Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sevilla Sunshine and Stink

Once in Sevilla we finally had our truly warm weather as promised. It was 80 both days and I was as happy as can be as long as we were out of our hotel. Richard always chooses the perfect accommodation for our trips (it's a particular talent of his). And in Sevilla he chose a hotel with duplex rooms that have spiral staircases. A little dangerous after a night out of drinking Spanish wine (imagine climbing a spiral staircase to reach the bathroom after a few drinks, now imagine Rachel and me trying to climb a spiral staircase after a few drinks). We survived the staircase, but I swear we almost didn't survive the smell. When we checked in half the hotel smelled like raw sewage, ewww. We switched rooms to get away from the smell. Then I went to wash my dusty feet off from the flip-flop-wearing day and discovered the water was brownish-yellow, ewww. When I called down to the front desk the man just recommended that we let the water run for a bit. I asked him why the water was yellow and he replied "It just is." His English was just so-so. I tried again in my limited Spanish. "Si, pero por que es la agua amarillo?" His reply, "It just is." So we moved rooms again. The water wasn't as yellow and the smell was only there a little. Lovely.

I suppose we'll forgive Richard this one mishap since all the other places we stayed in Spain were absolutely amazing.

Sevilla's architecture is fantastic. We spent most of our two days just wandering the city and exploring. We threw in a visit to the Lone Star Bar with token Texas flags, Longhorn penants and Nebraska Cornhusker posters? Enjoy the photos.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monkeying Around Gibraltar and Rocking Ronda

So what's so exciting about monkeys? I have a better question. What's not exciting about monkeys? Gibraltar was so much fun, very windy and full of monkeys. monkeying

After my very first dip in the Mediterranean Sea (okay it was just my toes, but it was still fantastic), we drove down the coast to La Linea de la Concepcion, the small border town crossing for Gibraltar. We walked across the border without incident. The most exciting part (we haven't seen monkeys yet) was having to cross the airport runway to get to the Rock and the town. It was ridiculous wind. I really felt like I was about to take flight while crossing the runway.

Next we climbed the Rock of Gibraltar! Well, we actually met Albert who drove us up the Rock which was much more efficient and he introduced us to his favorite monkeys!

After all our Rock adventures, we set of for our evening destination, Ronda. About 30 km out of La Linea, our rental car decided it wasn't going to get out of first gear. Hmmm. Two hours later, we were off...again. It was now dark, so Richard drove, thank goodness. The tiny cliff-edged snaked mountain roads made nervous just as a passenger. Though we arrived in Ronda well after dark, we still enjoyed it's beautiful streets and more delicious tapas. We even found our second bar in Europe with taps at your table. Fun for all!

I thought Ronda at night was a beautiful town, but Ronda in daylight was simply stunning. All those mountain roads were worth it. The views from the town which is perched on the very tip of a mountain are indescribable.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Madrid on Holiday

Rachel and I spent three lovely days in Madrid. One quite unintentionally, but it was lovely all the same. We arrived to blissful 70 degree weather. I wore sundresses, short-sleeves and tank tops the entire time. I still needed to carry my jacket in the evening, but I was quite determined to get the most out of the over 65 degree temperatures.

To begin our Madrid trip we had lunch in the essential Plaza Mayor. Luckily we were there on a Wednesday so it wasn't quite as full of tourists as it would be on a weekend. We were able to enjoy our lunch of jamon y queso con cervezas in the not-at-all touristy Museo de Jamon. I'm sure it was quite the slice of an average MadrileƱo's day. We headed for our next adventure where I'd be required to use more of my extremely rusty Spanish than "cerveza, por favor". We went to Casa Hernandez to purchase some traditional espadrilles. It was so much fun. And my Spanish got us two pair of shoes (barely, but we have them). We spent the rest of the day enjoying the sunshine and then decided to take a little siesta before our flamenco show.

I really enjoyed our ore-show dinner and a nice bottle of rioja on the Plaza de Oriente. There was a superb sunset and really great people watching. Rachel had been excited about the flamenco show from the first day of planning our Spanish holiday. The show was at Corral de la Moreria, on the list from "1000 Places to See Before You Die." Check out the video.

Our second day, we hit more of the sites...Museo del Prado, Palacio Real, Las Ventas (Madrid's Plaza de Toros). And we did some shopping as well on Calle de Serrano. Another full and tiring day. For lunch that day we had probably the best food I've had since being in Europe at Biotza, a tapas restaurant near Calle de Serrano. The asparagus was to die for. Food was probably my favorite thing about Spain. That and the price of the drinks. Maybe we've just been in expensive Dublin too long. *Sigh* I miss the food and wine already...

Our third day was a travel day. We intended on meeting Richard in Malaga after spending a day on the beach. When we arrived at the Madrid train station we found that the holiday (Spain's labor day) had caused an incredible run on train tickets. While they had been available the evening before, there were no trains until 4:30pm. I suppose we were lucky to get on any train, but that meant that we had to return to our hotel, check our luggage and grieve for our lost beach day. Instead we spent the day in the sun at El Retiro, Madrid's beautiful city park. We had some ice cream and convinced ourselves it was probably raining at the beach. We got there eventually and hey, who can complain about an extra day in Madrid?

Adios Madrid! Next up, monkeys!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Just a taste of our Spain & Gibraltar trip...more to come once I've had time to process pictures.