Southern Spain & Gibraltar - March 2016
The first thing you hear is the deep rolling timbre of the drums. Then the mournful wail of a hundred piccolo trumpets. You see runners approaching to get in the front of the float. Then you see, above the heads, the slow Paso creeping, almost stumbling along - two tons of weight supported on the shoulders of 40 big men. Over 10 hours, until 2 am, these solemn processions wind their way through the streets of Granada during Holy Week, the carriers swapping out at intervals. It's one of the most famous Christian traditions in the world.
On our spring break vacation, we got to experience this awe-inspiring event in Granada, a city south of Madrid in the hilly Andalusia. (Skip to the bottom to see Mark's video clips of our first chilling pasos experience at midnight! I will never forget when those trumpets started playing.) This experience was a highlight in my travel life. If you are looking for a spiritual moment that transcends time and pulls you out of yourself, you need to witness this religious and ancient tradition.
This is a photo journal of our trip to Andalusia in March 2016 with my parents. Our first stop was Granada, specifically to see the Alhambra - considered the most lovely palace in the world. This Moorish palace was the last stronghold of the Islamic Nasrid dynasty in Spain that reached back to 711 A.D. and once covered most of the Spanish peninsula. It was recaptured by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492 - Columbus met the rulers there and convinced them to finance his trip to the New World! We got to see the Hall of Ambassadors where this happened. The sunset views from top make it easy to imagine a time when Spain was ruled by Muslims.
From there we drove south through the hills towards the Mediterranean. We stayed in a staffed villa near the hill town of Comares for several days. (Casa Colinas - we found it on AirBnB - amazing owners and they press their own olive oil!!) The boys had a great time with the villa dogs - Dexter (Dalmation), Woody and Bella. My mom and I loved not cooking and all the delicious tapas we could handle. Lots of gorgeous views and walks through avocado and olive trees. After a seaside stop in Nerja, we visited the rock of Gibraltar and had some fish and chips! Where else do a bunch of bored monkeys enjoy such an amazing view?
Our last stay was in a rented villa in a nature park right outside Tarifa, the southernmost point of Spain. From there we could watch the container ships passing through the strait (Mark tracked them on an app - where they came from and where they were heading!) and we could see Morocco in all its sunrise and sunset beauty. The kids loved exploring on the trails and little coves along the coast and I loved ALL the beach glass. There was a Roman site along the Bolonia beach (kite-surfing capital) there called Baelo Claudio from 2nd century B.C. We didn't really expect to see Roman ruins in Spain and I could just imagine waking up to that view every day. No wonder they rebuilt it 5 times after earthquakes!
It was our first multigenerational trip and it was great just being together and finally DOING what my mom and I used to just dream about. Driving was the best - we got to see so much of the country. And I think we'll all remember when we got stuck in the underground garage with our Euro-mini-van! The boys picked up some Andalusian Spanish and learned that not everyone gets Easter baskets. These are the kinds of things I love to experience with them.