Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A weekend in Granada, Sevilla, and Cordoba: long bus rides and climbing to tower tops

This past weekend, Meg, Christina, and I took a trip to three cities in Andalucía, Spain.  Those cities were Granada, Sevilla, and Cordoba.  Our journey started at 12am on Friday morning when we left Valencia for an eight hour bus ride to Granada.  I'm not really one for bus rides, especially because I cannot sleep when I am traveling.  The ride wasn't too bad but I was worried that we would make our tour on time.  When we originally went to buy the tickets online to the Alhambra, which is "the thing to see" in Granada, they were sold out, so we had to pay three times the price for a private tour to be assured that we would get in.  The tour was to begin at 9am and we were cutting it close, but I text messaged the tour guide and we were golden.  
The Alhambra is a fortress/castle on the top of a hill in Granada.  It traces back to the 9th century.  In the 13th century it was converted into a royal palace for Mohammed I, an Arab ruler.  When the catholic monarchs, Fernando and Isabel, took over Spain and the Spanish Inquisition began, the fortress was peacefully handed over to them at the end of the 15th century.  During the rule of Carlos V, he had a palace built atop the hill in the fortress also.  

Generalife - Alhambra gardens

 Palace of Carlos V

Nasrid Dynasty Palace

Patio of the Lions - courtyard in Nasrid palace

View from atop Torre de la Vela

After our tour ended at the Alhambra we started going down the mountain and had lunch on a bench on the way down, sitting in nature.  Then we continued all the way down where we encountered lots of tourist shops and narrow streets that were really cool.  (Nothing you could see in the United States!)

Granada Cathedral 

I found my night in shining armor.

After wandering the streets of Granada, that same day we got back on the bus for about a two hour bus ride to Sevilla.  By the time we got to Sevilla and found our hostel (after about 10 minutes of wandering and asking someone who works at a bar & then another hostel) we were able to sleep after a long day of traveling and exploring. 
The next morning we woke up to go out and explore the city of Sevilla.  We started with a "free" walking tour that we found out about at the hostel.  On this tour we saw many of the main sights within the city.  

Sevilla Cathedral
This cathedral was once a mosque for the Muslims who lived in the city before the Catholic rule of Spain.  It is the largest Gothic cathedral and third-largest church in the world.  The tower is known as 'Giralda' and was the old minaret converted into a bell tower.  It also took 500 years to build!

Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold)

Plaza de España 
A scene in Star Wars was filmed here and it was built for the Exposition of 1929.  It is shaped like a horse shoe and it was built this, with the opening facing the west as an apology to America for conquering them.  

Around the inside wall there is a representation of every province of Spain, and since we study in Valencia, we got a picture at that one. 

Upon entering the cathedral, there were an abundance of altars throughout the who thing.  Also, there is the altar made of gold.  (Yes! The whole thing is pure gold.)  There is also a tomb of Christopher Columbus.  

We were also allowed to climb the Giralda, which is about 34 floors.  But don't worry, the whole tower is a ramp.  This is because Sevilla gets really hot in the summer and a person had to climb the tower 5 times a day to call the Muslims to prayer, so he rode a donkey to the top.  
The view from the top is stunning and in this first picture you can see the bull ring.   

Puente de Isabel II - crosses the Guadalquivir

 Metropol Parasol
Claims to be the largest self-supporting wooden structure in the world.

That same night we also remained in Sevilla in the same hostel.  In our room that night there were a group of Spanish girls who were fun to chat with.  
The next morning we got up and took a morning bus to Cordoba.  The ride was fairly short again.  When we arrived we walked into the historic center of the city to explore around for a bit.  The main attraction, the Mezquita, was closed for mass until 3:30.  We found an old roman bridge, went to the Alcazar (palace), and grabbed some lunch at a cafe.  

Old Roman Bridge (1st century B.C.)


View of city from atop a tower in Alcazar

Alley of Flowers

The Mezquita is yet another mosque-converted-cathedral.  It is hard to believe that these two pictures are from inside the same place.  There still remains a lot of Arabic architecture/art/writing on the walls, but the inside also contains many Roman Catholic altars on the sides, and the large altar in the middle. 

The weekend was very long and filled with lots of sight-seeing but I really enjoyed it.  The festivals of Las Fallas are starting to begin here in Valencia, so I am really looking forward to that.  
I have also started giving English lessons to a little girl that is six years old.  I have only given one lesson so far but I really enjoy it and I think that it will be a good resume-builder.  


  1. Melanie, I am in awe of all the wonderful sights you are seeing and I love that you are so adventurous. All of this is great background for you when you begin teaching. Not only will you have the speaking ability but also will know about the country. Your students will love it.
    Also, thrilled that you are tutoring. A great intro into teaching and as you said, looks great on a resume.
    You look wonderful, healthy, and happy. Keep up the good work. Learn all you can about the culture, food, and the people. All of this makes for interesting classes when you teach.

  2. Nice & cool pics. I hope you are enjoying yourself