Blog: April 2007

Some Oxford Sightseeing

Posted on April 29, 2007 by Holly Hayes
Today was warm and sunny so we did some hometown sightseeing in Oxford. David got an early start. While I was still snoozing, he went into town to get his hair cut - he was at the barber shop in the Covered Market when the doors opened at 7:30. Then he went for a stroll with his camera and captured some lovely glimpses of what Oxford looks like before everyone else wakes up and crowds the streets...

Casablanca

Posted on April 7, 2007 by Holly Hayes
We stayed one night in Casablanca, specifically to see the gleaming new Hassan II Mosque (and secondarily the enjoyable Sacre-Coeur Cathedral). We aimed for the 11am guided tour of the former this morning. We got a little lost on our way to the mosque. We had assumed it couldn't be too hard to just head for the tallest minaret in the world, but the streets twist and turn and buildings often blocked our view...

Two Seas at Tarifa; Roman Ruins in Bolonia

Posted on April 5, 2007 by Holly Hayes
After our adventures in Gibraltar, we took advantage of our rental car and spent the rest of the afternoon driving along the coast towards the west. The scenery was beautiful after we passed Algeciras - lots of rolling hills and trees. Most of the hills were covered in windmills, which was so impressive. Apparently it is one of the biggest wind farms in Europe...

Touring Tunnels and Tussling with Monkeys in Gibraltar

Posted on April 5, 2007 by Holly Hayes
The little country of Gibraltar was quite a bit different than we expected. We imagined it to be a wealthy little British community, all quaint with red phone boxes and changing of the guard at a palace. The expectation of affluence came from what we'd read about how expensive it is to live there or even get a hotel due to lack of space. But Gibraltar turned out to be larger than we thought, not quaint, not wealthy, and generally not that impressive...

From Cordoba to Algeciras

Posted on April 4, 2007 by Holly Hayes
After our wonderful stop in Cordoba (see previous post), the rest of the day was pretty uneventful, but I do have a few pictures and stories to share. In Cordoba we didn't feel we had time to stop and have tapas or a proper meal and we had a surprisingly difficult time finding any quick street food. We made do with a scoop of ice cream from a shop near the Mezquita and hoped we would find something on the road...

Seville to Cordoba

Posted on April 4, 2007 by Holly Hayes
My last post left off with us making last-minute plans to rent a car from Seville and use it to visit Cordoba, then get to the ferry port in Algeciras. I was really happy that this new plan would allow us to have a relaxing morning and then go up in La Giralda (the cathedral tower) when it opened at 11. We were also looking forward to taking more pictures of the inside of Seville Cathedral at a time when it was open to tourists, not for a service, and accordingly there would be no limitations on photography...

Semana Santa in Seville

Posted on April 3, 2007 by Holly Hayes
After our afternoon excursion to Italica (see previous post), we joined the crowds next to Seville Cathedral to watch part of a Semana Santa procession on Tuesday evening. It was definitely worth it, but also involves a lot of waiting, crowding, watching for pickpockets, and inhaling of cigarette smoke. The parades are also a little less atmospheric during the day than at night, but they are still worth watching anytime...

Italica, Birthplace of Roman Emperors

Posted on April 3, 2007 by Holly Hayes
Our spontaneous excursion to Italica from Seville turned out to be well worth it. It was much larger and more impressive than we thought, and an ancient Roman site was a nice change from the churches (not that I ever really get tired of churches). And thankfully, it didn't rain on us anymore and we even had sunshine for some of our photos. Italica was founded in 206 BCE as a place of settlement for veteran Roman soldiers and their families...

From La Giralda to La Macarena, Seville

Posted on April 3, 2007 by Holly Hayes
Above: Views of Hotel Alminar in Seville (recommended!) On the morning of Holy Tuesday David got up before me and went out to wander around a bit, including having a brief look around the cathedral, which was about three minutes from our front door. He said it was very impressive, and empty and peaceful that early. I was mighty jealous, although after our previous long day I think it would have been a physical impossibility to get out of bed any earlier...

Arrival in Seville during Semana Santa

Posted on April 2, 2007 by Holly Hayes
After a full day of pounding the cobbled streets of Toledo, we were grateful to collapse into our comfortable seats on the high-speed train for the 2.5-hour journey to Seville. They played a movie in English with Spanish subtitles and handed out headphones just like on a plane, but unfortunately it was one we had already seen and didn't like the first time around, *My Super Ex-Girlfriend*...

Holy Toledo!

Posted on April 2, 2007 by Holly Hayes
This morning in Madrid I had to drag myself out of bed at some ungodly hour like 7:00. We were aiming for the 9:20 fast train to Toledo, with 10:50 as a backup to ensure avoiding the disappointment of yesterday. We sat down to breakfast in our hotel as soon as it began at 7:30, and this time we had the place nearly to ourselves and enjoyed fresh scrambled eggs and warm croissants...

Day Trip from Madrid to Spectacular Segovia

Posted on April 1, 2007 by Holly Hayes
{ph43306} Above: Mountains, churches and rooftops at Segovia, Spain. On Sunday we had breakfast in our Madrid hotel's basement restaurant, which was served buffet-style and was good. There were even eggs and warm bacon available, which is unusual for the Continent. It was quite crowded and we ended up sharing a table with a nice older Spanish couple...