A Travellerspoint blog

Coming home

This is one long day to get home. Up at 5 am, taxi to the train station at 6 am, train to Madrid at 7:15 am, taxi to the Madrid airport at 10:30 am, flight to JFK airport, through customs and that's where Franci and I parted ways. She flew to LA and I flew to Seattle. My flight got in at 9:35 pm. I am really glad to be home! What a fantastic trip!

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Last day

We met with our guide this morning at 9:00 am and walked around looking at plazas on our way to the Alcazar. This fortress/palace looks very Moorish but was built by Moors for Christians. The rooms and fountains were lovely but the gardens were really amazing. We just strolled along and enjoyed the tranquil beauty. We looked in Rick Steves book for a lunch recommendation and found one very close that turned out to be really good. As we sat outside. And enjoyed our lunch Nygil came by surprised to see us. Apparently this is where we are having our farewell dinner. No problem. The duck ravioli in cream sauce was so good we would gladly have it again. After lunch we walked back to the strange mushroom like structure they call the Parasol. I wanted to see it in the daytime. Franci navigated us through a maze of narrow streets until we got there. In the bottom there was an archeological site of Roman ruins. We went back up and got great views of the city. On the way back we had, of course, to stop for ice cream. So good! Back to the hotel to rest and get ready of our dinner. We met in the lobby at 7:00 pm and followed Nygil for his surprise for us. There were horse drawn carriages for all of us. Nygil also gave each carriage a bottle of cava (Spanish champagne) and glasses. It was prefect weather and we had a blast going around Sevilla by carriage. The ride took us to a beautiful park and where there were lovely old buildings built in 1929 for a World Exposition. We went right by the cathedral and were dropped right by the restaurant. It was really a fun ride! Dinner was very good, salad, ox tail croquettes, the duck ravioli. At this point with lots of wine we were ready for dessert. But they brought out pork medallions. We all kind of groaned. Fortunately they were dry and easy to leave on the plate. Then came dessert! A chocolate brownie with sauce. Groan! Fortunately I don't care for chocolate desserts so I could leave that too. Nygil passed out the prizes for the winners of the end of trip. We were 4th and ended up with a bottle of beer. Franci will take that home. We all were given packets of paprika and a CD made by Nygil of good Spanish music. Nygil invited all to go get ice cream but half of us declined. We were so full! So we said our good byes all around and went to our room. We really had a wonderful group of people. Not a dud in the bunch. I collected all the emails and will send out a group email so we can forward pictures and keep in touch. I guess every year Rick Steves has the test drive the guide day in January and there are reunions at that time. There were three couples from Washington state that might make it.

The Alcazar in Sevilla

The Alcazar in Sevilla


The Alcazar in Sevilla

The Alcazar in Sevilla


The gardens of the Alcazar

The gardens of the Alcazar


Another church

Another church


Our carriage ride in Seville

Our carriage ride in Seville


Carriage ride

Carriage ride


Farewell dinner

Farewell dinner

Posted by adventuregirl88 16:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Seville

Travel day to Sevilla. Nygil went with me to the famacia to get drugs for my cold and then we headed for Sevilla. On the way Nygil had a quiz for us and Franci and I came in 5th so we get a prize. He will hand them out tomorrow night. We met our local guide at the Basilica de la Macarena. La Macarena is the "weeping virgin". Sculpted in the late 17th century she has 5 crystal tear drops on her cheek. During Holy Week the have big parades were they bring her out and other over the top floats which are all carried through town. It's a very big thing here. The church is not very old but it is spectacular inside. In the museum we saw a few of the floats. Covered in gold and silver. We got back on the bus and were dropped off with our luggage about a 10 minute walk from our hotel in the old city. The streets are so narrow no bus could get through. We dropped our luggage in our room and we on a walking tour to the cathedral. This is the biggest cathedral in Spain. It was built on top of a mosque. The bell tower had been the minaret. The cathedral is huge and glorious but it is one of those built with the choir in the middle so you don't have much of a view of the altar. The altar is under repair so it didn't look like much anyway. After the tour ended we had free time so most of us walked up to the top of the bell tower for some great views. I wasn't feeling well but I walked up anyway. It was worth it. Then we went back to the hotel and I took a nap. Later Franci and I walked around and stopped for some caracoles or snails. They are a favorite of the area. They are not the big escargot but little. Very good but salty. Then we headed for the ice cream place that Nygil recommended. I had mango and a scoop of goat cheese. Really good! Back to the hotel for a short rest and then met in the lobby to go to a flamenco dancing show. Nygil took us through all kinds of little back streets and pointed out some houses with lovely interior courtyards. The flamenco show was really good. It was an authentic dance rather than a showy one for tourists. The female dancer was one of the best in the country. Another one of Nygil's surprises. We walked over to something that looked like an undulating mushroom. We went up to the top where you could walk around and see the incredible views. We also got a drink and said our goodbyes to Amanda who has to leave in the morning. It was a lovely treat but just a bit cool and windy.

The alter of the church

The alter of the church


A float for Holy Week

A float for Holy Week


Another float with candles

Another float with candles


Bell tower of the cathedral

Bell tower of the cathedral


View from the bell tower

View from the bell tower


Caracoles / snails. Yum!

Caracoles / snails. Yum!


The parasol

The parasol


The walkway in the parasol

The walkway in the parasol

Posted by adventuregirl88 16:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Arcos 2

This morning we headed for Jerez de la Frontera where we got a personal tour of an Andalusian horse farm. It was an interesting tour and the horses are magnificent. We got to pet them and also got to see one going through his paces. It is beautiful to see the horse prance, go sideways and step the way they do. We then went to a sherry bodega to learn all about the making of sherry. Again this was a family owned business. Then we did a tasting of three different sherrys and a brandy. They also provided lots of good snack food. I'm not that fond of sherry but it was really interesting. They also had an amazing collection of paintings by Spanish painters including Goya and El Greco. When we got back to Arcos we were dreading the 15 minute hike up to our hotel. Nygil came through by ordering an open air bus for us at a nominal charge. After all that sherry we were grateful not to have the hike. Franci and I decided to take the local bus around the town and back just to see it all. It was good to see and at the end we stopped in to the monastery to buy cookies from the nuns. At 6:00 Nygil did a wine tasting with us. He taught us how to smell, look and taste a new wine. He also provided some good goat cheese. We tried one white and one red. Spanish wines are all good and relatively inexpensive. He told us that Spain is now the biggest wine producer in the world! I couldn't tell for sure about these wines because I woke up with a cold that has been progressively worse. So Franci went to dinner without me and I have just been relaxing and getting packed for tomorrow. In case you have been on pins and needles waiting to hear about our testing of the bidet, rest easy. We both did try it at least twice. Not impressed. Every hotel room we have been in has had one. The one we have now has the bidet across the room from the toilet. That seemed odd to us. I suppose if one grows up with them it seems normal. Maybe we are old and set in our ways. We can live without them!

Jerez at the horse farm

Jerez at the horse farm


Andalusian horse

Andalusian horse


Andalusians

Andalusians


Sherry tasting

Sherry tasting


Sherry tasting with snacks

Sherry tasting with snacks


Nygil doing a wine tasting

Nygil doing a wine tasting

Posted by adventuregirl88 16:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Arcos de Frontera

Today was our mini vacation day meaning we weren't up and out at the crack of dawn. Breakfast was at 8:30 and we didn't leave until 11:00. It was nice especially in such a beautiful place. Of course Franci and I are not late sleepers. She was up and out as I got up at 7:00 am (late for me). We both wandered through the gardens. They are more extensive than we saw yesterday. It was hard to leave such a beautiful place. Back on the bus we headed for some hill towns. We stopped at an olive oil press for a tour. It wasn't impressive looking at first. It was a family owned place and the owner gave us the tour. Then he took us in the back for an olive oil tasting. I really learned a lot about olive oil. The owner also make wine. So he gave us a tasting and it was delicious! Most of us bought both the wine and oil. And this place is right outside of this hill town with a castle in ruins at the top. Incredibly picturesque. So we drove up to the town of Zahara for lunch and anyone who wanted to hike up to the castle. Franci and I passed. Too hungry. It is a lovely white washed village but not too much there beyond the views. Back on the bus to the hill town of Arcos de la Frontera. It's a little bigger than the last town. We will be here for two nights. The bus dropped us off down the hill from our hotel and we had to hike for ten minutes up a steep cobblestone street. This hotel is small and our group has filled it. Not even rooms for the staff. They are in a nearby hotel. Our hotel had been a convent so we were not surprised that the rooms were small although the bathroom was good size. Then we opened the curtains and stepped out on our little balcony. A wow moment for sure. The view is spectacular! We took a bunch of pictures and put our feet up until dinner at 8:00. It was a short walk to the restaurant. We filled the restaurant as well and had a nice meal. Time for bed.

Zahara

Zahara


Olive oil tasting

Olive oil tasting


Olive oil tasting

Olive oil tasting


Now the wine

Now the wine


Zahara castle

Zahara castle


Zahara

Zahara


View from our room

View from our room


View from our room

View from our room


Dinner

Dinner

Posted by adventuregirl88 16:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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