It's been a whirlwind of a spring. We haven't posted anything since March (though most of you follow us through facebook these days), but we have been busy. We fly home to see Rob's brother get married and then Erika followed her stint in Taiwan with another trip to Cape Town. Rob joined her and we enjoyed a fantastic road trip along the Garden Route on the southern coast of South Africa. Once home, we settled in for the rest of the spring, summer, and our last remaining time in Amsterdam, which is just flying by. In May, we took advantage of our last big trip in Europe and headed to Spain.
We started in Madrid, where we very quickly assimilated into the culture, enjoying many afternoon naps and gorging on tapas. At one point, Erika thought Rob would figure out a way to eat ham at every meal. Between meals, we visited several museums and walked through the city. We stopped for a drink in the beautiful Plaza Mayor and people-watched. While we spent most of the time completely enthralled with Flamboyant Fat Spiderman, we really enjoyed the locals dressed as Chulos and Chulapas, who were equally adorable, whether they were 6 years old or 80. The outfits are worn in celebration of St. Isadore and the beginning of the bullfighting season.
After a wonderful night of tapas bar hopping with some Spanish friends, we headed to Seville. A gorgeous city (with more amazing food), Seville is lush with beautiful gardens and home to a beautiful cathedral and an old Moorish palace.
We finished our time in Seville with a traditional Flamenco show, which was a little bit touristy, but totally worth it anyway. The singing, dancing, and guitar playing was incredible.
We pushed south to Cadiz, a sun bleached city said to have been founded by Hercules (how cool is that?!). While Cadiz was lovely, we had more fun in nearby Jerez de la Frontera, which is the heart of the Spanish sherry country (the word 'sherry' is a deviation from the word 'Jerez').
Needing a break from a few days on the road, we stopped in Estapona, a little beach town on the southern coast. We enjoyed a day in the sun, a quick trip to the spa, and some of the best seafood we've ever had. After the nice break, we moved north to Ronda, stopping first in the beautiful village of Grazalema.
Grazalema is one of several Pueblos Blanca, or White Villages, which were established high in the mountains by farmers who were trying to avoid gangs of bandits. All the buildings are painted white and the villages look stunning beneath the craggy rocks. They're also a pain in the neck to get to, hence the whole avoiding the bandits thing.
Ronda is famously built on two cliffs with a massive bridge connecting the two sides of town. The bridge is quite beautiful, as is the view of the valley below.
For the last day of our trip, we stopped in Cordoba to visit the unbelievably beautiful Mezquita, a massive mosque-turned cathedral that dates back to the 10th century. Filled with stunning Muslim architecture and design alongside Catholic altars and imagery, the Mezquita is an amazing departure from most of the Giant European Churches we've seen during our time in Europe.
Finally, we spent one night in Toledo before flying home. Toledo is an ancient city, built on a hill, and the streets are so narrow that some buildings have had parts of the walls scooped out to allow cars to navigate. Naturally, we thought it would be a good idea to drive to our hotel, so Rob got first hand experience driving through town.
Our trip to Spain was an incredible experience and a great last big trip before we move home. And now, here's an elephant standing on its trunk: