Scrumptious Spain – traveling solo – Part 2

I actually had a great time taking selfies at The Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain. I ended up just sitting on the steps in the shade of this gorgeous semicircular plaza and just taking in the ambience of the place. Oct. 17, 2016

I have no qualms with traveling solo, just as long as I go. Get out there. See. Do. Explore. And, since I love Spain, the history, the culture, the food…the Sangria, the country makes for an ideal solo travel setting. I would be remiss however if I did not point out how very much I miss the company of David and Justine, my brother and sister-in-law, whom I had the pleasure of traveling with during the first leg of this Scrumptious Spain trip.

As David and Justine were heading for the Barrages Airport in Madrid, I was on the train heading north of Madrid to Valladolid. This next part of my journey included making Valladolid my home base as I spent day trips heading to Avila, Burgos and Leon by train. I was surprised as to how much I liked Valladolid and how easy it was to find my hotel….the Hotel Mozart and get back and forth from the train station, Valladolid Campo-Grande.

From Valladolid, I made my way back to Madrid by…because that’s the only way to get to Seville is through Madrid. That meant taking the train from Valladolid’s Campo-Grande to the Madrid’s Chamartin and transferring to Madrid’s Atocha train station. I was concerned about taking the correct metro or commuter train to Madrid’s Atocha but it all turned out well. And, just before I could get too comfortable, I was in Seville. I took a cab from the Seville train station to my hotel, the El Rey Moro Hotel Boutique.

I do plan my trips in advance of taking them. I like to know how far away my hotel or apartment is from the train station and whether or not its an easy walk away or a lengthy walk away. For this leg of my Spain trip, I bought my train tickets in advance and I’m glad I did. Again, I like keeping to a schedule, especially when I’m on my own, so I have a framework and can fit in those things I am most curious and interested in.

My two home bases were Valladolid and Seville. In Valladolid in the Castille y Leon region of Spain is made up of a variety of historic houses, palaces, churches, plazas, avenues and parks, and includes the National Museum of Sculpture as well as the home of Cervantes and much more. And my other home base of Seville in the Andalusian region of Spain, in my estimation, the quintessential Spanish old town, is home to the grand dam of cathedrals, in my option, the Seville Cathedral.

Follow my solo journey in Valladolid and Seville through photos and captions.

Valladolid, considered the capital of the Castillo y Leon region of Spain, is about an hour’s train ride northwest of Madrid and is my home base for the next six nights. When I arrived, I walked from the Valladolid Campo-Grande train station to where I’m staying. After I got settled in, I had a late lunch at a restaurant in the 16th century Plaza Mayor square and spent the afternoon strolling around the old town area. I like the feel of the city, mainly because it’s not over crowded with tourists and feels like what it is, a very cultured, stately, university city. It has a small town feel with a warm cultural vibe. Most of what I plan to see and do in Valladolid is within walking distance. And, even though I have outings to Avila, Burgos and Leon, I’m just about a 15 minute walk from the train station, maybe a minute or two less since I won’t be lugging luggage. Even the gorgeous fall weather is adding to the ambiance…sunny but cool, a little chilly in the morning, warming up in the afternoon and cooler in the evenings. On my own and missing my travel companions and selfie group takers. I’m in the middle of the 16th century Plaza Mayor square in the heart of Valladolid. Looking forward to exploring my home base of Valladolid more in the coming days and its neighboring cities of Avila, Burgos and Leon. Oct. 10, 2016
The 16th century Plaza Mayor square in Valladolid, Spain, with its town hall that dates from the start of the century and is crowned by the clock tower. Oct. 10, 2016
The Plaza Mayor in Valladolid became the political, economic, social and cultural center of the city during the 19th century. The bronze statue dominating the square is dedicated to Count Ansurez, first Lord of the City, was erected in 1903. Oct. 10, 2016
The Cathedral of Our Lady better known as Valladolid Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the Renaissance-style. Oct. 10, 2016
Main view of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Assumption better known as Valladolid Cathedral. Oct. 10, 2016
My wonderfully located hotel, the Mozart Hotel in the town of Valladolid. Oct. 10, 2016
My hotel room at the Mozart hotel in Valladolid. The room was small, but comfortable and the hotel was conveniently located close to the city center and within walking distance of the Valladolid Campo-Grande train station. Oct. 10, 2016
I turned on the television this evening and saw this man, Juan Valderrama, a Spanish singer, who was set to appear at the Teatro Zorilla Valladolid in the Bajo el ala del Sombrero,” a musical. He was on the train coming into Valladolid with me this morning. He caught my attention on the train because he looked so manicured. And, now here he is on a television program. Of course the program is in Spanish but I could decipher that he was in Valladolid to perform. Oct. 10, 2016
Today was my day to explore Valladolid. I took it pretty easy today. I didn’t wake up until 9:30 this morning which meant I didn’t get out and about until around 11:00. I still ended up having a productive day and really enjoying my visit to the Museum House of Cervantes, that’s Miguel Cervantes, the author of the Don Quoixte de La Mancha series. And, then I strolled around the Plaza San Pablo to admire the architecture of the church and enjoy the National Sculpture Museum housed inside the magnificent 15th century College de San Gregorio. I feel oddly comfortable here in Valladolid. Even though my ability to speak Spanish is rather broken, I am managing. And, I’ve noticed that the people here are kind and try to be helpful whether they understand me or not. Oct. 11, 2016
This statue of Spanish, novelist, poet and playwright Miguel Cervantes, stands in Valladolid, Spain. Cervantes is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language. His major work, Don Quixote, is considered to be the first modern novel, a classic of Western literature, and a highly work of fiction. Oct. 11, 2016
The Museo Casa de Cervantes, or the Museum House of Cervantes in Valladolid, Spain. It is the house where the novelist, poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes lived in between 1604 and 1606. Oct. 11, 2016
The commemorative plaque on the side of the Miguel Cervantes house was put there by the Valladolid City Council in 1866 when the house was identified as the one the novelist, poetry and playwright Cervantes lived in between 1604 and 1606. Oct. 11, 2016
The stately back courtyard of the Cervantes house in Valladolid, Spain, where the novelist, poet and playwright lived in between 1604 and 1606. Oct. 11, 2016
The bedroom of Miguel de Cervantes at his house in Valladolid, Spain, which is now a museum. The novelist, poet and playwright lived in the house between 1604 and 1606. Oct. 11, 2016
An office-like area outside of the bedroom of Miguel de Cervantes at his house in Valladolid, Spain. The novelist, poet and playwright lived in the house between 1604 and 1606. Oct. 11, 2016
Cashing in on the Cervantes name and location is this restaurant called Restaurant Cervantes and just down the street is the House of Cervantes in Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
The San Salvador Plaza in Valladolid, Spain. It feels like every plaza has a church and this one is no different. Oct. 11, 2016
The church of Vera Cruz by the shopping plaza of Vera Cruz in Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
A flamenco dress shop in Valladolid. Flamenco is an art-form based on the various folkloric music traditions that include both song and dance. Oct. 11, 2016
The Plaza Mayor in Valladolid, Spain, with the bronze statue of Count Ansurez, the first Lord of Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
The man of the hour, Philip II of Spain (1527–1598) was King of Spain. This statue of Philip II is at Plaza de San Pablo in Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
The San Pablo de Valladolid in the Plaza San Pablo is a magnificent church and former convent in Valladolid, Spain. The church was commissioned by Cardinal Juan de Torquemada between 1445 and 1468. It was subsequently extended and refurbished until 1616. Kings Philip II and Philip IV of Spain were baptized in the church, and it was supposedly visited by Napoleon. It is one of the buildings considered most emblematic of the city. Oct. 11, 2016
The National Sculpture Museum is housed in the building called the College of San Gregorio, a magnificent 15th-century building which was originally used as a training center for theologians, mystics and inquisitors. The museum is in the Plaza San Pablo just down from the church of San Pablo in Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
The Pieta by Pedro Berruguete around 1480 in the National Sculpture Museum in Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
The beautiful sculpture of Pedro de Mena’s “Penitent Mary Magdalene,” from around 1664 in the National Museum of Sculpture in Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
The Academia de Caballeria or Calvary Academy is a popular landmark on the Plaza Zorrilla in Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
Moving south from the Plaza Mayor down Calle Santiago the street ends at Plaza de Zorilla just across the street from the Calvary Academy dominated by a statue of the Romantic writer José Zorilla and a huge fountain in Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
The Zorilla Plaza with the huge fountain, bronze statue of the poet Jose Zorilla and the Cavalry Academy in the background in Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
The Palace of Pimentel, located in Valladolid’s Plaza de San Pablo, was the birthplace of Philip II. The building currently serves as the headquarters for the Provincial Council of Valladolid. Oct. 11, 2016
The Pimentel Palace, where king Phillipe II was born, was built in the 16th century. The tiles to the immediate entrance depict various Valladolid historical moments. Oct. 11, 2016
The Pimentel Palace, where king Phillipe II was born, was built in the 16th century. The tiles to the immediate entrance depict various Valladolid historical moments. This tile depicts the baptism of Philip II. Oct. 11, 2016
The Monumento a Cristobal Colon or Christopher Columbus Statue in Valladolid. Columbus died in Valladolid in 1506 and Miguel de Cervantes lived and worked in the city. The city was briefly the capital of Habsburg Spain under Phillip III between 1601 and 1606, before returning indefinitely to Madrid. Oct. 11, 2016
The Monumento a Cristobal Colon or Christopher Columbus Statue in Valladolid. Faith as the guiding symbol for Christopher Columbus discovering the New World. Oct. 11, 2016
It started out as a cold, gray day and it stayed pretty much that way while I was in Avila, Spain. The hour train ride from my home base in Valladolid gave me time to pinpoint exactly what I wanted to see and do in Avila…the Cathedral and the ancient city wall…before the rain made its presence.
Like Toledo, Avila has much to offer and the few hours I spent in the city did not capture all of its ancient sites.The 12th century Avila Cathedral was planned as a cathedral-fortress. Oct. 12, 2016
The interior entrance of the Avila Cathedral. Oct. 12, 2016
The interior of the Avila Cathedral in Avila, Spain, is a stunningly gorgeous structure filled with paintings and sculptures. Oct. 12, 2016
The altar piece of the high alter inside of the Catholic church of the Avila Cathedral in Avila, Spain. The altar piece combines these paintings with sculptures at the rear of the high altar. Oct. 12, 2016
The sculptures on the rear of the high altar in the Avila Cathedral in Avila. Oct. 12, 2016
A close-up of one of the sculptures on the rear of the high alter in the Avila Cathedral in Avila. Oct. 12, 2016
A pedestrian passageway with shops inside the city walls of Avila, Spain. It turned out to be a cool and overcast day so the streets were pretty clear of pedestrians. Oct. 12, 2016
A small square and passageway inside the city walls of Avila, Spain. Oct. 12, 2016
The apse of the Avila Cathedral is one of the turrets of the ancient walls that protected the city. Oct. 12, 2016
The city wall of Avila is considered one of the oldest and best preserved in Spain. Construction on the wall may have begun around the 12th century but work continued even into the 14th century. Oct. 12, 2016
The almost 40 rocky, crooked and scary stairs to get to the top of the ancient city walls to see just a portion of walk attached to the Avila Cathedral in Avila, Spain. Oct. 12, 2016
The ancient city wall as it connects to the Avila Cathedral in Avila. Oct. 12, 2016
Me with a view of the ancient city wall as it connects to the Avila Cathedral in Avila, Spain. Oct. 12, 2016
The view from on top of a part of the ancient wall in Avila, Spain. Oct. 12, 2016
On top of the ancient city wall of Avila, Spain, with a view into a nearby square and the Avila Cathedral. Oct. 12, 2016
The city wall of Avila is perforated by various gates, including this one called the Puerta de San Vincent gate. Oct. 12, 2016
A gorgeous door with an intriguing way to knock on the door and open it at a home inside the ancient city walls of Avila, Spain. Oct. 12, 2016

Although yesterday was my planned Burgos day out, it actually turned out to be my “I don’t want to run around in the rain so I’ll just hang out at the hotel day” in Valladolid. I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time in bed as I did yesterday, but I must say, I needed it and I’m so glad I did. The sun did make a brief appearance late in the day which was good enough for a walk around Valladolid’s Plaza Mayor and back. And, I wish I could say I had a difficult time getting to sleep last night, but I didn’t.
I must confess, on this trip I opted to leave my all purpose jacket at home to bring an extra pair of shoes. Big mistake. All purpose jacket should always have priority over another pair of shoes. I would have gotten incredible use out of that jacket during these cooler days in Valladolid, Avila and Burgos…and I’ve yet to wear the shoes I brought in its place. I did bring two great sweaters and a couple of long sleeved shirts along with my trusted scarfs…but my jacket…well I chose poorly by picking a pair of shoes over it.
Getting to the train station in Valladolid from my hotel is about a 10 to 15 minute walk. I always look for hotels close to the regional train and metro stations. The train station in Avila was within walking distance of the city wall and other sites within the city wall, but the new Burgos train station requires a cab ride into the center of the city if you want to see the Burgos Cathedral.

So, why am I checking out all of these cathedrals? Because that’s where the art and the history comes alive.

I just have go give the history of the Burgos Cathedral, which pretty much dominates the city center, because it is just amazing. Its construction went from 1221 to 1765 and although it is considered a Gothic church there are other styles incorporated. The foundation stone of the cathedral was laid by Bishop Mauricio and Ferdinand III, the Saint, King of Castile and Leon, on July 20, 1221. It is dedicated to the mystery of the Assumption of the Virgin and from inside the cathedral there is access to at least 14 chapels built between the 13th and 18th centuries.

The Burgos Cathedral has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and Burgos is on the route of the Camino de Santiago. The Camino, also called The Way of St. James, is a pilgrimage route to the city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth.

Tomorrow I spend the day in Leon, Spain. Yes, I’ll be checking out another stunning cathedral. But for now, here’s my Burgos story with photos and captions.

Getting in that selfie of me and the Burgos Cathedral by the Rey San Fernando Square in Burgos, Spain. Oct. 14, 2016
A view of the Burgos Cathedral by the Rey San Fernando Square in Burgos. The sacramental doorway to the right is where I entered to see this overwhelmingly impressive cathedral. Oct. 14, 2016
A close up of the sacramental doorway, the entryway, to the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos. Oct. 14, 2016
A close up of the statues above the sacramental doorway, the entryway, to the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos. Oct. 14, 2016
The Chapel of Conception inside the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain. This is one of at least 14 different chapels inside the Cathedral. Oct. 14, 2016
A close up of the altar piece in the Chapel of Conception inside the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, which was made from 1492 to 1493. Oct. 14, 2016
Its called the Golden Stairway inside the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos. Oct. 14, 2016
The 16th century Renaissance choir with the effigy of Don Mauricio, the cathedral’s founder. The choir is made of wood covered in copper with multicolored enameling and precious stones. Oct. 14, 2016
The altar of the high alter inside the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, which connects to the Renaissance choir and is considered the oldest part of the cathedral. Oct. 14, 2016
A high relief in the altar wall of the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, includes the Passion of Christ and this one shows the Resurrection of Christ. Oct. 14, 2016
The Constable’s Chaple inside the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, which was begun in 1482 and includes the tombs of the constable Don Pedro Fernandez de Velasco and his wife, Dona Mercia de Mendoza. Oct. 14, 2016
A close up of the effigies of the constable Don Pedro Fernandez de Velasco and his wife, Dona Mercia de Mendoza of the Constable’s Chapel inside the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos. Oct. 14, 2016
Inside this anteroom of the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, is the sacristy and the upper cloister which includes scenes of the Coronation and Annunciation of the Virgin with pear wood drawer units. Oct. 14, 2016
A close up of the Coronation and Annunciation of the Virgin in the anteroom of the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, is dated at 1765. Oct. 14, 2016
The upper cloister of the Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, built between 1265 and 1270 for the tombs of various dignitaries. Oct. 14, 2016
A view of the outdoor cloister and the stunning Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, through the stained glass of the lower cloister. Oct. 14, 2016
The towers and views of the Burgos Cathedral from Fernan Gonzalez Street in Burgos. Oct. 14, 2016
Paseo del Espolón is the tree-lined promenade situated along the banks of the river Arlanzón, and consists of a landscaped walk to the Arco de Santa Maria gate passing shops and cafes in Burgos. Oct. 14, 2016
The 14th-century city gate, Arco de Santa María, in Burgos. Oct. 14, 2016
One of the earliest works of Spanish literature is the Cantar de Mío Cid (Song of My Cid), an anonymous epic poem describing the life of El Cid, an 11th-century Christian knight famed for his role in the Christian reconquest of Spain. The warrior was born nearby and lies buried beneath the central dome of the Burgos Cathedral and this statue in the Burgos city center is in honor of El Cid in Burgos. Oct. 14, 2016

I got to Leon, Spain, early this morning when it was just the workers delivering products and the street cleaners getting things spiffed up. Plus a few tourist types like myself and the peregrinos, the pilgrims, who walk the path of St. James to Santiago de Compostela.

I like Leon. I like the feel of it and I love that it is so compact that I could walk from the train station pretty much straight into town and to the Leon Cathedral. I was prepared to pay for a cab, if it was raining, but it wasn’t and the 15 minute walk into town felt good.

It’s interesting that one of the first few things I came across was Antoni Gaudi’s palace called Casa de los Botines and a statue of Gaudi himself sitting on a bench in front of the palace. I love Gaudi’s work and got to see quite a bit of it while I was in Barcelona with my brother and sister-in-law. It was a great way to start my day.

And, then just a brief walk up the Calle Anche brought me to one of Leon’s crowning glories, the Leon Cathedral. Like Avila and Burgos, the cathedrals are massive and dominate the area they’re in. But the Leon Cathedral is different, at least on the inside because it has stunning stained glass galore. Officially it is called the Santa Maria de Leon Cathedral and construction of the Gothic cathedral began around 1205 but foundation problems delayed the work until 1255 under the leadership of Bishop Martín Fernández with the support of King Alfonso X of Castile and León. Fernandez is buried in the cathedral.

Me standing in front of the west facade and entryway of the Leon Cathedral in Leon. Oct. 15, 2016
Looking up the west front entryway of the Leon Cathedral in Leon. Oct. 15, 2916
The first thing you see once you enter the interior of the Leon Cathedral in Leon. Oct. 15, 2016
The Leon Cathedral in Leon, Spain, has about 125 medieval stained glass windows. The great majority of them date from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century: a rarity among medieval gothic churches. Oct. 15, 2016
The Our Lady of Hope Chapel inside the Leon Cathedral in Leon, Spain. The stone statue of Our Lady on the altar is dated 1288. Oct. 15, 2016
The central nave of the Leon Cathedral in Leon. Oct. 15, 2016
And, yes, there are tombs inside the Leon Cathedral. This is the Gothic tomb of Bishop Martin Fernandez in the transept of the Leon Cathedral in Leon, Spain. The Bishop is credited for getting the funds necessary to build the Leon Cathedral around the mid 1200’s. Oct. 15, 2016
The beautiful stained glass inside the Leon Cathedral in Leon. Oct. 15, 2016
The stained glass panels above the Gothic tomb of Bishop Martin Fernandez in the transept of the Leon Cathedral in Leon, Spain. Bishop Fernandez is credited for getting the funds necessary to build the cathedral. Oct. 15, 2016
The south facade of the Leon Cathedral in Leon. Oct. 15, 2016
The remnants of Roman walls in Leon. Oct. 15, 2016
A picturesque street in Leon, Spain. You can see the pilgrims with their backpacks, and the white scallop shell dangling, as they carry their possessions along the route to Santiago de Compostela. Oct. 15, 2016
Another picturesque street in Leon, Spain, heading to the Leon Cathedral. Oct. 15, 2016
The trucks delivering their goods to the merchants before the tourist crowd descends on Leon. You can see the tower of the Leon Cathedral in the distance. Oct. 15, 2016
Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi makes his presence known in Leon by way of Casa de los Bovines, a modernist built in 1892-1893. It is one of only three Gaudi buildings that exist outside of Catalonia. Oct. 15, 2016
A close up of the Casa de los Botines entryway in Leon, Spain. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, the building’s principal entrance is crowned by a wrought iron inscription and a stone sculpture of Saint George slaying a dragon. Oct. 15, 2016
Me enjoying a little one on one time with Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. Well, Gaudi’s statue in front of his design, Casa de los Botines in Leon. Oct. 15, 2016
Saying good-bye to Valladolid as I make my way to the Valladolid Campo-Grande train station to begin my trek to Seville. Oct. 16, 2016

Today, I leave my home base in Spain’s Castillo region in Valladolid to enjoy the Andalusia region in Seville.

If there is such a thing as an old town Spain that brings together the feel, the history, the depth of the Spanish culture with that Moorish infusion in such a vibrant and consuming way, for me, it is…Seville. The old town with its Seville Cathedral is simply majestic magic. Construction began on this Gothic cathedral in 1402 and continued until 1506. Its presence looms as a stately and regal treasure.

Thank you Valladolid for being my home base and welcoming me to the Castilian region of Espana. I so enjoyed my stay. The historically enticing cities of Avila, Burgos and Leon were a joy to explore and experience.

It’s now time to explore the Andalusian region of Espana. And, as for Seville, I was last in this city some six years ago. I loved it then and that attachment has not waned. For me, I’ve saved the very best of my Spain trip for last and can’t wait to delve deeply into your richness. I’m completely enamored by Seville and the Andalusian region and ready to explore.

The old town of Seville with its Seville Cathedral is simply majestic. Oct. 16, 2016

After a great night’s sleep, I began my day in Seville, Spain…truly one of the most intensely gorgeous and historical cities I’ve had the opportunity to see, with a free 3-hour walking tour from “Feel The City Tours.” The tour guides even come to your hotel to fetch you. And, what a gorgeous day it turned out to be.

There doesn’t seem to be a second of the day when Seville isn’t packed with people like me…tourists…who just want to take in the smell, the history, the culture, the beauty of Seville. Throw in the Spanish language, the food and the Sangria and you have the makings of a vibrant city that has etched its place in my heart. I am a true fan. Oh, wait, I’m more than a fan, I am a lover of this city.

People from all over the world gathering to take the free walking tour in Seville, Spain, given by “Feel The City Tours.” We were divided into groups by language. Guides offered the 3-hour long tours in Spanish, Italian and English. Oct. 17, 2016
The lengthy line of people waiting to tour the Alcazar, a royal Moorish Muslim palace, through the Lion’s gate in Seville, Spain. I’ll be touring the Alcazar tomorrow. Oct. 17, 2016
The stunning Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, better known as the Seville Cathedral. I’ll be viewing the inside of the Cathedral tomorrow. oct. 17, 2016
The 16th century Town Hall building in Seville, Spain, with a horse drawn carriage in front. Oct. 17, 2016
Our “Feel The City Tours” guide Alicia telling us about how the Muslims, Jews and Gypsies were expelled from Seville, Spain, during the and created a home and co-existed in the area across the bridge called Tirana in the area of the same name. However, the 1478 Spanish Inquisition set up shop in Tirana and decided that everyone needed to be Christian. Oct. 17, 2016
The Real Maestranza bullring in Seville, Spain. Bullfights still take place in Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
This bronze statue of one of the most celebrated bullfighters, Francisco Romero Lopez, known as Curro Romero, is by the Real Maestranza bullring in Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
The Torre del Oro or Tower of Gold is a watchtower in Seville, Spain. English: It was erected to control access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river. oct. 17, 2016
The former tobacco factory is now the administrative building for Seville University in Seville, Spain. Constructed between 1728 and 1771, the tobacco industry was a very powerful and prosperous industry in Seville. It also employed the biggest workforce, amongst them Carmen, the popular cigar-maker who inspired a novel and opera of the same name. Oct. 17, 2016
A close-up of the former tobacco factory name still on the current Seville University building in Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
The entrance gates to the former tobacco factory and now current University of Seville building in Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
The Fuende de Sevilla or Fountain of Seville in the Puerta de Jerez square in Seville, Spain, was designed for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition World’s Fair. Oct. 17, 2016
I actually had a great time taking selfies at The Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain. I ended up just sitting on the steps in the shade of this gorgeous semicircular plaza and just taking in the ambience of the place. Oct. 17, 2016
The Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain, is a semicircle plaza culminating in two towers at either end. An artificial canal flows in the interior, crossed by little bridges with a Venetian air and decorated with tiles. Oct. 17, 2016
Me by one of the ceramic alcove with benches that feature the various provinces of Spain at the Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain. This is a colorful and fun place to take selfies…so I did. Oct. 17, 2016
A close-up of the ceramic alcove for Toledo at the Plaza de Espana in Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
Since I just spent an incredible six days in Valladolid, I had to show this close-up of the Valladolid ceramic alcove at the Plaza de Espana in Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
The Plaza de Espana in Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
The Plaza de Espana in Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
The monument to La Inmaculada in the center of the Plaza del Triunfo commemorates the earthquake of 1755 in Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
Just love this gorgeous yellow building, which houses the El Giraldillo Restaurant, basks in the shadow of Seville’s magnificent Cathedral and Islamic bell tower, the Giralda is in the historic square of the Plaza de Virgen de los Reyes. Oct. 17, 2016
The Plaza de Virgen de los Reyes is a historic square in Seville, dominated by the Seville Cathedral, its unique bell tower the and horse-drawn carriages. Oct. 17, 2016
The narrow streets of the Santa Cruz district in Seville, Spain. The colorful district retains its charm with its typical labyrinth of winding narrow streets, tiny squares and secret nooks and corners. Oct. 17, 2016
The Calle del Aqua area in the Santa Cruz District of Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
The Calle Gloria area in the Santa Cruz District of Seville. Oct. 17, 2016
I ate at this restaurant tonight, El Rincon de Murillo in the Santa Cruz District of Seville, Spain. Love the quaint shops, restaurants and alleyways of this area. Oct. 17, 2016

Seville, Spain, continues to be my home base for just a couple more days as I explore Cordoba tomorrow and the white villages of Andalusia on Thursday but come Friday, its back to Madrid and then Saturday, its back home to Texas. Its funny but the whole time I’ve been in Spain, whenever someone asks me where I’m from, I always say Dallas, Texas, USA. Other people shout out their country, but for me, its Texas USA.

So for my 2nd Seville day became all about the two main treasures for me, the Royal Alcazar Palace and the Seville Cathedral.
The Royal Alcazar Palaces are made up of a number of buildings from the original Moorish Alcazar palace to later extensions in the form of courtyards and palaces carried out by different monarchs.

I’ve taken many walks around the Seville cathedral since I’ve been in Seville and it is grand. It’s considered the largest in Spain and one of the biggest cathedrals in the world. It is a treasure trove of history and art.

This is how the line has looked everyday since I’ve been in Seville to get into the “Reales Alcázares de Sevilla” or “Royal Alcazars of Seville, a royal palace originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings in Seville, Spain. The main entrance to the Alcázar, the Lions Gate, takes its name from the 19th century tile-work inlaid above it, a crowned lion holding a cross in its claws and bearing a Gothic script. Oct. 18, 2016
After passing through the Lions Gate and ticket office, you’re finally inside the Royal Alcazar Palaces walls and the garrison yard in Seville, Spain. The palaces are an amalgamation of influences starting from the Arabic period, late Middle Ages and right through to the Renaissance, Baroque and the 19th century. oct. 18, 2016
This building of the Royal Alcazar Palaces is the Palace of Don Pedro. With its marvelous Mudejar tiles and plaster work, Palacio de Don Pedro with marvellous Mudéjar, Moorish or Muslim, tiles and plasterwork. The Palaces and gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Oct. 18, 2016
At the heart of the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville, Spain, is the wonderful Courtyard of the Maidens surrounded by beautiful arches, plasterwork and tiling. Oct. 18, 2016
The spectacular Hall of Ambassadors, the throne room of Pedro I inside the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville, Spain, features this wooden domed ceiling symbolizing the universe. Oct. 18, 2016
The colorful plaster work in the Hall of Ambassadors inside the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville.
Now we’re in a different section with a different time period of the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The Tapestry Room in the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
Glazed tile portraits of the Emperor Charles V and Isabel of Portugal in the Gothic Salon portion of the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The gardens’ most arresting feature is the Galeria de Grutesco at the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville, Spain, is a raised gallery with porticoes fashioned in the 16th century out of an old Muslim-era wall. Oct. 18, 2016
More of the gardens’ most arresting feature is the Galeria de Grutesco at the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville, Spain, is a raised gallery with porticoes fashioned in the 16th century out of an old Muslim-era wall. Oct. 18, 2016
he Alcázar Gardens viewed from Galeria de Grutescos at the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
At the Alcazar Gardens in the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
Exiting the Royal Alcazar Palaces in Seville, Spain, to see the Seville Cathedral. Oct. 18, 2016
After exiting the Royal Alcazar Palaces, I’m walking through another plaza to tour the Seville Cathedral. The Giralda Tower, with its weather vane on top, is considered the best-known symbol of Seville, Spain. It was built by the Almohades over Roman remains in the 12th century as the minaret to the Great Mosque on the site where the cathedral now stands. Oct. 18, 2016
The Plaza Virgen de los Reyes as seen from the Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The Seville Cathedral under renovation in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
Inside the courtyard and getting ready to enter the Seville Cathedral in Seville…where the large red design and door are behind me. Oct. 18, 2016
The main chapel alter piece of the Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The choir of the Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The large columns and depth of the Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The altarpiece in the Chapel of the Virgin de la Antigua inside the Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The Chapel of Los Dolores: Baroque altarpiece and tom of Cardinal Spinoza inside the Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The Tomb of Mausoleum of Christopher Columbus inside the Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The Tomb of Mausoleum of Christopher Columbus inside the Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
From the Seville Cathedral’s chapel is the Main Sacristy in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The Chapterhouse inside the Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The crowned jewels inside the Seville Cathedral’s Treasure Room in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016
The Giralda Tower in the inner courtyard of the Seville Cathedral in Seville. Oct. 18, 2016

For me, Cordoba, Spain, is all about the Mezquita. That’s what it was called six years ago when I came to Cordoba to see it, but now it is officially being called the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba. There is no cathedral that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen quite a few this year, that comes close in any way to resembling the Mosque-Cathedral. It is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture and yet it is also a Catholic church with its side chapels, grand chapel and grand choir. I came back to Cordoba just to see the Mezquita again. And, I’m so glad I did.

I also spent time at the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs, mainly for the gardens. It turned out to be a beautiful day to take a stroll through the manicured gardens intermingled with fountains.

Today, I decided to only use my iPhone 6s Plus to take pictures. I don’t think I’ve shared this bit of news with my daughter, but before I left on this trip, I bought myself a new iPhone 6s Plus, this time with 128 GB of memory. I’ve been using my lightweight Olympus camera, with its incredible zoom lens, to take pretty much all of my pictures while using my iPhone mainly for selfies. But today, in honor of the Mezquita and the Alcazar in Cordoba, my iPhone would get top billing. So, all the pictures in this post were taken with my iPhone.

The Altar of the “Virgin de los Faroles” and the bell tower on the north side of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, Spain. Abd-ar-Rahman I began building the mosque in 786. Oct. 19, 2016
The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba bell tower as seen from the Mosque-Cathedral’s Courtyard of Oranges. Oct. 19, 2016
Me inside the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, Spain. The semicircular arches are formed by voussoirs, stones used in building an arch or vault, in red brick and white stone. Oct. 19, 2016
The interior scale of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, Spain. Oct. 19, 2016
The detailed arches in the front oratory of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
The mihrab inside the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba contains stunning mosaic ornamental work that unfortunately don’t come through in this photo. Oct. 19, 2016
Being influenced by the aqueducts and triumphal arches of ancient Rome, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba in Spain brings to life horseshoe and round arches formed by voussoirs of brick and lime stone. Oct. 19, 2016
The high altar inside the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. In 1523, the construction of the Cathedral portion began. Oct. 19, 2016
The interior of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
The Door of Las Palmas looking into the Courtyard of the Oranges of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
The entrance to the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
King Alphonse XI welcomes visitors to the palace he began building in 1328, which would be both his home and the military base of the south. Today, it is called the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs in Cordoba, Spain. Oct. 19, 2016
The inside courtyard of the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
The inside courtyard of the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
Me enjoying the weather and the gardens of the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
Statues of the Catholic Royals, Ferdinand and Isabella, with Christopher Columbus at the gardens of the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
Me standing at the top of the walled “Tower of Homage” at the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
A view of the tranquil gardens and fountains of the palace-fortress of the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
The Bridge Gate, designed by architect Juan Herrera in 1571, was originally a Roman gateway. It connects to the Roman Bridge and further down to the Calahorra Tower in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
Although the Roman Bridge was built by Emperor Augustus, only the foundations remain from the original bridge which was built in the early 1st century BC across the Guadalquivir river. However, the bridge has been reconstructed at various times since. Oct. 19, 2016
Me at the Almodovar Gate, possibly dating back to the 14th century but was restored in the 19th century in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
The Almodovar Gate in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
The Almodovar Gate entrance into the Jewish Quarter in Cordoba. Oct. 19, 2016
After crossing the Almodovar Gate in Cordoba, there’s the Jewish Quarter, a veritable labyrinth of narrow, winding streets with quaint restaurants and shops. Oct. 19, 2016

Its my last full day to spend in the Andalusia region of Spain, so I took a tour of the picturesque Pueblos Blancos, the White Villages. These small, hilltop towns are distinguished by their simple whitewashed houses, reddish-brown tiled roofs, cobblestone streets and rich history which dates back to the Romans and Moors. The three villages visited were Zahara de la Sierra, Grazalema and Ronda.

On my last day in Seville, I took a day tour of the White Villages of Andalusia. We began the tour at the remains of this ancient fortress, the Castillo de las Aguzaderas, located in the Spanish municipality of El Coronil and built, according to some sources, by the Arabs. Oct. 20, 2016

Inside the remains of the Castillo de las Aguzaderas, an ancient fortress. Oct. 20, 2016
A view of Zahara de la Sierra, one of the White Villages I visited in the Andalusia region of Spain. The town dates back to Moorish times and endured a turbulent history because of the conflicts between Islamic and Christians rulers. By the 15th century, the Christians reconquered the Zahara de la Sierra. Oct. 20, 2016
Zahara de la Sierra a picturesque Andalusian White Village town in Spain. Oct. 20, 2016
I’m standing at a viewpoint in Zahara de la Sierra, an Andalusian White Village in Spain. Oct. 20, 2016
The Andalusian White Village of Zahara de la Sierra in Spain is preparing to celebrate a festival. Oct. 20, 2016
The Andalusian White Village of Zahara de la Sierra in Spain is preparing to celebrate a festival. Oct. 20, 2016
The gorgeous landscape of the Parque Natural de Sierra de Grazalema which is also home to the White Village of Grazalema in the Andalusian region of Spain. Oct. 20, 2016
The White Village of Grazalema is a high mountain village of the Cádiz province and is surrounded by the gorgeous landscape of the Parque Natural de Sierra de Grazalema. Oct. 20, 2016
The postcard-pretty White Village of Grazalema is a high mountain village surrounded by the gorgeous landscape of the Parque Natural de Sierra de Grazalema. Oct. 20, 2016
That’s the town of Ronda, Spain, perched on a mountain shelf split into two by the El Tajo Gorge over the River Guadalevin with the emblematic Puente Nuevo, New Bridge, crossing the deep ravin. Oct. 20, 2016
The 18th century Puente Nuevo Bridge in Ronda, Spainstraddles the El Tajo Gorge. The bridge connects the Old Town side of Ronda with the New Town side. Oct. 20, 2016
The unique landscape of Ronda, Spain, with the homes, gardens, hotels and restaurants clinging to a cliff while offering thrilling views of the landscape. Oct. 20, 2016
Some of the most impressive views of the valley and Tajo gorge are from this platform in Ronda, Spain, amusingly called el Balcon del Coño. Oct. 20, 2016
The Alameda Boulevard in Ronda, Spain, overlooks the impressive views of the valley and Tajo gorge. Oct. 20, 2016
The Plaza de Espana in Ronda, Spain. Oct. 20, 2016

My time to get to know Spain ends today in Ronda. Tomorrow, Friday I head back to Madrid…staying at a hotel close to the Barajas Airport…and on early Saturday morning, I leave to go home to Texas. Adios Espana…for now!