Sexy Seville

Sexy Seville

 

Can’t write much today because we’re about to get picked up by a car to Gibraltar in about 2 min…but pictures do enough justice of being worth thousands of words, right?

Why are you so pretty Seville?

 

Picking fruit and eating it, the old school style.

 

All you need to do in Seville if you got only one day…it’s quite a simple, easy to navigate city.

 

Plaza de San Francisco:

 

 

Seville Cathedral:

 

 

Views from the Giralda Tower (accessible within the Cathedral):

 

 

The Alcazar (Castle):

 

The Alcazar just got served.

 

Alcazar peacocks:

 

A pretty male.

 

A few people in our group determined she was the female because she wasn’t as pretty as the male:

 

 

Getting lost within Barrio de Santa Cruz:

 

 

Making new friends (Thanks for taking us around Álvaro! And thank you AIESEC at Baruch College for introducing us to him!):

 

 

Flamenco:

 

 

And how tired we ended up being:

 

 

Today’s challenge: 3 countries in one day; our final hours in Spain, a few hours in Gibraltar, and ending up in Morocco before the the night is over.

 

- At time of posting in Sevilla / San Pablo, it was 6 °C - Humidity: 81% | Wind Speed: 10km/hr | Cloud Cover: n/a

 

Sleepless In Sevilla

Sleepless In Sevilla

1. Woke up in Cordoba at 4:30am to catch a 5:30am ALSA bus

2. Arrived into Sevilla at 7:30am 

3. Checked into our hostel at 8am. 

4. It’s now 11:30am and everyone is still sleeping. 

5. Must be a tiring trip.

 

- At time of posting in Sevilla / San Pablo, it was 10 °C - Humidity: 57% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: n/a

 

The Road To Alhambra And La Mezquita

The Road To Alhambra And La Mezquita

Pulled off seeing the two greats back to back today:

Alhambra: A grand fortress built in the 9th century, later converted to a palace complex in the 13th century. It changed hands from Arabic to Christian dominance during its history and its detailed architecture demonstrates influences from both styles.

 

 

La Mezquita: The world’s perfect mix of culture and religion, Christianity and Islam, splendor and wonder.

 

La Mezquita just got served.

 

We rolled in 6:30am in the morning on an overnight from Madrid, and was received by two friends living in Granada (whom I met through contacts via famed international organization, AIESEC). Upon our saying hello we immediately took to the streets of Granada, feeling like everything could have belonged to us.

 

Granada Cathedral

  

Taking a break(fast) with churros and chocolate:

 

 

We resume the walk up to Alhambra from Granada city center:

 

The hill up to Alhambra

The gate to Alhambra

Calabaza

 

To our disappointment, we found that one of the main attractions in Alhambra, the Court of the Lions, was under construction for at least another 2 years:

 

 

The rest of Alhambra,however, was this little calm oasis of a “city on a hill.” Although it personally didn’t move me as much I had expected to, I did make note of having my wedding here.

 

View from Calabaza

Panorama of Granada from the Calabaza of Alhambra

 

Afterwards we headed down to catch a sight of Alhambra from another view…

 

On our way past Plaza Nueva: one of the many beautiful buildings of Granada

Us with our new friends

 

From the offer of our new Granadian friends to try out the “free tapas with every drink you offer”, we ended up staying a little too long at lunch. As a result, we missed our bus from Granada to Cordoba by 5 minutes. For the first time in my life, I missed a mode of transportation! But luckily, thanks for the convenience and accommodation of Western Europe (especially the professionalism of Spanish tourism), we ended up switching to another bus leaving an hour and half later at no extra charge. Despite being a group of 8 people, it wasn’t a problem at all. Crisis averted.

By 7pm we arrive into Cordoba, and we booked it to the Mezquita (6 euros by taxi from the bus or train station; this was cheaper than public transportation, which would have been 1.5 euro a person, since we were traveling in a group of at least 4 people). We had reserved tickets for the new “La Meqzuita at Night” or “The Soul of Cordoba” (El Alma De Cordoba) show, which is an exhibition on seeing the famous mosque at night.

How do I describe the show? Epic is an understatement; they really went all out to make sure we were walking on hallowed grounds worthy of a “world wonder” title.

 

The line outside.

 

After that, we went out for a spot of a tapas dinner, and turned in early: We got an early 5:15am morning bus to Sevilla to catch. And if you couldn’t tell from the tone of this entry, we are really really really tired.

 

 

- At time of posting in Cordoba / Aeropuerto, it was 6 °C - Humidity: 86% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: n/a

 

Sleepless In Sevilla

The Oldest Restaurant in the World

 

This one’s for the foodies: eating at the oldest restaurant in the world, Sobrino de Botin, founded in 1725.

We first whet our appetite by pregaming at one of Hemingway’s favorite bars: Cervicheria Alemana.

 


And then we walk over to sample the staying power of Sobrino de Botin:

 

 

Among the Botin Salad, the oysters, scrambled egg, onion soup, and the lamb shank, We order the two other main dishes that Sobrino de Botin is known for:

 

 

The gimmick of being the oldest restaurant in the world means that you can get away with lower quality service and food. But not here. They live up to the family name by ensuring that the meat we had was top quality: the steak was juicy, succulent, and tender (I’ve heard stories about it since high school) while the suckling pig had the right balance of texture and taste. I can’t really describe it better than the faces of the people around me:

 

...ok Yiru's simply in the zone contemplating how awesome the food is. Ain't much a smiler anyway.

The world's oldest restaurant just got served.

 

Will I come back? Most definitely.

 

- At time of posting in Granada / Armilla, it was n/a - Humidity: 92% | Wind Speed: 4km/hr | Cloud Cover: n/a

 

Witnessing Guernica

Witnessing Guernica

Breaking stereotypes with an “Asian Firing Squad” (while having a highly recommended tapas brunch at Vinos Gonzalez):

 

2 items off the bucket list in one day and 2 more tomorrow; we are really cramming superlatives into a short amount of time. Despite the Prado being closed on Mondays, we made a bee line to Centro de Arte Reina Sofia to witness a childhood dream of mine come true: seeing Picasso’s Guernica in the flesh.

 

As you can tell, photography isn't allowed near the Guernica. So I did my best to sneak one in.

 

Ever since studying the Spanish Civil War, the 1937 bombing of Guernica (from which this piece is based off of), and related novels involving terror bombing such as Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5”, Picasso’s Guernica has been a persistent manifestation of my fascination with artistic and visual representation of war and chaos. When I finally got to see it, I felt like closing a back cover of a book I’ve been reading for a very long time. (I do admit, I did expect it to be a lot bigger).

The work is much bigger than the palm sized portions you probably see in textbooks or on Wikipedia. It spans about the length of the wall, being about 11 feet high and 26 feet across. What I found more fascinating, however, were the pieces around Guernica.

The process in which Pablo Picasso took to create Guernica was very well-documented: preliminary sketches and photography of the main work in progress adorn the rooms next to the painting. Seeing how an artist transforms an inspiration — an idea — into one of the 20th century’s greatest masterpieces compelled me to grasp the marriage of innate genius with determined hard work; you’ll discover how Picasso’s efforts to create Guernica didn’t come together so easily. A lot of trial and error seemed to be involved, and the entire piece was deconstructed before it was put together into its final form.

I found that this process of an artistic process unfolding was art in itself, as seeing it enhanced seeing Guernica in person. Truly a childhood dream come true.

 

 

With an exception of a few Dali’s and Velazquez’s, the rest of Reina Sofia was just as interesting (in a “contemporary art” sort of way, if that’s your thing), but paling in comparison to the main entree of one of Picasso’s greatest masterpieces.

BTW, I always thought someone would one day get away with these kind of exhibits…but definitely not at the Reina Sofia:

 

We make our own art for the Reina Sofia, free of charge.

 

Afterwards we relaxed and soaked in the sunset for a bit in Madrid’s grander version of “Central Park”: El Parque de Buen Retiro.

 

The oldest tree in Madrid

 

And other randomy things we’ve seen along our many walks:

 

I know you were closed today, Prado Museum, so you deserved to get served.

...taking the next step by teaching a pretty talented 10 year old kid how to breakdance (much to the chagrin of his parents) at the Plaza de Santa Ana.

 

Next up: Eating at the oldest restaurant in the world. Stay tuned (we now gotta run to catch a 1:30am overnight bus to Granada!)

 

- At time of posting in Madrid, it was 1 °C - Humidity: 93% | Wind Speed: 4km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear

 

Sleepless In Sevilla

Christmas In Madrid

 

It’s nothing less of magical: Madrid during Christmas. Although we hit a snafu with the museums, we could not have picked a better time to see Spain’s cultured capital.

 

 

After reuniting with the rest of the group at the hostel, we were hit with the unexpected hard truth: Not only were the museums in Madrid closed today on Christmas (the listed 10am-6pm “holiday opening hours” in Lonely Planet forgot an unlisted exception for Xmas. . . . Lonely Planet, you misinform once again!!!), but museums are also mostly closed on Mondays. This meant that the famous Prado Museum was off limits to us (we’re scheduled to leave Madrid Monday night  on an overnight bus). Devastating. Nevertheless, the Reina Sofia Gallery (the one that houses my favorite, Picasso’s Guernica) would remain open. We decided to bite the bullet. First world problems.

Surmising that everything else would be closed on Christmas, we went on a self-guided walking tour of the city. We started off at the official city center, Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, which is no more than a square for street artists dressed up as cartoon/movie characters and a central meeting point for all the people in Madrid.

 

 

We then headed to legendary Plaza Mayor.

 

Panorama of Plaza Mayor

Life on Plaza Mayor

 

And then to sample the delicious market meats and pastries of Mercado de San Miguel:

 

nom nom nom nom (again)

 

A pitstop for Spanish chocolate tastings at Chocolateria Valor:

 

 

The insurmountable Palacio Real:

 

The short asian girl crew make up for vertical challenges

Palacio Real just got served.

And Plaza de la Oriente:

 

...other things get served.

But the best part of Madrid, in my opinion is the life of the city streets: 

Panorama of Plaza de la Villa

A massive crowd assembles for a children's Christmas Parade

Madrid's answer to Manhattan's 5th Avenue: Gran Via

Plaza de la Puerta del Sol at night

You know that tree in the last picture? This is what it looks like from the belly.

We had enough time to also revisit everything, just to appreciate the differences among these neighborhoods past sunset (which you can see for yourself above).

It’s indisputable: this city breathes magic, as if the streets pulse with the surreal rhythm of its sophisticated people. And they sustain what the city does best: preserving culture while still thriving in a modern world.. If Barcelona is lovely, then Madrid is soulful.

Feliz Navidad.

 

- At time of posting in Madrid / Cuatro Vientos, it was 9 °C - Humidity: 34% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: n/a