A Travellerspoint blog

Trip 2013

The Long road home

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October 23-29, 2013
The ride to the airport was uneventful. The traffic was heavy but with Annette helping with the signs we arrived in plenty of time to make the flight. The flight was delayed but it wasn’t a big deal for us because we had a 6 hour layover in London. The flight from London was another story. Another mechanical problem so they had to find another airplane, we didn’t take off until after 9pm and didn’t land in Boston until 11pm. Of course there was no gate available, another delay. When we arrived at customs, there was only one agent on duty, for all US citizens. That took another hour and then we had to go rounds with the rental car company because he wanted to charge us twice the price because the reservation was for the day before. He finally relented and we were on our way to Cape Cod. We arrived around 3:30 in the morning, caught a few hours sleep and then it was Connor time. He is getting so big. He is on rice cereal now and chugging down formula like crazy. I’m glad we don’t have to feed him for the next 20 years. We would need to go out and get full time jobs. The girls came over for dinner with Scott and they are getting so grownup. It’s homecoming weekend with the football game on Friday night and the dance tonight. It’s my job to take the pictures and drive them to the dance. We overnight baby sat, while Craig and Val spent the night in Boston. Craig just called a few minutes ago and they had a great time. Connor was really good overnight and ate all his breakfast this morning. He is taking a nap at the moment, so we are trying to get thing packed up for the rest of our journey, back to Bonita. It will be sad leaving the children and grand children but we do miss everyone in Florida and besides the temp was 28 degrees this morning. That’s not a typo; I had to get the wood stove going, just to get the frost out of the room. We spent the rest of the day playing with Connor and the early evening taking pictures of our grownup twin granddaughters. It was another late night with Craig and Val. We had a lovely dinner and yes, some more wine. We were up early and finally set off for the last leg of the trip back to Bonita. We left around 9am and did make it to Virginia before giving up and finding a hotel room for the night. The next stop was Brunswick GA and another early night. Only 400 miles left to go in the morning and this journey is over. We arrived back home around 3 in the afternoon and Norm and Sherri were nice enough to have us over for dinner. Hugs and kisses all around, warm weather and back on the tennis courts. Yahoo! The End.
Annette and Bob

Posted by Annette-Bob 11:36 Comments (0)

Trip 2013

Fatima and Toledo

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October 19-22, 2013
We set out mid morning for Fatima. The GPS sent us on a toll road but how much can a toll road cost? Anyone care to guess? One hundred miles later and 33 euro’s lighter it dawned on us, why we were the only car on the road. They have these wonderful highways in Portugal but no one can afford to drive on them. They also have automatic tolls on some of the roads and I’m sure they will catch up with us at some point. We arrived at Fatima in the early afternoon. We have never seen so many tour busses in my life. There had to be a parking lot 3 football fields long, with at least a 100 busses. After riding around in circles for half an hour, trying to find our hotel, with our confused GPS we stopped and asked for directions. The GPS didn’t realize there was an underground tunnel to get to the other side of complex. Anyway we found the hotel, checked in and it came with parking, yahoo. I guess if you are a Christian, Fatima is a place you don’t want to miss, if you are in the area. That being said, it is very commercial, along with being very spiritual. We toured the complex, said a prayer for Mac and everyone else who might need a spiritual uplifting at the Chapel of Apparitions. This is the spot where the Virgin Mary appeared to the three shepherd children. We hope it helps Mac, he so young and going through so much in his fight with LCH. After our touring we took the recommendation of our trusty Frommer’s book and had dinner at Grelha, a Grill Portuguese restaurant. The food was excellent and the service was outstanding. After dinner, we walked back to the Cathedral to see it with all the lights. It is truly a magnificent and spiritual experience.
We left Fatima in the morning, heading back to where we started our trip, in Aranjuez Spain. The ride through the mountains of Portugal, no tolls this time, was very nice. We were on a small winding road that took us through small villages and beautiful scenery. There is much to see on the coast of Spain and Portugal but the real fun would be to do a road trip through the center of the countries. It’s a whole different world when you get away from the heavy tourist areas. Anyway, we arrived at our hotel and settled in. We went out for a walk and dinner only to find that many of the places were closing up early because it was Sunday night. We did manage to have a beer and some olives at the place we had our first meal, after arriving in Spain late at night. The owner did remember us and gave us some good tips for our remaining time in Spain. We did find a place for dinner and then went back to the room for a good night’s sleep.
We decided on going to Toledo Spain. We looked into using the bus but the times didn’t work out, so we jumped in the car and it was off to Toledo. It’s only 30 miles, what could possibly go wrong. The GPS was doing its thing and it had us take a turn off this rotary. This didn’t look right so we went around the rotary again and took another exit. The GPS was happy, so we kept going down this road that was narrow and somewhat full of potholes. After a few miles the GPS said take a right turn, so we did. Now the road is really narrow and we are going through some corn fields. After a few miles, we could see the highway up ahead and the GPS showed a river before the highway, so we kept going. Now the road turns to dirt, we come around the bend and there is the river but where is the bridge? No bridge! So now we backtrack to the original point that the GPS told us to turn and low and behold, there was the highway, we only need to go another 100 yards. Ok, so we are a little behind schedule but we are back on track. The rest of the ride was uneventful and we did find a parking space near the Alcazar. During the Spanish Civil War in underwent a 70 day siege that almost destroyed it. This is a must see if you are in the area. The next stop was the Catedral de Toledo. This is one of the greatest Gothic structures we have ever seen. It is well worth the 7 euro’s and includes headphones and self guided tour. Annette and I agree that this is one of the most amazing structures we have ever seen, including Rome. It was a work in progress for more than 2 ½ centuries. It’s dedicated to the Virgin Mary and construction started in 1227 on the foundation of an old Mosque. The Cathedral services the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. You have to see this if you are in Spain. We had a very nice lunch before heading back to our hotel and an uneventful ride. We were walking around Aranjuez in the evening and stopped at this Plaza for a glass of wine and some olives. It was interesting sitting there watching the Plaza fill up with families out for an evening stroll. Grandfather’s playing soccer with their grandchildren, men smoking and discussing politics and women pushing their strollers. It’s a gathering place to relax and enjoy some wine, coffee or just conversation. No loud music or disruptive teens with their pants down to the asses. We had a very nice evening and finally retired back to the hotel at 10pm. We will spend some time tomorrow packing, checking on our flights and directions to the airport. It’s been a wild wind tour and we have enjoyed it but we will be looking forward to see all our family and friends back in the USA.
Annette and Bob

Posted by Annette-Bob 05:37 Comments (0)

Trip 2013

Lisbon

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October 15-16, 2013
We had an early wakeup call this morning because we had to be at the train station by 7am. The train ride was very comfortable with beverage service and wi-fi all you had to do is sit back and watch the country side roll by at 220kph. We arrived in Lisbon at the Gare de Oriente. This is the newest station that was built for the Expo 98. We stopped in a café for coffee, a quick bite and some information on the best way to get to the Alfama, the city’s oldest district. We decided on taking a cab. They are very reasonable and the 30 minute ride was only 7 euro’s. And what a ride it was! We found the information center, picked up a map and then headed off to find a room. With all the back allies and winding streets, we did manage to find the place we were looking for that Frommer’s recommended. The only room they had available, was more than we wanted to spend, so she gave us directions around the corner to the Villa of Flowers. This was a really nice pension, with small rooms, small bath but very clean and came with breakfast in the morning. The ladies that were managing the place were extremely helpful in getting us started on our tour of Lisbon, with a decent map and even two Metro tickets. Lisbon was first settled by the Phoenicians and then the Romans came along in 205 B.C. The Moors came along after that and in 1147 the first King of Portugal, Afonso, captured the city and drove out the Moors. Catholicism is the main religion with 85% stating they are Catholic. The first stop on our tour was the 12th century Cathedral built in 1261-1325. It’s a very interesting church and there is an archaeological dig going on in what was once the garden area. They are even finding some evidence of Islamic culture. From there it was up, and I do mean up, to the St. George’s Castle. From the Castle and even the Cathedral, you have wonderful views of the Alfama and the River Tagus. We had lunch then wondered around the back streets and allies, for several hours and with all the hills and walking around, we didn’t even want dinner. As they say, we hit the wall. We went back to the room and settled in for the evening. I had a great night’s sleep. Annette, on the other hand was up most of the night, because I was snoring. We were thinking about one more day in Lisbon but that meant we would have to change our train tickets, so we checked out of the pension and took a walking tour of the main squares, Praca do Comercio and Praca da Figueira. Then we walked up the Avenida DA Liberdade, toward the Marques de Pombal. The tour book says it rivals the main avenue in Paris that leads to the Arc de Triumph but having been to Paris, we would argue that point. It was an enjoyable walk and the squares and gardens are beautiful but we must be getting to the point where everything is looking the same. We stopped for lunch and a nice couple from Minnesota sat down next to us. They had just arrived and were getting the lay of the land. The gentleman wanted a nap and the lady wanted to hit the castle first. He asked me what I thought and I said, “Go for the Castle”; you will both want a nap after that hike. We did some more walking and then took a cab back to the train station. It was an uneventful ride back and after stopping at the grocery store to pick up dinner, we were back in the condo by 6pm and settled in for the evening.
October 17, 2013
Happy Birthday Annette, you finally hit the magic number, where you get the best discounts, and happy Birthday to Norm, who is celebrating a big round number. We will have to celebrate when we get back in town. Annette and I have a reservation at a nice restaurant on the beach tonight. We had another down day today. We checked out the beaches and hung out at the pool. We had a nice lunch at the condo and will just veg out for the rest of the day. I forgot to mention that I lost my new 11 euro Spanish hat. I left it on the train when we departed in Lisbon. Also, Annette is having a great time with that pocketbook Sherri lent her for the trip. Several times now, we had to hire a professional pickpocket person, to find out where she stashed the Euros. There are more pockets in that bag, than you would find in a herd of kangaroos. To date, we still believe the UK was the most likely place we would return. Spain and Portugal are very nice but having traveled in other parts of Europe, we find them more appealing. There is much to see in these two countries but the cities are very congested, very dirty and they still need to learn how to pick up their dog droppings. We are starting to count down the days until we return to the good old USA.
Annette and Bob

Posted by Annette-Bob 09:30 Comments (0)

Trip 2013

Leaving Spain and heading to Portugal

sunny 78 °F

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October 12, 2013
Well it was off to Portugal this morning. It was a very nice ride with olive trees, orange trees and wine vineyards for 300 miles, on both sides of the road. We stopped along the way for lunch, trusting our GPS to take us to a local restaurant. The place was only 2 miles off the highway and things were not looking good, me and the GPS were about to go rounds, when all of a sudden, this small town with cobblestone streets appeared. We ended up in a plaza, with a small church and there was the restaurant across the plaza. The only restaurant, I might add. You had to walk through the bar area first, with all the local men enjoying their beer and shots, to the courtyard out back, where we had a delicious meal of barbequed fish, potatoes, olives, bread and veggies. We also indulged in some local port wine. The total bill was 12 dollars. We waddled out of the restaurant and headed to our final destination, Ponta Grand Resort, in Albufeira. Not to be negative but our last place was 10 times better than this one. However, we are here, settled in and will make the best of it. We did a little grocery shopping and Annette made a home cooked meal of chicken and pasta. We spent the evening going over the agenda for tomorrow.
October 13, 2013
We woke up fairly early and after breakfast we set off to Sagres; The End of the World. It’s located at the extreme southwest corner of Europe. It was here that Henry the Navigator along with Magellan, Diaz, Vasco da Gamma, to name a few explores, set off to navigate the world. Many of the local folks thought that when the sun sank at night, it plunged over the edge of the world. We explored Henry’s Fortress and the rocky landscape all the way to lands end. The area is slowly eroding into the sea. It is also a stopover for birds migrating to Africa. It’s a very interesting area and is worth the stop, if you are nearby. We were getting hungry and checked the Frommer’s book for restaurants in the area. It recommended Telheiro do Infante, which specialized in sea food. This was a great choice. The views were spectacular and the food, although a little pricy, was extremely good. We had olives, bread and some cheese spread to start and the main course was squid, along with a nice bottle of red wine. Sometimes life is just good. We stopped at Portimao on the way back. We walked around the side streets and poked into some shops but didn’t find anything to buy. The town is a fishing village with many boats dotting the small harbor. As most towns in Spain and Portugal, they also have an abundance of bars and restaurants. We stopped in an Irish bar to watch some golf and met some folks on holiday form Ireland. Nice group of men who take one week every year and travel together. I believe they were all a little hung over from the night before, with a 4am closing time. They filled us in on what to do and see in Ireland and suggested we book our travel right then and there. We had one beer with them, no booking involved, then headed back to the condo. Did I mention that the power converter that we brought just blew up? Sparks and smoke everywhere! That’s what happens when you buy on line from China. I believe it’s time for me and my singed eyebrows to sign off.
October 14, 2013
We went to the train station in the morning, to check on tickets to Lisbon. We decided on leaving tomorrow morning and coming back on the 16th. If we don’t have enough time, we will try and extend for one more day, when we get to Lisbon. After the train station we went to Albufeira to look around. It was another death defying ride down some very narrow side streets, we managed to find a parking spot and this one was free. We walked the town’s back streets and allies and took a stroll down by the beach. The beach is very nice and stretches for at least a mile. The town is very touristy and they do cater to the English. Most of the menus are in English and most places offer English breakfast. The town is made up of bars, restaurants and small shops. I guess we don’t stay up late enough to enjoy the night life, which we understand is very lively and goes on to the wee hours of the morning. Like Spain, the town goes dead mid afternoon and doesn’t come back alive until early evening. We had lunch in a German restaurant, of all places; we need to get our meat fix, so we settled on ribs and fries. The meal was good and very inexpensive. After that, it was off to find the car and it was still where we left it. Getting out of the parking spot was a little difficult but we were aided by a nice couple, who guided us back, so we didn’t dent the beamer that was parked behind us. Did I mention that the parking spot was on a 60% incline, it’s the little things that make life so interesting? If it wasn’t for Annette working the emergency brake, while I worked the clutch, we would have rolled backwards into the sea long ago. So we are safely back at the condo, contemplating our trip to Lisbon in the morning.

Posted by Annette-Bob 09:50 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Trip 2013

Estepona Spain

sunny 80 °F

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October 10, 2013
We did the laundry and the pool today. We needed a day of rest. We had wine at Le Papillon’s, watched the sunset and then dinner at Roberto’s. Now, is that dull or what?
October 11, 2013
We didn’t plan on doing much today but changed our mind at the last minute and decided to head to Estepona. There isn’t much history but it is a town of Roman origin. There is a 15th century church and an old aqueduct nearby. There are also lots of back winding streets with small shops and restaurants to get lost in. The beach is the best seen to date. It stretches for miles and has a wide walkway that accommodates people, bikes and anything that isn’t gas powered. There are play areas for the children every few hundred yards and exercise areas with basic equipment to stay in shape. We avoided this area like the plague. They even have these giant sunscreens covering areas of the walkway where you can sit and take time out, away from the sun. This town is definitely more laid back then some of the other area’s we have been. We had a wonderful lunch on the beach. The waiter was insistent that we try the fresh fish, cooked on smoldering coals. He even brought the fish to the table for inspection before sending it off for cooking. We were able to watch the fish cooking form the table. The fish served two people, with a side of fries and a salad. This is one of the best meals we have had in Spain! We poked around town for awhile and then stopped for a cold beer on the beach, at the same restaurant, before heading back to the condo for the evening. Tonight is cheese and crackers on the deck and packing for our travel to Portugal in the morning. Another road trip, yahoo!
Bob and Annette

Posted by Annette-Bob 09:45 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Trip 2013

Marbella Spain and the Rock

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October 8, 2013
Today was laundry and dishes day, trying to navigate the Spanish markings on the washer and dishwasher. The dishwasher wasn’t a problem; we had that bad boy up and running in no time. The washer took a little more time but we finally had that running as well. The washer stopped and Annette took out the cloths but it kept beeping. She pressed a few buttons and the washer started washing all over again. Finally after that cycle ended, it was still beeping. We knew what button not to push but how do you stop the beeping. Annette finally found a secret position on the dial, stop. After that it was off to Marbella for some shopping and a tour of the Old Town with its’ narrow cobblestone streets and Moorish houses. The town is littered with restaurants offering tapas. There are lots of shops offering everything from fashion to pottery. Everything starts at the Plaza de Los Naranjos, (Orange Tree Square). From that point just set off wondering the streets and back allies. Christians conquered the city in 1485 and they had a heavy influence on the architecture. There is a heavy catholic influence, especially with the Virgin Mary. After lunch and our tour of the Old Town, we set out to do some grocery shopping and then headed back to the condo for a dip in the pool and wine at La Papillon. We had sandwiches and chips on the deck at the condo later in the evening, yes, we did have some wine. Liver check time! We also met some interesting ladies at the pool. They both suffered from a rare form of eye cancer, at childhood. One lady was form England, and they met online. They had just returned from Boston where they met with a doctor from Mass General. They both have Seeing Eye dogs and still have very limited sight in one eye. There is no cure at this point and the treatment can cause more damage to the good eye. Anyway, she was very interesting to talk with and we wish them the best in their travels and there battle with this disease. On that note, we shall sign off for the evening.
October 9, 2013
The Rock of Gibraltar, aka (The Rock). I wasn’t sure if we should take this side trip to the Rock, after reading some of the reviews. But to be fair, there were some reviews that contradicted the bad ones. After doing the Rock, I would say, both are true. Number one, I would park on the Spanish side and walk across. It’s only a 15 minute hike through customs and into the center square. Driving across like we did; can be a challenge. We wasted one hour getting through customs and finally finding a parking spot. Not to mention you have to cross a live runway and we happened to hit it just in time when a plane was landing. Not only did you wait for the landing, you also had to wait for plane to take off again. It is interesting to see and if the brakes fail, you’re in the drink. You have to watch where you park because some spots are only 30 minute and some are residents only. We found a parking lot that was almost empty, so you know the rates have to be high. And they were! The center of town runs off the main square and there is a walking street that stretches for at least half a mile. Both sides of the street are lined with restaurants and shops. We headed for the gondola that takes you to the top of the Rock. Just before we arrived at the top, the conductor announced that if you have any food please store it because the apes will come after it. Just as the gondola was stopping at the top, this ape jumps through the window and snatches a bag chips from some girl. Once you have seen one ape, you have seen them all. They become a nuisance after awhile. We toured the top, peeked into some caves and climbed to the top for some spectacular views. The hand dug caves were very interesting. There was lots of rubbish everywhere and it was not well maintained, in my opinion. The history is very fascinating. The Rock has been controlled by Arabs, Moors, Spanish and English, to name a few. The French did try once but surrender again and head back to France. Its worthwhile seeing and there is much history but I wouldn’t rush back. It’s also very expensive. They take Pounds and Euro’s and that can be confusing when you pay with Euro’s and they return the change in Pounds. We found that out when we left the parking lot and ended up with 15 dollars worth of Pounds after paying with Euro’s. Another option would be to take a hotel on the Rock and spend two days at a more leisurely pace. So that was our day on the Rock. We are not sure what tomorrow will bring, maybe another down day. Oh by the way, John Mockus had a great idea about the Nudist beach. Turn your fanny pack around to the front and hope for a pickpocket.
Annette and Bob

Posted by Annette-Bob 02:18 Comments (0)

Trip 2013

Heritage Bay Resort and Ronda

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October 5, 2013
Today was moving day. We are leaving our condo in Malaga and heading off to our new condo, Club Playa Real, in Marbesa Spain. The ride was uneventful and the GPS took us to the front door. We arrived at 11:30 and check in wasn’t until 5pm. Some places are not flexible but the staff here was outstanding. They let us do all the paperwork, gave us a key to the garage parking and gave us a free upgrade to a two bedroom. Annette was in heaven, she has a place to go, if the snoring gets bad. We checked out the area and walked over to Le Papillon restaurant, on the beach. We met a British couple, Andy and Diane, and managed to throw back a few pints and some nice wine for the ladies. Then we traded stories and places we have visited for several hours. After paying the tab we picked up our room keys and headed to our new digs for the week. What an outstanding place, with a view of the pool and ocean from our balcony. They even had a bottle of wine waiting for us on the table, classy. We walked to the grocery store and picked up a few items and then took a short siesta. We were extremely tired, and decided on using our 10 euro voucher for dinner at Roberto’s, the other onsite restaurant. The three course meal was very nice. We took half of the main meal home with us but did manage to save room for death by chocolate cake. If you are going to cheat, do it up right. Well it’s off to the room for a good night’s sleep. We are not sure what’s on the agenda for tomorrow.
October 6, 2013
Annette slept in this morning until 9 and after a light breakfast, we decided to take a walk on the beach. The beaches here are not like the beaches in Florida. They are dark course sand and very rocky. They don’t groom the beaches here either, so they are left to nature. Speaking of nature, as we were walking, we started noticing people with little to nothing on. It became apparent, that this section of the beach was an all natural. You can also receive a massage while lying out, from one of the masseuses that roam the beach. They also sell pocketbooks, but if you don’t have any cloths on, how do you pick something that would match your outfit? Come on guys, I know there must be some one-liners’ that you can come up with. John, Ed, Norm, help me out here. In addition there are many restaurants up and down the beach that you can access from the beach. We had lunch back at the condo and then decided to take a walk into town. The town is Elvira and is very small. Most of the shops were closed because it was Sunday but the tapas bars were all open. We stopped at one to have a cold beer and ordered tapas but let’s just say, it wasn’t the best food on the trip. We managed to find our way back to the condo after a few wrong turns that led us to the beach. So we decided to just follow the beach back to the condo. No naked people on this end of the beach. We stayed in for the evening and had cheese, grapes and leftovers. Tomorrow morning we are off to Ronda. They say it’s the oldest town in Spain. However, we have been to several of those towns already, just saying.

October 7, 2013
After breakfast it was time to crank up the car and head off to Ronda. Ronda is approximately 50 miles north of our condo. The trip includes 25 miles of twisting, winding switchback road through the Serrania de Ronda Mountains, to an altitude of two thousand three hundred feet. We managed the white knuckle climb and found a parking spot by the train station. We walked from there to the town information center, where we received our map to all the local attractions. Ronda use to be a hideout for bandits years ago. The town was conquered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1485 and they transformed the main Mosque into a Christian Church, Sta Maria De LA Encarnacion Mayor. The main attraction is the 494 foot gorge, which is spanned by a Roman stone bridge. The vistas are breathtaking and like Granada, the homes and restaurants are built right on the edge of the gorge. Ronda also has the oldest bullring in Spain built in 1785. The rest of the day was spent wandering the back streets in the old town, having lunch and poking around in some of the shops, along with a few thousand tourist friends of ours. The ride back down the mountain wasn’t as bad because you don’t have to shift the car every few minutes. We stopped for some supplies on the way to the condo and decided on eating dinner at Le Papillon on the beach. Dinner was good and the waves washing up on the beach makes for a nice setting. Another day down and who knows what tomorrow will bring.
Annette and Bob

Posted by Annette-Bob 00:58 Comments (2)

Trip 2013

Malaga and Fuengirola Spain

sunny 82 °F

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October 2, 2013
We went on a new adventure this morning, grocery shopping. We left mid morning following the GPS to the grocery store. We found the store without a problem. Finding a parking spot, not so good. Finally after many wrong turns, we found parking on the other side of the store, underground. No problem, we took the ticket at the entrance, found a space and headed upstairs to the store. You want a push cart, one euro please. We took two baskets and rounded up all the stuff on our list, yes, including wine. The bread just came out of the oven and smelled so good. At the checkout, my tomatoes did not pass muster. You have to weigh them in the vegetable department before presenting them to the cashier. So back to the weigh station I shall go. Of course, if you want bags, you have to ask for them and there is a charge. A heads up on this would have been nice. Annette tried taking someone else’s bag and was immediately reprimanded by the customer. Ok, we have our stuff and its back to the car. Yesterday we were caught with our pants down because we didn’t have a one euro coin for the machine. We asked the lady at the garage if she had change and the answer was, no! Her suggestion was, to go buy something, so off we went. Anyway, fool me once, this time I had my euro in hand, when we pulled up to the gate. Oh no, no slot for the ticket and no slot for the money. Now, some cars behind us are getting a little impatient and there is no way to back up. Finally a lady saw the sweat beading up on my forehead and came to see what the issue could be. After some discussion and hand signals, we found out you have to use the bar code on your grocery receipt, to open the gate. I have no idea why that didn’t enter my mind. After all that, getting back to the room was a piece of cake. We had our first homemade lunch on the deck, with some awesome olives, and yes some wine. We bought a large jar of olives for $1.95. I don’t know what they do with them but they really are great. We decided to hang out at the pool today and then go into town for dinner. Every trip back to the condo, after adventuring out with the car, seems like passing goal and collecting 200 dollars. For anyone who is not familiar with that saying, it comes from the monopoly game.
October 3, 2013
We had breakfast and then headed back to Malaga, only this time we took the train. The train station is only several blocks from the condo and it only costs 4 euro’s one way. It’s a great way to get around. Are mission was to check out the connection in Malaga to Sevilla. The mission was accomplished and we will more than likely do Sevilla by train. Everything we have read on Sevilla said; do not drive unless you have to. We also checked out some of the tourist things we missed. We went to the Picasso Museum, which was very nice. And then we decided to make the climb to Castillo De Gibralfaro. It’s a half mile hike up a steep incline with magnificent views of the city. You know it’s steep when a gentlemen was sitting on the wall taking his nitro. It’s the ruins of an ancient Moorish Castle Fortress. After the hike we need to recharge our bodies, so we stopped for refreshments and some tapas. We had one small snafu on the train back. We purchased our return ticket when we arrived in Malaga, don’t ask why we didn’t buy a return ticket to begin with, anyway, we went to use the ticket and it would not go through. Finally a supervisor came and indicated that when you purchase a one way ticket it is only good for 2 hours. He could have been a nice guy and just let us through the turnstile but he directed us to the information button that clearly stated two hours. I only hope he gets the same treatment if he ever comes to America. Ok, new ticket in hand we made the mad jump to the train just before the doors closed. This was definitely a less stressful way to travel. We will more than likely eat in again tonight and work on tomorrow’s agenda. It was another fun day and we did meet some fun folks along the way.
October 4, 2013
I was thinking down day today, however, Annette received an e-mail from Audrey indicating that we need to go to Fuengirola and see the Castle. The castle was built in the 12 century on a hill overlooking the beaches. The castle changed hands many times. Romans, Carthaginians and Christians all took their turn. Oh by the way, the castle was closed and we didn’t find that out until we hiked to the top. Great views anyway. We spent the day walking around the town and along the beach area. We had a nice lunch of fried anchovies and squid. Both were very tender and along with a small salad and bread made for a nice meal. Of course nothing is uneventful with us. We were sitting outside, I was on the chair near the road, when this large truck came inches from me and took out a stop sign. He did stop and look at the damage but it didn’t seem to bother him, has he drove away. Maybe it was because everyone was laughing at him. When was the last time you saw someone carrying a side of beef on their shoulder, making a delivery? The town was loaded with small markets selling fresh fish, cheese and all sorts of goodies. We found out you don’t have to pay to park between the hours of 2 to 4. So if you time it right you get extra time for your one euro. We are back at the condo safe and sound one more time. It looks like we will eat in again tonight because we change timeshares tomorrow morning. We check out of ours at 10am and can’t check in to the next one until 4pm. So we have to eat everything up tonight. I voted for finishing off all the wine but Annette informed me that it will not spoil. What do I know!
Annette and Bob

Posted by Annette-Bob 08:23 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

2013

Nerja and Mijas

sunny

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September 30, 2013
We managed to sleep in this morning and had a leisurely breakfast on the patio. Then it was off to Nerja. Nerja is approximately 32 miles east Malaga on the coast. It’s known for its secluded beaches and its flat roof whitewashed houses. Also, one of the main attractions is the La Cueva de Nerja. We did find the cave but they had just closed for two hours of siesta. We figured if you have seen one stalagmite, you probably seen them all, so we decided not to wait around. We finally found a parking lot in town only to find out they were closed because they were getting ready for a festival. We ended up parking by mistake parking in a private hotel lot but after pleading our issue, they said we could park for free. Yahoo! We walked around the towns winding streets and along the coast with its dynamic views of the ocean and its secluded beaches. The main attraction in the city is the Balcon de Europa. It’s a promenade that juts out into the Mediterranean. Spanish king Alfonso XIII named it after it was built in his honor, for his visit to the town in 1885. We had a very nice lunch of sandwiches and a cappuccino before heading back out of town. Where we are staying is in Malaga but it’s in the Torremolinos area. So we headed to the beach area, where we walked the strip along the beach, checking out all the tourist shops. We settled in a beachside bar for a cold beer and ocean watching. I read that topless sun bathing in Malaga is prohibited and could bring fines. However, there were no police handing out tickets, do I hear another yahoo? It was getting on to early evinging, so we headed back to the condo for some rest and made a decision to stay in for the evening. Do I hear one more yahoo?
October 1, 2013
October already, where does the time go? After a light breakfast we set out for Mijas. It was a winding road up the mountain that led us to this magnificent town of white houses. Parking was a breeze and the garage only charged one euro for the day. The donkey taxies are a hoot. There is a great walking tour that takes you to all the sites and some of the most spectacular views of the Mediterranean. On a clear day you can see all the way to Gibraltar and Morocco. Celtics and Moors were here before the tourist and I mean busloads of tourists. Setting that aside, do the walking tour, pass by all the restaurants that line the main streets and walk the back streets to find a nice out of the way place to eat. Annette found this Secret Garden. We stopped to check the place out, Annette went inside and the owner invited her to check out the garden. Out back was this wonderful area under olive and orange trees surrounded by flowering shrubs. We had to stay for lunch. The food was great and the wine was outstanding. If you go, plan on spending most of the day and just wonder around the roads less traveled. We headed back to the beach in the late afternoon for a cold beer and then it was back to the ranch for siesta. One more thing! You can pick out all the rental cars on the highway because when you start up a slight incline, they all move to the truck lane. I swear they only have one cylinder. You can go from 120 kilometers to 50 kilometers in the blink of an eye. Just saying! I think we are staying in again tonight. Yahoo!
Annette and Bob

Posted by Annette-Bob 00:41 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Trip 2013

Granada and Malaga

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September 27, 2013
Dinner last night was probably the worst meal and service since we arrived in Spain. We ended up in a tourist area, big mistake. After dinner we were walking around on a few small side streets and found this wonderful wine bar, for a nightcap. They also served food and it looked great. We woke up early this morning, had an early breakfast, with plans of starting our trip to Granada before the traffic. We pulled out of the parking garage and started the GPS, no signal! We thought it might be the tall buildings, so we tried riding around looking for a spot to pull over. There are no places to pull over in Spain, when you are in a city. We finally pulled into a bus stop and finally managed to reset the navigation system and the signal came back. If we lose the GPS, we will leave the car in place and fly back from wherever we are. The ride to Granada was very interesting. You pass through farm land before you start to rise through the mountains. The highest point on the GPS was a little over four thousand feet but the top of the mountains were around six thousand and there were some patches of snow here and there. We arrived in Granada around 1:30 and tried finding our accommodations for the evening. If we thought the streets in some of the cities were small, these were even smaller. The traffic was busy and there were motor scooters darting in and out, just to make things more interesting. We gave up on finding the pension and decided on lunch. We found this hole in the wall restaurant and had a magnificent meal. Annette had the fish and I had the piaya, again. After lunch we called the pension and Christian came to meet us and take us to his parking garage. The short walk to the pension was down winding cobblestone walkways. Christian is the owner and he migrated from Germany back in the 80’s. The room was very nice and had wonderful views of the courtyard. The pension is located in the old Quarter, Albaicin district, which is around two thousand years old. The Romans came, then the Muslims and then the Spanish. Some say the French were here at some point but they surrendered before the war started and went home. When you left the pension and walked down the alley, you were engulfed in Arab shops, selling everything from jewelry to water pipes. There were many small cafés where you could indulge in Arab food and try out a water pipe or two, if you had the mind to. It’s a very interesting area and a must see if you are in Granada. We visited many of the historical sites in the town and even attended a mass at the Catedral and the service was in Latin. We didn’t make it to Alhambra but will try and do that on a separate trip. Tickets are scarce but if you show up at 8am, they have tickets for sale. We walked the back streets and ended the night stopping for wine and tapas before heading back to the room for the evening.
September 28, 2013
Some side notes. They have more roundabouts in Spain then anywhere in the world. We drove into a roundabout today, that connected to another roundabout. Parking is almost impossible in the cities, unless you use a parking garage. Small cars are better because the spaces are made for scooters. You do need cash because many of the cafés and stores have a minimum charge, if you use a credit card. The food and beverages are very reasonable and very good. Many of the hotels do not provide wash cloths. I read that somewhere before we left but forgot to include a few in our luggage.
The ride from Granada to Malaga was very nice. Coming down out of the mountains there were many spectacular views. There were rugged hillsides with farms growing crops and grapes. We did come across several wind farms dotting the landscape here and there. Christian had recommended that we take the road less traveled to Malaga so we headed south and drove the coast. We stopped for lunch at an English tennis club. They have one court that is somewhat smaller than a tennis court and it is closed in on the sides with glass. It’s a combination of racket ball and pickle ball. They use a smaller paddle and it’s very interesting, as you can play the ball off the walls. From there we headed for our timeshare. The address they provided took us to a pub, it must have been fait. One of the patrons, who was slightly tipsy, managed to give us directions close to where we needed to be. From there, another gentleman in a delivery van showed us the way to our hotel. The man on duty at the timeshare did confirm that the address was incorrect. Don’t ask! Timeshares are like chocolates; sometimes you get one that is not the greatest. But, we are here and settled in. We did some quick shopping and then spent the night on the patio, sipping wine, eating cheese and ham flavored potato chips. Doing the laundry was interesting. One machine finished in little over an hour and the other machine just stayed on the wash cycle for 3 hours. Annette finally managed to retrieve the cloths and hung them on the deck to dry. Well tomorrow is another day.
September 29, 2013
We set off for the old town part of Malaga this morning. It is another nice day with temps in the 80’s and partly cloudy. We are starting to get smart with the parking. Get to where you are going and find a parking garage and then walk. The tour of the old city was very interesting. The cathedral is a work in progress. It started during the gothic period on the old mosque of the Arabian city and is still unfinished today. The Alcazaba was the highlight. It was built in the 11th and 14th centuries and was a fortress built on the remains of a Phoenician fortress. At the bottom of the fortress is the Roman Theatre built in the 1st century AD. They are still doing excavation on the sight today. After a cold beer and some tapas we headed back to the ranch for some shopping and a quick snooze. We headed to the beach for dinner at a steak and fish restaurant. The dinner was great and we met some folks from Holland, Germany and Scotland. It was a fun night with lots of laughs. We are back at the hacienda for a nightcap and a good night sleep.
Annette and Bob

Posted by Annette-Bob 00:55 Comments (0)

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