Walking, drinking, walking, drinking, eating, walking, drinking and eating

Valencia was great. Liz and I spent a week doing much of the same (but completely different at the same time). Plenty of walking, eating and drinking. Within 24 hours we had fully embraced the Spanish way of life, eating late and drinking plenty at all times during the day (yes wine before midday is OK). On our wanderings in the Old Town we regularly got lost only to find ourselves next to some major landmark or square we recognised from another point of view.

Other than wandering the Old Town we also spent some time sitting by the hotel pool reading and had a couple adventures including a walk down the old river bed (they put the river underground after many floods and turned the space into a city long green space with plenty of room for walkers, runners and bikers) and checking out The City of the Arts and Sciences.

We also had two beach days. One was spent checking out the America’s Cup village (albeit in the rain), and the other was an adventure on a local bus to a beach further south, the area surrounding having been badly hit by the recession. Think empty/closed 5-star hotels and tumbleweed (the beach was lovely though).

Now I am in my destination, Clermont-Ferrand. I am lacking internet and energy however to write another post. Hopefully this will get sorted soon, the bureaucracy is already doing my head in.

Amanda xx

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Three Spanish cities in one day

Granada did indeed ‘wow’ me. A stunning city with great food (the key to my heart). I did some walking and got some great views of the city and the Alhambra and ate some free Tapas. In Granada there is a local bylaw that basically means that Tapas bars have to give you free food when you order a drink (it’s a student town and if you have ever been a student you’ll understand the dilemma of having to choose between buying a drink or dinner). This makes it very cheap to go out to have food and drinks.

I spent 5 hours at the Alhambra (a fortress-palace). The palace is huge as a result of many people doing expansions and extensions since the beginning of its construction in 1238. As I mentioned in an earlier post this area of Spain was ruled by Arabs and so much of the construction was done under these rulers which means the palace is very Arabic and many parts make you feel like you are in North Africa.

On Friday was my epic cross country journey from Granada to Valencia via Madrid. I had breakfast in Granada, lunch in Madrid and dinner in Valencia. In my 4 hours of walking around Madrid I saw a few good sights and managed to get into the Museo Nacional del Prado (and the special ‘El Greco’ exhibition) for free.

Arriving in Valencia was very exciting and soon after I got to the hotel Liz arrived from the airport. I was very excited to see her as we hadn’t seen each other in about 3 years! We have a week in Valencia and thank goodness for that after rushing around for a week. We plan to spend a bit of time reading books by the hotel pool and hitting the beach so looking forward to it. I’ll writ more at the end of the week and fill you in on how the week went.

Amanda xx

Birthday celebrations

Sunday was a travel and laundry day. I travelled by bus from Lisbon to Seville through southern Portugal. Amazing scenery!

Monday I woke late as it was my birthday and called my parents before going on a wander around the city and eating some Tapas. Tapas are great, they are a small dish so you can try a few things. I tried salmoreja (creamy gazpacho-like soup). I checked out the cathedral (which is the 3rd biggest in the world after St. Peters and St. Paul’s) and the Alcazar (royal palaces). In the evening I went to a Flamenco show and we even got to give it a go at the end, I’m not as bad as I thought I would be. Visited the Spanish square which features in Star Wars and is filming for Game of Thrones starts there later in the month.

Cordoba was up next and as a treat (thanks Tash!) I went to an Arabic bath house and had a 2 hour bath and massage session, bliss. This part of Spain was conquered by the north Africans once and their influence shows strongly. Tried a local food, fried aubergines with honey. A quick visit to the Mesquita before leaving town was mandatory, but also free as I went early in the morning before mass and I was treated to an almost empty cathedral-mosque. The building is amazing, half mosque half cathedral. The mosque was there first and in the days of city walls there was limited space to build a new cathedral when the Christians took over the city. So they simply recycled the existing mosque and built Christian elements into the building.

Unluckily I managed to miss my train and spent 3 hours waiting in the train station waiting…

Granada is the next location, and I have heard great things so am hoping I am wowed with the city. More later in the week

Amanda xx