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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Casa de Pilatos, Sevilla


 I wore this outfit for three days, I was so happy when our  delayed bags finally arrived!
One of the places I liked most in Sevilla was the 16th century ducal residence of the Medinaceli family, the Casa de Pilatos. Yes that's "Pilatos" not "Pilates", as in the Biblical baddy not the exercise guru! A wonderful historic home that's open to the public, it is said to be modeled on Pontius Pilate's house in Jerusalem and it is well worth visiting. There's a lot to see in Seville but I found this private residence far more interesting  than larger and seemingly more important sites like the cathedral.
Up close the scent from the orange blossom was overwhelming.

Rather like our hotel (and so many of the building we saw in southern Spain) the house was built around a series of internal courtyards each with beautiful gardens filled with plants, fountains and pools. It was so restful and gorgeous in the bright spring sunshine, this was our first stop and we spent a lot of time relaxing and reading in the gardens.
Houses like this were the depositories of enormous wealth,  displayed through their furnishings, architecture and  gardens. Access to water was a signifier of power and gardens, patios and fountains were  the preserve of the wealthy. These were homes where the families had the space for comfortable  summer and winter living. They moved to the  cooler, tiled, ground floor rooms that opened onto the gardens in the hotter months and retreating to the upper floors with their fireplaces, panelling and tapestries for the colder, wetter winter season.
 The decorative Mudejar tile work was magnificent...

Tip: It is worth taking the guided tour of the upstairs rooms which are fully furnished and very interesting. Because there were tourists form all over Europe, as well as Brits and Australians, the tour was given in English. We we astonished on this trip how often Europeans were the ones requesting English as the common language

We also enjoyed visiting a second private house museum in Seville, the beautiful Museo Palacio de Lebrua which we would  recommend.
I think we were a little loopy from the jetlag!

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