Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Best of Spain

Jerez de la Frontera is known for its sherry wine. We only stayed here one night on the way to Cadiz, but the town seemed pretty nice. We stayed at Hotel Casa Grande, which was right on the main square in the historic part of the town. The woman at the front desk was very friendly and spoke very good English. We stayed in room #1 which was very large and opened up onto the rooftop terrace.

That night, we walked down to La Cruz Blanca for dinner. The food was excellent and the price was decent. Mr. B had an ox filet and I had some garlic shrimp (gambas al ajillo). All of the streets are lined with orange trees and it makes the air smell so good! The next day, we ate breakfast at the hotel before we left for Cadiz. The train station was about 3 blocks away and it was easy to find.

Cadiz is supposedly the oldest city in Europe and it's right on the southwest tip of Spain. The city was beautiful and it had amazing shopping. There were mazes of streets that had all kinds of little shops in them. The seafood here was so fresh; I'll never eat frozen fish again!

We stayed at Hotel Senator Cadiz, which is right of the main road into the city. The front desk service was bad, really bad. They were rude and not very helpful at all. The room was ok. Very small--just big enough for the bed, which was uncomfortable. Our only window faced into an alley so we got to see everyone's laundry hanging outside. We had a connecting room and we could hear every noise the guy next door made. He definitely had emphysema or something because his coughing was horrendous!

We did one day of sightseeing while we were there. We saw the Cathedral and walked up La Girlada, which was one of the towers that overlooks the city. The view from up there was amazing! We also went to see the fort that was used to quaranteen people with some kind of disease 100's of years ago. It's such a pretty city to walk around. We ended up walking to the train station because the front desk people were ignoring us when we asked for them to call a cab. The train ride to Seville was actually really nice.

Seville was my favorite city by far. The food, the people, the sites; everything was amazing! We stayed at Hotel Alminar, which is in the old Jewish district. We could see the Cathedral from our hotel room. The room was very nice and actually quite modern. It was small, but not cramped and the beds were amazingly comfortable.

Our first day there we went and saw the Cathedral. We were both just in awe of the architecture and the massive size of the church. I used up my memory stick before I even got outside. That night we asked for tapas bar recommendations from the front desk and we ended up going to Coloniales. The food there was probably the best food we had all trip. We got a bottle of rioja (red) and about 6 plates of tapas. We got there around 8pm and by 9pm the place was packed and there were people waiting outside drinking in the street. Our favorite tapa was the Patatas Bravas--sliced, fried potatoes with a hot sauce and an aoili sauce. We had that in just about every tapas place after that.

The next day we went to see the Reales Alcazares, which are a bunch of Moorish palaces all connected together with a massive garden. The tilework in the rooms was amazing. We also went and saw the Torre de Oro, Plaza de Espana, and the bull ring. That night we went to Estrella, which was also very good and packed by the time we left.

The next day we went to some museums and basically did all of the little things that we didn't get to do the other days. That night we met up with some friends and went to a Vinoteca for some amazing food. We were so sad to leave on our last day in Seville. We took the AVE (high speed train) to Madrid.

Madrid was the last leg of our trip. We only stayed here one night before we left Spain. We stayed at the Roommate Alicia hotel and we got an amazing suite on the top floor. Our room wasn't ready when we got there so we had some tapas in the plaza across from our hotel. I don't think we had one bad thing to eat when we were in Spain. We went and saw the Reina Sophia museum and one of the botanical gardens in the city.

Our hotel room was absolutely amazing! Panoramic view of the plaza, soaking tub, huge, comfy bed. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant and the food was very, very good. We ended up having two plates of the Patatas Bravas to get our fix. We reserved a taxi at the front desk and he was on time the next day to take us to the airport. The ride cost about 30 Euro, but it was worth it because we probably would have gotten lost trying to find the train.

Mr. B and I are so ready to go back to Spain. We'd definitely spend some more time in Seville and maybe hit up some of the towns that are close...Jaen, Cordoba, etc.

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