Ayre Hotel Gran Via

Its finally time for a proper trip!! Jhanet and I decided to plan a trip to Europe and chose to head to Andalucia, Spain. I arrived in Barcelona via Boston on a Vueling flight and met Jhanet (who was traveling from London) at the airport. We jumped into a taxi and went to the Ayre Hotel Gran Via. Once checked in and showered we immediately headed out to find some food and a market. Running on so little sleep still did not stop us from walking a few miles to one of the largest public markets in Barcelona. The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. Located in the Ciuat Vella district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain which opened in 1840.

Almost as much as I foraged last summer in Hopkinton

Plenty of graffiti along all of the streets that I could not stop to take many photos of.

Then we slept a lot! Until tomorrow…

Cathedral of Barcelona

Ok all rested after 10 + hours of sleep. Did not even make it down to the hotel buffet until 10:30. Oh well…. All fueled and ready to see some city sights.

Firstly had to do some errands… I forgot my camel so had to find a mountain shop (shame) and then we needed to replace our EU charger. With that all sorted we headed to see some works of Gaudi. That landed us at the first Gaudi of the day,

Casa Batlló (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkazə βəˈʎːo]) is a building in the center of Barcelona. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí, and is considered one of his masterpieces. A remodel of a previously built house, it was redesigned in 1904 by Gaudí and has been refurbished several times after that.

The roses are in celebration of Saint George

Then we were off to Barcelona Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (Catalan: Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia), also known as Barcelona Cathedral, is the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.The cathedral was constructed from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, with the principal work done in the fourteenth century. The cloister, which encloses the Well of the Geese (Font de les Oques), was completed in 1448.

The Well of Geese

In the late nineteenth century, the neo-Gothic façade was constructed over the nondescript exterior that was common to Catalan churches. The roof is notable for its gargoyles, featuring a wide range of animals, both domestic and mythical.

Arc de Triomf

Towards the end of the day we had made reservations for La Sagrada Familia. OK where do I start? UNESCO World Heritage Site ✅ Consecrated church ✅ designed by Gaudí, well I’m in Barcelona so ✅

Every churchy sense of mine was disrupted. I still don’t know what to think. I will let the photos speak for themselves.

The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, shortened as the Sagrada Família, is an unfinished church in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It is the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world. Designed by architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), his work on Sagrada Família is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.On 7 November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church and proclaimed it a minor basilica.

The Passion Facade (Death through Resurrection)

On 19 March 1882, construction of the Sagrada Família began under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. In 1883, when Villar resigned, Gaudí took over as chief architect, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and he is buried in the church's crypt. At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete

The turtle represents the sea holding up the column. Symbolizing the stability of the cosmos

Captivating light! Creating a symphony of color.

At sunset when the suns rays are practically horizontal, they stream into the nave almost perpendicular to the windows and as they are done in warm colors the nave is inundated with the reds of the sunset.

Relying solely on private donations, the Sagrada Família's construction progressed slowly and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War. In July 1936, anarchists from the FAI set fire to the crypt and broke their way into the workshop, partially destroying Gaudí's original plans.In 1939, Francesc de Paula Quintana took over site management, which was able to go on due to the material that was saved from Gaudí's workshop and that was reconstructed from published plans and photographs. Construction resumed to intermittent progress in the 1950s. Advancements in technologies such as computer-aided design and computerised numerical control (CNC) have since enabled faster progress and construction passed the midpoint in 2010. However, some of the project's greatest challenges remain, including the construction of ten more spires, each symbolising an important Biblical figure in the New Testament. It was anticipated that the building would be completed by 2026, the centenary of Gaudí's death, but this has now been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Center tower 172.5 meters high with a total of 18 spires when competed.

The Passion Facade

Completed vision - 2026 (theoretically) 144 years later

Describing the Sagrada Família, art critic Rainer Zerbst said "it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art", and Paul Goldberger describes it as "the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecturesince the Middle Ages". The basilica is not the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Barcelona, as that title belongs to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (Barcelona Cathedral)


1. If completed in 2026 - would have taken ten time longer than the Great Pyramid

2. 123 year more then the Taj Mahal and 50 years more the The Great Wall of China

3. The Passion Facade has 6 large and inclined columns to resemble Sequoia Trunks. Above are 18 smaller columns that represent bones.

4. Will be the tallest church in Europe

5. Gaudi designed the central main tower 1 meter shorter than the Montjuic Hill of Barcelona. He believed the work of humans should not exceed the work of god.

6. Gaudi died due to being hit by a tram. He was 73 and mistaken as a pauper so did not receive the proper treatment and died two days later.

Final stop of the day, one last Gaudi design

Casa Milà (Catalan: [ˈkazə miˈla], Spanish: [ˈkasa miˈla]), popularly known as La Pedrera(Catalan: [lə pəˈðɾeɾə], Spanish: [la peˈðɾeɾa]; "the stone quarry") in reference to its unconventional rough-hewn appearance, is a Modernista building in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was the last private residence designed by architect Antoni Gaudíand was built between 1906 and 1912.

True to form we walked all of Barcelona on day 1.

Hotel Los Tadeos | Alojamiento Rural en Cรกdiz

Travel Day…. Wow what a day. Last night when we tried to check in to our flight to Seville, but we could not without buying seats so we decided to wait to check in at the Airport. When we arrived at 6am we were able to check in but they would not allocate us seats so essentially we were on standby. Amazing when you purchase tickets for a specific flight and they purposely over book and deny you a seat if you decide to not pay more. Anyway we were given the last two seats and a least 7 people did not make it on. Off to Seville….. ok phase one completed!

Next we had planned our route to Ronda via bus so after we landed we jumped into a taxi and headed to the bus station. When we arrived the bus we needed was not coming through there?? What…oy, jumped into another taxi to a different bus station and tried to buy tickets but it was 5 mins before departure so the lady said we could ask the bus driver if we could fit? We found the bus and the driver said we could load up but when I went to pay he only excepted cash….which of course we did not have ….so Jhanet took off running to find an ATM. Amazingly the driver waited almost 10 minutes after the true departure time and we were able to board. Jhanet could barely breath from the sprint across the motorway to the other side of the road for the ATM….she saved the day!!!!

We then met our taxi driver (Esteban Becerra) for the final stretch to Hotel Los Tadeos. Whew…made it, crazy long day of travel.

After \240settling in we went out to explore Zahara.

Zahara de la Sierra is a municipality in the province of Cádiz in the hills of Andalusia, southern Spain. It is perched on a mountain, overlooking a valley and a man-made lake formed by the dam that must be driven over to access the town. It is considered to be one of the pueblos blancos or "white towns" because the overwhelming majority of the buildings are white.

The town was originally a Moorish outpost, overlooking the valley. Due to its position between Ronda and Seville, it was a perfect site for a castle to be built to serve as a fortress in case of attack. The remains of the Moorish castle still exist.

It was ruled by Arabs until 1407. It was recaptured by the Emirate of Granada in 1481. This capture gave a pretext to Castile's war against Granada. It was finally captured by Castilian troops under command of Rodrigo Ponce de León, Duke of Cádiz in 1483.

Morning Glory



Aristolochia baetica, the Andalusian Dutchman’s pipe

Sunset from our room

Hotel Los Tadeos | Alojamiento Rural en Cรกdiz

Zahara de la Sierra - circular walk (16km, 10 miles)

A memorable walk through the western flank of the Sierra de Grazalema. After leaving Zahara, we dropped steeply down out of the village, through olive groves before following a narrow path up the valley of the Parralejo Stream.

Olive groves

Agave flower stalk. Actually it’s the largest asparagus I’ve ever seen

Carob tree pods

We came across a group of folks who were sitting on the side of the trail under the shade of a tree cooling off. We chatted a little and they were asking how far it was to complete the loop. First I asked them if they had a map and they answered they had GPS. Then we left. Several hours later we were at dinner and came across them again. They had just returned got massively lost and had to retrace their route…It’s at least 6 hours since we saw them last….ouch, least they made it out

Very cold stream to cool off the feet


La Mejorana

We set out this morning a little earlier and feeling ready for the day! Today our walk takes us out of Zahara to Grazelema.

On the edge of Zahara lies Molina del Vinculo. The oldest olive oil mill in the Sierra. Oil has been produced here for 2 1/2 centuries. This is a privately owned mill where the oil is extracted by hydraulic press rather than the centrifuge method.

We were told unfortunately no fruit no tour. Must come when the olives are ripe!

As we dropped down through the olive groves we had long views across the Zahara reservoir towards the twin peaks of Lagarin and Malaver.

After passing the hamlet of Arroyomolinos, the track lead all the way around the lower flanks of Monte Prieto and past a number of isolated farmsteads. Eventually the track dropped down to the ‘ribera’ the Gaidovar river valley. Here we joined a section of Roman road that runs up the valley past ancient mill houses and thick stands of broom, oleander and poplar.

Found a beautiful spring that runs all year where we cooled off from the beating sun. Nice lunch spot

Donated my apple to these two beauties! Got some good nickers in return

Toward the end of the route today we climbed and climbed parallel to the Sierra Morena’s jagged crest and then came up to a reservoir that supplies Grazalema with its water.


11.09 miles (17.85km)

La Mejorana

Had a lovely evening walking around Grazalema last night. Here is our accommodation La Mejorana.

Grazalema is a white village located in the northeastern part of the province of Cádiz, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Situated in the foothills of the Sierra del Pinar mountain range (Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park), Grazalema had, as of 2009, a population of 2,205.

Grazalema has a claim to fame. It is the wettest place in Spain with an average of over 2300 mm precipitation per year (over four times that of the fenlands of East Anglia).

Grazalema town plaza

Grazalema is probably the part of Spain where the oldest feast of the <<tied bulls>> is celebrated. The “Roped Bull from Grazalema” is, according to recent anthropological studies on the subject, an evolution of a Celtic ritual that already existed in this town from the Mountains of Cadiz more than 2.500 years ago. Cave paintings belonging to the Paleolithic era, (c. 27.000 years), have been found in the area (Cueva de la Pileta). The paintings show the existence of a magical-religious cult in honor of the figure of the bull, and associated wit fertility.


Roman historians (Ephorus, Pliny, Ptolemy and Strabo) already mentioned –more than 2.000 years ago- that the feast of the bull was celebrated in the region of Lacilbula (current Grazalema). They explained that the animal was provoked with small harpoons and darts. The bull was tied for ritual purposes, as it was considered a sacred animal, and then it was taken around the town.

The bull rope from Grazalema is a reminiscence of the hunting of the wild bull, the most primitive form of the present bullfighting. This tradition persisted throughout the Roman Empire, and the Arab domination, and until nowadays, when it was Christianized by the Church.

In Grazalema, the monks belonging to the Carmelites order were in charge of Christianizing this ancient feast of the bull. Thus “the bull of the people” became the “Bull of the Virgin”, in the honor of Nuestra Señora del Carmen.

Being the wettest place is not all bad. It is good for growing grass, rearing sheep, and spinning and weaving wool. The humid air helps prevent the wool strands breaking. The Berbers who founded the village also brought their own sheep. They started making woollen garments to ward of the wet and cold. A thousand years later, between the 17th and 19th centuries, the mantas de Grazalema were famous. Today they are still made in a more modern workshop together with blankets, rugs, ponchos and scarves. They are exported all over the world.

Brandy de Jerez

A quintessential Andalucian after dinner drink is sol y sombra made from mixing anís and brandy, giving a layered effect of the dark brandy (sombra) and the clear anís. Andalucia s started making this over 200 years ago

Todays walk is from Grazalema to Benaocáz via Cortijo Dornajo through the National Park

Ruined farm house

Ancient well

Cairn balancing

Had to do some bouldering

Jhanet admiring her cairn building

Benaocaz is a village located in the province of Cádiz, Spain. According to the 2006 census, the city has a population of 729 inhabitants.

Aznalmara Castle

The town's name dates back to the Moors, and derives from The Arabic Ocaz family, with ‘Ben’ meaning “son of”. In the upper part of the town, Moorish and 8th century ruins are evident.

Declared an historic site, the village includes the Aznalmara castle which dates to the 13th and 14th centuries.

7.64 miles (12.3km)

All showered and ready, we headed for a walk around town to see some more sights.

\240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240 \240CHURCH OF SAN JOSÉ – GRAZALEMA

The Church of San Jose, in Grazalema, is a temple from the 17th century and was part of a Carmelite convent

Fuente de Abajo, GRAZALEMA

Known as La "Fuente Abajo", so called for being in the lower area of the town, a fountain with eight pipes with springy faces. Researchers point to a possible Visigothic origin. It has water all year through its eight anthropomorphic faces.

The Public Laundry Room of Grazalema consists of 16 pilastes, 8 on each line and attached to each other.

The water that emanates from the Fuente de Abajo and this laundry room comes from a watering hole that is in the old slaughterhouse and in Grazalema and that give rise to the source of the Fresnillo stream.

Posada Del Fresno

This morning it was time to depart Gazalema and head off to our next destination of Montejaque. But first we needed to checkout the woolen textile mill that Gazalema is famous for.

There was a small free museum and some amazing wool processing equipment.

Drum carder


Weaving shuttles

Grazalema woolen mill - Historical overview

The first evidence of the manufacturing of wool blankets and cloths dates from the 17th century, with written documents specifying that the King Philip V of Spain granted certain privileges to the cloth and blanket manufacturers in Grazalema. This technique probably started during the previous centuries, but it was during the 17th and the 18th centuries that it reached its greatest splendour. Many of the cloths and blankets manufactured in Spain were exported to Latin America and Europe, and Grazalema was one of the main manufacturing centres in the country. According to historians, there were about 10 manufacturing plants in Grazalema, and most of the inhabitants in the area worked in this industry’s different processes, or – as we call it nowadays – in its ancillary industry: spinners, finishers, weavers, carders, etc.

Teasel woolen drum carder

Today’s walk, heads eastwards through the mountains to Montejaque and takes us through one of the least known areas of Grazalema park. We passed through karst formations and saw some great bolted climbing routes.

I so wish these were ripe!!

Find the goat

Quercia suber, Cork Oak

Cork is the outer bark of an evergreen oak of the genus and species Quercus Suber (oak cork). Forests of oak cork trees are carefully monitored and cultivated, and act as a renewable source for this remarkable material.

During a harvest, the outer bark of a cork oak’s trunk and major branches is carefully stripped by hand – no mechanical stripping devices are allowed. Experienced cork strippers use a specialized cork axe to slit the outer bark and peel it away from the tree.

A cork tree regenerates its precious outer layer 12 or 13 times during its 150-year lifetime. The first stripping of the cork bark occurs when the tree is between 15 and 20 years of age, with subsequent yields at 9 to 10 year intervals.

The harvested cork bark is removed from the forests, and are left out in the open air for six months. This weathering process actually improves the cork’s quality. The cork bark is then sorted by quality and size. The first use is for the extraction of cork stoppers to meet the demands of the world’s wine and champagne industries, which use over 13 billion cork stoppers annually.

Spanish goat

Around lunch time we found a tree for some shade and then we were invaded by some goats passing through.

Spanish goats

It was a good animal sighting day!

European pond terrapin turtle

We passed through several flat-bottomed valleys or ‘navas’ that are very common in the limestone scenery of the Grazalema Park. These flat valley floors were formed over the millennia by the gradual leaching of the soil from the mountain sides.

This oak reminded me of Old Man Willow. The malign tree-spirt of great age in Tom Bombadil’s Old Forest

Stone arrows to lead our way across the navas

Wild peony

Retina, also known as Guadalquivir

This poor little group of sheep were trying to find some shade on the road.

Last sign to our village for the night.


Very very hot finish to the day! 10.56 miles (16.98km)

After we checked in to our accommodation we showered and rested until diner at 7:30. Then we headed out to see the village.

Posada Del Fresno, our hotel

Ayuntamiento, en la plaza pueblo

Lots of cats about

Hotel Maestranza

Todays route was Montejaque to Ronda, our final full day walking. We headed out of town and stopped by the public laundry.

We followed a short section of road out of the village before we picked up the old drover’s path to Ronda. We headed up a zigzag cobbled path towards the Ecarihuela Chapel.

Our final look back to Montejaque

Below the village, the old medieval road to Ronda zig-zags from the new cemetery and over the limestone outcrop. This track is still used today and passes the Hermita de las Escariguelas, visited every August by a procession in honour of the pueblo's patron saint, the Virgin of the Conception. Not an easy task when carrying a statue as it rapidly climbs more than 300 feet. Beyond the hermitage is the pass and a panoramic view of Ronda in the distance. The old medieval road led down into the valley below. However, of late serious walkers have made a route that follows the crest to the left and terminated at the highest point (Mures, 870m above sea level). The track then drops down to the road, very near the empty reservoir.

Ecarihuela Chapel

Massive Asparagus again😊 (not really it’s agave)

After the chapel we picked up a broad farm track which lead us down gradually through groves of olives then open fields to the Guadiaro valley floor.

After crossing a railway line, we followed the farm track up and through the Puerta de las Muelas. Then we saw Ronda open up before us high up on the cliff top. After a stiff final ascent we entered the town of Ronda.

Our hotel is directly across from the bull arena. We did a brief walk around town before resting in our hotel (having our siesta)

Plaza de Toros de Ronda

The Plaza de Toros de Ronda is a Bullring in Ronda, it has a diameter of 66 metres (217 ft), surrounded by a passage formed by two rings of stone. There are two layers of seating, each with five raised rows and 136 pillars that make up 68 arches. The Royal Box has a sloping roof covered in Arabic tiles. The design of the main entrance to the bull ring features two Tuscan columns and the royal shield of Spain surround by baroque edging. The main door is large enough to allow horses and carriages to enter the ring, and above the door is an iron wrought balcony that embodies the bullfighting culture.

The Puente Nuevo (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpwente ˈnweβo], "New Bridge") is the newest and largest of three bridges that span the 120-metre-deep (390 ft) chasm that carries the Guadalevín River and divides the city of Ronda, in southern Spain. Completed in 1793, the architect was José Martin de Aldehuela and the chief builder was Juan Antonio Díaz Machuca.

Medieval part of Ronda which we will visit tomorrow

The Church of La Merced de Ronda (Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Merced), still preserves the garden and its first building dated in 1585.


Today is a Ronda touring day. We planned to walk around the old town and to visit sites throughout the area.

We started off by heading back to Puente Nuevo.

Looking like something straight out of Game of Thrones, the Puente Nuevo spans a narrow chasm that separates two sides of the historic city of Ronda. As spectacular as it is, it was nonetheless built in an atmosphere of tragedy, the previous construction having collapsed, killing 50 people.

Back in the 1700s, the increasingly overcrowded city of Ronda had a problem. It had grown to the extent that it now perched on two sides of the deep El Tajo canyon, and access between the two sides was far from optimal.

Two small bridges, the Puente Romano and the Puente Árabe, already crossed the canyon, but lower down and not directly linking the two sections of El Mercadillo and La Ciudad, between which the chasm ran. And so, in the 1730s, plans were made to construct a new bridge across the very top of the canyon, directly linking the two sections of the city.

It was the first attempt at bridging the canyon at this height, and it was no easy feat. The chasm was relatively narrow, but plunged some 390 feet straight down to the Guadalevín River below. The architects Jose Garcia and Juan Camacho were chosen for the project, and they began work on a single arch design in 1735. They completed the bridge in good time, but not in good form. The entire bridge collapsed in 1741, killing 50 people, most of them residents of Ronda.

It was therefore in an atmosphere of lingering tragedy that work began on a new bridge in 1759, to cross at the same location. The renowned architect Domingo Lois de Monteagudo was brought in to design the new bridge, and it seems as if he was all too aware of the previous collapse and the need for a new design that would be sturdy beyond all normal reckoning.

De Monteagudo oversaw the construction up until 1778, by which time the bottom third had been completed. Worked stalled for some years, and then, in 1785, one of the top architects from Andalucia, José Martin de Aldehuela, was brought in to complete the project. He built upon the massive foundations left by de Monteagudo, and finally constructed the final upper third using three arches—all in all, a far, far sturdier construction than the single arch bridge that had so tragically collapsed.

The Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), as it was called, was completed in 1793 after 34 years of construction. Its eventual span was 216 feet, and its height an impressive 322 feet, all supported by thick vertical supports rising up from, and in parts attached to, the canyon walls. Nothing was going to bring down the Puente Nuevo.

Since its completion, the bridge has occasionally served a secondary function thanks to the inclusion of a chamber located above the central arch. This room has at various times served as a prison and, according to some rumors, a torture chamber.

During the 1936–1939 civil war, which heavily affected Ronda, captured prisoners were allegedly tortured in the chamber. Some, apparently, were thrown from the windows of the chamber, to break upon the rocks of the El Tajo gorge far below. A scene in Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, in which Fascist sympathizers are thrown from the cliffs of a fictional village, is believed to have been inspired by events in Ronda.

Then we headed to the Church of the Holy Spirit is a Christian temple in Ronda, located in one of the old neighborhoods of the city.

Church of the Holy Spirit

Then we came upon the Arab Baths

Located just outside the old city walls near the Puente Arabe, the Arab Baths (Baños Arabes) of Ronda are considered the best preserved Moorish baths in Spain. They were originally built sometime in the late 12th or early 13th centuries during the reign of the Almohad dynasty, although tradition seems to favour the reign of Abomelic from the 14th century as the time of their construction.

The final stop before our rest was a museum I found on Atlas Obscura. Let’s just say super wacky!

Tucked away in a historic building known as the "Palace of the Count of the Conquest of the Batanes Islands," the Museo Lara has as much interest in the beauty of historic objects as it does in recreating the horrifying fantasies of sorcery. 

Museo Lara is a private museum showcasing the collections of one man, the founder of the museum, Juan Antonio Lara Jury. The main floors of the museum feature a wandering selection of collections from old watches to early examples of handguns, vintage sewing machines and typewriters, and even a handful of old microscopes. Below the main floor, the lower level also features exhibits on movie projectors and bullfighting paraphernalia. However the cellar, as with any good museum, contains the exhibitions that truly set the Museo Lara apart.

Featuring exhibitions surrounding both the Spanish Inquisition and witchcraft, the lower levels of the museum turn sinister fairly quickly. The "Living inquisition" displays feature a number of historic torture devices including a full size stretching rack. To accent the painful-looking steel devices, mannequins are set up, dressed in inquisitor's garb. The witchcraft displays also features cartoonish looking witch figures who are surrounded by outstanding taxidermy mash-ups like a bat-headed tarantula, and "dragons" made from various lizard and snake bits. There is also a life-size, preserved mermaid, a bullfrog with an old woman's face, a "werewolf" made from parts of a canine skeleton molded over with clay horns and claws. There are also items that might be used in witches' brews, such as mandrake, a child's heart in a jar, henbane, etc.

Given that the Museo Lara is the collection of a single person, its clear that the museum founder has a wide range of interests. Some of which just happen to be terrifying.  

We heading out for dinner around 8 and then went to check out the new bridge under the lights.

C. Correo Viejo, 19, 18010 Granada, Spain

Today was a transfer day from Ronda to Granada. We arranged for a Blabla Car, which is basically hitching a ride for a small fee with someone who is driving in the direction you are wanting to go. We met the guy at a gas station and hopped into his car along with another women and headed to Granada. We were dropped off in Granada and made our way on foot to our accommodation. The place we are staying is definitely quirky. \240The apartment definitely has a special uniqueness.

Then we strolled around the city taking in the sites and visiting a few historic places. First up was the Alcaicería Market.

The Alcaicería is a market street in the historic heart of the city of Granada, Spain. It is located on the site of the former main bazaar, from which it derives its name (Arabic: القيسرية, romanized: al-qaysariyya). The original bazaar dated from the city's Arab-Islamic era, during the period of Nasrid rule (13th-15th centuries), but it was destroyed by fire in 1843 and subsequently rebuilt in its current form.

Granada Cathedral

Granada Cathedral, or the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Spanish: Catedral de Granada, Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación de Granada) is a Roman Catholic church in the city of Granada, capital of the province of the same name in the Autonomous Region of Andalusia, Spain. The cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Granada. Like many other cathedrals in Andalusia, it was built on top of the city's main mosque after the reconquest of Granada.

Unlike most cathedrals in Spain, construction was not begun until the sixteenth century in 1518 in the centre of the old Muslim Medina, after acquisition of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada from its Muslim rulers in 1492. While its earliest plans had Gothic designs, such as are evident in the Royal Chapel of Granada by Enrique Egas, most of the church's construction occurred when the Spanish Renaissance style was supplanting the Gothic in Spanish architecture.

Iberian Organ

Granada is the soul of Andalusia, a place of breathtaking beauty at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This mystical city was the capital of a Moorish kingdom from the 13th until the 15th centuries.

To the Moors, who arrived from North Africa, the lush setting of Granada was like heaven on Earth. The Nasrid Dynasty reigned with a splendor unlike anywhere in the medieval world. The hilltop fortress of the Alhambra Palace was a paradise of greenery, rose gardens, and endlessly flowing fountains.

After flourishing for centuries, Granada became the last bastion of the Moors in Spain when the Catholic Monarchs captured the city in 1491.

Although now predominantly Christian, Granada has inherited rich Islamic, Jewish, and Gypsy influences. The Renaissance Catholic cathedral was once a mosque. The Albaicín (old Moorish town) and the Alcaicería (spice market) have an authentic Arabic flavor. Colorful Gypsy culture and fabulous flamenco dancing is found in the caves of the Sacromonte quarter.

Night time stroll around Granada

Alhambra Palace

Hotel NH Cรณrdoba Califa

Today was another travel day from Granada to Córdoba. We ended up in Cordoba around 5pm and quickly went out to explore.

The Almodóvar Gate, Córdoba

Jhanet had found an interesting show in Cordoba on the bus ride and was able to get tickets for this evening. Passion y Duende del Caball Andaluz.

Passion and Goblin of the Andalusian Horse" shows a perfect combination of elements of classical and Andalusian riding, hand-held work, cowboy dressage, high school, amazon and garrocha, connecting it with the history and equestrian tradition of Cordoba.

The Royal Stables in Cordoba were founded in the year 1570 by a royal decree of Felipe II, who was a great lover of horses. He launched this project to create the Andalusian Horse (Pure Spanish Thoroughbred), one of the greatest breeds of horse ever to exist, for his own use and for use all over the world. What was at first simply a royal wish ended up being one of the greatest and best-loved of Felipe II’s projects. The Spanish thoroughbred was a very popular riding horse and soon became a striking symbol of the Spanish empire.

The royal stables

Passion y Duende del Caball Andaluz

The Albolafia mill , is a hydraulic mill located on the right bank of the Guadalquivir , between the Roman bridge and the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in the city of Córdoba , Spain . It is the oldest existing mill on the banks of the city and is framed in the natural area of ​​Sotos de la Albolafia .

Albolafia Mill

Its initial function was to provide irrigation water for the orchards of the Alcázar , although later it became a flour mill and fulling mill. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries it had five grinding wheels, two belonging to the main church and the remaining three to members of the local oligarchy. The external appearance of the mill remained practically unchanged between the 16th and 19th centuries, as can be seen in historical engravings. It was confiscated in 1855 , becoming the owner Rafael Sánchez Castañeda in 1870. Once the owner died, his daughters took over the structure, although it was later seized by the Treasury in 1914, becoming property of the State.

The Roman bridge of Córdoba is a bridge in the Historic centre of Córdoba, Andalusia, southern Spain, originally built in the early 1st century BC across the Guadalquivir river, though it has been reconstructed at various times since. It is also known locally as the Old Bridge as for two thousand years, until the construction of the San Rafael Bridge in the mid-twentieth century, it was the city's only bridge across the river.

Roman bridge of Córdoba

Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba Bell Tower

Hotel Gravina 51

Córdoba was on the agenda for the start of today. I had booked tickets for Córdoba Cathedral bell tower at 9:30 and the Central Cathedral for 10:00am. I had visited here back in 2014 and it was a must to come back for a visit.

Cathedral of Córdoba Bell tower

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, officially known by its ecclesiastical name of Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Córdoba dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and located in the Spanish region of Andalusia. Due to its status as a former mosque, it is also known as the Mezquita and as the Great Mosque of Córdoba.

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

According to traditional accounts a Visigothic church, the Catholic Christian Basilica of Vincent of Saragossa, originally stood on the site of the current Mosque-Cathedral, although the historicity of this narrative has been questioned by scholars.The Great Mosque was constructed on the orders of Abd al-Rahman I in 785, when Córdoba was the capital of the Muslim-controlled region of al-Andalus. It was expanded multiple times afterwards under Abd ar-Rahman's successors up to the late 10th century. Among the most notable additions, Abd al-Rahman III added a minaret (finished in 958) and his son al-Hakam II added a richly-decorated new mihrab and maqsurah section (finished in 971). The mosque was converted to a cathedral in 1236 when Córdoba was captured by the Christian forces of Castile during the Reconquista. The structure itself underwent only minor modifications until a major building project in the 16th century inserted a new Renaissance cathedral nave and transept into the center of the building. The former minaret, which had been converted to a bell tower, was also significantly remodelled around this time. Starting in the 19th century, modern restorations have in turn led to the recovery and study of some of the building's Islamic-era elements.Today, the building continues to serve as the city's cathedral and Mass is celebrated therein daily.

Such a strange mix of Christian and Islamic structural elements side by side.

The mosque structure is an important monument in the history of Islamic architecture and was highly influential on the subsequent "Moorish" architecture of the western Mediterranean regions of the Muslim world. It is also one of Spain's major historic monuments as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984.

Then we traveled by high speed train to Sevilla. I had bought (for better or worse) tickets to the Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla.

Meaning I bought tickets to a bull fight. I thought I knew what to expect but it far exceeded my expectations.

We debated about doing this and decided that it has such a significant role in Andalucían and Sevilles’ culture, that when in Spain, do as the Spanish do. That was a mistake.

The Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla is a 12,000-capacity bullring in Seville, Spain. During the annual Seville Fair in Seville, it is the site of one of the most well-known bullfighting festivals in the world. It is a part of the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, a noble guild established for traditional cavalry training.

The ring is a stage for bullfighting, it is considered one of the world's most challenging environments because of its history, characteristics, and viewing public, which is considered one of the most unforgiving in all of bullfighting fandom.

Spanish-style bullfighting is a type of bullfighting that is practiced in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, as well as in parts of southern France and Portugal. This style of bullfighting involves a physical contest with humans (and other animals) attempting to publicly subdue, immobilize, or kill a bull. The most common bull used is the Spanish Fighting Bull (Toro Bravo), a type of cattle native to the Iberian Peninsula. This style of bullfighting is seen to be both a sport and performance art. The red colour of the cape is a matter of tradition – bulls are color blind. They attack moving objects; the brightly-colored cape is used to mask blood stains.

The modern Spanish-style bullfight (corrida, "run") is highly standardized, with three distinct parts (tercios, "thirds"), the start of each of which is announced by a trumpet sound. The participants first enter the arena in a parade (paseíllo) to salute the presiding dignitary (presidente), usually accompanied by band music. The corrida begins to the tune of live-played pasodobles, many of which were composed to honour famous toreros. Torero costumes are influenced by 17th century Andalusian clothing. Matadors are distinguished by a "suit of lights" (traje de luces), custom-made and embroidered with silver or golden thread.

Stage 1: Tercio de Varas

The first stage is called the tercio de varas ("third of lances"). The matador observes how the bull reacts to the waving of the banderilleros' cloak. They also note vision problems, unusual head movements, or if the bull favors a part of the ring called a querencia (territory). A bull trying to reach its querencia is often more dangerous than a bull that is attacking the cape directly. The initial attack by the matador is called the suerte de capote ("act of the cape"), and there are a number of fundamental "lances" (or passes) that matadors make; the most common being the verónica (named after Saint Veronica), which is the act of a matador letting their cloak trail over the bull's head as it runs past.

Then two picadores enter the arena each armed with a lance (vara), mounted on large heavily-padded and blindfolded horses. The entrance of the horse attracts the bull to the picadores.The picadores repeatedly drive their lances into the muscles (morrillo) of the bull's neck to weaken the animal. As the picadores stab the bull's neck, the bull charges and attempts to lift the picador's horse. If the picador is successful, the bull will hold its head and horns lower as a result of injury and weakness during the following stages of the fight.

This makes the bull less dangerous to enable the matador to perform the passes of modern bullfighting. In a mandatory step in the corrida, regulations require that a plaza judge ensures a certain number of hits are made before it is considered completed.

Stage 2: Tercio de Banderillas

In the next stage – the tercio de banderillas ("third of small flag") – the matador attempts to plant two barbed or dart-like sticks known as banderillas ("little flags") onto the bull's shoulders. These weaken the ridges of neck and shoulder muscle (which set fighting bulls apart from cattle) through loss of blood, while also spurring the bull into making more aggressive charges.

By this point the bull has lost a significant amount of blood, exhausting the animal. The matador then enters with his cape and sword, attempting to tire the bull further with several runs at the cape.

Stage 3: Tercio de Muerte

In the third and final stage – the tercio de muerte ("third of death") – the matador re-enters the ring alone with a small red cape or muleta in one hand and a sword (estoc) in the other. This cape is stretched with a wooden dowel and, in right-handed passes, the sword as well. Having dedicated the bull to an individual or the whole audience, the matador uses his cape to attract the bull in a series of passes, demonstrating their control over it. The red colour of the cape is a matter of tradition – bulls are color blind. The movement of the cape is what irritates bulls; the colour by itself has the purpose of masking blood stains.

The faena is the entire performance combined with the muleta, which is usually broken down into a series of tandas (episodes). A typical tanda consists of three to five basic passes and then the finishing touch (remate), such as a pase de pecho, or pase de desprecio. Well-received passes are celebrated by the audience with shouts of "¡ole!".

The faena ends with a final series of passes in which the matador with a muleta attempts to manoeuvre the bull into a position to stab it between the shoulder blades and through the aorta or heart. The entire part of the bullfight with the muleta is called the tercio de muerte ("third of death") or suerte de muleta ("act of muleta").

In a traditional corrida, three toreros (or matadores) each "fight" against two out of a total of six "fighting" bulls to death, each bull being at least four years old and weighs up to about 600 kg (1,300 lb) (with a minimum weight limit of 460 kg (1,010 lb)). Bullfighting season in Spain runs from March to October. The practice is also known as a corrida de toros ("bull-running") or tauromaquia. Since the late-1980s, bullfighting in Spain has declined in popularity due to animal welfare concerns, its association with blood sport, and its links to nationalism.

Manuel Escribano

Bulls are tormented and abused to give the crowd a good show. Captive bulls are injured and weakened from blood loss to reduce the risk to the bullfighter but also to make them angry enough to please the crowd. From start to finish, a bullfight should be considered animal abuse.

Today bull fighting, in our society, is more barbaric and should not be done. I would not be against humans fighting humans to the death.

But animals? They don’t have a choice. It’s just barbaric.

Unable to join in with the claps, jeers and immense atmosphere from the crowd. We left the bull ring feeling dirty, sombre, guilty and conflicted. Disgusted with what we watched and with ourselves. Trying to understand and reason with the cultural importance this event holds within the Andalucían history and current times with generations of fathers and sons, young and old, attending.

Our panic of not having a cushion that everyone seems to carry; turning up late, unaware of where our seats are and having to squeeze in between two burley men where there seems to be no space at all, all forgotten!

We start our morning in Seville with tickets for the Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador. Church of the Divine Savior, after the big Cathedral of Seville the most important church in Seville.

The church was built on a site where a basilica stood in Roman times and a mosque during the Moorish period.The mosque was demolished in 1671. Between 1674 and 1712, the baroque church was built here by Leonardo de Figueroa, during which time the church collapsed once. To prevent this from happening again, solid construction piles were placed in the current church. The church stands out because of its gilded woodcraft, a beautiful main altar and numerous frescos.

The nuns at Convento de San Leandro in Seville, Spain, have sold just one item for more than four centuries: yemas de San Leandro. These rich, creamy nuggets are a simple mixture of sugar, lemon juice, and egg yolks.

Establishments across Spain make traditional yemas (diners enjoy yemas de Santa Teresa, for example, on October 15, the saint's feast day). But to acquire San Leandro's signature supply of yemas, you'll have to visit the convent, a Seville institution since the 13th century.

When you enter the foyer, you'll notice a revolving tray embedded in a wooden door. Reference the price list, then place the appropriate amount of money on the tray and rotate it behind the wall. A few moments later, a box of wrapped yemas should appear in its place. You'll have to put your faith in San Leandro's residents, but this shouldn't prove too difficult. You're dealing with nuns, after all.

Tonight we round off the day by flying back to Barcelona. We are staying at the same hotel as the beginning of our trip and what a nice surprise that we got upgraded to a suite. We rested and ordered room service. Tomorrow is our last day in Spain before we both fly our separate ways….

Had to stop by a market (of course)

Ayre Hotel Gran Via

Today we lounged in our nice suite and headed out for the final time to some Spanish Matkets. Many many markets is always a goal of mine.