Saturday, February 11, 2017

Más España! – Andalucía’s Greatest Hits, Part 1 – October 25–31, 2016

Looking for the Spain of popular culture: flamenco, bull fighting, Moorish architecture, Spanish spoken with a lisp – Olé!? You want Andalucía (English: Andalusia; Spanish pron: Ahn-dah-loo-THEE-ah).

Andalucía is the second largest of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, is composed of eight provinces and covers the country’s southern coast. This is where the Moors made their last stand in 1492; Columbus launched for The New World in 1492; and about a third of Britain spends each winter holiday.

We spent almost three weeks on a “greatest hits” tour of Andalucía. Not. Enough. Time.

Sevilla Steet Scene

Sevilla (English: Seville) – October 25 – 28

We traveled from Almería to the capital of Andalucía -- Sevilla (Spanish pron: Seh-vee-yah) – on one of Spain’s discount short-haul airlines, Vueling; worked fine, didn’t cost much. We stayed in the Petite Palace Marqués Santa Ana; worked fine, not wildly expensive (except breakfast) and in a great location.

"Our" Neighborhood
The Yellow Color On Many Buildings in Sevilla 
Was Originally Achieved Using The Local Soil

          First, An Overview:

With only two full days scheduled in Sevilla we knew we would have to take a more aggressive tourist posture than is our norm. We launched with a guided walking tour and though we are not good at taking in rapid-fire information, we did come away with a good overview of the city’s Moorish section and the following (to us anyway) entertaining bits of information:
  • There are a lot of charming narrow streets and beautiful buildings in Sevilla and one can enjoy just wandering for hours.
More Sevilla

  • The city’s cathedral was built on top of a destroyed mosque and the bell tower was once a minaret; the wind vane on the bell tower, which is in the figure of a woman (La Giralda, from girar for “turn”) was the subject of a joke in Don Quixote (something about a fickle woman subject to changing with the wind). Neither of us has read Don Quixote, so we took this bit of information on faith.
La Giralda

  • The tomb of Christopher Columbus is the tomb of Christopher Columbus or someone closely enough related to share DNA with The Navigator’s known direct descendants.
  • The city is home to two different soccer teams and allegiances are determined at birth.
  • The narrow streets of the city’s Moorish section cannot accommodate large garbage collection trucks, so the city has installed an interesting garbage transportation system. Place discards in a futuristic street-side bin and --- whoosh -- it ends up at a collection point underneath a plaza large enough to be accessed by a  garbage truck. Good clean fun. (Sorry)
High Tech Garbage

          Stage Two – Three Highlights:

The Internet and tour books offer a lot of information and some great pictures of the following Sevilla highlights so we will limit ourselves to some general impressions and (hopefully) only enough pictures to entice you to look further. 

               Cathedral / Bell Tower: The tomb of Christopher Columbus (moved from Havana in 1899 as the Spanish empire was contracting) is really spectacular.

The Kings of Castille, Aragon, León and Navarra, 
Pallbearers For The Navigator

The bell tower ascent is easier than most because a relatively wide, gently sloping ramp was built to allow the muezzin (who gives the Islamic calls to prayer) to ride to the top of the minaret on horse or mule. We couldn’t help but think of all those priests and friars who had to climb narrow stairs or even wooden ladders to ring bells at other cathedrals. Those guys should have organized for better working conditions. 
Top of the Cathedral From The Bell Tower

Bull Ring - From the Bell Tower

Another Favorite Cathedral Thing is to view the Cathedral at night. Part of the appeal may be that one of the great places to enjoy a night view is an upstairs bar across the street from the Cathedral. Just FYI, the drinks there are startlingly expensive.

Night View

               El Real Alcázar (The Royal Alcazar):  The Alcázar (fort / palace) is a spectacular example of Mudéjar architecture, a Spanish architectural style with Moorish elements (or perhaps more accurately, Moorish architecture and design used after the Moors got booted).

A Side Note For Context: Spanish history revolves a lot around the territorial battles between the Christians and the Moors and the ultimate “Re-Conquest” by the “Catholic Monarchs” (Ferdinand V and Isabella) in 1492. But there wasn’t just one re-conquest. Sevilla was re-conquered in 1248, at which time the city had been ruled by Moors for more than 500 years (since 712). An important reminder that history is written by the most recent winners and that their take on history may last only until the next conquest. 

The Alcázar is also the oldest European royal palace still in use, a crammed tourist attraction and, at times, a set for The Game of Thrones. Not being Thrones fans we mostly appreciated this palace / fortress for its Mudéjar architecture.   

And yes, there are better pictures elsewhere, but we really liked some of these, so bear with us!

  Another favorite at the Alcazar were some tapestries of naval battles. 

The gardens are a good place to escape the crowds.

Maintenance - A Never Ending Project
When The Palace Was "Re-Built" in the 14th Century

               Flamenco: There are hundreds of places to see flamenco dancing and/or hear flamenco guitar in Spain, but since Sevilla is famous for flamenco we went to a performance at a venerable old location: La Casa de la Memoria (The House of Memory). If Molly’s memory is to be trusted we accidentally stumbled into the same venue she and her mother went to on their long-ago trip to Spain – House of Memory, indeed! Someday we will excavate her travel diaries from our storage locker and see if this can be confirmed.

This Woman Was Probably Not Performing There In 1985(ish)

Stage Three – Wandering Around:

We were able to fit in a bit of our favorite tourist activity – wandering aimlessly and looking at stuff:

               A Spanish School: We stopped by a Spanish language school, spoke to the charming young woman at the front desk and took away a brochure. Yikes - the school’s European prices reminded us what a bargain studying and living in Mexico is! Though Sevilla would be a great place to live and study Spanish for a couple of months. . . .

               The Mushroom Building: This huge wooden structure is officially known as the Metropol Parasol (City Umbrella) but in Sevilla it’s best known as The Mushrooms or The Mushroom Building. The reason for this nickname becomes obvious as you approach: 

Umbrella or Mushroom? Whichever, It's
Reported To Be The Largest Wooden Structure In The World

There’s a market here during the day, it's lighted in the evening and there are good views of the city from the top. The price of the elevator ride (3 euros) to the touristy viewing area on top includes a plastic cup of wine or a "tapa". Go for the view, not the wine or the food.

A View From The Top Of The Mushroom

Another Mushroom View

But what no one told us was that underneath all of this modern strangeness is a nice little museum displaying the Roman ruins uncovered in 1990 during the building’s construction (it’s always the parking structure . . . ). If you’re a Roman ruin fan this is worth the 6 euro fee.

Foundation Remains

Floor Detail

               Breakfast Entertainment: The Petite Palace breakfast buffet was expensive and we had finally acknowledged that eating a huge breakfast does not mean that we will eat a small lunch. So we sought out a pretty little café near the hotel for a relatively inexpensive European breakfast and a seat that offered a view of the neighborhood going about its morning. On our last morning in Sevilla we watched a traveling knife sharpener at work. We have often seen knife sharpeners in Mexico use bicycle power to sharpen knives for home cooks and local restaurants. But in Europe they rely on updated technology.

Advanced Technology Knife Sharpening

After breakfast we rented a little SUV and drove to our next destination. . . .

Ronda -- October 28 – 31

We didn’t think of going to Ronda until our friends Wendy and Larry told us they would be there after completing a bicycle trip through some of Spain’s famous White Villages (picturesque small hill towns with whitewashed buildings – thus the name). Wendy said that she had wanted to visit Ronda for a long time

Hmmm. What would we miss if we bypassed Ronda? So, after some research we decided we too wanted to see Ronda and arranged to meet our friends there.

Look At That! 

The primary reason people visit Ronda is its location. The town is perched on top of a plateau and straddles a breathtaking gorge.

Ronda Perched Atop

The "New" Bridge - Completed 1793

We stayed in the Hotel Don Miguel just across the New Bridge from the Moorish town. We had a nice view from our room.

A Room With A View -
The "New" Bridge To The Left

And spectacular views from the hotel’s breakfast room.

Coffee With An Even Better View

During the day Ronda is jammed with day trippers on bus tours of the White Villages, but by night the town hosts a much smaller number of “resident tourists”. Wandering through the Moorish town is pleasant in the evening and the restaurants are busy but reservations are not difficult to arrange.

Hanging With Bikers: 

Wendy and Larry offered up the White Villages expertise they had acquired during their bicycle trip and we offered a rental vehicle with motor. A great deal for everyone. Hearing them say “Geez, look – we rode up that!” as we climbed the hills of Andalucía re-enforced our choice in mode of transportation. The scenery is gorgeous but riding a bicycle in those hills would be brutal!

The Gorgeous Scenery Part Of The Route

One destination was the ruins of a Roman theater (can’t pass up anything those Romans left behind). It is not a world class archaeological site but it was a nice outing.

Wendy, Bryce and Larry
Admiring The Romans' Handiwork

The Amphitheater

Travel Tip: Don’t panic if you run a little late returning to the front gate after touring the site and find the gate has been locked. It doesn’t mean you are doomed to spend the night camped on the hillside with the sheep and Roman ghosts. The gate keeper is just out sweeping up the last few stragglers. And you can climb the fence. We did. 

We shared a couple of excellent dinners with Wendy and Larry thanks to advice from their hotel’s concierge. And one evening we attended a performance at the House of Guitars where we heard one set on a classical guitar and another on a flamenco guitar. The guitarist, Paco Seco, explained the differences in the instruments and musical styles. It was a very pleasant and interesting evening.

Bull Fighting:

After Wendy and Larry departed for The States we toured Ronda’s famous bull ring and bull fighting museum.

We learned (as everyone who visits Ronda learns) that it is the home of “modern bull-fighting” (early 1700’s). Before Francisco Romero established the “Rules of Ronda”,  bull fighting was either:

(a) peasant bull fighting during which random men would jump into a ring and run around alternatively antagonizing and then running from a bull (sounds like alcohol must have been involved, no?); or

(b) aristocratic bull fighting during which knights on horseback would enter a ring and fight a bull as a military training exercise.

The Rules of Ronda established the hybrid bull fight that is still popular today.

The bull fighting museum (located underneath the stands in the bull ring) has interesting exhibits but is hampered by the most confusing audio guide we have encountered in a very long time (and, based on the number of other confused looking people wandering around we don’t think we are alone in this assessment). This may be a good place to take an English language tour.

Cueva de la Pileta:

The highlight of our time in Ronda was a visit to see the Paleolithic and Neolithic era paintings in the Cave of the Pool outside the village of Benaoján. This ancient art is truly breathtaking. To protect the cave and the art visitors aren’t permitted to take pictures so the following are some pictures from the Internet:

At one point our guide prompted us to turn out our lanterns. We stood in the pitch-est dark we have ever experienced and the phrase “belly of the whale” came to mind. We were overwhelmed with respect for those ancients who traveled into that darkness guided only by torchlight to seek protection from predators and then left such striking images for us to see.

You have to want to see this cave to see it. Access is by guided tour and groups are limited to 25 people. Groups of at least 15 can pre-arrange a tour but independent travelers can only purchase tickets at the cave. No Internet orders; no phone reservations -- just show up and practice the virtue of patience. Even tickets don’t guarantee entry at a time specific; they seem to represent the right to join a tour when enough ticket holders are present and no pre-arranged tour has priority.    

Our first attempt to get tickets was made on a Sunday at about 11:30 a.m.. Bad plan. Lots of weekenders had the same plan and by the time we arrived all the day’s tickets had been sold.

On our second attempt we arrived on Monday morning just in time to purchase tickets (16 euros each) and join the 10 a.m. tour. It was a Spanish language tour but the guide pitched much of his talk to the children in the group so Molly could follow a lot of what was said. Bryce and a kind lady from Los Angeles translated the rest for her.

Note that in the slower tourist seasons one might purchase a ticket and have to wait for enough people to arrive to form a tour. Waiting is done on wooden benches. No snack bar. We’re also unclear on how often the English-speaking guides lead tours. All of this can be amusing if you have enough time to be amused. If not, it might be best to make arrangements through a tour company.

And then it was time to leave Ronda for Córdoba.


We stopped for lunch in the little village of Osuna because Molly has a friend in California whose last name is Osuna.

Yep, We Were There Hildelisa y Pedro!

Serendipity worked again. We had a just fine lunch and a short walk about town. Not much was open – and then we realized that the next day was the national holiday for All Saints.

We did see a couple of the charming metal benches Wendy had pointed out to Molly one day as being "all over" Andalucía. And once she pointed one out - we did see them everywhere! Lovely little ironwork benches - we wonder who got the contract for a region-wide distribution of park benches? 

The Bench of Andalucía

And that was our lunchtime in Osuna.

Basta! [English: Enough!]

Time to move on. Our next post: Córdoba and Granada.

Más España –- Anadlucía’s Greatest Hits, Part 2 -- October 31–November 9, 2016

This post about our fall tour of Andalucía, España is part of a current project to get some computer-relating things done before we leave the (relatively) good Wi-Fi of Banana Bay Marina. For anyone who needs a bit of context for this post about Spain, you're welcome to see our first post on Andalucía -- HERE.

Ronda To Córdoba And A Discounted Brush With The Law – October 31

Our drive from Ronda to Córdoba took us through miles and miles of olive groves. Every bottle of Spanish olive oil now reminds us of legions of grey-green trees marching to the horizon.

Olive Trees As Far As The Eye Can See
And A Cute Little Olive Hauling Tractor

Olive Trees: A Close-Up

At the outskirts of Córdoba we were rudely jolted from the lull created by those undulating olive groves. We passed a flashing, red 50-kilometer-an-hour traffic sign. Ugh. Flashing isn’t good. Flashing means a camera.

Three months later we received notice from the Spanish government that for the crime of driving eight kilometers per hour over the posted speed limit (that’s less than five miles an hour, BTW) we were being fined 100 euros. Yeow. But the notice also contained some odd, but good news: Fines paid within 30 days of the date of the notice would be discounted by 50%. Really. Someone in the Spanish traffic department has been to biz school . . . or has a degree in psychology.

Travel Tip: Heads up when driving in Spain! Even with a prompt payment discount, during a favorable exchange rate period, and using a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card our lack of attention cost more than $10 per excessive mile-per-hour. 

Córdoba – October 31 – November 4

We dropped off our liability – uhm, rental car – and took a cab to the Patios de Córdoba hotel (part of the Eurostars chain); very nice and well located.

A Traffic Calming Project Near The Hotel
And New Use For Left-Over Roman Columns

Plaza de la Corredera - 
A Lovely Breakfast Stop Near The Patios de Córdoba Hotel

That night we followed the advice of the front desk staff and wandered to a restaurant along the Rio Guadalquivir, the river that was Córdoba’s original reason for being. We enjoyed some tapas and red wine - que tan español!

During the next three and a half days we saw many of the Major Tourist Attractions and enjoyed more wandering and soaking up of atmosphere.  

               Day Wandering:

During our daylight wanderings we saw street art:

Two Dimensional Street Art

Three Dimensional Street Art
(Prowling Cat Is Metal)

We saw architectural reminders of / homages to the 500 years (711-1236) the city was a cultural hub for Iberian Peninsula Moors:

Privacy Screen For Modest Women

We walked along the old city walls (and tucked inside for a nice lunch).

Old City Walls

We were constantly reminded of the city’s touristy present.

A Bit Of The Old Olé To Take Home

Tourists Cruising La Juderia

One afternoon, in search of a restroom, Molly entered the Centro de Art Contemporaneo and found, in addition to the hoped-for clean restroom, some very amusing pieces of graphic art. Recognize yourself?

Always Someone Else's Shoes To Clean

Take It Or Make It?

               Evening Wandering:

One evening we turned a corner not far from our hotel and wondered if we had gotten lost. It seemed we had found a Mexican religious procession:

La Virgen

The Procession

               Tourist Highlight: La Mezquita - Cathedral/Mosque:

As in other Spanish cities, the cathedral of Córdoba was once a mosque. Unlike other cathedrals, however, this one was built inside of the pre-existing mosque rather than upon its ruins.

A condensed history of La Mezquita:
  • Mid-6th Century: The conquering Visigoths built a basilica.
  • 711-ish: Conquering Moors purchased half of the basilica property for use as a mosque; the other half continued to be used as a basilica.
  • 756: Córdoba became an independent emirate.
  • 786-788: Abd al-Rahman I purchased the basilica, demolished it and the original mosque, and built a large, new mosque.
  • 991: A third and final enlargement of the mosque resulted in  space for 40,000 worshipers.
  • 1236: Upon the re-conquest of Córdoba the mosque was consecrated as a Catholic church.
  • 1371: The royal chapel (which, BTW, tourists can’t enter or even peer into) was built into the center of the mosque.
  • 1489 – 1800s: The cathedral nave was completed in 1489 and other work continued into the 19th century.
  • 1816: The mihrab (the Muslim prayer niche) was restored (enlightened for 1816 Spain, no?).
  • 1984: UNESCO declared La Mezquita a World Heritage Site.
There is an often-repeated story that Carlos V, during whose reign much of the construction of the cathedral was done, said upon seeing it for the first time: “You have taken something unique in all the world and destroyed it to build something you can find in any city.”

While we agree with the monarch that the cathedral is a lot like many others in Spain, we think the very fact that it is set within a restored/retained mosque makes it unique; worth its World Heritage designation and certainly worth a visit by anyone touring Andalucía. The contrast between the elegantly simple lines of the mosque and the Gothic cathedral is a lesson about the artistic sensibilities of the two high cultures of that time. 

Cleaning An Olive Tree In 
The Courtyard of Orange Trees

Fountain In The Courtyard of Orange Trees

The Mosque Surrounding the Cathedral

The Mihrab

               Another Tourist Highlight: The Roman Bridge and Museum of Al-Andalus:

If you’re a Roman history fan you may enjoy walking across the "Roman Bridge" across the Guadalquivir, though it would be disappointing to spend a lot of time thinking about how little of the original Roman structure is left.

The Bridge And Gateway

The Museum of Al-Andalus (the Moorish name for the area from which Andalucía comes), across the river from most of Tourist Córdoba in the Calahorra Tower, is worth a stop. Molly enjoyed the dioramas and the audio of the surprisingly similar teachings of Seneca (Roman scholar), Maimonides (Jewish scholar/physician) and Averroes (Muslim scholar/lawyer). Her enthusiasm wasn’t shared by everyone.

Calahorra Tower (Originally Built By The Moors in 12th Century)

But on one level there were ..... Roman mosaics (which make up for the Bridge's low level of Roman-ness)! 

Tragic Actor

                An Okay Tourist Stop: El Álcazar of the Catholic Monarchs / Fortress of Isabelle and Ferdinand II:

If you are on a tour of Andalucía, don't worry if you miss this particular Álcazar (fort). There are better Álcazars. But if you have time there are some nice views from the walls and some pretty gardens. 

Álcazar Fountains

Stroller Parking Lot At The Álcazar

               An Informative Tourist Wander: La Judería (The Pre-Expulsion Jewish Quarter):

One afternoon, as Bryce treated a bout of Tourist Fatigue with a nap, Molly soldiered on and explored an interesting part of Córdoba: La Judería.

As background, we offer the following, highly simplified information about Spain’s Sephardic Jews. 
  • A “Sephardic Jew” is, simplistically put, someone descended from the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). Interestingly the Hebrew word for Spain is pronounced “se-fah-rahd”.
  • The Moors allowed the Iberian Jewish population to live unmolested – for a price. They levied a tax on both Christians and Jews during their period of control; the original "pay-to-play".
  • As the Moors were driven out, town by town, life became more difficult for the Jewish population. Apparently there were some nasty pogroms as early as 1391 which prompted many to convert to Catholicism. Historical evidence suggests that many of these conversos were only nominal converts and that they continued to live separately and practice some aspects of Judaism in secret.  
  • At some point in time before 1492 the Jewish residents of Córdoba were “encouraged” to move to a small area of town north of La Mezquita.
  • In 1492 the Catholic Monarchs finally reconquered all of Spain and expelled the Moors. On a Catholic purification roll, they issued a decree offering practitioners of Judaism residing in Spain a choice: convert or leave the country (the “Alhambra Decree”). 
  • Those who converted and the pre-existing conversos were not left in peace. The Inquisition (an arm of the Catholic church supported by the Spanish monarchy) relentlessly "investigated" them on charges of heresy (practicing Judaism in secret) for the next 400+ years (the Inquisition operated into the 19th century).
  • In 2015, the Spanish government offered a streamlined citizenship process to descendants of expelled Sephardic Jews to atone for The Alhambra Decree.
Because she knew some of this sad history, Molly visited the Casa de Sefarad, a private museum with the stated mission of recovering and restoring the Sephardic identity as a fundamental component of Spanish identity. Despite this lofty goal, Molly entered the Casa de Sefarad with a healthy dose of skepticism due to an unfortunate visit to an embarrassingly hokey “Inquisition Museum” in Mexico several years ago. But the Casa de Sefarad was much better than she had feared.

This isn’t a world class museum – but it is an earnest attempt by some Sephardic Jews and scholars of Sephardic Judaism to provide information about the culture and its diaspora. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Molly’s other stop in La Judería was the Sinagoga (Synagogue) – the remains of a small, possibly private or family synagogue built in 1314-15. The building was seized following the Alhambra Decree and used as a hospital. Over the centuries its purposed morphed and by the 19th century it was being used as the chapel for a shoemakers' guild. The its original purpose was identified in 1884 by a priest when some plaster fell off a wall and some Hebrew inscriptions were revealed. 

The Women's Gallery

Mezuzah - Exterior Doorway

The Sinagoga is a small site – but very worth seeing. One can't help but think of the 170 years of prayers and rituals that took place there before its congregants were forcibly evicted.

               A Personal Mission:

One of our afternoons in Córdoba was spent casting our votes in the now infamous 2016 Federal Election. We left the US before our California ballots were available and had made arrangements to vote as non-residents. The process seemed very easy: request ballot via the Internet, print out ballot, fill out ballot, send ballot via mail or fax. We of course waited too long to mail our ballot because it sounded like it would be easiest to just fax it in. Sadly we gave no thought to just how old school faxing has become!

No one at our hotel seemed to know how to work the fax machine. So we hired a taxi and, armed with the addresses of two different Mailboxes Etc. stores (yes, in Spain!) at opposite ends of Córdoba, we set off to vote. One office had been closed permanently, the other did not have a working fax machine. The young woman at the open office looked at us as though we were asking to send a telegraph: “We don’t use faxes in Europe much any more.” Disheartened, we returned to our hotel where, eventually someone worked through how to operate the hotel’s fax machine. We performed our duty as Citizens of the Republic.

Not that it worked out all that well for us.

Resort Living In Marbella And Más de los White Villages November 4 – 9

On to the resort living portion of our program: We took the train (32.60 euros each with our senior discount) from Córdoba to the beach-side resort of Málaga where we met our friends Bob and Kathy Romano. We picked up a rental car and Bob drove us to the even tonier beachside resort of Marbella (Spanish pron: mar-BAY-yah) where they had invited us to stay in their lovely two-bedroom condo at the Marriott Marbella Beach Resort. It’s good to have friends; even better are friends with time-share units on beautiful beaches!

For the next couple of days we did damned near nothing. We didn’t even take pictures apparently.

Once we had attained a sufficient state of relaxation, we took a day trip through some of The White Villages (for some background on The White Villages, see our prior post about Andalucía -- here.We insisted that Bob and Kathy should see Ronda, so we went there first. We walked through the old town, enjoyed a nice lunch and walked under the New Bridge.

The Romanos Of Ronda

We enjoyed showing Bob and Kathy around Ronda, and we even saw a few things we hadn't noticed before. One was a bird sculpture (we didn't confirm what it was made of) perched out on a . . . very precarious place.

Bryce Wonders What Persuaded The Guy Who Put It There . . . ? 

From Ronda we drove to another of The White Villages: Setenil de las Bodegas.

Setenil is famous for structures built into rock overhangs overlooking a river gorge (often called “cave houses”). A lot of people go there to see these structures. On Sunday the town’s population of about 3,000 at least doubles with people gawking at the unique “cave houses”. 

Travel Tips: (1) Do NOT drive through Setenil unless you have purchased a complete insurance package for your rental car.  (2) Do NOT go to Setenil on a Sunday. Trust us on both of these points.

As we entered town we passed several parking lots which appeared to be full – some with large tourist buses. This should have been our first clue. But we pressed on. Our driver, Bob, drew our attention to the fact that every single car parked along the narrow roads of Setenil had a scraped quarter panel. That could have been clue number two. Soon it became clear that we could not turn around – we were committed to continuing to wherever the narrow, one-way road would take us.

And then we entered the high tourist zone: a rock overhang above us, tourists to both sides of us. We could have reached out the car windows and swiped drinks off of the bar tables we were passing. We think Bob and Kathy got some pictures – but Team Arnold-Andrews was too terrified that any pictures we took might be evidence of the rental car side-swiping some tourist’s tapas. So the following shots are from the internet. These shots do not appear to have been taken on a high-impact Sunday afternoon, but they give a general idea of how narrow the streets are . . .

As the road arced out of town the four of us let out a collective sigh of relief: no rental car damage, no squished tourists, no tapas were damaged. Finally, we passed a parking lot with an available space. “Anyone want to park and walk back into town?” asked Bob. Uh, no.

On Monday we took another day trip from our resort base, but we’ll cover that in a separate post because – it was A Whole ‘Nother Country!  We went to GIBRALTAR. Passports and all. Very cool; more on that later.

We lost Tuesday to Election Shock. We all felt a bit queasy and stunned and were too upset to even drink wine as a remedy. But this is a travel blog, so we'll leave it at that.

Then we departed for a few nights in Granada, one of the subjects of our next posts!