After a two-hour BUS RIDE FROM HELL we arrived in Sanlúcar with just time to drop off our bags and make it to the first bodega visit. Much later we returned to the hotel to find this lovely room and lovely view. So far not as rainy as I’d feared. More later…
Stayed for the first time at Hotel Convento in Cádiz and, faulty shower door issues aside, we really enjoyed it. Located a short walk from the train station, it’s also close to lots of bars, central squares, and the Cathedral. The courtyard is stunning, and our room was quite spacious, clean and comfortable.
Full review coming soon on Azahar Spain.
From new discoveries (thanks to Pilar & Antonio) to revisiting old favourites, as you can see, it was a very FULL three days. But my favourite foodie moment was meeting Paco, who’s been running the Mini Bar in Cádiz for 45 years. It’s impossible to spend money here, the seafood is fast, fab and fresh, with friendly service and nice wines too.
New reviews and updates will (hopefully) be up on Azahar Tapas soon.
So you really can’t go to Cádiz without taking this iconic postcard shot of the Cathedral with the pastel painted houses on the left, the sea in front of you, and preferably with a cooperative seagull passing by. Could’ve done without the ugly building crane on the left, but oh well.
And just below this viewing spot dwell a crazy number of “sea cats”, who always look to be thriving. In fact, there are little cat houses put out for them, with food and water dishes outside them. Given the number of orange cats roaming around (even more out of camera shot) there must have been at least one big ginger tom out there having a good time recently.
Just above “cat city” I spotted several seagulls vying for ownership over a whack of small fish that were laying across one of the boulders. Clearly tossed there by someone. And then one of them posed nicely for me…
Looking up at the Cathedral from the square. From being either high above the city to being on the beach at low tide, I went from giddy to almost giddier, but it was all very enjoyable, and I got LOTS of extra FitBit steps in 😉Looking out from the clock tower – very windy (eek!)
Looking down from Tavira Tower
Looking out at the sparkly sea from La Caleta beachLooking at the sea from the San Sebastián Castle.
You can’t see them but there were some (crazy) people out there, walking along the bits of land still above water at low tide, on a very blustery day.
View from La Caleta beach at low tide
No matter how many times you see the Mezquita in Córdoba it will always – ALWAYS – take your breath away. Obviously this little square pic doesn’t do it justice, but really no photo will ever do so. It’s been a few years since I’ve been inside (last time I think was with Craig & Susan?) and I loved it all over again.
A new experience for me was a morning visit to the Mahidat al-Zahra, which has only been open to the public since 2009. It is the site of a city built outside Córdoba around 950 BC for the Moorish king (Caliph), which only lasted about 80 years. The only down side to the visit was that we weren’t told until we arrived at the site by bus that the Salón of Abd-ar-Rahman III (ie The Main Attraction) was closed for repairs. Still, it was a nice walk around on a beautiful blue morning.
It was a fabulous birthday getaway and felt so much longer than just an overnight trip. We arrived in Ronda around 11.30 on Wednesday and took a scenic route to our hotel.
La Colegiata de Ronda (actually holiday apartments) was recommended by Mannie from Toma & Coe and it was perfect. The only “problem” was that we were barely there other than to sleep, so we didn’t get to take advantage of the rooftop terrace or the kitchen. But it was very spacious and comfortable and the owner, Gracia, was super helpful and friendly.
Of course there were tapas! We managed to fit in three delicious meals while we were there (plus one breakfast) but, according to my Fitbit, the amount we walked (much of it uphill) helped cancel out the extra calories. We enjoyed the trendy tapas at Tragatá, but traditional food won out. La Niña de Adela was as fabulous as I remembered it, though it has changed a bit since my previous visit in 2014. Our final lunch was next door at Mesón El Sacristán (run by Gracia’s brother Antonio) and it was wonderful.
Aside from visiting museums and walking up and down the gorge, our most unusual experience came about just by chance. Since I signed up for the Fitur Tourism Fair a couple of weeks ago I’ve been receiving emails from different tour operators, inviting me to visit them at their booth. So when another Fitur email popped up on my phone while we were on the bus I was about to ignore it … but the word Ronda caught my eye. It was from a place called Reserva Tauro just outside Ronda and, like the other emails, it suggested meeting up at Fitur. So I wrote back right away, saying I was actually on the bus to Ronda and plans were made for us to visit on Thursday morning.
Reserva Tauro is a breeding farm for fighting bulls and purebred Andalusian and Arabian horses located in the Sierra de las Nieves (a UNESCO site). It is run by Rafael Tejada, who is a bullfighter as well as a breeder. The visit was wonderful, quite exceeding my expectations. We were taken around the farm, sometimes on foot, sometimes on a little “tourist train”, and our guide kept us both entertained and informed. We got to see the young foals (so cute, all legs!), the mother cows and their young, and the bravo bulls. I even got to see Ibérico pigs close up. Later we were treated to a short riding performance, and Rafael showed us how to use the different fighting capes (which are much heavier than they look). Afterwards we were brought back to the testing ring and sat outside on the adjacent terrace, where we were given wine and snacks before being taken back to town. Honestly, if you are planning a trip to Ronda you MUST do this.
We also went to the bullring in town (Spain’s oldest), the Baños Árabes and the curious Museo Lara, which is about a dozen museums in one. And of course we made sure we were on the terrace of the Parador Hotel overlooking the gorge at sunset to enjoy a drink and the changing light. It was a perfect getaway. Next up… Córdoba!
I have been thinking about where to go for a big 60th BIRTHDAY TRIP, since I reckoned that making it to my 7th decade on January 7th was indeed something to celebrate. But my first choice (San Sebastián) fell though because my friend Gabriella is going to be away all month, and one of the main highlights of going to SS would be to hang out with G. And then I thought about Lisbon, but direct flights are difficult to find, so I may hold out on that one until I can go by car. Also, both places are iffy weather-wise in January, especially as I was planning to spend a week wherever I went, and a week in the rain anywhere would not be pleasant.
And so I have come up with a new plan, which is to celebrate my birthday all month long (!!!) with a different overnight getaway each week. Four destinations that immediately came to mind – Cádiz, Ronda, Córdoba, Granada – are all places I haven’t visited for a couple of years (or more) and so I thought this would be a nice way to “catch up”. Also, since I’ll be travelling by train or bus, I can pretty much book last minute, and avoid rainy days.
So… first stop Ronda! 🙂