Tuesday, March 24, 2015

GRANADA or SEVILLE, Which would you choose?


Tough question - I love both cities.  But if I could only visit one of the two cities, I would choose Granada!
Maybe I hear my Mother singing the song over and over and it's stuck in my head...

..."Granada, tierra soñada por mí.  Mi cantar se vuelve gitano cuando es para ti...."  (Granada, I'm falling under your spell.  And if you could speak, what a fascinating tale you would tell...)

Yes, I have fallen under your spell!  


Not tough for me, I choose Seville!  Seville is much like Barcelona in that it keeps drawing you back... 

...the city is made up of neighborhoods where the people all seem to know each other and are constantly stopping for long chats.  There are beautiful sights to see and entertaining bars and restaurants to visit.  When you get past the touristic spots you will find people laughing, singing, drinking and enjoying each other's company. 


WANDA:   Granada is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range... you can't beat these views.  You also see views of the Alhambra, which is a spectacular site from the opposite side of the city...

RICH:   Seville cannot compare to the Sierra Nevada mountains, however, when you climb the Giralda Tower you get to see the city's most beautiful architecture, monuments, the Guadalquivir river and the incredible Cathedral - the largest Gothic church in Europe.


RICH:  Seville has so many....Plaza de Espana may be the most impressive in Spain.  Included in this enormous semi-circle is a Palace, two towers, a fountain, ceramic tile displays of each province in Spain and even a canal to take a boat on.  Definitely has the WOW factor.

WANDA:  Yes, the Plaza de Espana is magnificent, but you can't sit and have a drink.  I prefer the many small plazas of Granada - where I can sit and have a drink with tapas, listen to the buscadors, and people watch... (OK OK - Seville has plenty of cool small plazas too!)


WANDA:  Granada has The Alhambra!  Google what not to miss in Spain and 
The Alhambra pops up - probably because it gets 3 million visitors a year!  
The Alhambra dates back to the 9th century when it was built as a castle and a military fortress on a hill overlooking the entire city.  Inside are 2 palaces and impressive gardens...

Walking into the Alhambra....The top picture is the unfinished remains of the 2nd palace in the Alhambra named for Charles V built in 1526. 

 In the 13th century The Nasrid Palace or royal residence of King Mohammad I was built inside the Alhambra and was home to many Arab Sultans....

....The Nasrid Palace is unbelievable - there are patios, gardens, odd passageways, dead ends (probably to confuse someone trying to kill the king) and wonderful architecture of latticed windows and intricate wall carvings.  Wandering this palace evokes what it must have been like to be royalty.

RICH:  OK, Wanda - you win this one.  Pictured above is the outside of The Alcazar of Seville.  To be totally honest, we ran out of time -  since we are coming back in June,  we can see it then!

WANDA:  We need to leave something for the daughter's visit in June (she might be interested to see where Maria Antoinette was born).  This Palace is a UNESCO heritage site and one of the most beautiful in Spain.  In fact, part of the Alcazar is still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence. 


RICH:  The Seville Cathedral is the 3rd largest cathedral in the world (St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London are larger) and as I said earlier  "THE LARGEST GOTHIC CATHEDRAL in EUROPE"!

A truly incredible altar, a photo cannot capture the intricacy of the piece

The Best part - Christopher Columbus is buried here in a very cool coffin with 4 bronze figures representing the 4 kingdoms of Aragon, Leon, Castile, and Navarra holding up his tomb.

WANDA:  Wow, Richard - you really did your homework.  Seville says they have the remains of Christopher Columbus, and yes it is very impressive - but the  Dominican Republic in the Caribbean also claims to have his remains...hmmmm...

The Granada Cathedral may not be as grandiose as the Seville Cathedral, but they do have  the Royal Chapel  where Isabella and Ferdinand are buried along with other Monarchs of Spain.


WANDA:  I don't know what Rich is going to say - but honestly, we didn't eat much.  We are on diets after Barcelona, Christmas, and the Cruise - we were shocked when we stepped on a luggage scale and found we were ------- over our weight since we last weighed ourselves in Bordeaux.  Boring I know.... We ate fish and salad - no wine (temporarily), few carbs, and no sugar...

RICH:  Wanda, I really tried - still trying, but really Seville has some great restaurants and wine bars...from the Barrio de Santa Cruz to Hercules Plaza and all over town. Flamenco and music and Tapas and FUN!!!

RICH:  Restaurant in our neighborhood La Azotea, Wanda was I eating by myself - do you remember eating and drinking here?.....

WANDA:  FYI, Rich picked out that bottle of wine because he loved the name of it "Habla Del Silencio" thinking it meant "Stop Talking" -  it really means "Silence Speaks"!  So I am not saying anything!

RICH: ....Wanda - do you remember drinking 4 glasses of wine here???

WANDA:  Habla de Silencio!  OK OK.....we had grilled fish and a salad with water only one night.....


Wanda:  Sorry Rich, Granada has a UNESCO World Heritage site  - "The Albayzin" is the old Arab Quarter that is a labyrinth of narrow winding cobble stone streets, white washed houses,  and a history that goes back to the 1000s... 

...The other fascinating neighborhood in the hills above the Albayzin are the cave homes in the community of Sacromonte - the cave-dwelling community was vibrant with the Roma Gypsies in the 1950's - today are cave bars where you can see Flamenco and local musicians and further up are abandoned caves with nomads living in them.  Great views of the Alhambra from here.

RICH:  Sorry what?? Seville has lot's of great neighborhoods here too - I'm going to give you my two favorite.  The first  neighborhood in Seville is the Barrio de Santa Cruz (the old Jewish quarter in medieval times).  The streets are narrow - no room for cars here, but plenty of historic and incredible bar/cafes with waiters and bartenders as old as the Bullfight posters on the walls.

RICH:  This is day/night in the Hercules neighborhood near where we are staying.  A fun favorite too! - at night this place rocks until very late.  I could live near this neighborhood!


WANDA:  Diana is a photographer (www.getlyarcefotografia.es) that settled in Granada from Mexico - we were out of clothes and could not find a laundry open anywhere, until we met Diana, who kept her Lavanderia  open just for us (note Rich's clean shirts behind her) Gracias Diana!  I asked her why she chose to live in Granada and not Seville - she said what I thought, "The Sierra Nevada Mountains surrounding the city are picturesque (perfect for a photographer!) and there is so much to do here!"

RICH:  My "Barber of Seville"...

WANDA:  Ahh....so handsome, now ready to play Lindoro at the nearest Karaoke bar.


RICH:  Well, Seville has the oldest bullring in the world - "Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza" The building dates from 1762 and right or wrong is still a tradition and a part of Seville's history. 

RICH:  Flamenco's history has been passed down orally - and documented for only 200 years and is the traditional song and dance of the Gypsies of Andalucia Spain.  Seville has some of the most famous "Cafe Cantantes" or Flamenco Clubs in Spain (probably the world)

WANDA:  Granada is in Andalucia and has Flamenco too!!  The "Duende" of this dancer is powerful!

So....Granada or Seville?? - they are both incredible cities and we left out a lot!! 
 So don't choose, do what we did and spend time in both!

Peace Out - hanging out in the Algarve in Portugal!!