July 22 - August 2, 2013
When the job gets tough, the tough get…
No, that won't work.
Had a ~ two week-long training event in Rota, Spain, damn the bad luck. Naturally, I explored a bit during my free time.
It was consistently hot and dry throughout (most days got up to 45° C, or about 113° F), and the late sunsets were a nice touch. Central European time — the same clock we're on here in Italy — but 1100+ miles west.
And you'd never know it from the lack of humidity, but, Andalucía and beaches are practically synonymous. The beaches themselves weren't particularly spectacular (nothing compares to home), but they were clean and very busy.
Beach vistas:I'd originally planned to visit Gibraltar during my
stay, but instead opted to make Ronda my second
of two weekend-day excursions. The roads from Rota
aren't exactly streamlined for quick access to non-Seville
locales, and hearing of the hours-long lines to get into Gibraltar, I
could imagine having a grand total of two of three hours there before having to head back. I guess I decided seeing a giant rock was just not that important this time around.
During the week I made my (non-training) priority local, unique spots to savor rather than spend all my time each afternoon rushing to get somewhere, and then to get back in time for a decent night's sleep. Playa Ballena and surrounding areas, Chipione, Santa Maria, and Rota itself were all convenient destinations for after-class weekday trips. In each one I made it a point to enjoy a meal—all delish, and all punctuated by coffee and some apples-and-cheese-themed dessert or fruit-flavored ice cream.
Cádiz was close enough to hit on Friday afternoon, since I could get there in under an hour, and stay late without next-morning oversleeping consequences. This city was immensely fascinating. Parked the rental right near the western tip of the peninsula that forms the town, and must have walked ten miles that evening. Tried a couple places for paella, but the restaurants wouldn't do paella for a party of one, and I could find no exception to this policy (maybe I'm just not a smooth talker).
Sevillan artist brilliantly performs Robert Johnson's 'Kind-hearted Woman Blues.'
Having been continuously occupied for over three millennia, the city of Cádiz does what many European communities with even a hint of something superlative do: stakes a claim to something that, in the information age, is immediately debunkable. In this case, the claim being the longest-occupied city in Europe (or in Western Europe). Unfortunately, roughly a dozen other European cities have been continuously occupied longer (including Lisbon, which puts the brakes on that whole Western qualifier). Still, Cádiz is absolutely captivating—and when I take Mirna to Rota, it'll be one of our first visits.
The furthest spots I visited were Sevilla and Ronda—each one its own weekend day trip. Ronda was by far the biggest surprise, being one of southern Andalucía's (many, I'm sure) best-kept secrets. Occupying adjacent mesas straddling the Guadalevín River, 400+ ft below, Ronda was a favorite hangout for Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles. Some creative cliff-scaling, off-the-beaten track exploring netted a couple decent shots of the 250 yr-old "new" bridge, as you'll see below and above, in the first image (the big one at the top of this page).
Seville was everything I expected, and in fact a lot more than I could see in the few hours I was there. After spending far too much time gawking at the city's enormous cathedral and surrounding area, I headed for the river, the bull ring, stopped for an early dinner, and finally found some touristy spots in which to pick up gifts for Mirna and Austin.
Of course, the entire area is gorgeous; a photographer's dream. And all travels came with frequent, picture-taking stops along the way. Mirna would've hated it.