Up until now, I had no trouble capturing a place on camera, barring certain natural phenomenon like the northern lights, double rainbows and the stunning glacial waters, which lost a little bit of their magic when you try and freeze them in a moment in time. All these assumptions of mine were thrown out of the window when I stepped onto the cobble stoned streets of Andalusia. The cathedrals and the palaces were so grand, my wide angle lenses were no match for them! I do have to applaud my sincere albeit risible effort of lugging my camera along in my already overweight luggage to Spain. I mean, who even uses DSLRs anymore at this day and age to capture pictures? Well, the familiar feeling of holding a camera and listening to the history of a different country from a local guide, aah how much I had missed it. Spain was the first country I travelled to outside of the US after the pandemic and I couldn’t have picked better. So, here’s a photo diary/travel blog to this absolutely <insert-all-adjectives-that-mean-beautiful-in-an-outworldly-way> part of Spain!
A mere 2.5 hour train ride from Madrid, through beautiful prairies and farmlands, Seville looks like an ordinary town as you disembark. However, a 45 minute walk from there sits the old town, which has the most magical, post-card worthy, cobble stone streets lined by orange trees with a gazillion oranges, that every European dream vacation is made of! Thanks to the bitter nature of the oranges, none of the fruits get picked from the trees, resulting in the most unreal sight I’ve ever witnessed. A simple google search revealed that Seville is indeed the city with the most orange trees in the WORLD, so I’m not exaggerating here! The grand cathedral of Seville greets you at the town square, with flamenco dancers performing to live music. If the former doesn’t make you stop and stare in awe, I can assure you, the latter will. All I wanted to do that moment, with a gelato in one hand (in the dead of winter) and my camera in another, was to pinch myself to make sure this was actually happening in real life rather than a scene from a Woody Allen movie! Every turn you take leads you to a picture perfect street with pastel buildings, and if you are lucky, a towering cathedral with the most beautiful facade, waiting to be stumbled upon.
The highlight of Sevilla for me was the Alcazar. We took a guided tour with Airbnb experiences and we came out of the tour learning so much history! The architecture of the palace was definitely one of the best I have ever seen. The fact that Christian kings actually employed Mudejar or muslim artisans to build their palace shows how art transcended even the most stringent religious rules so many centuries ago.
Things to do in Seville:
- Walk across the river to Triana, the old quarter for some local seafood markets
- Take a walk in the Plaza de Espana
- Take a tour of the Grand Cathedral and Giralda
- Guided tour of Alcazar
- At night, stop by the Setas de Sevilla for a panoramic view of the city
A short 1.5 hour car ride from Seville sits the city of Cordoba. The main attraction here is the Mosque-Cathedral, which as the name suggests, is a mosque AND a cathedral! When the Christians conquered Spain, they decided to leave the mosque as is and built a cathedral as an extension from it. Even though it has been used only as a church since the conquest, it was very interesting how they blended the two places of worship into one. A lazy stroll along the Roman bridge (built in the 1st century BC!!) and streets of Cordoba was how we spent the day here.
The last stop in our trip was the city of Granada. Since I time I set foot in this country, my conversations with random strangers whenever I brought up south of Spain has always been about the Alhambra, the show stopper of Andalusia. The common consensus was this was the most beautiful palace in all of Spain. After seeing the cathedrals and Alcazar, I assumed that it would be on a similar scale. But boy, was I wrong! From the outside, it looks like a fort, albeit a beautiful one, perched on top of a hill. But once you get inside, the grandeur is really unparalleled (The inspiration for the title of this blogpost comes from this ;)) When I visited the Taj Mahal, I swore that I could never possibly set eyes on another monument that is so beautiful. But the beauty and grandeur of the Alhambra challenged that belief of mine. The stalactite doomed ceilings are a trademark of this palace, and to think that it was all vibrant colors when it was first constructed just blows my mind! The paint has slowly faded over the centuries leaving behind a soft cream hue, which by itself is stunning. When I walked into the courtyard, I was so overwhelmed by its beauty, I might have shed a tear or two. We took a guided tour from Airbnb experiences again for this one and it was worth every penny. A walking tour through the perfectly whitewashed towns of Albaicin and the cave homes of Sacromonte as the sun was setting, was the perfect end to this trip.
This was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever stepped foot on and I left Spain with overwhelming gratitude and happiness to have witnessed this amazing country!
Until next time,