Welcome to 2017 ! Not sure what the year holds; I have hopes and expectations and starting off the year meditating on Proverbs 23:18 - "There surely is a hope for you and your hope will not be cut off." That is where I hang my hat as the new year kicks off. Travels kicks off next week. It is quite early for me - I usually dont hit the road till the summer, but looking forward to the time with friends and hoping its a sign of things to come. In my last post, shared my blog goals for 2017 and my blogging whys (hint: you should give it a read here).

Kicking off the year with a recap of my recent trip to South of Spain. We spent five days exploring Andalusia and all its offering. There are several travel stories and pictures to share. Until I get around to it, here are some of my favorite moments from the trip. 

The Royal Alcazar Palace Seville. Loved everything about this Palace. I lobbied (unsucessfully) to be assigned a room here. Every turn a wonder, the ceiling was a hidden gem, the intricate details of the walls and floors were like no other and then the grounds - peacocks roaming, the fountains and the wishing trees. I cannot do this place justice with words. Look out for a Royal Alcazar palace post.

Covent in Carmona. We stopped by a convent that housed fifteen nuns. Thirteen of the fifteen were from Kenya. We had a lovely with one of the ladies and she shared the story of her journey to Carmona. There we were in the lobby of the covent, four African chics chatting about life and how we ended up in this Andalusian town. The odds.

Kindness of strangers in Seville. Our second day in Seville. After failed attempts to get to Carmona and Ronda - we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel when we saw an older gentleman trip and fall in the middle of the road. As we made our way to help get him up - other people noticed what happend and joined us. All the cars stopped while the gentleman was helped up and off the road and another group walked with him to make sure he got to his destination ok. Seeing all of us come together to offer help was a great reminder that inspite of social media trolling and harsh tones - there is still a lot of kindness and good in the world.

Unity on display in Córdoba. We journeyed to Córdoba to see the famed mosque turned cathedral. Walking through the spectacular structure and seeing there was a time when both religions existed in harmony was humbling. 

All the Tapas. No highlight is complete without mention of food. We had a lot of Tapas and we all agreed we would gladly move to Seville for the Tapas.

The Alhambra. As soon as we decided south of Spain was our winter destination. I was determined to get to the Alhambra in Granada. It was everything I imagined and although the 5:15 am wake up call to make the 6:35 train to Granada was inconvenient, the time in Granada and the Alhambra was worth it.

Orange Marmalade. A lot of our street level pictures have rows of orange trees as the backdrop. Especially in Seville. If you are in this part of the world, don't rush to pluck one for consumption. These are bitter oranges used to make Orange Marmalade. I picked up a jar for personal consumption - let's see how it compares to my TJ Sevilla Orange Marmalade.

The Spanish way of Life. I was envious of the laid back life style in Spain. I wish we had a little bit of their mindset that we work to live and not live to work. Stores were typically closed for afternoon siestas (I wish) and meal time was a committment of several hours.

All the glorious ceilings. After Italy, I thought I'd seen all the elaborate catherdrals and ceilings but South of Spain proved me wrong. From the Cathedral in Seville to the Catherdral in Granada. Every one left us in awe and the ceilings (like those in Italy) are the real gem. We never stopped looking up.