Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tapas and Shopping in Spain

Eating in Spain is all about the Tapas experience--little portions

of food that just keep coming out for the table until everyone is more than satisfied.

Tis true that some of the items like these small fish might have been a new experience for our group, but they were actually tasty.

Here are some tapas that we enjoyed in Seville that were big winners.

Wouldn't be a trip to Spain without some paella,

and beautiful courtyard dining, 

with a little celebrating thrown in.

No matter where we roam, there's always shopping to be found,

and Spain was no exception. Fans for all occasions, both simple

and grand,

with a little bling and lace thrown in for fun.

Imagine wearing your hair worn up with one of these combs,

or accessorizing with these?

Beautiful Spanish tiles, both new and old

as well as pottery are very tempting.

Does your favorite matador need a new suit,

to go with your own party dress?

And of course, we can't leave out the little ones,

who dream of dressing like the big girls,

from head to toe.

So of course, at the end of the day, I came home with a flamenco dress for my favorite little dancer.

Now, I might need to go back for those matching shoes!!


Friday, May 24, 2013

And This is Why I Love Andalusia, Spain

Crossing the Roman bridge across the Gualalquivir River, our travel group approached

the next stop on our itinerary, the bustling town of Córdoba, which some estimate was one of the most populated cities in the world during the 10th century under Islamic rule, as well as one of the most intellectual.

We drew nearer to the Great Mosque, the cultural highlight of the town, which today might be more correctly referred to as the Cathedral.

You see a mosque was built on this site, starting about 784, with a beautiful prayer hall of double columns made of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite.

The interiors are stunning

with lavish carvings of marble, stucco and elaborate mosaics.

However, when Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand of Castle in 1236, he consecrated the mosque as the city's Christian cathedral, and instead of building a new structure,

a Gothic chapel was erected in the middle of the mosque, leaving a very interesting juxtaposition of styles.

Leaving the Great Mosque, we wandered the cobbled and whitewashed streets of the town,

and peeked into secret patios which had been ornamented with flowers for the Festival de Los Patios.

We found this lovely patio for lunch,

and promptly settled in for a relaxing meal.

Our final day we explored the "jewel" of our trip, the picturesque town of Ronda 

with its bullfighting ring, the Plaza de Toros, the oldest bullring in Spain which hosted its first fight in 1785.

We took time to tour the Church of the Virgin Mary with gorgeous interiors,

as well as took time to smell the flowers of the beautiful spring day that graced us. Such a difference from the grey, chilly London weather we had left behind.

The beauty of the town is in its dramatic views of the Ronda mountains,

and the canyon views sitting at its feet.

The Puente Nuevo, at a height of 390' which is the height of a 30 story building, was finished in 1793. 

It straddles a deep gorge

and offers breathtaking views on each side. Not for the faint of heart, to be sure.

We spent our final hours of this trip in this idyllic spot, having lunch overlooking the vista

and celebrating the new memories we had created on our latest trip.

What do London gals eat and shop for in the south of Spain? Makes for a fun blog--coming up next. Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Impressions of Seville

Day 2 of The Great Spain Adventure found us in the capital city of Andalusia--Seville, home of fiestas, flamenco and bullfighting.

The stunning and colorful Baroque architecture presented us with a stellar first impression,

and although we could have spent the day just walking the narrow streets of the town, 

there were major historical monuments to see, starting with the exceptional Seville Cathedral.
Built in the 15th century on the former site of a mosque from the 12th century,

the interior is breathtaking. The former minaret of the mosque was converted into the current bell tower.

Inside, we paid our respects at the final resting place of the remains of Christoper Columbus, realizing that he is not only a hero for the Americas, but a local hero as well.

Then it was on to the Alcázar, the Royal Palace, built by Pedro I the Cruel in the 14th century, on the site of a previous Moorish palace. Entering through the Lion's Gate,

we toured a myriad of embellished rooms and courtyards

which are a blend of Moorish and Christian style. In one of the rooms, plans for Columbus's voyages were planned.

Today, it is the official residence of the King and Queen when they visit.

Just as beautiful as the interiors, are the gardens which await just outside.

A blend of Moorish, Renaissance and even English style

combine to make a gorgeous retreat for painting,

for strolling

and for a slice of tranquility in the middle of a bustling city.

We enjoyed our lunch of tapas sitting on a local square,

then went on the setting of the 1929 World's Fair. First stopping at the Plaza de América to see the buildings designed by González,

and having a little fun at the square there where white doves congregate, hoping to be fed by tourists like us.

At first, Holly was willing to play along and extended her arms to see what would happen,

but in due time, regretted that decision as the doves became 

a little too familiar for comfort.

As much as we enjoyed the Plaza de América, we were blown away by the beauty of the Plaza de España with its diverse styles, ornamentation,

and lavish decorations of the traditional glazed tiles.

So beautiful!

Found out later that some of the new Star War episodes were recently filmed here, but I'm very curious how they were incorporated into a futuristic storyline.

Anyone remember this spot??

Photo courtesy of Jill Alexander

And finally, our day would not have been complete, without an evening flamenco show, since Seville has been the major center of the development of flamenco.

A passionate performance set to the tunes of a haunting Spanish guitarist and singer--it was an experience that I doubt nothing ever again will be able to parallel.

More adventures to come, more sights in Spain to see, and don't miss the shopping and eating post that will come someday soon....