Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Andalusia 2

From Ronda we continued to the coast at Algeciras.  Algeciras is not a tourist destination in it's own right.  Most people come just to take a ferry to Morocco, or as in our case, use it as a base to visit Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is of course best known for it's gigantic rock and for the fact that Europe's only wild monkeys that live on it.  It is also a British military base that has frustrated Spain to no end since they lost it about 300 years ago.
The rock is easily visible from across the bay in Algeciras and a quick bus ride and a walk across the border had us there in about an hour.  As the only border between Spain and the UK, Sasha was excited to have a foot in each of her heritages at the same time.  Right after crossing the border we had to walk across the runway of the small Gibraltar airport.  There is a road that cuts across the middle of the runway and anytime a flight is due they have to close the road and sweep the runway before a plane can land or depart.  This got me very excited of course and during our day there were were able to watch this process a couple times.
The small town of Gibraltar is a typical tourist-trap kind of town and it is strange to see Spanish people eating fish and chips and speaking with British accents.  We took the cable car up to the top of the rock, watched everyone get attacked by the monkeys which are waiting at the top, enjoyed the views and slowly walked back down.  There are a few structures along the way, mostly related to military fortifications, but for the most part it was just an enjoyable stroll.

Crossing the runway!

Gibraltar town

The monkeys attack as soon as you arrive at the top!

Old fortifications at the top.

Gibraltar below and Spain across the bay.

Our next stop was Cadiz.  Easily the least visited city of our stops in Andalusia but I ended up liking it a lot.  I wanted to visit it for its historically significance.  It is one of the oldest cities in Europe, perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited one in western europe, as it was first settled by the Phoenicians.  It was later Carthaginian, Roman, Visigoth, Byzantine, Moorish and Spanish.  As a port city, it was sacked many times by pirates and the British, was the starting point for many exploratory sea voyages including some by Columbus, and eventually became the home of the Spanish treasure fleet. One of the unique architectural features of Cadiz was its towers, built by wealthy merchant families as lookouts for returning ships. Most of the dozens of towers are long gone, but there is at least one left that can be visited.
While there aren't many single big attractions, the old town on its peninsula has a great atmosphere, lots of little ruins, fortresses and sea views scattered about and some nice old buildings, plazas and narrow streets.  It is also largely free of the tourist hassle of the other towns nearby.  If I had had the time I would've been tempted to just relax there a little longer.


Narrow streets but pretty buildings.

One of the little forts protecting Cadiz.

Our final stop in Andalusia was Seville.  Wow what a city.  Ridiculously busy with tourists but justifiably so as it is a beautiful historic city as well.  Before Cadiz, this is where all the trade came and went from to the Spanish colonies so the wealth generated resulted in some magnificent buildings and one of the largest cathedrals in the world.  The decor inside is very impressive and contains the tomb of Columbus.
We ran around like crazy trying to see as much as we could but at least a few days would be needed to do justice to it all.  As the largest city and capital of Andalusia it continues to grow and get more modern architectural projects as well but the older part is great combining wide avenues and ornate architecture with the smaller more cramped neighbourhoods as seen elsewhere.  One of the more interesting areas to explore was the grounds of the expo held in 1929 at the Plaza de Espana and the surrounding park.  It's a very beautiful and romantic area for a stroll.

Wide streets in Seville

Outside the Cathedral


Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Plaza de Espana.

I found Cervantes

From Seville we had a long bus ride back to Valencia for our flight home.


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