Monday, March 23, 2015

Where the World is Quiet

We headed to Spain once again, this time to explore the area around Seville in the Andalucia region in the south of Spain. Our first stop was Ronda, known as the birthplace of modern bullfighting and the home of the world's oldest and largest bullring. It is a popular tourist destination, which means it was filled with hordes of tourists on tour buses, which always detracts from the charm. This city was founded in the 9th Century BC, and had a lot more interesting things going on than the bullring, but with 2 kids that was our main highlight!

Safe from the bulls

Our main destination for this holiday was Finca el Moro. On its website it says, Finca el Moro...where the world is quiet. Perfect! Just what we were looking for. The property is located in the Sierra de Aracena National Park, and well off the beaten path down a long dirt road. They sell many farm products for their guests including pork, lamb, and organic vegetables. There is a yoga shala, built on the site of the original thrushing floor. Best of all, there is Violetta.
Meet Violetta.
She's a donkey that lives on the farm, and often accompanies Nick, one of the owners on hiking tours in the region. But sometimes, she just hangs out with boys like Simon for a whole week and takes him pretty much wherever he wants to go. Thanks to Violetta, we were able to take a long hike through the cork groves around the farm AND....Simon's legs did not get tired. He was thrilled, we were thrilled. There's no telling how Violetta felt about it, but she seemed pretty content.

Every morning we would walk down to the pasture where Violetta was hanging with the horses, and we would put on her donkey gear and bring her back to our house for the day and use her for our various excursions are around the farm. To go to the tree house, for example. Or to hang out in the Yoga shala, which we found an excellent place to spend some time when you have a crawling one year old and are staying on, well, a farm. We checked out their bee hives and walked through the remains of this year's vegetable garden. A deep love was formed. We now send postcards to a donkey. And wonder if she will ever visit Amsterdam. True. (We just got a response from Violetta - she had a foal named Pepe! Simon is over the moon, carries the picture around everywhere, and keeps asking when we can go back.)
A photo opp.
Simon demonstrating how a pig a pig.
Our week in Aracena was picture perfect. While it had been cold and rainy the 3 weeks prior to our arrival, we managed to score a week of clear blue skies and temps near 80F (25-26C). We visited some of the small villages during the day and enjoyed some excellent food, or had a cervesa on one of the plazas. (I recommend Arrieros in Linares de la Sierra and Maricastaña in Castaño del Robledo.) When the kids crashed at 7 we read books and enjoyed the stillness and profound blackness of night in the countryside. We didn't hurry. We didn't have wifi. The world was indeed quiet.
Where are the pigs??
Our last few days were spent in the charming city of Sevilla, where I was lucky enough to have a friend who had just moved there at the beginning of the month. Gina and her husband showed us around the city and helped to keep Simon distracted from the monotony of walking around a city with his parents. We watched Barcelona play Real Madrid in a packed outdoor patio. But the highlight was our visit to the Parque de España which included a fun bike ride through the wide avenues. Thanks to my friend Gina, Martin and I even got a date night in Sevilla!
Me and Gina reunited in Sevilla.
Ever the cool customer drinking his milk at the counter.
And just like that, she's 1!
We flew home on Ebba's birthday. She had lunch in Paris. (Ok. At the airport in Paris.) She's one!!

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