After completing two walking tours along the Camino del Norte and the Camino Portugues, our third European Spring tour was by bus commencing in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. Commencing in Granada we travelled over 1200 kms and visited many fascinating historical sites in cities such as Seville, Córdoba, Salamanca and Oviedo, as well as exploring archaeological ruins along the ancient Roman road called the Rua de la Plata. Smaller cities such as Cadiz, Ronda and Caceres were also on our agenda. The last few days were spent exploring the northern mountainous region called the the Picos de Europa and visiting some of the prettiest towns along the northern coast.
During 15 days we gained a broad appreciation, just a glimpse, of the historical significance of each location and slowly began to piece together something of the past and present day life of this magnificent country. We were struck by the splendour of the changing architecture across so many centuries; the daily feast of spectacular scenery; and the constant warmth of the people.
When invited to nominate the tour highlights, this is what some participants said:
In addition to the historical gems such as the Alhambra in Granada, the Alcázar in Seville and the Mezquita in Cordova, we were presented with many surprises such as an informative tour of a “jámon” drying room in Trevelez, a working roman amphitheatre in Mérida, the stately Plaza Major of Cáceres, cider pouring in Oviedo and the rugged Picos de Europa. So much to see and so much to discover. Mary & John A., Melbourne, Vic.
The delight of serene Islamic architecture and gardens. The surprise of yet another Medieval town. Large expansive open plazas like Plaza Mayor in Salamanca abuzz with people and conversations. Unexpected discoveries like turning a corner and finding a charming Arabic house from the 1200s. Winding weaving narrow laneways shaded from hot sun. Ann R., Melbourne, Vic.
Unexpected joys of music, the wonderful men’s choir from Portugal and a local choir performing in the church of San Mathias Granada and being in the Sevilla cathedral at the end of mass to hear the magnificent power of the organ. Marvelling at the skills and craftsmanship of the artisans and builders of ancient times without our so called modern day tools. Deborah G., Vic.
The variety of historic sites and scenery gave me a good feel of historic and present day life. I loved the areas of Granada and Seville where we stayed, tiny laneways and very atmospheric in such large cities. Caceres was a total surprise, where the layers of Spanish history were so evident in a charming town. Alison H, Sydney, NSW.
I was hugely impressed with our crossing of the mountains, between Salamanca and Oviedo. Breathtakingly beautiful in the brooding weather, and totally unexpected.
Oviedo, the place for cider! Never seen it poured like this before! John & Judy R., Hobart, Tas.
I’ve been mesmerised by how anthropology and history interrelate to help me understand Spanish and European human development. Lesley H., Melbourne, Vic.
My favourite place was the Mezquita. An unusual combination of a very beautiful mosque that contains a Catholic church which may have saved it from destruction. It provides hope that one day people of different faiths can worship together. Ronda D., Sydney, N.S.W.
Every place we visited was beautiful, fascinating and engaging! Getting to know Seville over 5 nights was excellent – not only being able to see the amazing Alcazar and captivating Cathedral without rushing, but being able to visit quieter back streets and sites and find a range of great restaurants, was a joy. Deborah R, Gisborne, Vic.
Traders and invaders
Dogmas and dictators
2+ millennia in 2 weeks
But wonderfully rich…
Steve M., Melbourne.