Immersion

Mallorca, Spain

If you told me where I’d be now and who I’d be with way back in January, I’d… I don’t know!  But if you asked me in April – well, look at the end of my last entry in my South America blog for a quick hint.

This is certainly not what I was expecting eight months ago, but it’s the most apropos way for me to end this trip.

After ending my South American leg with Oscar and Silvia, it only seemed fitting to end my Europe leg with them again, after we split up in Ecuador to head around the world in opposite directions.  At their invitation, I spent 15 days at their home in beautiful Mallorca. Continue reading

Stay another day

Cádiz, Spain

It’s only an hour and a half away from Sevilla, but Cádiz feels like a different world away from Andalucía (which it’s still part of). It’s the old city in the whole of Western Europe as well! Situated on a peninsula that used to be an island, it used to be the gateway to the New World, and Christopher Columbus has sailed from here before (as he had also in Sevilla).

Yeah, so all this Spanish history rush finally comes during my very last city. A pity, I know. But not being so into history in the first place, I missed out on a lot in my other cities. I decided to join a walking tour here with my hostel, and learned quite a lot. Continue reading

Alhambra

Granada, Spain

Moving from Córdoba to Granada marks the gradual appearance of the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range that spans southwestern Spain. And despite the fact that it was 35ºC…the name says it all: sierra nevada means snowy range. There’s still snow on the nearby mountains!

But yes, the heat. Before we get to that… Continue reading

Feria

Córdoba, Spain

From Sevilla, I headed to Córdoba. The main sight to see is the Mesquita/Catedral – a space once used as a mosque, then converted to a cathedral. Now, I’ve become sick of seeing cathedrals in general and have resolved not to bother entering anymore if I have to pay, but the Mesquita is the one sight you must see in Córdoba.

And when I entered, I understood why. My jaw pretty much dropped. The ambience is unlike any other cathedral I’ve been in, let alone the architecture. Red peppermint-striped arches and pillars line the empty space – indeed, this part is like a mosque. In the center section, the altar and pews. The Mesquita was a lot darker than any of the other cathedrals I went into either, but with quite a bit of natural light as well. I spent some time walking around the edge, taking in the mix of Islamic tiling work and Christian religious paintings. They coexist as if the contrast isn’t even there. I ended up spending over an hour in the Mesquita! Continue reading

Pulse

Sevilla, Spain

I usually can tell if I like a city if I can feel its pulse. It’s such a vague and cheesy term, I know. But what I mean…if I can feel how a city works, how the locals live, and the spirit of a place, I feel its pulse. Usually that means I love the place.

The love affair has never been quicker than it has been in Sevilla.

After a 7 hour bus ride from cold and rainy Salamanca, the warm Sevilla weather was a very welcome change – and a heat wave from the past few days had just passed as well, leaving the weather quite comfortable. Getting in during the evening, I was pretty ready to do any sort of walking around, so I headed to the river to catch the sunset, passing a few landmarks on the way. Continue reading

Easter eggs

Salamanca, Spain

Having gotten little sleep in Madrid (good hostel, but everyone seemed eager to go out and return in the early hours of the morning), I was quite ready to leave. I resolved to head to Salamanca, but to stop in Segovia first if I woke up early enough to catch the bus – which I easily did, when some people in my dorm came back at 5 and snored so loud my earplugs didn’t help…

I had three hours in Segovia, which was more than enough for the pleasant but very small old city. The view is dominated by an enormous Roman-constructed aqueduct, a marvel to behold. Along with a pretty plaza, a castle on the edge, a nice view from the walls, and a museum visit about the geography of the area and its history as an industrial center for glass and wool, the visit was short and sweet. Continue reading

Dissent

Madrid, Spain

The six hour bus ride from Santander to Madrid was gorgeous, full of picturesque little villages set in front of mountains and valleys that zoomed by in a flash – I wish I had taken my camera out earlier. But then this happened.

A fellow passenger hopped on about halfway through the journey in Burgos. As I was chilling out to my music and enjoying the scenery, he tapped me on the shoulder, asked if I knew Madrid (I said no, and that I was just a traveller), then asked if he could join me – despite the bus being nearly empty. Continue reading