Monday, December 19, 2016

Spain Trip: Part 2

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.

Final Thoughts

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!


Gracie said...

Oh, my goodness, some of those views are incredible. How beautiful! Alhambra is supposed to be such an experience: a unique type of late moorish architecture unlike other examples of Muslin art.
Your experience with Flamenco reminds me of so many travel experiences: When you know you are "supposed" to do something, but deep down you know it won't really interest you! But it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so you do it anyway. I would usually rather err on the safe side: Do the activity, rather than regret missing it later.

Abby said...

Absolutely beautiful photos! Another part of the world you can check off your list! I cannot see Phil doing the Flamenco shows regularly either lol!!! That is crazy about the hot water situation. We are so lucky.

Carolina John said...

Beautiful! Such a fun trip. I'm glad you got to see so much of the countryside! Looks like a really good time.

San said...

I've been to Granada and thought the Alhambra was impressive! I am sorry about the hot water situation... that would have bothered me too ;)

J and A said...

Stunning!! What incredible views! You guys were busy!

Stephany said...

Haha, the hot water situation would have bugged me, too! Man, I need a nice hot shower in the morning. #spoiledAmerican

These views are INCREDIBLE and I'm so glad you got a chance to visit!

(Also, the anecdote of Phil and "THE PASSION" made me giggle. I think I would appreciate his humor so much if we ever met in person!)

Charbelle said...

LOL!!! You know me, so you know the whole shower thing would never in a million years be something I would voluntarily do! I was talking to Michael about your trip Saturday at lunch because we were talking about all the places we would like to go. I explained how you fit everything in a backpack. He knows that just for a shower and change of clothes at his house I bring an entire duffel, and I'm not spending the night... that is literally just for one shower and change of clothes. I pulled up IG to show him your pictures. I might could pack everything in a backpack, maybe... but we would have to stay in hotels b/c I would not be able to do the showers! I'm so glad it was such a wonderful experience! You might not have to go back but you are able to say that you've been! I giggled over THE PASSION :)

Marlys said...

I am so happy I can travel vicariously around the world with you as I know I won't get to these places. What a joy it has been! And I don't think I would handle not having a hot shower at my fingertips, either! I laughed when I pictured Phil at the Flamenco productions - must have been tortuous! Thanks for sharing your travels with us!

Jeanie said...

These are really good tips, Lisa and I appreciate your honesty about how you weren't as captivated as you were with Paris. (Which doesn't surprise me but...!) But what you saw was indeed beautiful, especially the Alhambara. I would have loved to see that. It sounds like a good time -- maybe too short, and yet just right, if that makes sense!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

Hahaha, "The Passion" :-) Spain looks SO beautiful! The hot water situation would be frustrating for sure.

Amber said...

That is so crazy about the hot water situation there! I had no idea. Good tip!

I think it's still a great vacation even if you visit someplace and don't think you'll ever go back - you've still seen a new place in the world and had a chance to experience something new, which is a huge plus in my books! So far we have said "oh we'd love to go back here" to most of the places we've visited but we have sooo many places on our travel list that we have not done any repeat vacations yet! Still lots of time left to travel though :)