On Wednesday I spent a lot of time exploring Seville; I will share my adventure of Seville at a later point because of how much time it will take to prepare that post. On Thursday, I had to say goodbye to one of my new favorite cities. It was time to head to Granada, but first: a stop in the mountains.
There was a brief stop in Seville before we headed to the town of Ronda. The choir rolled in to the Plaza de España, which featured water surrounding a giant space ornamented by bridges and a central fountain. Artwork decorated the walls and a pan flute player brought to life the famous tune "Time to Say Goodbye."
After leaving Seville, another lengthy bus ride ensued as we traveled toward Granada. We stopped in Ronda for a tour of the city, seeing large churches and beautiful botanical gardens and city squares. The most delightful part of Ronda being on a mountain is the views from the mountain.
The tour allowed for incredible views at several different points before continuing from the new part of the city into the old. We crossed the New Bridge (Puente Nuevo) and saw murals, more views, the city square, and many narrow streets with desirable cobblestone roads.
An extensive lunch break following the tour meant time to explore. At the vista by the botanical garden we were notified by our guide that it's possible to walk into the gorge below us via a footpath on the other side of town. I planned on going here, but I noticed some cascades along the river Guadalevín and hoped to get closer. The guide mentioned paying a homeowner 5 Euros to access the river, but I didn't have any luck deciding upon which door to knock. Thankfully, trying to find this door brought me through the Jardines de Cuenca.
Working my way toward the footpath into the gorge, I came across a small walk-in museum: the Arabic Baths. Their system was based on the Roman system. I was able to walk into a sheltered "cave"-like construction in the Baths, which was neat. I spent a little time here, and then I headed for the gorge (called the El Tajo Gorge). By chance, I saw a small footpath that led up the hill toward the old city walls.
At the top of the hill I observed the nearby church, Iglesia del Espíritu Santo, and then climbed a new hill and backtracked across part of the city seen on the walking tour. This finally brought me to the footpath that leads into the gorge. There are footpaths that lead to the very bottom of the hill, where farms and houses can be found. There is an extreme drop from the top of the New Bridge which defines the gorge.
The footpaths begin far away from the gorge and impressive views can be seen from almost every point alongside the cliff. The official path continued downhill when I noticed a deteriorating side path which eventually turned to dirt. The path was clearly well-traveled and other people walked down this way, so I decided to see what was in this direction.
The most amazing waterfall was here. It poured into a pool far above the ground in the middle of the gorge, fed by the river which flowed underneath the New Bridge. This waterfall was impossible to see from the tour, therefore it was an incredible surprise; I seek out waterfalls in New England when I am closer to home.
Climbing above the waterfall reveals a pathway underneath the bridge that leads to a pool-like reservoir. I spent a significant amount of time here before returning to the main footpath which eventually split in two directions. Each split pathway led to different areas at the base of the cliff; I did not have enough time to fully follow either path. But I was able to locate an old stone archway near the end of each path.
I had lightly scraped my leg on this hike and the walk back to the top of the cliff, although on a solid path, was incredibly exhausting. After shredding through two of my cat-nine-lives I appreciated the flat path back across the New Bridge and over to the Plaza de Toros outside the bullfighting arena. This was the meeting place for the bus.
A bus ride out of Ronda and through the country ultimately brought us to Granada. The hotel was far more quiet and reserved than the previous two. I was here only a short while before boarding one of a few mini-buses with friends. The destination? A flamenco show!
The dancing was high-energy and filled with passion. This was very exciting and some of my friends in the choir ended up dancing with the professionals in the corridor-like room. This short outing, followed by a dinner of sampling some fish, was the way to end our introduction to Granada. Friday was the penultimate concert: nearly bittersweet.
Tuesday served as a long travel day. Our bus left at about 9 AM and except for two brief stops, nothing exciting happened until 3 PM. Our bus stopped in Córdoba for us to explore the Mezquita-Catedral. A mosque was in the city, but after a long time a cathedral was built inside. This happened after the shift to Catholicism within the city.
The mosque has walls like several of the buildings seen in Segovia and Ávila, and it takes up a large amount of area in the form of a rectangle. Our tour guide pointed out different types of marble used and identified transitions of the building from Islamic to Catholic design in the common styles of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque from the 14th to 18th Centuries.
The mosque was our main visit. During some free time before continuing on to the destination of our third concert, I located the smallest plaza in the city: the Calleja del Pañuelo. From the mosque, off of a side street is access to a very narrow street that leads past a lone tree to a space with room for no more than 10 people to stand beside a small fountain. I spent a lot of time here despite there being nothing to do; it was serene and relaxing outside of the crowded streets.
Before leaving Córdoba, I walked around a few of the streets and explored near the riverside with some friends. There are several curious stone structures by the river Guadalquivir. Then it was time for the third hour-long bus ride to reach Ecija, the city for our third concert.
Our third concert was very successful, and it saddens me deeply that there are only two concerts left at this point. The special trait with this concert was that a few secular pieces were left off of the concert, except one (Duerme Negrito, arr. by) which was used as our encore. Dinner followed the concert, and then it was another lengthy bus ride to our hotel in Seville!
In love with experiencing all the world has to offer, a trip to Spain is a dream come true!