Last month, to celebrate Sarah's momentous milestone birthday, we travelled to deepest Spain by train. We left Salisbury at 4.15am on the Thursday (me, very tired and grumpy), up to St Pancras, on to Eurostar, Paris, Austerlitz, and finally to Toulouse 15 hours later! The train was so long that it took the buffet trolley 4 hours to get to us!
The next day we caught the 8.15am train to Narbonne then on to Madrid where we were handed earphones for the French film with Spanish subtitles. We were on the train so long that the film went round three times and I got the gist of what was happening without having to listen to it! We watched the landscape change from the flat and green of France to the dry, dusty and desert like vistas of Spain as we hurtled across the country at over 200 miles an hour.....
Madrid railway station was massive, with 'departures' and 'arrivals', more like an airport, and hundreds of people to get their luggage through the scanners - hectic!
12 hours after leaving Toulouse, we arrived in Seville. At this point I feel grimy and can't wait to shower and change clothes.
Seville Cathedral - The Giralda bell tower
Seville is gorgeous - grand, long wide streets and beautiful architecture. Ate tapas and had a huge beer at 'La Moderna at nearly midnight.
'La Moderna' - https://www.tripadvisor.es
Brought all the wrong clothes, sunny but freezing! Decided to get in early to see the Cathedral and climb the tower. It was very like Salisbury Cathedral inside but massive! It is the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world.
The view from the top
In the afternoon we visited the Alcazar. A M A Z I N G! I loved the Moorish architecture, the palm trees, the green parakeets, the fountains.... We didn't get to see all of it, it was so huge.
Inside the Alcazar
I was so exhausted when we got back to the hotel that I just sat on the bed and ate an enormous bag of crisps and a chocolate bar and promptly fell asleep.
Sunday - Warming up now - 18 degrees. Wandered to the Plaza de Espana - the most amazing place. Almost like a film set.
Plaza de Espana
Had a guided tour of the Bullring. Very interesting. The building is privately owned and 300 years old. It holds 13,000 people and a season ticket can range from €450 to thousands! It even has a hospital on site for any injuries! One spectator after suffering a heart attack was given a heart bypass at the bullring. Boys can be bull fighters from the age of 16 and they attend a special college.
Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza Bullring
Headed back along the river to have a cold lemonade and churros before getting back on the train again to Cordoba. (Cardys off now).
Churros - mmmmm....
Our hotel was an old convent and our room had a gigantic 700 year old door with massive key! I felt like Alice in Wonderland. Cordoba is much, much smaller than Seville. I liked the narrow streets - so tiny you can touch the walls either side. Very Moroccan in style.
The Mezquita was very dark and cold inside and very unusual having the Christian Cathedral in the middle and the mosque either side. I loved the arches, the lamps and the incense which added to the atmosphere.
Inside the Mezquita
View from the bell tower on to the lovely courtyard with orange trees
We then visited the Alcazar - lovely formal gardens, palm trees, shaped orange trees, lemon trees, topiary, fountains, flower beds - gorgeous. Feel tired from so much walking!
Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
View of the roman bridge
In the gardens of the Alcazar
Love the way they prune the orange trees
Flopped outside a restaurant (up a tiny side street) and saw an English couple that we had met at the bullring in Seville! After lunch we wandered around seeing various churches (sit down, ah....), the massive Plaza de La Corredera, Plaza St Nicolas church, San Miguel's church and the roman temple.
Later had tea, cake and lemonade at Viana's Palace where there are lots of courtyards.
One of the many courtyards
Quick whizz up the Minaret to see the views and then a horse and trap ride for Sarah's birthday! The chap who took us was really funny, he would stop every now and again and tell us what we were looking at in Spanish so we just kept saying 'Oh, OK!'. Then we had to stop so his mate could hop off and get his fags! He smoked the whole way around and reminded me of a Spanish Oliver Reed.
The horse is called Pinto.
Back on the train to Granada! Unfortunately, we only got half an hour on the train before having to change to a coach because of engineering works.
Waiting for the coach whilst enjoying views of the mountains
Granada is very big like Seville but noisier as Seville dosn't have the traffic. Found a lovely little bar/cafe called 'La Fontana' and had more tapas and sangria. Really cold as we were very close to the mountains.
'La Fontana' - www.tripadvisor.com.pe
On the way home we stumbled on a fab, tiny bar called 'Taberna Casa Enrique' established in 1870, where we enjoyed a couple of sherries.
'Taberna Casa Enrique' - http://www.guiatapear.com/
Thursday - Another sunny day? Yes!
Granada Cathedral - freezing cold and ditched the audio guide, can't get on with them.
Had a wander around Granada before getting the bus to the Alhambra.
The smell of all the dried spices and herbs was delicious
Alhambra Palace - OMG - it's massive!
Legs are killing me now....
I loved the gardens and getting out of the city. Lots of pretty bedding plants, irises, daffodils, palm trees, blue sky and snow capped mountains....
Palm tree with snow capped mountain in the distance - bliss
Ended our holiday with a lovely meal and sangria at La Riffena - a little place with outside heaters down a back street. It didn't look much but it was delicious and the Spanish girl and Cuban girl who served us were lovely. A great evening to end a fabulous Spanish adventure.
'La Riffena' - www.tripadvisor.es