So far, our whole trip has been spent within the city of Seville, so this past Friday, we decided to shake things up a bit and get out to the countryside. I rented us a car for the day [Sidebar: When I first went to book it, Europcar quoted me $107 for the day. I thought it was odd that it was quoting me dollars, so I blew away my browser cookies and opened the page again, appearing like a native Spaniard. This time, it quoted me €57 for the day, or about $62. I booked and paid in euros, obviously.], and we headed out for the countryside.
We drove up to Aracena, a little town about a hour or so northwest of Seville. The town was quiet and quaint, but a bit touristy because of its two local attractions: Knights of the Templat priory built in the 12th to 15th century on the ruins of an older fortress, and, almost directly beneath it, a beautiful cave system with a jaw-dropping sequence of stalactites, stalagmites, and underwater pools.
All of Spain closes down between roughly 2 pm and 4 pm for siesta, tourists sites included, so after visiting the priory and castle and eating some lunch, we had a bit of time to kill waiting for the caves to re-open. On a tip from a wonderful AirBnB host Rosa, we headed about 20 minutes off the beaten path to the tiny hamlet of Lineares de la Sierra, a beautiful little bit of heaven nestled into the Spanish hills. The sun, which had been hiding most of the day behind a cold and cloudy fortress, decided to wrap us in her warmth for our brief stop in Lineares, and, if it weren’t for Zev’s ceaseless soliloquy on Plants vs Zombies gnawing at my peace, I think we might well of stayed there forever.
Taking pictures within the Gruta de Marvallais cave system is forbidden (not that I didn’t, but I had to be surreptitious, and only used my iPhone), so the better pictures of the cave I poached from the Internet. It had a remarkable range of formations, from giant, wax-like pipe organs to incredibly detailed spikey fingers of crystals. It was all Michelle and I could do to keep from leaping over the rails into the glass-clear pools. And Zev got a kick out of imagining how Tall Leo would fair trying to navigate the smaller openings.