Monday, 27 May 2013

Andalusian Impressions

A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a tour with Tour Andalucia. The Saint was very tired and I wanted him to sit back and enjoy an effortless holiday. We had exactly this with wonderful tour guides. Visit  The Saint's blog too, it has wonderful photos and descriptions of our holiday.

These are my favourite memories.

The clouds from above on the flight in were particularly beautiful.

Antonio met us and waited patiently for 45 minutes for us to arrive. We enjoyed  a spectacular drive to the villa in Mollina. He quickly realised we loved the landscape and nature and allowed time for us to absorb the beautiful mountain scenery and the building thunder clouds. We arrived late and when the rain broke, Gary, the tour owner, arrived and took us to a local bodega for a delicious meal.

The next day, while the guides were busy collecting the rest of the tour party, we spent the day in Mijas, a beautiful white mountain village overlooking Malaga.

Walking through the village to climb the mountain behind it, this home left a big impression

and no holiday is complete without being ignored by a local mogget.

Day 2 Alex, our gracious guide for the rest of the tour, took us to Seville. In the Plaza de Espana, I loved the boats on the water

and the bridges.

On the roofs the tiles are multi-coloured in most of the town and cities we visited.

Walking through the city after a delicious lunch, I was to discover that wherever we went, the grasses attempt to take purchase in the building gutters.

The Real Alcazar is astounding with stone carving and woodwork that words do little justice to

and beautiful tapestries adorn the walls too. This is a close-up of a small section of one.

Windows frame the garden and invite one out to enjoy is freshness

where a peacock graciously posed for me to capture the grandeur of its tail.

Day 3 we set off for Cordoba. The locals complete for the best decorated courtyard and the winning one has these old wash tubs.

On our walk through the old town, The Saint is hoping to acquire wisdom by rubbing the shoe of Miamonides.

From the walls of the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, I saw the water wheel on the river.

The Mezquita was a highlight and quite unforgettable with its never-ending jasper brick decorated arches.

The organ in the inner cathedral is gorgeous

and then there are the domed ceilings that leave one quite awed.

We crossed the river over the old Roman bridge to make our way back to the villa

and an early quiet dinner at a local restaurant called La Casa.

Day 4 we visited El Torcal and Malaga. It was 3 degrees in the mountains and the boy is wearing shorts...

The scenery was was breathtaking and the sun broke through for a moment.

A foxed blessed us with its presence

and the view down to Malaga was beautifully dressed in dappled light.

We had lunch at the beach and the sun was shining and the shorts were needed.

We toured the Alcazaba entering through these picturesque arches

and another inside the building.

At the top we posed in front of the building

and looking down, a park with a pretty garden and Jacaranda trees which made me think of home.

Then it was time for coffee at El Pimpi. 

Apparently, you have not been to Malaga if you have not visited El Pimpi and famous patrons are encouraged to sign and decorate the barrels. Do you recognise any of the names?

The evening found us in Antequera dining up on a hill with a view of the city roofs

and the sleeping giant in the opposite direction.

Day 5 was a day of mountain walks and wild flowers - Teba Castle and Ronda.

The wall below the castle was festooned with poppies and other wild flowers.

Through the arch the rest of the group is heading onward and upward

and the view is simply wonderful.

In Ronda we passed this statue outside the bullring.

The view from the cliffs was incredible.

After lunch we descended the gorge along a path that ran under the bridge. In the bottom of this photo on the left there is a small gap in the rocks which is actually a tall passage which we passed through.

The waterfall danced with rainbows

and once again wild flowers delighted our path.

They were present all the way along the walls of the old city too.

Day 6 was the one that I had been waiting for, the place I have dreamed of exploring for many years - Granada. We started off with the most important components needed for a good start to any day - coffee and churros.

We walked passed an aromatic spice store which we could not resist and Alex helped us negotiate with some delicious mixed spices to bring home.

In the Alcaiceria Silk Market, the wall decorations were stunning.

At last we were left to explore the Alhambra. 

The gardens are a delight

and the Summer Place teased us with views of later pleasures

and out over the roofs of Granada to the mountains beyond.

While we waited in the queue for the Nasrid Palace we were able to enjoy a lovely garden.

Nothing prepared me for the experience of the Nasrid Palace. It is the most exquisite building I have ever seen with such amazingly crafted decorative features. 

Every room, arch and courtyard is a feast for the eyes.

It was quite overwhelming toward the end but an astounding way to finish a great tour.  

Of course, the Saint had to fool around a bit too and I captured him in the act.

We decided that the Rain in Spain falls mainly on Mollina as it rained there almost every day of our trip.