4.26.2013

Our Trip to Cadiz

We are stationed across the bay from one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Spain - and in all of Europe too, for that matter: Cadiz (pronounced Ca-deeth). As you drive closer to the center of this large city, you begin catching glimpses of the ancient city wall...


Having learned our lesson in Arcos de la Frontera, our first order of business when we got near the historic district was to find a parking garage. We then walked along the water towards the Cadiz Cathedral, which is the large dome you can see behind us. 


The scarf was my attempt to look "European." Of course, my big honkin' camera bag classified me as a tourist anyway.... as well as every time I opened my mouth when someone addressed me in Spanish. But anyway. 

Everyone dresses up here. Unlike in east Tennessee, where it is only mildly socially unacceptable to be found at the grocery store in your pajamas and hair curlers, people look nice here whenever they're out in public. Even when they're going to the Spanish version of "the Walmart" (Carrefour), the Spanish are dressed to kill. So naturally, I fit right in.


The Cathedral was impressive, both inside and out... 



One of the neatest areas was down in the crypt... this room was like an echo chamber.


Creepy!


Back up into daylight...


Unfortunately, the plaster work in this cathedral is deteriorating,  so they had nets stretched across the ceiling to catch any crumbling bits...


...which was all very well for the tourists who avoided getting clunked on the head, but not so great for this bat, who had the misfortune to get stuck on the wrong side of the net and so met his untimely demise. (See the skeleton below?)


Farewell, cruel world! 




This was another old church right next to the Cathedral, and I have forgotten the name of it at present. I'm showing you this picture because, while the buildings here are very "European" looking, the palm trees, ocean, balmy wind, and flowers give it all a tropical feel, and it's an unusual but lovely combination.




After admiring the Cathedral, we meandered through the narrow streets, taking in the sights...


...and tastes....


...and smells.




The flowers and orange trees smelled lovely.... the strange outdoor meat market, not so much. Each of the stalls you see below contained different vendors, each selling different types of meat, fish, produce, eggs, pastries, or some other local offering. The strange part was that some of the butchers would take their unwanted scraps of meat and fish and just throw them out on the sidewalk, right where everyone was walking. The people on the left are having drinks and tapas from a little outdoor restaurant.


One of my favorite things about Spain, so far, are the orange and lemon trees you find growing just about everywhere. They smell similar to honeysuckle or jasmine, but the fragrance is stronger. Many of the streets here are lined with the trees, and you can smell the blossoms as you walk around. It's great.

Especially after you've walked through a meat market.


So overall, it was another successful day trip...



...and after witnessing some "creative European parking," we were very glad to collect our car from the safety of the parking garage and head home!



4.25.2013

¿Cómo se llama?

Before we left the States, a friend of mine casually mentioned that she and her friends were painting the inside of her car, and naturally, my ears perked up when I heard the word "painting." Intrigued, I asked her a little more about it, and then demanded to know why I had not been invited to paint inside her car, at which point I was formally invited.

A few days later, Bethany showed up with her car, five bottles of craft paint (red, blue, turquoise, white, and glow in the dark), a few Sharpies, and a paintbrush, and told me to have at it... I chose one of the door panels, and about an hour later, there was this...


Bethany likes llamas. She wants me to bring her one home from Spain, although I'm not quite sure if they're even indigenous to Spain, and I'm quite sure one wouldn't fit in the overhead compartment even if they were. So this may have to do...

Painting inside a car was certainly a first for me, and I had never really attempted painting with such a limited palette before, but I kinda like the quirky way it turned out... and Bethany's a little quirky herself, so it suited her.


I think she was happy with it!

4.24.2013

Help Me, Ronda!


With a few hours of daylight remaining after our visit to Arcos de la Frontera, we decided to continue on to the famous city of Ronda, Spain. The drive was gorgeous - we passed acres of open farmland, vineyards, olive groves, and rugged mountain peaks.


The landscape of Spain is nothing like I expected it to be...


We arrived in the cliff-top city of Ronda late in the afternoon, with just enough daylight left to wander around a bit...


Of course, we had to find the overlooks that make Ronda so famous...

Whoa! That's a long way down....


We walked by the famous bull ring (where every matador dreams of competing), and we made plans to come back and visit the bullfighting museum inside one day when we have more time...


Ha ha, Josh is the bull... aren't we funny and original? 

The best part of Ronda is simply the location of it - look at that view!

Apparently we weren't the only ones who thought we'd be hilarious with the metal matador statue....


So much for originality.


This beautiful park was by the overlook, and we enjoyed walking through the gardens....


Then we visited inside this church, where they were just about to begin a mass...


We had to head home before it got too late, but we definitely plan on revisiting this amazing city in the not-too-distant future and checking out more of the historic sites, shops, and restaurants!


4.23.2013

In which we almost got our car stuck in a church...

As you know, my husband and I recently moved to Spain. In the midst of the craziness of everything involved with moving overseas, we have taken a little bit of time to sightsee on the weekends.


Our first road trip was to a charming pueblo blanco (white village) in southern Spain, Arcos de la Frontera. As we drove into town, we thought to ourselves, "Hmm. Let's try to drive to the city center - that's probably where all these tiny European cars are headed..." 

 
As we drew closer to the city center (which is on top of a rather steep mountain), we began to notice that the streets were becoming more and more narrow, which made us more and more conscious of the width of our hulking, gas-guzzling, wide-load, "Hi, we're Americans" SUV. When we saw this flying buttress tunnel-type thing looming before us (see picture below), we took a deep gulp, folded in our side mirrors, and prayed that we wouldn't have to try to ask the drivers of the twenty cars lined up behind us to kindly back down the mountain so we could get our ridiculous car out of there. Yeah... In Spanish.


Fortunately, thanks to folding mirrors and the helpful Spanish men who climbed up into door frames and window ledges to let our car pass through, we made it through the narrow gap and squeaked our way down the cobblestone streets out of the historic part of town. Then we circled back and - like sane people - found the first parking garage, parked the hulk, and began exploring Arcos on foot.... Duh.


Unfortunately, we hit town right around Siesta time (yep, they really do that here), so most of the shops and historic buildings were closed. We enjoyed the quaint streets and beautiful architecture anyway.



The Iglesia de Santa Maria



Next to the church sits the Parador Hotel, formerly a palace called the Casa del Corregidor, that has an amazing overlook...






Inside the hotel, we enjoyed some delicious tapas at the hotel restaurant, then explored the public rooms in the lobby... Josh says this was a "real Picasso." Maybe it was. 



We'd like to go back and do a little more exploring (now that we know where to park), but overall, we had a wonderful time, and it was worth the drive simply for the amazing view!