Photo Essay: colours of Spain

Letter 97

I spent two weeks on the coast, in the countryside and in a couple of cities in southern Spain admiring everything about the country and its culture. Here I have put together some of my favourite photos of my colourful trip.

Red

red nerja aqueduct

Aqueduct, Nerja

red nerja train

Train, Nerja

red malaga

Buildings and flowers, Malaga

red cordoba feria

Feria lights, Cordoba

red sevilla plaza de espana

Plaza de Espana, Sevilla

Orange

orange nerja sunrise

Sunrise, Nerja

orange cordoba mezquita

Mezquita, Cordoba

orange sevilla building

Building, Sevilla

orange sevilla oranges

Orange tree, Sevilla

Yellow

yellow nerja

Reflections in the town, Nerja

yellow cordoba street

Cobbled street, Cordoba

yellow sevilla blossom

Blossom carpet, Sevilla

yellow sevilla building

Building, Sevilla

Green

green frigliana

View, Frigliana

green malaga cathedral gardens

Cathedral garden, Malaga

green cordoba

Garden, Cordoba

green sevilla park

Park, Sevilla

Blue

blue nerja sea

Beach, Nerja

blue nerja water

Crystal water, Nerja

blue cordoba palace gardens

Alcazar gardens, Cordoba

blue sevilla tile

Plaza de Espana, Sevilla

blue sevilla plaza de espana

Plaza de Espana, Sevilla

Purple and Pink

purple malaga blossom

Blossom, Malaga

pink sevilla flowers

Blossom, Sevilla

pink nerja flowers

Flowers, Nerja

White

white nerja

Town, Nerja

white nerja sunset

Early sunset, Nerja

white frigliana

Uphill street, Frigliana

white cordoba

View, Cordoba

Cream

cream cordoba square

Plaza, Cordoba

cream parasol

Metropol Parasol, Sevilla

Black

black sevilla night

Plaza de Espana at night, Sevilla

Spain was stunning and I became more infatuated with the country than I ever thought I would. I don’t think it’ll be long before I’m back.

An update on my trip: I left Spain nearly two weeks ago and have been travelling through Portugal. Letters to come on this but I am shamefully behind because, honestly, I’ve been too busy having an amazing time. Stay tuned for tales from the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto!

From Lou

About Me

PS. You can read full posts on the places I visited here:

Nerja in a nutshell  |  Malaga in pretty purple  |  Cordoba at it’s best  |  Happy Travels in Flamboyant Sevilla

Happy Travels in Flamboyant Sevilla

Letter 96

Sevilla; the last and most wonderful city I visited in Spain. I felt I could stay here for weeks. Every minute detail exudes perfection and beauty and these combine to create a city that is different to every other and is such a pleasure to be in. It’s a city of colour, noise and decoration. 2 days was most certainly not enough and I will be going back. Not only did I love the city, I loved the whole experience I had. My hostel and the people I met there made my stay even better and showed me how great this kind of travel can be.

Arriving late after a day in Cordoba, I got settled into my hostel and went for a supermaket run to get food, my typical routine. I got myself a salad and chocolate for dinner and decided to stay in and catch up on some stuff on my laptop and chill. A mixture of wifi not working, a long skype call and chatting to people at the hostel meant I wasn’t productive at all, but I had a great evening. To recover from a couple of nights of little sleep I decided to have a long lie in (until 9 that is for me) and then grabbed the hostel breakfast which was pretty great. I had intended to go on the walking tour, but for some reason I missed it and so I set of on my own to explore. I’m now very glad I didn’t do the tour. I had the most wonderful day discovering the main tourist spots and hidden gems of Sevilla. I was out for the whole day and walked my feet into the ground, and quickly got the lay of the land in this charming city.

Plaza de Espana

Normally I’m not such a fan of the major touristy hotspots, but this place blew my mind. I didn’t know what to expect because I had done next to no research on Sevilla, but I honestly couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. Even just the approach to one corner of the monumental curving building you’re struck by the tiled railing and lamp posts showing sheer attention to detail and beauty. Then you begin to see the water curving around the plaza with the building and people rowing underneath the tiled bridges taking people to and from the building. The fountain in the centre produces a rainbow mist across the square and is circled by horses pulling carriages. The building itself is a complete triumph. In red brick it is a monument to architecture and every inch shows how much time and effort went into making it beautiful. There are even tributes to all of the Spanish cities along the bottom of the building which surprised me even more. It’s like a fairytale and one of my favourite places I’ve ever visited.

sevilla plaza de espana 1sevilla plaza de espana 2sevilla plaza de espana 3sevilla plaza de espana 4sevilla plaza de espana 5sevilla plaza de espana 6sevilla plaza de espana 7

 

The River

Walking along the river is beautiful, especially at this time when there’s a carpet of petals below you. The views across to Triana, a small area of Sevilla, are lovely because of the multicoloured houses lining the river. You can also hop up to the Torre de Oro to get a lovely view over Sevilla and to learn a bit about the history.

sevilla river 1sevilla river 2sevilla river 3sevilla river 4sevilla river 5

Triana

This little neighbourhood is charming and well worth a walk through. I walked first down the main street and then along the river to get to a bridge further down that would meet up with Plaza de Espana. I saw a couple of really nice restaurants and if I went back I would spend more time here!

sevilla triana 1sevilla triana 2sevilla triana 3

Unexpected Food Festival

Upon reaching the end of the bridge that I had intended to return me to the Plaza de Espana, I came across a food festival – that finished that day. The sun was shining, music blaring and Spanish families enjoying good food together. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting and people watching and only wish I’d known the festival was on before!

sevilla food festival

 

Parque de Maria Luisa

This is a tangled maze of paths, flowers and beautiful buildings. I walked around not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. This is where the archaeological museum is situated which I might have gone in with more time. There are also a lot of fruit trees – I know this because a wee fruit ended up on my head.

sevilla park 1sevilla park 2sevilla park 3sevilla park 4

 

To complete my long day in Sevilla, I had sangria at the hostel with new friends and then we all went out to a beautiful tapas restaurant for a great night of food and drinks. Then, because we still weren’t done, we decided to head back to Plaza de Espana (the third time for me at this point) to see how it fairs at night. Well, it is just something else at night.

sevilla plaza de espana night 1

 

Real Alcazar de Sevilla

On my second and last day in Sevilla (not enough time at all) I headed first to the Palace. I went with a couple of girls from the hostel and went spent a lovely couple of hours wandering around the rooms and parts of the garden. Unfortunately the weather turned British so we stayed undercover for most of it. Like every other palace I’ve been in, it was beautiful with rich decorations and stunning gardens. Definitely worth going in, I spent longer than I thought here.

sevilla real alcazar 1sevilla real alcazar 2sevilla real alcazar 3sevilla real alcazar 4

 

Metropol Parasol

An an architecture student I was really interested to go and visit this huge sculpture which doubles as a stunning viewpoint for the city of Sevilla. It’s slightly out of the centre but it reached through some lovely shopping streets and squares. The ticket to get to the walkway and viewpoint includes a drink and postcard as well so it’s worth the €3.

sevilla metropol parasol 1sevilla metropol parasol 2sevilla metropol parasol 3

 

Catedral de Sevilla

I had one thing left on my list to do before I left Sevilla heading west to Portugal. As it brightened up I decided it was the perfect time to head to the cathedral and tower for the last look over this beauty of a city. The cathedral is a large (if not the largest – I don’t remember) Gothic masterpiece which towers over the city. The tower was interesting to walk up as it was a series of ramps, not stairs. However, the views on the way up and at the top were magnificent.

sevilla cathedral 1sevilla cathedral 2sevilla cathedral 3

To me Sevilla was perfect. I loved the size, the architecture, the layout and the parks. I needed more time but I know I’ll return here. I hope I’ve convinced you to pay this gem a visit. 

From Lou


Cordoba at it’s best

Letter 95

In Cordoba, the month ‘May’ doesn’t exist. They have January, February, March, April and Cordoba. The city completely comes alive in May and I was very lucky to be there during the month of Cordoba.

For the last week of May, the Feria takes over Cordoba, bringing people from all over Spain and the world. There’s something to do for all ages and the whole event was wonderful to be a part of. My favourite part were the marquettes full of people eating, drinking and dancing flamenco to traditional and modern music. I could watch them dancing for hours, it’s so stunning! I found it fascinating that everybody knew exactly what to do, from toddlers to teenagers to adults. It seemed the whole of Cordoba descended on the Feria. There were amusement rides, live bands, food stalls and markets. It’s literally buzzing at all hours of the day. I met some great people at my hostel and we joined in the fun one evening, I loved it.

cordoba feria 1

Flamenco dancing at the Feria

cordoba feria 2cordoba feria bar

Back to the beginning though. I actually had no idea that the Feria was on, so luckily I booked my accommodation a few weeks back. I arrived late, good food at the supermarket, had a little stroll along the river and then got an early night. That walk was enough for me to know I’d love the city.

I only had 2 days in Cordoba so I wanted to get a good start on it on my first. By far the biggest attraction of Cordoba is the Mezquita, or Cathedral. This mosque come cathedral is famous all over the world and being inside such an incredible structure was spellbinding. It honestly might be my favourite building I’ve ever been inside. Every day it’s free between 8:30 and 9:30, otherwise it’s €10. I went early on both of my days in Cordoba to spend as much time enjoying it as possible. The photos don’t do it justice.

cordoba mezquita 1cordoba mezquita 2cordoba mezquita 3

cordoba mezquita 4

Whilst walking around the Mezquita, look carefully at the arches and you’ll see 4 stages of age in the mosque. The oldest are built using true white and red stones whereas the newest are fakes. They are only painted to give the same effect,

After the Mezquita I took a walk around what I later found out to be the Jewish Quater. My aim was to find some of Cordoba’s famous patios. That’s another reason May is renamed simply to Cordoba. During the first week of May there is the festival of Patios where people within the city open up their patios to be judged, and one is crowned winner for being the most beautiful. They work extremely hard tending their patios all year and I managed to get a glimpse of a couple that were left open.

cordoba patios 1cordoba patios 2

I took a free walking tour that my hostel suggested and it was really great. I always find they are great to get your bearings in a new place and learn some of the history so you can understand what you’re seeing. This tour was particularly informative, the guide was lovely and I got to see pretty much all of the important parts of Cordoba, as the city is small enough to walk around in a few hours. The main places we visited were Plaza de las Tendillas, Plaza de la Corredera, Plaza del Potro, Mezquita and the Jewish Quater. I found the things she said about the Mezquita the most interesting, and one of the reasons I returned the next day for a closer look at what she spoke about. I also met a couple of guys on the tour and we went for lunch in Plaza de la Corredera which was great! For a main square it tends to be very quiet.

cordoba walking tour 1cordoba walking tour 2cordoba walking tour 3cordoba walking tour 4cordoba walking tour 5

I then went on a long walk which tired me out to the point of dozing off on park benches around the city. I began by crossing the river to get a look at the Feria in daytime from a distance. It really is a spectacle, and the whole area is nice to walk around. Following the river I once again reached the Mezquita – you’ll always somehow end up here. Continuing around the riverside I eventually ended up at some lovely parks that head north. By this point I was knackered. I circled back to Plaza de las Tendillas and made my way back to the hostel through the winding streets of Cordoba. I ended the day with great people, the feria and wonderful views of a sparkling Cordoba.

cordoba walk 1cordoba walk 2 feriacordoba walk 3cordoba walk 4cordoba walk 5cordoba end of day

 

I only had until about 3pm on my second day in Cordoba, but I made the most of it. I visited the Mezquita again and walked up the tower, went to a museum about the baths, wandered around the beautiful gardens of the Alcazar and went to an art gallery about Julio Romero. It was all chilled and very interesting. I also got great student discount on everything!

cordoba second day 1cordoba second day 2cordoba second day 3cordoba second day 4cordoba second day 5cordoba second day 6cordoba second day 7 alcazarcordoba second day 8 alcazarcordoba second day 9 alcazarcordoba second day 10

Cordoba had me from the second I set foot off the bus. It’s a city of culture, history and ancient beauty and I only wish I could’ve spent longer exploring the many streets that connect to form the maze of old town. I definitely recommend visiting, and please, go in the month of Cordoba.

 

From Lou

About Me

Malaga in pretty purple

Letter 94

I’ve had a short but very sweet stay in Malaga and it has left me with a list of things to go back and see and do. The city almost convinced me to extend my stay here, cutting short Cordoba, but after hearing such great things about my next stop I decided to stick with my plan. Besides, I’ll return to Malaga for sure. For now, enjoy my account of 24 hours in Malaga.

The first thing I noticed about the city was the colour. Every inch of it screams vibrant shades of oranges, yellows, blues and even purple – hence the title of this letter. I was lucky enough to be in Malaga to witness the trees blossoming in bright purple and littering their petals all over the parks and plazas of Malaga. Apparently this only happens for a couple of weeks in May so I was lucky to see it. The buildings in the centre are dressed in beautifully coloured facades encouraging you to wander the tiny alleys and vast avenues. Notable places to visit to see these stunning colours are in Plaza de la Merced, outside the front of the Cathedral, Plaza de la Constitucion and around the Picasso Museum. You may even spot murals, mosaics and graffiti around the city, brightening it up even more. I felt very joyful walking around the streets and plazas of Malaga.

malaga colourful streetflowers and yellow buildingmalaga blossomMuralcathedral and yellow building

Coming into Malaga on the bus from Nerja, we passed the port. This is a huge spectacle in Malaga and where all of the cruise ships arrive and tourists are welcomed to the city. It’s only a few minutes walk from the centre and is worth a visit – even if you’re not travelling by cruise ship. It’s lined with a long park with tropical trees, shaded benches and small cafes and shops. You’ll also find a line of market-like stalls selling traditional clothing, paintings and souvenirs. I found this to be busy with locals rather than tourists, but I’m unsure if it’s a permanent fixture. Whilst wandering through I came across a stage where flamenco dancers were performing and a crowd of Spanish couples and families enjoying the show. It was entirely in Spanish so I could only understand a limited amount, but everyone seemed to be having a great time. I have been told that the port is really spectacular at night when all of the lights are reflected on the water, but I didn’t have enough time to see this.

2 port and clock2 blossom and trees2 flamenco2 market stalls

In addition to the port gardens, there are other green spaces around the city. I went north of my hostel (mainly to get to the mercadona – my favourite Spanish supermarket) and found a lovely spot called Parque Canino San Miguel which I sat in to eat. It was laced in the purple blossom and filled with locals walking their dogs and kids playing. You can also find potted plants all over the city, adding to the grandeur of many of the streets. Even some of the bars and restaurants have thier own gardens. We were taken to a bar/restaurant called El Pimpi on the walking tour and were able to take a walk through their private courtyards covered in plants. They take their inspiration from the courtyards of Cordoba, so I can’t wait to see them tomorrow.

3 cathedral gardens3 el pimpi gardens3 park3 parkk

I learnt a lot about Muslim Malaga on the walking tour I went on and it makes visiting some of the key sights far more interesting. In fact, the Christian Cathedral of the city was originally the main mosque, but when the main religion returned to Christianity, it was extended and built up to form the present cathedral. Another interesting thing is that it’s not finished, and probably never will be. There is only one tower and the centre piece is missing. It’s also a must to go and visit the Castillo Gibralfaro which was a Muslim fortress. There are two and the top one is said to have incredible views across the city. Below these is the Roman Theatre which is quite a sight and when we were passing there was a class of children sat around it rehearsing a song.

4 castillo plaza4 roman theatre4 views

One stop that most people make is to walk around the streets that once housed Picasso. They are really beautiful in themselves and also interesting to look up at the windows that he once looked up at. There is also the museum of Picasso which I would have loved to go to. He even appears in Plaza de la Merced as a statue on a bench, a popular photo for tourists I believe.

5 picasso street cathedral

The walking tour I went on was with Explore Malaga (link to website). I was told about it by my hostel and I would highly recommend it. There’s no need to make a reservation, you just turn up at Constitution square. The guide was very informative and took us to all of the main spots in central Malaga.

The hostel I stayed in for only one night was Patio 19. I thought the hostel was really great. Very authentic, perfect location and lovely breakfast served in a beautiful indoor patio (hence the name). It was also very affordable and I would stay again. Link to page on hostelworld here.

patio 19 2patio 19 malaga

All in all I thought Malaga was great. It felt like a very liveable, friendly city and very easy to get around by foot. I could easily spend a week or two there because there is so much to do and even beaches to spend lazy days on. I’ll be back Malaga!!

From Lou

About Me

PS. Here’s a photo of me that a very nice Spanish man insisted on taking…

me

Nerja in a nutshell

Letter 93

I’ve had an absolutely amazing week spending my days relaxing, swimming, sunbathing, reading and eating. All in the beautiful surroundings of Andulucia, a stunning region of Spain with charming villages, an array of beaches and crystal clear water. Not to mention the mountains that soar up behind you providing postcard perfect pictures. I found it very hard to leave, especially since my boyfriend was flying home and I’m sticking around in Spain, and I already miss it. Not that I have the duff end of the deal – I get to explore Malaga, Cordoba and Seville over the next few days before heading off to Portugal.

nerja beach

 

Most of the days were a blur of gorgeous beaches, whitewashed streets and wonderful food. We indulged pretty much every lunchtime and ate lots of different foods. We found a couple of really great restaurants with lovely food and service with a smile. We tried different beaches every day and secured favourites in our minds. We wandered the streets of Nerja from sunrise till dusk and got lost almost every time. We watched families enjoy their holidays and locals go about their days. We enjoyed chilled breakfasts and dinners on our balcony playing cards and listening to music. The whole week was completely blissful and I enjoyed every second.

Nerja 1nerja 2nerja 3nerja 4nerja 5nerja 6

 

We didn’t stay in the town every day, we also ventured out to neighbouring villages which were some of my favourite places. A €1 bus will get you up to Frigliana in the mountains. This village is incredibly beautiful with tiny cobbled streets, small parks and stunning 360 views. It’s a great place to spend the day, grab a bite to eat and enjoy the views. We were planning to go for a walk into the mountains but instead stayed in the village all afternoon.

Frigliana 2Frigliana parkFrigliana stepped streetFriglianaFrigliana Panorama

 

We also took a long walk one day to Maro, a sleepy village just west of Nerja. It’s a lovely walk, not difficult at all, the village is lovely and the beaches are quiet, unspoilt and have a lot of life in the sea. It was such a great day.

Maro walk 1Maro walk 2

Maro walk 3

Abandoned Factory

Maro walk 4

Roman Aqueduct

Maro walk 5

Trains go on the roads here too

Maro beachMaro town

 

We actually had a pretty rough start to the week, in that after a 2 hour trip from the airport in Malaga and arriving in Nerja at 1am, we came into our apartment to find an Irish couple. Long story short, there was a misunderstanding and the Irish couple were due to have the apartment for 2 more nights. We thought our holiday was ruined – and where the hell were we supposed to find a place to stay at 1am in the sleepy town of Nerja?! Luckily some lovely Spanish hostel owners, who we rudely woke up in the middle of the night, let us have a room. It was a great hostel and after a much needed sleep we enjoyed the breakfast on the terrace. We moved to a cheaper guesthouse the next day which ended up being really great. Lovely staff, spacious traditional room and a kitchen and a terrace. All round the corner from a huge supermarket and near the centre of town and the beaches. All in all the disastrous start to the holiday ended up being okay and we enjoyed the first couple of days as much as the rest.

This is the room and terrace in the Azahar Hostel which is right next to the bus station in Nerja. Great hostel, great breakfast and if you ask nicely they might get out of bed to let you in at 1am. Azahar Tripadvisor.

Here is a double room and the terrace, which connects to a kitchen, at the Easy Nerja Guesthouse. It’s very near the centre of town, very cheap and is a lovely place to stay. Easy Nerja Guesthouse Hostelworld.

This has been one of my favourite holidays – we’ve had the most fantastic time and  the rest was much needed. Nerja is a great town with a lot going on both in and around it. Now for travelling around some Spanish cities…

From Lou

me and sam

Favourite activity – finding hidden caves and rocks

About me