Subject: Re: Paradors of Spain
Hola Vanessa,

The Spanish paradors are always nice places to stay, and quite good value. They are usually my first choice for accommodations, if there is one in the area. And the Parador at Carmona is one of Spain's nicest. Be aware, however, that this Parador isn't really in Sevilla, so if you're using it as a base to tour that city, you'll have to factor in a daily commute, not to mention the hassles of driving and parking in Sevilla.

I would not recommend a day trip from there, to Granada and Ronda. It's simply too much to try to accomplish in one day. In the first place, Granada's Alhambra and Gardens can occupy almost an entire day, not to mention the issue of getting an admission time that fits your schedule. You must pre-book your tickets, and specify an entrance time, which can be done either via the Internet, or at any bank branch of BBVA which are everywhere.

Lodging near the Alhambra can be a little expensive, but is worth it in my opinion, if only to be able to see the fortress lit up at night. Every once in a while they also offer night visits, which is an incredibly special way to see the interior.

>From my experience, it would be better to plan at least one night closer to or in Granada. While Ronda is very picturesque and evocative, I think Córdoba is a much more interesting city to visit (and much closer to Granada, time-wise.) Córdoba itself deserves at least a full day, so consider it. Seeing the Mezquita, alone, is worth the price of a ticket to Spain. There are also wonderful gardens, the barrio of La Judería (home of Maimonides), and the oldest synagogue in Spain. On the outskirts of Córdoba (on the road up from Sevilla actually) you can stop briefly to see the Medina Azahar which are ruins of a Moorish city from 1000 A.D., as well as a spectacular castle in Almodóvar. You can't miss it from the local road, running along the Guadalquivir river. It's not really open to the public, but if you drive up to the main gate and knock, the caretaker will usually let you walk around, for a few euros.

Joel, in Chicago