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Andalucia, Madrid, and Toledo, March 2022

I took 10 weekdays off of work so I could travel to Spain for My own edification. Again, I traveled solo. Unfortunately, I felt guilter and stupider about this trip than my previous trips, and my mom was mortified because she felt like all of Europe was unsafe due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. My dad said he couldn’t see why I didn’t travel for just one week instead of two weeks.... I arrived at my hotel in Seville at approximately 6:15pm local time Sunday, March 13th.

Monday, March 14th, 2022: My ticket to the Royal Alcazar was for 10am. I was careful to try closely observing much of the details of the abstract designs on the walls, the white carvings and the colored tiles on the walls. I saw the display cases with the painted pottery and samples of tiles. The rest of the day had not been planned in advance. After the Alcazar I walked to Plaza de España. Then I took an hour-long riverboat ride, which cost 18 euros. Maybe it was a waste of money but I don’t feel that unhappy about it. Then I paid 3 euros to enter the small naval museum inside the Torre del Oro. The place might have been worth it just for the at least one model of an old Spanish ship. There were painting-portraits of Spanish explorers and paintings of boat-related scenes. Rick Steves is wrong; the place is not “dreary” or “skippable”. Then I paid 10 euros to enter the bullring and bullfight museum. I saw people lined up to buy bullfight tickets at an entrance separate from the entrance for the museum. I was happy enough to get a sense of what the excitement is about without actually sitting in the audience of a bullfight.

Tuesday, March 15th: First I had a ticket for 9am for the cathedral. I had considered skipping it because I figured it wouldn’t mean anything to me because I was raised Jewish. I bought the ticket anyway just because the place was there and it is highly rated in all the guidebooks and reviews. Then my ticket for the Giralda bell tower was for 11am. I had time to sit in the courtyard while waiting to climb the bell tower. Somehow my ticket had the date of February 14th instead of March 14th; the first employee who looked at my ticket didn’t want to let me enter the tower but after saying a sentence in Spanish to another employee about having a disaster and showing my other ticket with the date of March 14th, the two employees talked to each other for a minute and then they let me go in. I would have been as happy if I had skipped buying the ticket to the bell tower. Then I went to the Case de Pilatos.

Wednesday, March 16th: First was the exhibition in the Archivo des Indias. Descriptions were all in Spanish. There was one good model of an old Spanish ship. Then the Hospital des Los Venerables. I don’t know how to justify why I went in given that I was raised Jewish. This used to be a home for old priests. Then I toured the Antiquarium de Sevilla, the foundations of houses found when they built the Metropol Parasol, usually called Las Setas (the mushrooms). I skipped going to the top of the structure. It was raining. Then I went to the Casa Palacio de la Condensa de Lebrija, a highly decorated mansion turned into a museum in 1991. Then I walk to part of the Tirana neighborhood and went into the Centro Ceramica Tirana, a museum about (history of) the manufacture of ceramics or pottery in Seville.

Thursday, March 17th, 2022: I took the bus to Granada. After checking into my hotel, I had time for the Capilla Real de Granada, the Catedral, the Corral del Carbón, and certain minor sights listed in my guidebooks.

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6603 posts

Mike, it's great to read this and know that you went ahead with this trip. I hope the flight and train connections went well. You've seen some of the best places in Seville. I enjoyed the Arcivo de las Indias, where there was a special exhibit about Magellan's circumnavigation 500 years before. (This was 2+ years ago.)

Your Jewish heritage shouldn't keep you from appreciating Christian or Muslim sites. I was raised Protestant but I look for Jewish sites in Europe as well as the usual churches and cathedrals. As you probably know, all three religions coexisted peacefully in medieval Spain for hundreds of years. If you get to Cordoba you'll see a magnificent mosque with a cathedral in the middle of it, and a medieval synagogue just up the street. Curiosity about different religions is something we need to encourage in today's world.

I look forward to reading more of your reports and hope the rest of your trip goes well. Travel seems to agree with you and you seem to do it with skill and the right kind of energy.

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451 posts

Mike, I am so glad that you decided to go on your trip to Spain! Thanks for the trip report and I'm looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip.

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212 posts

I am delighted that you made the trip especially in the face of such harsh criticism. And two weeks to see Spain is not really a lot of time. Good for you. I have loved Granada and Cordoba and I hope you do as well.

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3188 posts

Good to see you getting away on another trip!
I hope your family can see how much you enjoy traveling , by now!

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993 posts

Friday, March 18th, 2022: My ticket for the Nasrid Palace was for 10am. I wanted to take the bus the Alhambra fortress but at the traffic circle where there were two bus stops, I didn’t see the number of the bus listed at either bus shelters. Taxis were waiting. I took a taxi. I left the place at 4pm. There were a lot of similarities between the walls here and the walls of the Alcazar in Seville. The stone lions surrounding a fountain in the Palace were less detailed than I expected, like maybe a lot of the original details have been eroded away. I took the bus part of the way back and then walked to two “miradores” and then along various random mostly deserted hilly streets.

Saturday, March 19th: I took the train to Córdoba. After checking into my hotel I first went to the synagogue. It is small, just one little entrance courtyard and one main room with a 2 to 3 storey high ceiling. Then I went to some small museums: the Sephardic (Jewish) museum; the museum of Al Andalus, just because I saw it right next to the synagogue. It was worth it for the exhibit about old Moorish paper-making; the statue of Maimonidies, the Archaeology museum, the small art museum and then the Julio Romero-Torres museum across the courtyard. The first art museum wasn’t that impressive. It was Christian-themed paintings, some black-and-white portrait-drawings containing no shades of gray, and a few painted-portraits. The Julio Romero-Torres museum was worth it. Then I walked to the Palacio de Viana. It is not more memorable that the other similar house-museums. It was still worth it. Then I walked past the remains of the Roman temple with the recreated columns.

Sunday, March 20th: First was my ticket to the Mezquita, the cathedral that used to be a mosque, the most known sight in Cordoba. My excuse for seeing it might have been to appreciate the amount of detail and/or the effort or time it must have taken to make it all, even though I am not religious. Then I had time for the Alcazar(de los Reyos Cristianos), a castle used by the monarchs when they came to Córdoba. The castle was small, The gardens were extensive. Then I had time for the Torre de la Calahorra. I paid to enter the museum of life in Al’Andalus in the tower. Then view from the top was worth it. I don´t remember learning anything I didn’t know. Then I walked by the old mill building, across the Punte Romano bridge, to the Roman Mausoleum, then to two old-looking highly decorated churches (these weren’t planned in advance, I might not have known the names of until I checked google maps to see where I was later), Parroquia de San Nicolas de la Villa, and Parroquia de San Juan y Todos los Santos.

Monday, March 21st: I took a planned day trip to the Castle of Almodovar del Rio. I took the bus from the bus station in Córdoba. The bus left at 10:00am. It was raining for most of the day, with some breaks in the rainfall. I spent about an hour and 25 minutes there. The place was pleasantly un-crowded, rooms and towers were well labeled, the views from the towers were marvelous. You could see the whole town of Almodovar del Rio, some roads, train tracks, and fields. Some of the steps on the stairs were falling apart; they need to be fixed again. The bus on the way back arrived on time, at 3:18pm. My train to Madrid left at 4:27pm. I wasn’t sure I would make it to the train on time. I made it with 20 minutes to spare. I was able to store my luggage in a locker in the bus station.

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2446 posts

You saw so many wonderful sights! Thanks for posting an update, I'm glad you went.

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Tuesday, March 22st: My ticket to the Prado art museum was for 10am. The best two paintings I saw there were by Peter Bruegel the Elder. Maybe the whole museum was only worth it for those two paintings. The rest of the day was unplanned. After leaving the Prado, I realized that I could have time for the Thyssen-Bornemisza art museum. I arrived the Thysseun-Bornemisza at 3pm. I actually liked the Thyssen-Bornemisza more than the Prado because it much more detailed old landscape paintings than the Prado. I spent about 4 hours in the Prado and 3-1/2 hours in the Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022: I took a planned day trip to Toledo. I had advance train tickets. From the train station in Toledo, I took a taxi to Synagoga del Transito. Then I walked to the synagoga Maria la Blanca. Both are small, the synagoga Maria la Blanca may have been the biggest of the 3 old synagogues I saw in Spain – it has many columns sort of like the mezquita in Cordoba but the columns were all white. The floor was improved with lights shining up from below glass or acrylic in the floor. Then I tried to find the cave of Hercules but I couldn’t find it even though I saw an arrow-shaped sign saying “Cuevas de Hércules”. Then I went into the San Juan de loss Reyes Monestario, just because it was there and I was walking right past it. Then the Visigothic museum – its in a building that was a Visigothic era church, then a monestary, then a mosque, then a church again. Then the Santa Cruise museum – it was worth it but only for the old decorated pottery display. Then I paid to enter the Army museum, which was a mistake because when I entered I had less than 2 hours until closing time, not enough time. Then I had time for the Toledo Cathedral – again I saw it just because it was there and it is highly rated in guidebooks even though I was raised Jewish. Then I walked back to the train station – the walk was mostly ok except there was a place where I was going down some stairs with wide steps outside and the stones were almost too slippery. It was raining. I didn’t see the outdoor escalators I had read about.

Thursday, March 24th: I had an advance ticket for the Royal Palace, I took the audio guided tour. I went through the rooms, trying to be observant of enough of the details on the ceilings and walls. The audio guide does help you take a good look at objects you otherwise might barely glance at without a second thought. Then I saw the room full of old metal body-armor. I made the mistake of returning my audio guide before entering the armor display. Then rest of the day was not planned in advance. I went to the Joaquin Sorolla museum, the art filled home of the painter Joaquin Sorolla who lived from 1863 to 1923.

Friday, March 25th, 2022: First I went to the Archaeology museum. It occupied me for 3-1/2 hours. The highlight might have been the extensive and amazing collection of ancient Green painted plates and vases, some with redish people on a black background, some with black figures on a tan or reddish background. I don’t even remember if I saw that much of that kind of ancient Greek decorated pottery when I was in Greece. Then I went back to my hotel and was successfully able to do my remote-observed coronavirus-2019 antigen test. I tested negative. It was easier than I feared it would be. Then I walked to certain plazas and city squares and along busy shopping streets.

Saturday, March 26th, 2022: I was able to show the staff at the airport my negative test result on my 10-inch tablet computer. They accepted it. It was that easy. Much easier than I feared. Before the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, I had been persuaded to feel so guilty about traveling because travel “is not safe” because I “would catch COVID”. My aunt and my mother were wrong. My plane left Madrid at the original given time, 11:40am. My taxi brought me back to my apartment at 11-11:05 pm.

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6603 posts

Way to go, Mike! You packed a lot of travel and fun into a short period, had no serious mishaps (a few bumps maybe), and picked up a lot of good memories. I also liked the Thyssen museum more than I'd thought I would (but not more than the Prado), and the Visigothic Museum was a highlight of Toledo for me (though hard to find in that vertical town). Thanks for sharing your adventure, and I hope you get to have many more as life goes on.

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4281 posts

Sounds like a great trip and I really liked your reporting on how long you spent in each place!

So many new and wonderful places ahead to see!

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993 posts

Final observations: In Toledo, I wish that after the old synagogues I had gone straight to the Santa Cruise museum just for the decorative pottery collection, then given myself 2 or more hours in the Alcazar/Army museum. And then I still could have entered the cathedral or something else.

In the early afternoon of the first Tuesday of my trip, while in the Casa de Pilatos, I developed discomfort in my digestive tract which morphed into sever gastrointestinal symptoms within 2 hours after the discomfort started. I was able to avoid going to the hospital. I could have gotten too dehydrated or worse. By the next morning felt 80-90% better. By the first Thursday of my trip my symptoms completely disappeared.

I took 241 pictures. I picked 47 to share with others.

I had more difficulty with directions than in previous travel. Maybe the problem was trying to rely too much on google maps. I was able to get google maps on my phone most of the time in Spain but the internet on my phone was rather slow and low functioning. A message said I would get up to 2G speeds. Often when google maps physically worked I still had difficulty interpreting which direction the arrow on google maps meant for me to walk in; I would guess and walk in one direction, see that I was getting farther away from a place, then guess and walk in another direction, and so on.

I was unable to make outgoing phone calls. My mother did call me at least ten times in my trip. I was able to make some outgoing texts. Despite her anxiety my mom kept her phone calls short.

On the way to Seville my taxi to Detroit Metro Airport arrived at 3:50am Saturday morning, my first plane left Detroit at 7am and arrived at Miami, Florida, at about just after 10am. Then I had to wait at the airport; my next plane to Madrid left at 6:30pm. The plane arrived about 8:45-8:55am local time. My train to Madrid left at 3pm. I arrived at my hotel about 6:15pm local time. I was able to get my passport stamped easily.

On both flights to Spain I didn’t check in any luggage. On the way back in the airport in Madrid looked at me in a skeptical way and said something about checking in a bag and something about the flight being full. I acquiesced to checking in my bag with my spare clothes without trying to say anything about taking it on the plane. A souvenir cup I shouldn’t have bought, that I packed with my clothes, broke on the way back. I hate wasting money.

I took 5 taxi rides: The train stations in Seville, Cordoba, and Madrid to my hotels; bus station in Granada to my hotel; in Toledo from the train station to the one synagogue I saw first. At the train stations and bus station I had some difficulty figuring out where to wait for or catch the taxis. I kept seeing taxis drive by near the stations before figuring out where to want for one.

It was raining for maybe approximately half the time. I bought a folding umbrella in Seville. It easily flipped inside out and I kept bending it back into shape. I put it in the garbage can in my hotel in Madrid on the morning I left for the airport.

My top reason I bought all my food from (small) grocery stores was not about saving money. It is because I am afraid restaurant food is too high in fat, salt, or otherwise unhealthy; it is all made with oil, salt, and/or sugar. I bought whatever I could that I judged to be low enough in salt that didn’t need cooking or refrigeration. But my last hotel in Madrid had a miniature refrigerator. But I went into Mercado Victoria in Cordoba and thought about buying something.

My trip cost $2,674.10 US dollars total.

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212 posts

And just like that, you did it. Congrats on another successful and well-planned trip. You are becoming a more confident and intrepid traveler with each completed trip.

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2091 posts

Hi Mike! I’m so happy that you went on your trip! Keep traveling, as it opens one’s eyes to history and other cultures. Your mom will never change so don’t have one ounce of guilt for being an adventurous soul.
I agree with others about seeking out sites that aren’t Jewish related Christian, Muslim, etc. I definitely learn a lot with each experience outside of my own Protestant upbringing. I seek other religious sites and it always adds to my overall trip experience.

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247 posts

Mike thanks for your trip report. It is useful as I plan Andalusia. Glad you took the trip!!

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You write, "It is because I am afraid restaurant food is too high in fat, salt, or otherwise unhealthy; it is all made with oil, salt, and/or sugar.

I am guessing you skip the tv dinners and other packaged junk they serve on board and just drink water on the flights to and from Europe.

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993 posts

My reply about what I ate on the way to and from Spain:

On the way to Spain: I took some homemade bread cut into squares, in plastic containers with tight fitting lids. I had at least two or more bananas. I ate for the first time in the day at Detroit Metro Airport. I don't remember eating on the plane to Miami. I ate some of my food two times in the airport in Miami. I forgot whether I had dates or figs with me or whether I just thought about bringing them. I didn't write in my journal exactly what I ate on my trip although I have a rough memory of much of it... my plastic containers took up too much space. I wish I had not brough them. On the plane to Madrid I might have tried about 5 bites of part of the TV dinner I let the flight attendant give me. Also the flight attendant gave me a little container of cut-up fruit. I didn't eat the packaged crackers, yogurt, and miniature little packages of other stuff on the flights.

On the way back I had 3 small green pears and a package precut lettuce I bought at a grocery store the day before, at the airport in Madrid; for the plane, from a grocery store I had bought a package of figs, a package of hazel nuts, a package of dates, and a package of crackers that didn't have salt or sugar. The only airplane food I ate on the flights back were 3 little meatballs from the TV dinner. I had most of the hazel nuts and some of the dates, when I got back to Detroit. I drank the bottled water on the plane flights.

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232 posts

Mike I’m so glad you took the trip! It sounds like you really planned it well and had a broad array of experiences!

I was thinking of going to the Archeological Museum in Madrid to see the exhibit of replicas of cave paintings. Did you see those? If so what did you think?

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993 posts

Gretchen:
I did not see a major exhibit of replicas of ancient cave paintings at the archaeology museum in Madrid. I briefly saw ancient stone tools and an a replica of an ancient human or hominid maybe like a Neanderthal. There was an area of the museum that was closed, apparently for renovations. Maybe the replicas of the paintings were in the closed parts? Maybe I saw the paintings but I didn't recognize them as significant or interesting. There might have been some photographs or drawings incidentally accompanying the exhibit of prehistoric people from Spain, in the basement level. I spent most of my time on the ancient Greek painted vases and plates, and the parts of hoardes from the ancient Roman Era or a little before found in Spain. It is a shame the coins were not displayed better. Like for example at a small archaeology museum in Crete, there were coins displayed in a thin acrylic vertical case, each coin separated from the others, you could see the coins from both sides. At the archaeology museum in Madrid, the coins were only anateurishly dropped into piles on a flat surface, so you couldn't properly see an example of a Roman coin...

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Mike, what a wonderful trip report! Lots of great detail and will be very helpful in planning. Could you share anything about the hotels, including cost that you utilized. Also, what airline did you use from DTW.

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My hotels:

In Seville: Hotel Patio de las Cruces: Cruces 10, (Old Town), 41004 Seville. Cost was equivalent to $159.50 US dollars for 4 nights.
The rules said no eating in the room. I didn't see any pests. There was a nice courtyard, and the hall just outside my room was also a balcony overlooking the courtyard.

In Granada: El Zaguan: Nueva del Santísimo, 4, (Granada City Center), 18001 Granada. Cost was equivalent to 57.83 US dollars for two nights.
The staff barely knew any English. I tried speaking a few sentences of Spanish just to seem smart. I always teach myself words and phrases before a trip to another country to seem smart. Apparently they understood and they were happy to reply in Spanish.

In Cordoba: Hospederia Luis de Góngora: Horno de la Trinidad, 7, 14003 Córdoba. Maybe i can look up the cost.
The room looked marvelously renovated.

In Madrid: Hostal Dulcinea: Calle de Cervantes, 19 2º-D, (Madrid City Center), 28014 Madrid. Maybe i can look up the cost.
The room came with a miniature refrigerator and an electric water-boiler.

I choose all low-end private rooms in typical hotels. Unlike past trips when I stayed in some hostels (spelled with a final el), the kind of place where solo travelers save money by sharing a room with strangers. I know some low-end typical hotels in Spain have the word Hostal (spelled with a final -al) in the name. None of my hotels were decrepit. They all did the job fine.

I bought my tickets from American Airlines. I flew round trip Detroit-Madrid. I had briefly considered buying tickets from TAP Portugal but I was afraid TAP Portugal wouldn't work because on at least one of the two trips the amount of time between flights was just under two hours which I doubted was enough time. Maybe I was wrong. Whether the length of layovers would have been enough would have depended on whether I would have had to go through security again to switch planes or whether I would have just gone straight from one plane to the next plane. Also until after this trip I wrongly believed I should only buy plane tickets from USA based airlines.