in 1980 when they were building a car park.
And then there are the Roman statues.
Tonight’s dinner was in our hotel just like last night.
Wednesday January 27, 2016
This morning we had breakfast at our inn and then went for a walk around Arcos de la Frontera to see the sights. De la Frontera is in the name because Arcos was on the border of Muslim and Christian Spain. The town is built on top of a ridge.
After exploring we caught a taxi down to the newer part of town and caught the bus to Cadiz. We walked from the bus station through town to our modern Parador overlooking the Atlantic. The room is amazing. The patio doors open up so if the weather was warmer today the patio could be part of our room!
The weather today is perfect, sunny and warm so we went for another walk from our hotel to the nearby Castillo de Santa Catalina then along the beech and causeway to the Castillo de San Sebastián.
We will be in Cadiz for two nights. Our deal for this Parador includes dinner so we are eating here tonight and tomorrow night.
Monday, January 25
About 4:20 this morning we woke up to a long rolling earthquake. Our room was on the 9th floor of the hotel. I’m sure that intensified the effect. I looked up the earthquake on the USGS earthquake site. They say it was a 6.1 centered about 75 miles south west of us out in the Mediterranean.
We left the hotel at 8:30 to take the subway to Málaga and then the train to Ronda. The train ride went through some particularly scenic areas. We went though the Garganta del Chorro, a 4 km long gorge. There were several tunnels including one long one but we still got to see some great vistas. The gorge is particularly well known for the Camino del Rey, a one meter wide path that hugs the canyon wall 100 meters above the ground. It was closed in 2000 because it had fallen into disrepair and a couple of tourists died. It reopened last year. It looks like something we should do on a future trip. In the picture taken from the train window you can kind of see the path. The link above has more information.
In Ronda there is another gorge that divides the town in half. There are three bridges that span the gorge. They are called Puente Nuevo (the New Bridge), the old bridge and the Roman bridge. The new bridge was completed in the 1790s we are staying at the Parado that overlooks the new bridge. That’s our Parador in the picture below.
After checking in we walked down to see the other two bridges and to explore the town. We stopped for a tapas snack and then had our free beer on the terrace of our Parador overlooking the Puente Nuevo. We had Spanish guitar music playing in the background. It was perfect.
Later we went for a walk to enjoy the sunset. The bull fighting ring is the first purpose built ring in Spain. Apparently it is a classic.
Tonight we are eating in the Parador restaurant.
Tuesday January 26, 2016
This morning after our coffee and toast and a walk to the bus station to see if we could pre-purchase our tickets for the bus ride today (we couldn’t – the ticket window appears to be permanently closed.). We paid a couple of Euros to go down inside the Puente Nuevo to see the exhibits and views.
Then we checked out our room and left our bags behind the front desk. We visited the Museo Lara. It is one man’s very eclectic collection of everything from inquisition instruments, to typewriters, to Roman coins. It was fun and fascinating to explore.
At 3:45 we caught the bus to Arcos de la Frontera another white hill town where we are staying tonight. The taxi that took us to the top of the hill and our small hotel drove through the narrowest streets I have ever seen. This is our hotel. Right now I am sitting by the fire working on this blog.
We had really great tapas for dinner.
Bull tail croquettes.
Warm Goat cheese with plum preserves.
This is part of the road our taxi took us on to get to our hotel.