Kirstie and Dad Take Iberia
Right before Thanksgiving, I was thrilled to have my dad pay me a visit in Spain. Though he only had three days here (days that I had work), we managed to squeeze in quite the tour of the southeastern Iberian Peninsula, and it was fantastic.
Monday afternoon, I hurried home from work to greet him at his hotel, just a minute away from my house. After running to the oficina de extranjeros to pick up my foreigners’ card before the office closed (because, surprise surprise, my bank had decided to cause more trouble), it was time to show off Sevilla! The tour began with a meal at a kebab restaurant, as eating a kebab is a quintessential Alameda experience, I’d say. From there, we strolled from La Alameda through the center, passing by the nativity scene vendors, and eventually arriving in the tourist district, where I showed him the exteriors of the Catedral and Alcázar and we wandered through the old Barrio Santa Cruz before wowing him with the majestic Plaza de España. We crossed over the bridge and into Triana, where I took him to one of my favorite spots in Sevilla, Paseo Nuestra Señora de La O along the river. I may have seen these places dozens of times by now, but they never fail to amaze me.
On day two, my dad got to see the town where I work when he dropped me off at school (so much nicer than taking the bus!). While I worked, he drove around rural Huelva. He picked me up at school, met a few of my co-teachers and got a quick tour of my school, and then we began our journey to Portugal! We stopped in Lepe for a delicious lunch, and soon we were crossing into Portugal. Just stopping by a foreign country after work, no big deal.
We arrived in Faro and began by visiting a supermarket, where I bought 4 huge bottles of Guaraná Antarctica, my favorite Brazilian drink that I can’t find in Sevilla. We were lucky enough to have the rain die down as we began our walking tour of the old, cobblestone streets of the city. We had the place mostly to ourselves, which made exploring them all the better. Once back in Sevilla, we stopped for delicious tapas in Plaza Alfafa at one of my favorite tapas places in Sevilla.
On his third and final day in Spain, he spent the morning exploring more of Sevilla while I worked. I met him in Sevilla after work, and together we began our drive to Cádiz, stopping in Jerez de la Frontera for lunch. Jerez is the birthplace of sherry (“jerez” means “sherry” in Spanish), so I ate sherry-marinated pork. The Tío Pepe (one of the leading sherry manufacturers) factory was across the street, so we walked around the circumference but skipped the official tour.
We continued on to Cádiz, the oldest city in Europe, where we watched a beautiful sunset over the ocean and then toured around the old center. More cute, narrow cobblestone streets! By then, we had decided that, although it was getting late, we were going to go ahead and continue driving to Gibraltar, so we only stayed in Cádiz for a bit before getting back on the road.
We finally made it to Gibraltar, which, for those who don’t know, is a British territory located on the southern tip of Spain. And it definitely felt like we had driven right into England! The architecture, the language, the currency, the products sold were all British, despite being within walking distance of Spain. It gave me kind of a trippy feeling of having teleported. And since British culture is more similar to American culture than Spanish culture, I felt closer to home. Though I had heard of the Rock of Gibraltar, I had always invisioned it as a little rock floating in the water, just off the shoreline, so I was surprised to find that it’s actually more like a huge mountain, with the town built around it. Pretty striking, really.
We started by stopping at a grocery store, where I found Cherry Coke (my favorite soda, which they don’t sell in Spain!), and then we wandered around the town by car. As it was late, most things were closed, but we did get a great view of Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar (I’ve been to Africa twice now, but it still blows my mind to be able to see it!), drove through the rock (who knew you could go inside the Rock of Gibraltar?!), took tons of photos, and otherwise explored the strange little territory that is Gibraltar. We finished our stay with dinner at a delicious Argentinean restaurant.
Overall, I had an amazing time having my dad visit me! I can’t believe how much we got to see in those three days, and my dad is an excellent travel buddy. I’m definitely looking forward to my next family visit, when my mom and sister come to Sevilla in a little over a month.