This morning we will start our Iberian Adventure tour with Busabout, beginning from the Spanish capital Madrid and making our way south to the beautiful Moorish inspired city of Seville. The seven day Iberian Adventure tour will take in many sights of the Iberian Peninsula. After our one night in Seville we head further south and cross the border into Portugal for two nights in the sea side town of Lagos.
From Lagos we continue the tour into another new country; from the port of Tarifa we catch the ferry across to the Moroccan city of Tangier. After spending one-night in Africa we head back to Europe and onto the stunning city of Granada for two nights before ending our tour where it all started, back in Madrid.
Day 01: Madrid to Seville – 29 August, 2015
Today we have a bright and early start as we checked out of our hotel the Exe Central Madrid and headed around the corner to meet at the Busabout departure point for the Iberian Adventure tour which is also the drop off point for the Hop-On Hop-Off Busabout network at the U Hostel in Madrid.
Departure time for the tour is 7:30am and standing by to meet us all was our guide for the next week Marysol. Smack bang on 7:30am our driver Didier arrived with the coach that we would call home for the next seven days, travelling around the Iberian coast and once loaded up we were on our way to start our adventure.
On the coach we are introduced to our guide Marysol and driver Didier and are given a run down of what to expect over the course of the week as well as an in depth orientation on what we are doing today on day one. For the first part of the day we are heading to the old town of Cordoba where we will have the opportunity to explore the city for a couple of hours and to grab some lunch.
Cordoba is located in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia and is pretty much in the middle of Seville and Granada, two of the locations we will be visiting along the way of this seven-day tour.
Upon leaving the coach we are greeted by one of the main attractions of the city, a massive ancient Roman Bridge that links the city to the other side of the river with a length of 247 metres and was likely to be built in the 1st century. We were walked across the bridge as a group and taken to the other main site of the city to The Cathedral of Cordoba, or as it was originally known as, The Great Mosque of Cordoba. This is because the site was converted from a mosque to a cathedral when the Islamic population was pushed out centuries ago.
The group was then left to find their own way around the city and we were all given small maps of the city with some highlights pointed out to see. Our guide Marysol recommended that we check out as many courtyards as we could, they were all pristine and beautiful. After looking around in the scorching heat we grabbed ourselves a quick bite to eat for lunch and headed back across the old Roman Bridge to meet up with the rest of the group and jump back on the coach to head to our next destination of Seville.
When we arrive in Seville we were dropped off a few blocks away from the hostel as the coach cannot navigate the small narrow streets. We then had to walk down the cobble stoned roads with all our luggage wheels vibrating along the streets, probably to the horror of the locals living inside the buildings we passed. Our hostel for just this one night was called the Oasis Hostel and was ideally located close to the main attractions of Seville. Located right next door to the hostel were two small cheap supermarkets and also a bakery across the street which came in handy to buy lunch for the bus journey the next day. We were warned before leaving that the service stops are not fantastic along the way to Lagos, and that it would be a good idea to buy some lunch and snacks to take along with us for the day.
Rooms at the Oasis Hostel are quite spacious. The one I was staying in was a twelve bed dorm which was originally allocated to eight people from the tour, that then ended up being ten, and it had two bathrooms which was really good for such a large room. For the entire Iberian Adventure tour this hostel was probably the one where you will share in the biggest rooms as they get smaller along the way. With Busabout you also have the option to upgrade to a private single room which will of course cost you more, but you may wish to do this if you like your privacy.
After checking in and refreshing ourselves we then met downstairs in the hostel reception for our walking tour of Seville. We had a lovely local guide who was waiting for us in the main square and she took us around to all the main sights in the city and explained their significance and the stories behind many of the most important parts of the city.
One of the biggest attractions in Seville is the Seville Cathedral or The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See which is the biggest cathedral in the world surpassing the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which held that title for nearly a thousand years. In 1987 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral started its life out as a mosque before being converted and this is evident with the bell tower being a converted minaret. The site is also the burial site for the world famous explorer Christopher Columbus.
The Seville Cathedral might be one of the oldest sites in Seville however the city also boasts a striking modern attraction, the Metropol Parasol which claims to be the largest wooden structure in the world. It was completed in 2011 and was estimated to cost €100 million, more than double the original budget. Our walking tour took us here as we walked under the massive structure that encompasses a whole block.
The walking tour continued taking us around the various cobble stoned city streets and small courtyards including the old Jewish Quarter Santa Cruz.
When the walking tour of Seville was over, our guide took us back to the hostel and we then had time to freshen up before heading out to dinner as a group at a local restaurant. The restaurant was really nice and you had many things to choose from, including an array of Tapas and Sangria which is what I opted for. Two of the delicacies on the menu that our guide Marysol recommended were to try the pig cheek and the bull’s tail. While they might not sound so appetising at first, give them a try as they both tasted really nice and tender, my favourite was the pig cheek.
Once we finished dinner and paid the bill it was time to head back to the hostel which has a roof top bar with amazing views of Seville, and it even has a small pool up there. The bar will stay open until midnight and a large number of us stayed up there until closing time in order to mingle and to get to know each other to close out the first day of our seven day adventure.
Tomorrow morning, we will get up early for an 8:00am departure to firstly check out Plaza de España before we depart Seville and then head off to cross the border into our driver Didier’s home country of Portugal for some time by the sea in the town of Lagos.
THE IBERIAN ADVENTURE TOUR CONTINUES, CLICK BELOW TO CONTINUE READING…