Awakened at about 7:00 even though I wanted to sleep another half hour. Did morning ablutions, took all my gear/luggage to reception area, sat awhile until I learned breakfast service had started, grabbed a quick breakfast and we were off to the train station at 8:30. Bid goodbye to Jose and our driver, Luis Mi. Boarded train for Barcelona which left on time at 9:43. Had to hoist our big suitcases up onto the overhead rack since the luggage rack by the door was already full.

We are in a “preferred” car … sort of like first class. Nice seats. Full breakfast meal and drinks. Very nice. After eating my “second breakfast” I did some keywording and captioning in Lightroom. Train cruised at 180 mph. Got into Barcelona on time at 2:30. Was a long wait and bus to our hotel since it’s Columbus Day and central city traffic was limited. At Rivoli Rambla hotel. Very nice. Right on the main street of Barcelona, La Rambla, which is busy and full of people at all hours. Got into our rooms. Mine is 201 and faces La Rambla.

At 4:00 we met in the lobby and were joined by our guide, Charro (no, not that one). We did a wandering walk around the old part of the city seeing the old Roman walls, several churches from outside and Santa Maria del Mar inside, City Hall, Jewish quarter area. Ended up about 7:30 at Familia Lonja for nice tapas, wine and beer. Walked the 20 minutes or so back to the hotel.

Even with only the walk in Barcelona, we did 6,700 steps, 2.6 miles. And Barcelona is a culture shock coming from the smaller Andalusian cities. It’s big. It’s very crowded with traffic and tourists. And warnings about pickpockets are everywhere. Ah, the joys of a large metropolis.

12,400 steps, 4.5 miles, 17 floors. Had a not great sleep night. Got up at 8:00, breakfast at 8:30, wandered around the streets a bit, and all of us left with our guide Joachin at 10:00. First stop was the Cordoba Alcazar with its history through the Moslem and Christian eras. Lovely gardens as well. Oh, saw the main hall where the Inquisition was housed. Yuck.

We walked over to the Jewish Quarter (of course there are about no Jews there now) and visited the tiny synagogue (only one in Andalusia that is left) which is a hull of its former self having been converted by the Christians after 1492. Hoards of tourists, one group after another, to see this relic. The we walked through some of the nearby streets, all narrow as are most of the streets in these cities. On streets where cars/vans can go, you have to squeeze yourself against a wall when they pass.

The main attraction of the day was the Mezquita. We were given a full hour’s worth of information from the guide an had another hour to wander on our own to take pictures. It’s an amazing place. Still the Cordoba Cathedral with its treasures, main alter, side chapels, intricately carved choir, but has the main focus of Islam when it was a mosque revealed as well. Of course, the red/white arches go in every direction, so lots and lots of images.

At 2:30 we went to Restaurant Almudaina for a set lunch paid by Strabo. Lovely food and wine of course. We were done about 3:30 and went back to hotel to drop off stuff, potty, etc. Then five of us went back to the Mezquita and got tickets to climb the bell tower at 4:30, which we did. I remember being on top, but not the climb, which was okay. Wanted to go up there to see the roof of the Mezquita with the cathedral sticking up in the middle surrounded by the roof for the mosque.

5:00, Jose met us and we walked over to the place where we were going to see an equestrian show tonight and visited the stables, which are old and really a museum now. Also, we could go inside to watch horses being warmed up for tonight, which we did. Back to the hotel to get stuff for tonight. At about 7:15, we walked over to where the Cordoba Ecuestre show is and got a half-an-hour to wander around the horses being tacked. Show started at 8:00 and went until 9:30. Lovely. Lots of dressage moves. Some airs above the ground. Also, some Flamenco dancing with a woman dancing while a horse danced around her. Very good show.

Back and the hotel, it’s the normal routine. We leave here at 8:30 to catch a train to Barcelona, about a 4.5 hour trip.

Image count (net of rejected images): 5,300 so far, 900+ today. Mezquita and horse show did it.

Got up about 7:30, breakfast at 8:00. John and I went for a walk in the cool morning air. Headed uphill from hotel to plaza where we could see some sun on parts of the Alhambra. Back to hotel and headed out with group at 10:00. Walked through shopping areas and to the Granada Cathedral. We didn’t go into the area where the “Catholic Kings” (Isabella and Ferdinand) are buried since no photography was permitted. Walked around the church to the main entrance and spent about an hour inside looking and shooting images.

We wandered around the area for a good bit since we were early for our scheduled 1:30 set lunch. Did stop and get some yummy ice cream. I had the equivalent of run raisin. And we got to the restaurant in time, Las Tinajas, for a multi-course meal. All good. It was about 2:45 when we were done and we walked back to the hotel.

At 4:00, we met the van in Plaza Nuevo, which is where it had dropped us off yesterday. Drove up to the Alhambra and Generalife for a 4:30-7:30 full tour. While there, it occurred to me to clarify labels on some of the images I took here in the 80s since I have a better perspective on what they are now.

Very crowded with lots of different groups with their guides. Pretty well-oiled machinery on what groups went in when so things moved along. However, with some large groups, we fought for clear space to take pictures. I know Marian and I stayed in a parador in Granada and want to check to see if it’s the one we saw on the Alhambra grounds.

The guide, Angel, first took us through the gardens and explained the whole natural water system of the place. Next, to Palace of Generalife, to Charles V Palace, and then the original palaces from the 1200s. When we got to the part with the lion fountain, it was roped off so you could only see it from the surrounding colonnades. I remember there we far fewer people there the last time and no barriers. Having the old images scanned, I could relate to them in my head as we toured the palaces.

7:45 we got back into the van and were taken to the plaza to walk to our hotel. After a few minutes, most of the group got tripods and their gear and went to where John and I had been this AM to take twilight and after-dark pictures of the Alhambra from below.  John and I asked a young woman at the front desk where to get good tapas. She said if we liked fish to go to Diamantes off Plaza Nuevo. We did. Had wonderful food and beer and visited with folks on either side of us at the long table where we sat. Back to hotel about 9:15 to do the normal stuff before going to bed. We leave at 10:00 tomorrow for Cordoba.

Of course, at this point, it’s still up in the air about going to Barcelona. Strabo’s Spanish tour company in Barcelona is appraising the situation and will advise us shortly. Gotta be soon since we’re scheduled to go there on the 12th

And, 17,700 steps, 5 miles today! Whew!

Breakfast at about 8:30, luggage dragged to van for 10:00 departure. Took us till after 2:00 to go the 2.5 hour drive with stops for pictures of olive groves, a castle on a hill, restroom breaks. But got here. Staying at Las Casas de la Juderia, a very nice hotel, lovely rooms, not far from anything.

2:30 we left for lunch nearby at La Fragua. Great food. Had our normal two plus hour lunch and left there about 5:00 and returned to my room. At 6:30 we met in the lobby for evening/sunset walk.

The Mezquita is not far from hotel. We walked around three sides of it (fourth side we walked beside on way to hotel late). Took pictures of the arches along the sides since few people were around as compared to what we expect tomorrow. After about 45 minutes, we walked across the old Roman bridge to find a vantage point to take sunset and after-dark images of the Mezquita, bridge, and river. Were there until 9:30 and some of the group lingered to take images along the bridge. Kathy and I then went in search of ice cream which we found after seeing two shops already closed.

Only 7,200 steps, 2.6 miles today and all of them were this afternoon and evening, so not too bad. Tomorrow there is a pre-dawn shoot at 7:00 which I am going to skip. We meet our local guide at 10:00 for tour of Jewish Quarter, other areas, and ending up in the Mezquita.

One of the things in Spain is that you have to know what you want to order when a waiter comes around. Otherwise, he leaves and it might be some time before he returns. Today, got up at 7:30, had breakfast at 8:00, was greeted by our group on my birthday. Kathy gave me a blue balloon. Later, in Granada, she tied three balloons to my hat band which I wore all night.

After breakfast, went to the room for some final things and brought luggage down at 10:00 for us to take it to the van and leave. Trip to Granada is a bit under 3 hours, I think. We did one brief photo stop and one coffee/potty stop before getting into Granada around 2:00. Took our luggage on foot a few blocks to our hotel, El Ladron de Agua, on a narrow street pretty much right under the Alhambra, which is high up on the hill above. The rooms have names rather than numbers. Mine is Reino de la Polilla on the first floor.

At 2:30 we met in the lobby and walked in search of lunch. Ate outside and had wonderful stuff – too much as always. Then we wandered on nearby streets and into a park for a brief while. Lunch took from about 3:00-4:30 and we walked until 5:30. Needed to get back to hotel to get tripods and long sleeves for the evening.

Did 10,400 steps today, 11 floors, 3.1 miles. And the 11 floors were mainly walking a long way uphill on steep cobblestone streets to get an overview of the Alhambra for sunset shots. Needed to get places on a rail among all the others who were there for the same thing. So, we stayed up there shooting until about 8:45, walked downhill, went to the hotel, dropped off our gear, and walked to our restaurant, Pilar del Toro. Had a great birthday dinner … even had grilled octopus! Left restaurant at 11:00 and headed back to hotel where I found that the safe in my room had malfunctioned and had to get staff to open it.

Downloading, charging batteries and iPhone. Going to take shower, shave, wash clothes. Bet it’s 1:00 before I hit the bed. Up at 7:30 tomorrow for 8:00 breakfast and a walk with John before group heads out at 10:00.

Oh, and Internet service in hotel is almost non-existent. And it stayed “off” the rest of our stay.

Page 2 of 4