Saturday, March 24, 2012

Girls Trip to Andalucia!!

Last week, I set off on yet another adventure, this time to the south of Spain - hitting Sevilla, Cadiz and Cordoba over the course of three days with a few of my girlfriends.  With flights under 25 euros roundtrip and great company, it was hard to pass up!!
However, with a 6AM flight, it was also hard to get going first thing in the morning.  It made for a long first day, but so much fun nonetheless.  We arrived in Sevilla and were checked into our hotel before 9AM.  After walking thru town to the train station, we hopped on the Renfe to spend the day in Cadiz.

Cool little open patio in our hotel

I liked the tiles on this building....

This is the art thing that we walked on top of our last night... I have no idea what it's called but it's pretty cool...

Another view of the art thing...

Pics I took walking to the train station

Love the colors - they make the sky look even more blue!

Beautiful courtyard

And we are off to Cadiz!
Two hours later we were in sunny, beautiful Cadiz. I loved the fact that we were on the Atlantic side of Spain. In some weird way, it made me feel closer to home - just knowing it was a quick (ok, maybe not so quick) hop across the pond to get there. Anyways, we walked around thru the old town and along the beautiful boardwalks with absolutely stunning views. We didn't do any official tours but just took the day as it came, easy breezy. There was tons of bonding, laughing and just relaxing...ahhhh Spain!
Stunning city hall square in Cadiz - unfortunately they were doing a lot of construction on the ground and so this was the best non construction picture I was going to get.

The Atlantic!!!!!!

Another view of my Atlantic :)

Who decided to paint a die on the rock??

LOVED this!!!  And the beach sand was soooo nice!!  (Much better than the BCN beaches)

I've got a thing for boats

This was a fort off in the distance - we wanted to walk down to it but there was constuction going on so the entrance was closed. 

With another two hour train ride back, we were exhausted - a day that had started at 4AM seemed like an eternity ago. With an early 8:30 dinner of pizza and pasta, we were in bed by 10:30. Sad, I know. But we wanted to hit the ground running on Wednesday morning pretty early to head to Cordoba.

Flamenco is very big in this part of Spain, unfortunately while we planned to see a show, we never actually made it to one

Beautiful placa in Sevilla

Bar we attempted to go to later the next night but was closed by midnight...

Cordoba was slightly closer than Cadiz and we had more planned for our time there. In the end this was such a great thing as I absolutely loved Cordoba and of the three cities we saw on this trip, it was by far my favorite.  It was a short stroll to the old town from the train station and we immediately headed to the Mezquita. The old town is like a small walled in city within the city of Cadiz. The buildings are most definitely older than the surrounding ones and more often than not were whitewashed. Many had planters filled with geraniums along their walls - something Cordoba is known for and one of the many reasons we had wanted to go here for our vacation (though as an FYI, May is supposed to be the best time to view the flowers).

Beautiful park right after we got off the train in Cordoba

Entrance to the old town

The Red Cross - stunning building!

As we enter old town

Beautiful flowers lining the walls

I especially love the water faucets built in here... I have no idea if they are functional or not, but the detail is very cool.

There were two highlights to Cordoba for me. The first was the Mezquita which is both a mosque and a cathedral, yes all in one. Construction on the Mezquita began in 785 AD and was solely a mosque up until 1523 when the Spanish Reconquista added a Cathedral to this already magnificent structure. It's even more interesting when viewing the contrasts between the mosque and cathedral up close - not only were they built during different construction periods, but the general feel is very different in each.

Entrance to the Mezquita

Apparently these used to be on the ceilings - enlarge the picture to see how intriquitely they were decorated.

The parts that you see with the red/white arches is the Mosque

More of the Mosque

Stained glass shining on to the floor

Now entering the Cathedral, notice the differences

More Cathedral

This is by far the coolest part - where the Mosque meets the Cathedral

After lunch, we headed to our second highlight of the day which was the spa... of course :) If you know me, you know I love to spa!! We headed to Aire de Cordoba where we were welcomed to several Hammam baths in which to relax along with a short massage. Two hours of quiet (and for me this is a challenge when surrounded by friends) and relaxation. And the day isn't even over yet!!!!

Views around Cordoba

Again, loving how blue the sky looks against these buildings

Random guy on a horse

From the spa we had drinks on a fabulous rooftop bar before hopping back on to the train to head back to Sevilla. Our train didn't arrive til after 9, but this being Spain, we figured we'd drop our bags off at the hotel and then grab dinner. After all, in Barcelona, the restaurants don't even open for the night until around 9! Well, apparently Barcelona is unique in more ways than we realized. 

We stopped to check out the views from this amazing work of art that was also a viewing point where you could overlook all of Sevilla, the Metropol Parasol. This meant that we didn't even leave our hotel til almost 11 to look for dinner. Weren't we surprised to see just about everything closed. We walked for about 30 minutes before we finally found a pizza place, yes pizza again...beggars can't be choosers. And because they were just about to close, we had to take them to go. So here we are, three grown women walking along the streets of Sevilla absolutely starving and therefore eating our pizza straight from the box as we walked. At close to midnight, I'm sure we looked like absolute stoners getting our fix. I only wish I had a picture.

Our final attempt that evening was to hit a bar so we could at least be out after midnight. But alas, those surprisingly were also closed. Mid week, off season...who knows. Regardless, we ended up having to hit up our hotel room mini bar and be satisfied with playing Go Fish (which we called "Va Pescado" in an attempt to at least play it all in Spanish). Sad but yet hysterically funny!

Our third and final day had us staying in Sevilla for the day. We made a trip to the Alcazar which is a royal palace (still being used by the royal family as their official Sevilla residence) that was originally built as a Moorish fort in the early 900s, making it over 1000 years old. Impressive to say the least. And the structure absolutely did impress us...and of course this is also where my camera ran out of battery.

We walked by the Cathedral on the way to the Alcazar



Entering the Alcazar

Courtyard upon entering the Alcazar

This table sparked conversation about my work with Ona Zee...for those that don't know the story, ask me sometime though it's not for the weak of heart ;)...

Old old map (couldn't find a date) that showed Spain and the Balearic Islands

Gorgeous bench

We also made a visit to the Cathedral. Now after seeing way too many churches and cathedrals over the last 2 years, it takes a lot to impress me. The building itself was just ok as far as I'm concerned. That's not to say it's not impressive or amazing...just another dark looking church. However, what was very cool is that we were able to go all the way up to the bell towers, albeit there was no elevator and it was a 35 floor climb - and I'm supposed to be resting my leg (which I didn't do at all on this trip which would explain the limping after just day 1 of walking). But it was worth it. And even more so when the bells went off at noon and there we were just below them. 

View from about halfway up the tower

Bell Tower

View from the top
The other really cool part of this Cathedral is that this is supposedly where the remains of Christopher Columbus are laid to rest. I mean, really how cool is that? Apparently they cannot officially prove using DNA that it is him but they are able to carbon date the remains and they do match up to his time. So even if they aren't him, they are still incredibly old. A piece of history that I never would have anticipated seeing which made the trip only better.

Crypt of Christopher Columbus.... so cool! 

We wandered around Sevilla for the rest of our time before having to head to the airport.  Our flight was delayed which was frustrating but in no way took away from the most amazing girls trip ever.  I'm so incredibly lucky to have such amazing friends here to do things like this with and this trip went above and beyond any others in so many ways.  I got back around midnight on Thursday only to get up early to head to parent/teacher conferences and then to the airport to pick up my cousin Meghan (blog entry coming next....) for her visit with us! 

Torro de Oro

Plaza de España

Plaza de España

One of the 48 alcoves representing the provinces of Spain...this one for Barcelona

Next girls trip... Glasgow, Scotland...stay tuned....


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