Monday, June 24, 2013

Spain & Karen: Our Second Anniversary

Another year has passed, and it's time to celebrate our second anniversary. This year, I'm thinking about specific places that these photos conjure up in my memory. The first photo is of one of the many Pueblos Blancos of Andalusia, a town called Setenil. Unlike the other Pueblos Blancos, Setenil was constructed in a low valley, along a river. Some of the buildings were built underneath enormous rock overhangs. During siesta time, we toured the city on foot, and got completely overheated. Eventually, we stopped at a cafe and had a refreshing beverage, while noting that the ceiling of the cafe was made entirely of rock. The roads narrowed as they descended towards the river, and became cobbled alleys. But, I noticed as we roamed, that there were many tiles covered with fauxbois glaze patterns.

This is a photo of another of the famed white cities of the south. It is Ronda. Because of it's location, set on either side of a tremendous limestone cleft, it was one of the last Moorish strongholds. It finally fell to the Christians in 1485. Six hundred years later, we had a wonderful, late night dinner there. Darryl asked the owner of the cafe to bring us her favorites. While we were lingering over our meal, a bell was ringing, as evening mass was letting out at the church on the corner of the small square. The next day, we stood near the bridge of the city, watching swallows dart into nests along the rocky cliffs. There was a local flamenco guitarist, serenading the viewers.

This is the edge of the hill leading up to the Alhambra in Granada. The Alhambra notwithstanding, one of my favorite things that we did in Granada, was to visit the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella. It felt like a very sacred place, and the sculptures on the tombs looked so serene. The crypt underneath was kind of creepy. While at the Alhambra, I sat down for a moment of exhausted solitude. A French mother and daughter sat down next to me. They, too, were completely worn out. Somewhere, they had purchased large ice cream bars, and were taking a moment to talk about the Alhambra. It was wonderful to eavesdrop on their conversation, while sitting on our bench, overlooking the gardens of the Generalife.

This is the Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares in Sevilla. This is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. EVER. Forget the fact that it housed a phenomenal museum, full of explanations of many of the arts and crafts practiced in Spain. Sevilla was a marvelous place. The Real Alcazar was a revelation. One memorable evening, we walked along the outside wall of the gardens of the Alcazar, which was lined with bougainvillea. It was dusk and the extreme heat of the day was ebbing. It was so delightfully shady. We had breakfast each day at our neighborhood croissant/ice cream cafe. One afternoon, we ran into one of our waiters in an alley, while walking back to our hotel room. He smiled and waved. Sevilla is that kind of place: the climate is warm and the people are even warmer.

Ah, Cordoba. My favorite memory there was watching a wedding taking place in the side chapel of the Mezquita. This is a mosque that was built twelve centuries ago and it's also a cathedral built during the sixteenth century. Imagine uniting two lives in a building where two of the world's most powerful religions historically struggled for control. We had many great experiences in Cordoba. One of them was being part of an all-night flamenco festival. We had the best tapas of our entire trip at a restaurant near the Torre del Alminar, the bell tower which was built on the site of the original minaret of the Mezquita.

Okay, I left out thoughts about Barcelona. But, you get the general idea. I will be returning to Spain. It's only a matter of time...


  1. Fantastico! Mil gracias por las fotos y relatos!

  2. I left out the friendship that you forged over "Call of Duty" at the Alhambra...

  3. You absolutely have to go back--only this time for an extended visit in Madrid with Chris. He's already planning on it! Thanks for this Karen--it was like a little mini vacation in the sun on a rainy grey afternoon. What a fantastic time.

  4. Oh, and remember that Sevilla had a dedicated Potato Chip Store… Enough said.


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