Seville (southern capital)
We visit the magnificent cathedral of Seville , one of the largest in the world. Originally a mosque before Seville fell to the Christians, the fine building seen today was finally finished in 1507.
Inside it is huge, filled with lots of chapels, altars covered in gold and art treasures. We climb the passageway to reach the Giralda at the top. The ascent is via ramps, enabling the guardsmen of the time to ride up on horseback! Cool views of the city are seen from all sides.
The grand tomb of Christopher Columbus lies within the cathedral, although some claim that the Dominican Republic is his true final resting place.
We stop for pizzas of jamon(ham) and pineapple. Although wanting to stay longer, the temperatures are soaring into the 40’s so we decide to head to the coast for a sea breeze.
Jerez de la Frontera
We stop for some tapas of fried fish, cured meats and patatas fritas, taking in the breath-taking views of the pretty white village perched on top of the hilltop.
World cup final day- the bars are packed to the brim and the streets are quiet, except for the main square, which is a sea of red shirts. After walking up and down the road, we finally find room in a bar near to the tv where we enjoy the game. Everyone goes crazy, people running up and down the street , so we escape down a side road to find a small restaurant, serving a variety of international cuisine. We have baby squid, fried platana- a Columbian dish and burritos.
Europe’s kite-surfing and windsurfing capital. We realise why, as the beach is extremely windy. It apparently stays like this for most of the year, creating ideal conditions for the sports. We settle on the beach and a few seconds later, Martin is running as fast as Linford Christie after the umbrella! The only time I have seen him run this fast before is when he left his wallet in the taxi in China!
We take a walk through the whitewashed old town of Tarifa; lots of small boutique shops line the streets and we book our trip to Morocco.
We decide to visit the historic city of Granada, and the Alhambra (in Arabic, red castle), the most visited monument in Spain.
A fortress in the 9th century, it was converted in the 13th century to a fortress-palace complex.
Armed with an audio guide with the voice of Washington Irving, a Romantic writer, each room and courtyard is in the Alhambra is elegantly described and explained. He wrote ‘Tales of the Alhambra’ during his stay there in the 1820’s.
Containing mainland Spain’s highest peak, Mulhacen, we drive through the snowy mountains just past Granada, pausing to look down on the Las Alpujarras valleys with its sets of white villages, woodlands and streams. Ascending up the winding mountain, my heart begins to pound as I glance down at the sheer drop of thousands of feet. Just a rusty and crumpled metal barrier between the car and the edge! How are we going to get back down this road….
Cabo de gata
Containing some of Spain’s most beautiful beaches, we drive cove after cove along the dirt track kicking up a dust storm until we find the perfect cove for us to park up and have a swim.Martin inevitably runs and grabs his spear gun and fins, and swims off to into the distance, not to be seen for a couple of hours, whilst I prepare lunch.
We drive for a few hours up the coast, stopping off at Tarragona, before a quick pit stop in Barcelona, the Catalonian capital for some retail therapy, continuing our drive up the coast towards Cadaques.
Drive along the coast of the Costa Brava to L’Estartit and get on board a glass bottomed boat to the Illes Medes. The seven islets have been protected as an underwater nature reserve since 1985, and is the most popular spot in Spain for snorkelers and divers. As the winds were up today, we take a shortened route. This also means the boat is pretty rocky, as we sail to and around the tiny islands.
The narrow cobbled streets make manoeuvring the 4×4 tricky and after 2 or 3 reversings, we finally pull into a parking space. We take a break stopping in the main square, buzzing with people enjoying the evening sunshine in the many bars and cafes, and watch the sun set.
We particularly wanted to visit Cadaques as it is famous for being the town where Salvador Dali spent many family holidays and also lived in nearby Port Lligat for much of his later life.
We carry on inland to Figueres, about an hour’s drive away with scenic views of the Pyrenees in the distance. The ‘Teatre-Museu Dali’ is based here, created by Dali in the 60’s and 70’s. It is said to be an unmissable attraction-opinions on this to follow!
After queuing for half an hour, we enter the museum. Giant egg shapes on top of a pink building is our first view of the museum, followed by silver female figures decorated in gold. Next is ‘Taxi Plujos’ a huge Cadillac said to have belonged to Al Capone.
One of the highlights is the painting above the staircase in the central room ‘Gala Mirando el Mar Mediterraneo’. It portrays Gala, his wife and lifelong obsession close up, whilst from the other end of the room, it does indeed resemble a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.
We also visited the separate Dali jewels museum, which were designed by him and which are certainly very covetous. These include the Ull del Temps-eye of time and Core Reial- royal heart.
Follow on lots of paintings of distorted figures, strange sketches and crazy modern art pieces. It seems Dali was also obsessed with hands and feet! It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area and gives an insight into the slight madness of the painter!
We cross the border via Andorra and the Pyrenees into France.
Martin & Nicole