City Exploring: Seville

Seville was a chaotic mess during the Easter festivals of Semana Santa--streets were blocked off making it practically impossible to get anywhere efficiently and parking was a disaster, but we fell in love with the city anyhow. 

Seville is a vibrant city, home to the worlds largest Gothic Cathedral, beautiful Moorish architecture, friendly green spaces and hello, TAPAS! Two days are enough to hit the highlights, but honestly, I wish we would have spent more time there. We hit all the major sites, but we didn't relax and Seville is a city begging to be enjoyed slowly. 

Seville is easily served by trains and once in the city, foot travel is the best way to get around. If you come into town with a car, as we did, parking is a bear so expect to leave your car parked during your stay, there won't be a need for it. 
Before visiting any sites, we like to take a walk around the city, to sort of get the lay of the land. We almost always follow a Rick Steves' walking tour and then prioritize what we'd like to go back to see. Since it was the busiest time to be in Spain, we encountered long lines just about every where and some of the short cuts to bypass those lines are not in practice during Semana Santa, so be prepared to wait.  
Also, Spaniards eat dinner late, like anywhere between 9-10pm is acceptable. We found that hitting the dinner scene around 8:30 usually meant we were able to snag a table without a reservation. Just as the crowds were coming in, we'd be paying our bill. I have one dinner recommendation; El Traga. This tapas restaurant is well reviewed on Trip Advisor with 4.5 stars and we concur--it was the best meal we had in Seville. The ingredients were fresh, the olives, the cheese, the pork lomo and other dishes--all delicious! 

Linking with...Randomosity * Life Thru the Lens * Thru My Lens * Our World Tuesday * Wednesdays Around the World * Imagine-in-ing 

Silent Sunday

Malaga, Spain
Linking with...Photalife * Seasons

Weekend Reflections

Linking with...Weekend Reflections

Easter Pagent: Cordoba

We hit Easter pageants in every city we visited while in Spain this year. In many respects, if you've seen one, you've seen them all. There is an order to the procession and it repeats itself in just about every parade. The differences of robe color is simply a function of the parish or order of Catholicism.

The real difference was in the children. In the smaller towns children played a larger role. Parents walked with them, feeding them snacks, (parades can last several hours to all night long), giving them water and fanning them in the hot sun. Little kids lined the streets waiting patiently for drips of candle wax for their procession balls. While I am not Catholic, I loved watching the children engage in something ritually important.

The photos below were taken in Cordoba during a parade that began at dusk. As the sun set it became harder to capture good shots, but I hope you will enjoy them just the same.

Linking with...Wednesdays Around the World * Image-in-ing

Dinner and a Show: Flamenco in Cordoba

When you travel to Spain the one cultural recommendation to see is Flamenco. There are loads of options ranging from expensive dinner shows to mediocre tourist performances. To be truthful, I really didn't know what to look for, I just knew I wanted to see one and since our 11 year old daughter was with us, it couldn't last all night long.  

If you walk around any city in Spain long enough, you will be handed flier or see a billboard advertising flamenco which is exactly what happened to us. We walked past a billboard and decided, pretty much on the spot, with no researching, that we would kill two birds with one stone and go for the dinner/show option.  

We arrived for dinner at Tablao Flameco Cardenal about an hour before the show began. Dinner wasn't anything spectacular, a variety of tapas really, but the! I am not a fan of flamenco singing, but the dancing was fantastic! The speed with which these dancers move their feet is incredible. The whole team, dancers, singer and guitarist worked together in a rhythmic fashion so impressive and inspiring they had the crowd standing by the end.  

Technically, you're not supposed to photograph the dancers (which is why the photos are so poor), so I waited until they struck a pose before clicking. If you find yourself in Spain, do not miss taking in a flamenco show and if you are in Cordoba, check out Tablao Flamenco Cardenal--come to find out, they are #1 on Trip Advisor. 

Cordoba: City Exploring

Settled during Roman times and a regional capital for the Moors, Cordoba is a delightful town with a few key sites including the Alcazar and Mezquita, a 1000 year old mosque, turned Catholic church. We spent two days here which was plenty of time to take in the sites, see a Flamenco show, stroll the streets and enjoy a few parades. For a hidden gem, walk the back alleyways where we found beautiful gardens and very proud owners willing to share their knowledge. 
The Rick Steves' guide book didn't give the Alcazar a high review, but I quite enjoyed it. It is not as grand as the one in Seville, but the gardens were beautiful and the mosaic room is incredible. Massive room size mosaics were recovered during excavation of the Roman levels of the complex. They've been restored and hang horizontally in the Alcazar. For ticketing information, click here.
The Mezquita, now a Catholic church was originally a mosque and its Islamic flavor has been retained over the years. Tall archways span a vast inner hallway. The columns and capitals are recycled Roman ruins and the Mihrab is an ornately carved and bejeweled room in the back of the mosque where an Imam would have read from the Koran before leading the men in prayer.

The church/mosque is an interesting juxtaposition of decorative styles, belief systems, ideas of what makes a house of God and how one honors Him there. Click here for ticketing information and hours.

This bell tower is built over a minaret which belted out the call to prayer during Moorish rule.

Linking with...Randomosity * Life Thru the Lens * Thru My Lens * Our World Tuesday * Wednesdays Around the World * Imagine-in-ing 

Silent Sunday

Grounds of the Zwinger Museum in Dresden, Germany
Linking with Photalife * Scenic Weekends * Seasons