Hello all, here is an overdue update to the blog. I meant to create an update just for Seville, but I kept forgetting each time I had access to a computer. So, I’m grouping together the last three towns I’ve been to into a single post. I am pleased to report that in these three southern towns, Seville, Granada and Valencia, it has finally stopped raining. But anyways, here is the update, with a section for each town.
I arrived in Seville (called Sevilla in Spanish) from Madrid by a fast train. Seville is in the region of Andalusia, which is the southernmost of Spain’s provinces. It is also the home of Flamenco dancing, which I’m sorry to report I did not participate in. Now, I don’t normally mention the hostel I was staying in, but I feel compelled to speak about my hostel in Seville because it was what I call the Hilton of hostels. By this I mean that it was easily the nicest place I’ve stayed in so far in my journey, and I suspect it will never be matched. While most hostels have a dormitory type feel, this place was more akin to an upscale hotel. Words don’t do this place justice, and unfortunately you’re just going to have to wait until I have a chance to upload pictures. Seville itself is a very pretty town with architecture ranging from the ancient to the modern. I paid a visit to the main cathedral in town, which is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and the third largest overall. While there I climbed the cathedral’s tower using it’s distinct internal ramp, which was designed so that instead of a person having to climb a lot of steps to the top, they could ride a horse all the way up. Next to the cathedral is the royal palace, which is a former Moorish palace that got renovated when the Spanish reconquered the city. It’s an interesting mix of Moorish and Renaissance architecture. Farther to the south of the cathedral and the palace is the Plaza de España, which I think is the best looking building/site I’ve seen so far in Europe. I would strongly recommend you to look up images of it online in your spare time so you can see what I mean. Continuing on in Seville, I also paid a visit to the site Spanish Pavilion/Exhibition, but everything was closed since it was Sunday (I really should have asked before leaving). I also saw a number of other sights such as the Torre del Oro and a crazy tree-canopy building before leaving.
After Seville, I came to the town of Granada. This town is famous for being the last Moorish stronghold in Spain to fall to the Reconquest. The city was taken in 1492, the same year Columbus sailed, but here in Spain the capture of Granada is the more famous event that people remember from that year. Granada is not a large town, so even though I only had about a day and a half there, I feel like I covered the vast majority of sights. Of course, the first (and usually only) sight that people think of when they think of Granada is the Alhambra Palace. Much like the palace in Seville, the Alhambra is a former Moorish palace that the Spanish added onto when they took over, but the Alhambra is on a hill and much larger and more extravagant that the palace in Seville. One thing you need to know about the Alhambra is that it is one of the sights in Europe that requires a reservation to visit. If you don’t have a reservation, (like me) you have to show up early in the morning to try to grab one of the limited number of general tickets that go on sale just before the palace opens. The palace opens at 8:30am, but you should be in line no later that 8:00am (earlier in the summer) to make sure you get a ticket. After the Alhambra I walked around town checking out a cathedral, a few smaller churches and some other buildings. Although you could spend more time there if you like it, I think most people will be fine with just one full day in Granada.
To get to Valencia from Granada, I had to take a night train since there are no daytime trains between the two towns. I arrived in Valencia at just after 5:00am and I had gotten almost no sleep on the train, so it was a tired first day. Regardless, I decided to make the most of it and covered all of the old town on my first day. Among the sights I saw were the old city gates, the central market and the cathedral that holds the supposed Holy Grail. Contrary to what Indiana Jones taught me, the Holy Grail has actually been sitting in Valencia the whole time after being being brought from Israel to Rome, and then Rome to Spain. The next day, after ten or so hours of sleep, I paid a visit to Valencia’s beaches to see how they stack up to the ones back in San Diego. While the beaches are very large, have good sand and the water is a bit warmer than in San Diego, there are no waves in the water, so San Diego wins. For a few hours I walked both the beach and the beach-side boardwalk and took in the sights along the coast. After this I walked over to a part of town with a number of modern buildings that have gone up in the past few years. I don’t remember the name of this place, but it had Valencia’s equivalent of Sea World along with a science museum, an auditorium and a few other buildings that I’m not sure what they are for. I then returned back to my hostel along a long park that appears to have been built on a former riverbed. Whether or not the river dried up or just got diverted, it makes for a long green belt and a good long walk through town. That concludes Valencia.
I am typing this update from Barcelona, which is my last city in Spain before I move on. The next town I am going to is Avignon in France, which is serving as a link between Spain and Italy. After Avignon I will be going through Milan, Florence, Rome and Venice. I will try to have another update in a few days at the end of my time in Barcelona.