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Spain

Stop 32 - Seville Part Two


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During our time in Seville we had lots of visitors which was great not only because we got to reunite with family and friends, but also meant we did plenty of sightseeing and didn't get too lazy from our long tapas lunches.

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One of the most impressive sights in the city was the old bullring, the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Seville. It is pretty big with a capacity of 12,000 and is massively impressive. The ring still hosts a full season of fights every year, but luckily the season was over by the time we were there... Although as a historic attraction the bullring is interesting and bullfighting has played a key part of Andalucian culture throughout history, we found it pretty weird that it's still going on today.

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Another of our favourite attractions was going up 'las setas' (mushrooms) or more officially known as The Metropol Parasol. It's a huge wooden structure (the largest in the world) that looks like a big giant mushroom umbrella. The views of the city from the top are beautiful at any time of day; we saw it in the light, sunset and dark!

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We also found plenty more time to wonder the streets, find interesting buildings and notice that some of the oranges on the hundreds of orange trees had started to ripen!

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When Chlo's family were staying we really wanted them to see some of the beautiful Andalucian countryside as well as the city, so we took a day trip to Olvera, the town at the start of a famous cycle path. This cycle/walking path is just one of a network of paths called Via Verdes which were supposed to be railways connecting rural towns. However due to war and money a lot of the railways didn't ever materialise (including this one) and many years later were instead turned into off road rural paths to be enjoyed by the public. We cycled 21km along the path to a nice cafe/tapas bar, and then 21km back again! There were lots of tunnels and an impressive viaduct along the way, as well as a vulture nesting area which was pretty cool to see!

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During our last few days in Seville we took a day trip out to a nearby city called Ronda, which is well known for its spectacular bridge over its spectacular gorge linking the old and new parts of the city together. Ernest Hemingway was also a frequent visitor here! On the way back we stopped at a small town called Setenil which has utilised the rock face as part of its architecture... Some of the streets even had a rock roof giving them a slightly eerie cave like feel!

Posted by Chloemillen92 15:04 Archived in Spain Tagged alcazar seville spain cycling sevilla andalucia olvera ronda day_trip las_setas via_verde metropol_parasol setenil Comments (0)

Stop 32 - Seville Part One


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After two great weeks at the WorkAway we took (a rather long route) to Sevilla. The bus from La Linea, a town near Gibraltar where our host dropped us off en route to work, was quite pricey at €24 each but the coastal drive with views over to Morocco were pretty spectacular. We arrived into our AirBnB late afternoon, were met by one of the nicest hosts we've ever had, and immediately felt that we were going to enjoy this city. Four hours of each morning were spent at the Giralda language school which we would 100% recommend. Our teacher was super friendly; enthusiastically and patiently teaching us beginners' Spanish despite us not even knowing the English words for basic grammar rules (we had genuinely never heard of conjugation, past preterite tense or direct object pronouns..). The afternoons were spent wondering the city taking in the sights, finding secret corners and eating an unreasonable amount of tapas.

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Seville's beautiful river, which is actually a very large canal, is a great place for an evening stroll. The dodecagonal tower in the photo is the Torre del Oro which was build by the Alhomads in the 13th century as a watch tower to keep a very close eye on who was accessing Seville via the river.

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It is very easy to get lost in the streets of Seville but very hard to get bored. There are beautiful buildings everywhere you look and the narrow cobbled alleys are tangled around dozens of hidden squares. The streets and the buildings of the old city don't get a lot of sunlight as they are built tall and narrow to provide constant shade. In the UK, lack of daylight coming through the windows of a flat or house can be seen as negative thing whereas here, in the summer months especially, it is a highly desirable feature which does a good job of keeping things a bit cooler inside!

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Churches are another of Seville's strong points. It is home to the largest gothic cathedral in the world which features the tomb of Christopher Columbus, where his remains probably lie, although there is a chance some of him may also be in a box in the Dominican Republic; historians seem unable to decide. The cathedral once used to be a mosque and the minaret was adapted into the current bell tower rather than destroyed. We climbed up the 35 ramps (in the place of stairs so that the muezzin could ascend on a donkey in order to recite the call to prayer in the time of the Moors) to get a spectacular view of the city. Besides this famous monument, there are several churches and monasteries in each neighbourhood. All of the ones we visited were very pretty inside and in some of the monasteries you can buy yummy jam and sweets made by nuns!

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Plaza de España is another of the city's impressive sights. A huge square square (although not exactly square shaped) with a big fountain, canals and a LOT of amazing Andalucian hand painted tiles covering the walls and buildings around the edge. It was built for the 1929 Ibero-American exposition. All of the countries involved had a building erected in Seville (lots of them are very attractive and can be seen as you walk around the city) and this was Spain's extravagant offering as the host country.

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There are loads of easy day trips to make from the city; while Mike's brother was visiting we hired a car for the day and drove down to Cadiz, one of the contenders for Europe's oldest city. It's a beautiful, small city on the coast with impressive sea walls to walk along, a beautiful cathedral, lots more tapas and some great beaches.

Posted by Chloemillen92 05:56 Archived in Spain Tagged alcazar seville spain cathedral andalusia tiles flamenco tapas triana las_setas Comments (0)

Stop 31 - Benalup de Casas Vejas


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After a great few days in Jerez we boarded a bus which dropped us off on the side of the road, at the junction of two dual carriageways. We were heading to a WorkAway on a rural Andalucian finca and for some reason hadn't thought to get the number of our host who was expecting us to arrive into a town some 8 kilometers away. After dragging our bags along the hard-shoulder for about 20 minutes, trying and failing to order a taxi and finally managing to make contact with our (very nice) host, we arrived at our home for the next two weeks. We ate some delicious food she had prepared and went to sleep in our little one bed cottage to the sound of horses clip-clopping about in the field

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It had been dark when we arrived, but the sunny morning allowed us to see how pretty it was and our host showed us around, giving us a list of tasks to start on. We met the five horses, three dogs and singular goose, all of which were very friendly. We spent the next couple of weeks feeding the animals, walking the dogs, doing bits of gardening and general tidying up of the finca. There was also plenty of time to enjoy the huge pool, our own proper kitchen for the first time in almost five months, and a comfy sofa and DVD selection.

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Our little "casita" was very cosy.

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The finca was pretty rural, an hours walk from the closest village of Benalup and the landscape was beautiful and dramatic, although very dry from four months without rain!

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We went on several day trips; one to a seaside town called Conil, one inland to typical whitewashed Andalucian town called Medina Sidonia and one to the famous, and really quite strange, city of Gibraltar. All were very interesting and gave us a desire to return to this part of Spain for holidays forever more. The apes of Gibraltar were a highlight, as was swimming in the refreshing Atlantic Ocean and eating seafood tapas on the beautiful beach of Conil.

Posted by Chloemillen92 10:18 Archived in Spain Tagged horses spain dogs swimming andalusia gibraltar goose workaway finca gardening casita berber_apes conil medina_sidonia Comments (1)

Stop 30 - Jerez


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After a 11.5 hour train from Barcelona to Seville and a 1 hour commuter train to Jerez, we arrived pretty late and retired into our cute little studio apartment in the centre of town. That evening we pretty much headed straight to bed ready for a day of exploring the home of sherry.

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The narrow winding streets were great for aimless wondering and provided plenty of opportunity to gather design inspiration thanks to the numerous decorative tiles and interesting windows/balconies. There were also several attractive squares packed full of cafes and tabancos (old sherry shops which also have space for sitting and drinking the products with some tapas). We also managed to catch some flamenco in one of the tabancos and quickly realised that Spanish people have a lot more rhythm than we do.

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The city has lots of impressive historical buildings including the huge cathedral.

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We also paid a visit to the city's Alcazar which was originally built in the 11th century, before being expanded by the Alhomad Berbers and later the Christians after the Reconquista. There is still a beautiful mosque-turned-church and some atmospheric Arabic baths.

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It also happened to be someone's 25th birthday!

Posted by Chloemillen92 13:05 Archived in Spain Tagged alcazar cerveza cathedral wine andalusia jerez flamenco tapas sherry Comments (0)

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