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Sevilla

Last December & January we visited  Spain and Morocco. This is our amazing trip, starting with Seville. I hope you like it as much as we did.

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bullSpain was beautiful, warm and welcoming, just like I remember it from our previous trips. I always wanted to visit Seville and Cordoba and this is what this trip was about. Morocco was just an added bonus. We rolled into Seville in our little rented car at about 10 am in the morning. Being so close to it (based in Estepona) it only took us 2 and a half hours to get there. The city was heaving, people everywhere, getting ready to celebrate the last days of the old year. Restaurants & bars were offering their famous tapas while the old ladies drank small glasses of cherry for the early morning kick. Tourists were everywhere, queuing to get in to the museums, taking horse carriage rides and standing at every corner with their maps wide open.

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Where we stayed: We stumbled upon Hotel Europa while looking at another close by hotel and decided to take a plunge at £45 per night. The room was nice. Clean and lean. Not too much character but we did get the last one and for a very good price. The hotel itself is an old converted 18 century palace and a grand reception room had plenty of atmosphere unlike the room.  It is located just around the corner from La Giralda and a great value for a short visit. Parking is a bit of a problem in Seville, as it’s so compact. It was a pleasant surprise when we discovered they have parking too. Price: 17 Euro per day.

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Seville is a charming town packed with loads of stuff to do. Whether you prefer to eat tapas all day, drink a great wine or sight see, you wont get disappointed. There is so much on offer and two days are enough but not plenty of time. We opted for a mixture of taking photos while having small breaks(in between those sunny bright hours full of shadows) and my fav, eating tapas! OMG, it is literally everywhere you turn, small plates of Serrano ham filled with sunbath olives served with goats cheese topped with sardines, garlic bread & albondigas with sauce-} read meatballs. We, I ate a lot. :-)

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What to see:

La Giralda -an old mosque, now turned Cathedral is a very impressive building. Nestled in the city center and full of life there it stands in its full glory. You can go to the roofs if brave enough or visit the Cathedral it self, either way you wont get disappointed. It is a one stunning piece of the architecture and locals refer to it as La Giraldita as in a litlle, small pretty Giralda. The tower is 95.5 m in height and it was one of the most important symbols in the medieval city. Tickets start at: 6 Euro.

Alcazar of Seville -The Almohades were the first to build a palace, which was called Al-Muwarak, on the site of the modern day Alcázar. The palace is one of the best remaining examples of mudéjar architecture. Subsequent monarchs have added their own additions to the Alcázar. The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional.

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The name, meaning “The Courtyard of the Maidens”, refers to the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia. The story of the tribute was used as a myth to bolster the Reconquista movement.

text taken from : Wikipedia

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Plaza Del Espana-It was built for of the Ibero-american Exhibition of 1929, held in Seville. Its creator was Aníbal González. He mixed a style inspired by the Renaissance with typical elements from the city: exposed brick, ceramics and wrought iron (worked by Domingo Prida). Text taken from : Sevillaonline

Funny enough as I was watching The Dictator the other day with Sasha Baron Cohen I realized the the presidential palace in the movie was Plaza Del Espana slightly altered to fit in with the movie theme. It was one one our favorites places and it is surrounded by huge park where most of the Sevillans go for a stroll or run. Down the park path there is a Museum of The architecture. Another pretty building where locals gather around and talk about the past times. We were taking a break when I ears drop on the two old boys conversation about the world wars and how times have changed. Really cute.

Looking slightly as a mix of Venice it also has canals and you can take a small boat ride for about a tenner.

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Spain 0019 Spain 0020 Spain 0021Where to eat: Seville has a lot of tapas bars & restaurants all over the place.If you are not into little bits and do prefer something big-ish, head over to Maccheroni & Co a great Italian in a walking distance from La Giralda. The size of bruschetta is huge-enormous and J. cannelloni’s were to die for, as was my prosciutto & black olives pizza.

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Another great place where to eat, was a sister restaurant of  Maccheroni & Co but we didn’t realize that until we got our final bill and business card with it. Gusto is literary opposite La Giralda and makes some mean burgers among some other tasty foods.

After our two nights, three days in Seville  we went to Cordoba and that is where I will be taking you next.

Hope you have a lovely relaxed Sunday, I am off to pack for another adventure, Krakow in Poland tomorrow x Ines

All photos except instagrams are courtesy of my very talented husband :-) and can be seen here or here.

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Pictures & Notes – Postcards From Bruges, Belgium pt.1

Hope you all had a lovely week. I spent mine catching up with loads of work hence my absence from no42. I was also working on this two part blog post I’m sharing with you today.

I will be honest with you. This is one of those bad confessions to make online but I’ve only ever heard of Bruges before because of the movie In Bruges. Now I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie to begin with, mostly because of a large amount of very dry British humor which at that point of my life I just didn’t get or bothered to understand. Few years down the line and I love it! If you haven’t seen the movie yet I urge you to do so. Anyway we hit Bruges in April earlier this year and these are my postcards from our two day trip.

We started our trip with some homemade coco J. mum brought with us in a flask…The drive to the ferry is more than two hours away and coco was well appreciated along the way. What a sweet gesture.

We boarded in Dover. It was a boring ride.  Ferry didn’t offer much except for a very overpriced and overcooked full English breakfast. I also missed taking pictures of the white cliffs of Dover as it was too windy and we weren’t allowed outside. Rubbish, I say but they do look stunning even if seen from the inside of ferry boat.

After another hour of driving from Dunkirk (yes, we did so much driving) we finally arrived to Bruges. What a stunning place! I was sold, like strait away. I can now say it was the beauty that got to me. The charm of being lost in the endless maize of cobbled streets whilst trying to find our hotel was amazing. Which by the way was literary tucked away minutes’ walk from the town center  We booked a room in a small and very reasonable priced hotel Europ.

The architecture of Bruges is stunning and I admit: I was one of those tourists who walk with their heads in the clouds, annoying all the locals by stopping every two minutes and having sayings like: OMG check this building! OMG look at that! Yep, that me. That annoying tourist.

One thing I did enjoy very very much are all the chocolates…in shop windows and in my belly.

The town is riddled with canals and small streets making it really hard to navigate with the car so most people use bikes as their mean of transport.

The center square is quite touristy with loads of thing to do. You can get a tour with one of the local tour guides or a horse & carriage for about the same amount of money. (£30) We didn’t do either. Being there only for a day, my eyes & legs were focused on exploring as much as I could and being stuck in a tour is not really me. There was a great Picasso exhibition on in one of the galleries but the queues were massive and overpopulated with bunch of Japanese tourists. Same thing happened with the clock tower. So we did the only logical thing and went for people watching while sipping a pint of fine local beer.

Bruges is not just famous for its architectural beauty but also for beer, chocolates and chips. I had a few chips from a few different local chip shops and each one of them claimed they were the ones who invented the beauty of chips frying. I do have to say they do taste better in Belgium than anywhere else. Want to know the secret? Fry them in animal fat not vegetable oil.

Bruges offers a lot of souvenir shopping. There is a lot of cheap stuff from China on offer but those types of souvenirs are easy to recognize and in my opinion best to avoid. All you have to do is keep looking: into a small sideways streets. You will be surprised.  Walk out of the town center and you will find some top of the range modern boutiques mixed with quirky handmade stuff. You just have to look. One of my favorite recent buys is from Bruges and it comes from this lovely shop.

As we really didn’t plan this trip we didn’t realized we came in the peak time of Queens day/week celebrations. Bank holidays in Bruges are best to be avoided as most of the streets are full of not just tourists but locals too. Being a foodie as I am, it annoyed me not being able to sit and eat in that nice square,in that nice restaurant. Settling down for a cheap takeaway pizza really isn’t my way of fun but hey I was in Bruges and there was plenty of chocolates around.

X Ines,

P.S. Log in soon for p.t two

 

 

 

 

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