Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Valencia & Barcelona

By this point on our tour our group (about 50 of us) really started to bond. There was dancing and laughter and friendships forming. Our tour was designed for families, so most of the adults were my age-ish and most of the kids were Chandler's age-ish. There were a couple of older couples, as well, but all of us (well, except for one grumpy couple) shared a generally positive and cool vibe. We did so many fun activities besides touring: we had a paella making lesson at a cooking school, we had a Flamenco dancing lesson before a fantastic show (I did not take photos that night, sadly), at the bull farm there was a bull-fighting demonstration ... more activities than a normal tour has. As a matter of fact, I was hesitant to sign up for this family version of the tour as I feared being trapped with whiny kids but that was not the case at all - the kids were terrific. The families hailed not only from the across United States but also from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. Once in a while our paths would cross with the non-family version of Trafalgar's Southern Spain tour and they did not appear to be having as much fun!

In southern Spain some people have their homes built into the ground as a way of staying cool. We had the opportunity to tour one of these modest homes and it was lovely. The experience made me think of hobbits, and it also made me feel that my lifestyle was filled with excess.

We spent an afternoon in Peniscola, and it was one of my favorite places. The castle is where the movie El Cid with Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren was filmed.

~ our coach: thank GOD for the excellent AC ~

Barcelona was beautiful! I would love to spend more time there.

~ Barcelona has had one-way streets for hundreds of years ~

Montserrat was breathtaking.

Seville & Granada

These cities were beyond beautiful. I especially enjoyed Granada as I was able to see the campus where Chandler studied and the street on which he lived. We had dinner by ourselves that night, and my paella was the best I had on our whole trip. Of course the Alhambra in Seville was as magnificent as everyone said it would be.

The Alhambra ...

We stopped at an olive oil farm and learned about the process and art of producing superior olive oil. We had a tasting which included orange infused olive oil on chocolate ice cream - it was surprisingly delicious!

More stops and excursions ...

~ here lies Christopher Columbus (supposedly) ~