We decided for Thanksgiving this year we would head to a warmer climate and discover the wonders of Andalusia in southern Spain. We found ridiculously cheap tickets on RyanAir into Malaga, and we rented a car with the itinerary of spending a day each in Granada, Seville, and Malaga. The trip was fabulous with glorious sun, delicious food, and no shortage of adventure. For our car rental, I specifically requested a Fiat 500, and this ended up being a perfect car, despite what the Hertz representative might have thought when we checked in. Navigating the old cities in southern Spain would have been a nightmare with a bigger car. As it is, if I never drive in Spain again, it will definitely be too soon. Yep, this trip was full of car adventures including hotels that our GPS could never seem to find.
The countryside between each of these wonderful Spanish cities reminded me so much of southern California and parts of Nevada. (Actually, it reminded me most of Mexico.) Honestly, it wasn't terribly exciting. We needed the calm between locations though to rest of for the excitement we would find driving into each of them. Pure craziness, I tell you! Our first hotel was in Malaga. Our flight arrived late, so I found a hotel near the airport. What should have been less than 5 minutes turned into about 45 because we had no clue how to get to the hotel. After finding our hotel and getting checked in, we all got a good night's sleep before our trip to Granada the next day.
Granada is an incredible city rich with culture and beautiful architecture. Our number one sight to experience while in Granada was the Alhambra. First we had to locate our hotel. Simple enough, right? HA! Not only were we clueless, but our GPS seriously had no idea either. In hindsight, it was kind of fun especially since we had a fun little car to navigate the narrow city streets. We finally just found a garage to park the car and walked to the hotel. Smart choice, and the walk was a pretty fantastic way to discover the Granada.
All checked into our hotel and having the rental car stowed safely into private parking, we headed up to Alhambra to discover its wonder. If you do this beware of the women trying to loot money from you by handing you rosemary and saying a prayer. I was an easy trap, especially when the lady is saying sweet prayers about my kids. Such a sucker.
We had heard Alhambra was unforgettable, and we were not disappointed. Except for being much colder than we had hoped or expected, the visit was amazing. The intricate detailing on all of the walls, ceilings, and floors is difficult to describe or to experience through a picture. I had trouble picking the best photos to share because there were so many. Alhambra sits on top of the hill, so in addition to pictures of the palace, the castle and the other sights within Alhambra, there are also so many amazing views of the city from up there. I'm sure Big R will think I didn't chose the best shots, but these are a sampling of how I remember my experience at Alhambra in Granada.
|A view of Granada from Alhambra|
|Me and a sleeping bear in front of the palace|
|Reflecting pool inside the palace|
|Alhambra inspired inner peace - a tree pose anyone?|
|Some of the intricate details I mentioned - so incredible|
|Another view of the Granada - just wow|
|Church inside Alhambra|
|Interesting family portrat - hahahahaha|
|More beautiful details...|
|Some Daddy bonding time|
|Love my little man|
|What do you see, little r?|
|A handstand? Don't mind if I do.|
|Who isn't inspired to do wheel pose here?|
|One of my favorite pictures - so beautiful how the city is framed in the windows|
|Stunning gardens within the Alhambra|
|A walk with my boy|
After a full day at Alhambra, we walked back to our hotel and then ventured back out to find dinner. We made a brief stop for wine and cheese (oh, that cheese was drizzled with olive oil - to die for!) at a sweet restaurant that sat inside a cave. The menu scared us with the listed prices, so Big R got conservative with our order only to find out upon leaving that two glasses of wine and a plate of cheese tapas was an entire 5 EUR. HA, classic.
|A great place to enjoy a glass of Rioja|
|A street-side view of the small tavern where we enjoyed wine |
|The Alhambra at night|
After a delectable dinner at an unexpected location, we finished off the night in our comfortable hotel room for an early night. In the morning before our drive to Seville, we ventured out on the streets of Granada to view the Cathedral. Instead we discovered a city full of charm, and we were instantly disappointed we didn't explore more of the city at night before turning in.
|Beautiful produce sold in the old town market|
|Charming city streets in Granada|
Then we were off to Seville and another adventure. Again, it was good that the trip between Granada and Seville was relatively uneventful because driving in Seville was completely INSANE. Our hotel was in a great location though in the heart of the city, hence the reason driving to it was out of control.
We secured the car, checked into the hotel, and made our way out into the city. Seeing Seville in less than 24 hours is not easy, but we were determined. To make matters more interesting, I have been so busy with school that shy of making hotel reservations, I didn't spend any time doing any research about this trip. So, we ventured out into the almost unknown and became mesmerized by Seville. We also gave in and decided to see the city the best way we know how, by horse and carriage. Not a cheap way to do it, but we saw so much of the city that we never would have had time for otherwise, so to us it was worth every cent.
Eating was a pleasure in Seville. We loved most of the food, especially Baby C (holy cow can that kid eat!). Big R was also determined that we would both get a piece of relaxation on this trip. He did little research on Seville, but when he heard they had Turkish baths in southern Spain, he was quick to find a place where we could take turns indulging in a little relaxation. My turn came in the morning while Big R took the boys on some little excursions while I enjoyed 90 minutes in a Roman bath house including a 15 minutes massage. Honestly, have a couple hours to myself was heaven enough :)
|One of the gates to the bull fighting ring|
|Inside the Alcazar|
|little r posing with a tapestry inside the Alcazar|
|View of Seville from atop the bell tower of the Cathedral|
|We loved this street for obvious reasons :) |
|The Cathdral in Seville|
|Plaza de España - look at the detailing on the bridge|
|Another view of Plaza de España|
|City tour by horse and carriage - our preferred method of travel|
|Family portrait from the carriage|
|Our trusty stead|
|The Cathedral in Seville|
|Even at 8pm the streets were quiet only to come alive after 10!|
|Seville by moonlight|
|Christmas was in the air!|
|The entire city was decorated for the holidays|
Our original itinerary didn't really include Malaga. I'm not sure why we were going to leave this off of our list, but it was just the place we were flying into. We decided it was worth a peak before we headed back to the hotel near the airport to get ready for an early flight. I am so happy that we took the time to venture into Malaga. What a magical place! We always joke that Malaga is the third largest city in Sweden because so many Swedes relocate here. It is now clear why they love it so much.
Our time in Malaga was short, but memorable. Big R promised me a view of the Mediterranean Sea. I would have soaked my feet in, but the temps were a tad bit too cold for my blood. Our lack of planning landed us in a distance parking garage, so it was a trek to find the water, but we found it! After a walk along the beach, we headed back into the city to find dinner. Have you ever been overwhelmed with too many choices? Big R even resorted to pulling out his phone and checking TripAdvisor. Oh brother... Rarely am I the one that doesn't need food. Both Big R and little r were desperate for food and there were just too many choices. Big R really wanted some fresh fish at a price we could afford. Little r? Oh, he wanted to eat at a place with white bar stools. Seriously... I'm happy to report that we ended up at a place with both, but only after a few minor meltdowns from both of them. The food was fantastic, and little r decided to entertain us with his craziness including taking that much sought after bar stool and sending it to the floor with him, food in hand, and head against the table. We have yet to visit an emergency room on any of our visit, but good grief, I thought we were close on this one.
|YAY, the ocean! I'm happy :)|
|My little man is such a ham!|
|He climbed up to get a better view|
|The streets of Malaga - I feel in love!|
|Palm trees to remind us we are close to the beach!|
|The architecture was incredible!|
We found ourselves in Malaga on the night that all of the Christmas lights were being turned on for the first time this season. It was a Saturday and it felt like the entire city was downtown for the festivities. The energy was amazing! We finally had good food in our belly's and we were loving the lights and all of the people. At this point I was really glad we parked far away from the madness though!
|A tree of lights in downtown Malaga|
|The streets were lit with beautiful decorations|
|My favorite picture of the Christmas lights.|
Overall, this was such an amazing trip. We had so many unforgettable moments. I wish we had more time to spend at each city, but I am thankful that we were able to visit all of them. Big R keeps asking me which of the cities was my favorite and I honestly do not know. I found each city beautiful and unique in its own way. Granada was relatively quiet in comparison, and it had the backdrop of the Sierra Nevadas (the "for real" ones). Seville was full of energy. You could sense that the city slept all day and played all night. There was a lot of pride there and the city was clean and beautifully kept. Malaga had the feel of a resort town with a rich history. It actually fascinated me the most, but I'm not sure why.
This was a great Thanksgiving. I hope we have a reason to come back to this part of the world again and that we have more than a few days to see it all.
p.s. Look to my travel page for travel details...
Great post on Spain. Beth and I were in Spain at the same time - you may remember us from Ramstein. Love your blogReplyDelete
Our photos at
http://12ru.blogspot.com/ Craig and Beth Hullinger email@example.com
Of course we remember you. I'm not sure we will ever forget. How fun that we were in Spain at the same time. Did you fly Space A into Rota? Where all did you visit and how long did you stay?Delete
Yes, we flew Space A. KC-135 from MAcdill in Tampa to Mildenhall - too cold. Took a Lear Jet to Ramstein - too cold. Flew in a C-130 to Rota - just right. Had Thanksgiving with the Marines at the Moron Air Force Base.ReplyDelete
Beth and I really enjoy your blog.
Great post thanks for sharing information it is very useful for Travellers.Can i get a little more information regarding renting a car in Spain.As i want to explore Spain by car,need Suggestions . Click here to proceed to this recommendation by a friend from Spain.ReplyDelete
Honestly, we didn't do anything special with our car rental. We rented through Hertz and reserved the car online. I would recommend renting the smallest car you can handle based on the size of your party. We had a Fiat 500 and I was so thankful on many occasions that we didn't get a larger car. I'm not sure where you are from, but also be sure you have an international driver's license and obey the speed limits to avoid getting any tickets. They use the speed cameras all throughout Spain! I hope this helps!