Happy Monday! I'm back with the 2nd part of my Spain recap!
After 3 nights in Seville, we took a bus to our next stop - Ronda! Ronda is a charming, white-walled city that is surrounded by mountains. It's a small city so there is not a lot to do within the city but it would be a great home-base for some hiking. We only had one night there so didn't get a chance to hike, but we still had a great time in Ronda.
The leaves were changing colors in Ronda so we got to experience another round of fall!
The central area of Ronda is located on a plateau that drops off into a valley, which makes it such a picturesque place!
We were able to walk down a path to get a view of the city from the valley. The cream building at the top of the plateau is the hotel we stayed in. This was our only hotel stay during the trip, aside from the airport hotel we stayed in before flying out. Airbnb accommodations in Spain are a bit more basic and, well, very old, so we relished that one night in a hotel with as much hot water as we wanted to use! (Homes in Spain typically have a hot water tank above the shower which holds an efficient shower's worth of hot water!).
Our next stop after Ronda was Granada. We thought we were taking a train there, but we took a train for half of the way and then they had us get on a bus for the last 45 minutes or so. Not sure why that was necessary but due to the language barrier, we couldn't really ask questions!
The biggest attraction in Granada was the Alhambra, which is a palace that was constructed by the Moorish people. It's a UNESCO world heritage site and is incredibly beautiful. You have to book your tickets 2-3 months in advance because all 6,000+ tickets sell out every day, even during the off season!
We stayed in the Albaicin are of Granada, which is the Muslim quarter of the city. The location was great as it was very central. We were able to walk to the Alhambra on a gorgeous, tree-lined road.
The architectural details and intricacies of the Alhambra are hard to absorb in one day. There's just so much beauty.
My favorite part of the Alhambra was the indoor parts. There was so much detail to the carvings and I loved the use of the bright tile work.
We spent about 2-3 hours touring the Alhambra. In addition to the buildings, there is also a large garden to check out.
We actually had a view of the Alhambra from our airbnb apartment - it's the structure at the top of the tree-covered hill.
Another "must see/do" attraction to take in while in southern Spain is Flamenco. When Phil studied abroad in Seville, he went to countless Flamenco shows as he went anytime he had friends or family visiting. When he would talk about Flamenco, he would say "THE PASSION" in a dramatic/sarcastic voice. Flamenco is such a dramatic art form, I found myself giggling to myself during the show when thinking about Phil watching show after show after show because Phil is so low key and not into big shows of emotion... My friend and I kept whispering "THE PASSION" to each other during the show and that's exactly what I texted Phil after we got out of the show.
On our last day in Granada, we took a walk/hike to a lookout area. The pictures don't do it justice, but it was a gorgeous way to see Granada. Granada is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountain range which makes the city especially beautiful.
On the way down, we walked by some of the "gypsy caves" that Granada is known for. The homes are sort of carved into the hill. It's definitely a poorer area of the city but interesting to see how others live.
We then flew back to Madrid, spent the night in an airport hotel, and flew back home.
While Amber and I both loved the areas we saw, we both left feeling like we probably didn't need to come back. That's not to say that it's not a beautiful and wonderful area to visit, it just didn't capture my heart the way that Paris has (but could anything compare to Paris???). We had a pretty hectic itinerary since we stayed in 3 different cities, but I don't think I would do it differently if I could plan the trip again as none of the cities really had enough to do to keep us entertained for a full week. Plus it was great to see so much of Southern Spain.
It was an incredibly inexpensive vacation, though, which is a huge plus, especially with the holidays approaching (ahem, and a wedding to pay for in 2017!). I would advise others to consider staying in a hotel versus renting airbnb's, though. Staying in airbnb's definitely cut down on the price of the trip as we paid around $75/night, I think But the hot water situation was a big con for us. I know that sounds very spoiled and American for me to say that, but I didn't like having to rush through a shower each day and we had to plan our showers about an hour apart so there would be time for the water to warm up again for the 2nd shower.
All in all, though, it was a wonderful trip and I had a great time and am soooo grateful my friend Amber was there to navigate because the winding road systems were so confusing for me!