¡Olé, olé, olé, olé!

When you’re headed to Morocco, there’s no excuse not to stop in Madrid on your way home to see your childhood friend who married a madrileño—and that’s just what I did this October.

Tina and I have been friends since the 4th grade, and I’ve met her husband Julio many times, including once early on 26 years ago at their first home in Madrid. I see them and their two wonderful daughters most summers when they come to California for a visit, but it was time to meet up again on their home turf. I bumped two of the more random entries on my #50for50 list for Sevilla and the Alhambra, and off we went on a four-day road trip.

We started with a visit to Julio’s dad’s farm and checked out his new olive oil press. Then it was on to Córdoba, where Julio introduced me to my new favorite Spanish ritual: the aperitivo. When 10:30 or 11 am rolls around and you feel a little peckish, you find a neighborhood bar, order mini glasses of beer, and nosh on whatever pre-prepared, pre-lunch snack looks the tastiest. We had a creamy fish dish I would never have ordered on my own and it was delicious. As was the second mini beer!

While Córdoba was charming, Sevilla wowed me from the second we entered the main downtown area. Its streets meander, sometimes wide, sometimes narrow. Musicians play in every square, often with a pair of female dancers showing off their polished Sevillanas dance moves. We saw the sights (including the most traditional and controversial of them!), met some friends for rooftop drinks, and moved on the next day to Granada.

Fortunately we had good weather our first night so we got a beautiful starlit view of the Alhambra from a high viewpoint. The next day though it rained and rained and rained. We soldiered on, dripping our way through the fortress’ enchanting gardens, patios, hallways, and towers—truly a sight to see. And then alas, we returned to Madrid and my flight out the next day. My favorite departing gift was a note from Tina and Julio’s daughters Victoria and Sofia asking me to return soon, with a plea that it be sooner than another 26 years. I promise!

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