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Andalucia, 2004: 1 of 5


April 1:
We arrived in Malaga and picked up our Renault Clio 1.2 from MalagaCar.com. We drove to Jimena de la Frontera and checked into the Rancho Los Lobos, www.rancholoslobos.com, where we met Wolf (from Austria) and his wife Esther (Swiss). It seems like we had found a hotbed of German activity since we were the only non-German-speaking people there. Nobody spoke Spanish! We met a pair from Munich and a pair from Hannover this first day. We had dinner at the ranch with the Germans.

April 2:
We walked to town (Jimena) and up to the old ruins of a Moorish castle, which in turn had been built on an even older Roman site. It was a very nice walk, topped off with a Tapas lunch in town. In the afternoon we drove to Gibraltar and checked out the town there.
Due to no planning on our side we were visiting Gibraltar on its 300 year anniverary of belonging to Britain. The Brits seized the place in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession when they sided with Spain over France. Their "prize" was Gibraltar, which they got assigned "in perpetuity" in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1715. And they never let go since! Trivia: where does then name come from? The Moors named it "Jabal Tariq" when they took control in 711, and the name phontetically morphed into "Gibraltar".

April 3:
My birthday! It was time to leave Jimena and drive to Marbella. However, the highlight of the day was a very nice stop in the incredible city of Ronda. The city is split in half by a 130 meter river gorge (El Tajo - although the river is called Guadalevin) which is connected by a spectacular 18th century bridge (Puente Nuevo or "new bridge"). Ronda played important roles under the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Moors, and the Catholics.
We visited the Mondragon Palace and walked around the city. The Moorish kings built Mondragon, but it was subsequently altered by Isabel and Ferdinand, who lodged there when they visited Ronda.
We also had a nice cake-and-coffee stop by the side of the gorge. The drive to Marbella was pretty, but involved driving on a lot of curving mountain roads that we shared with lots of other cars and motorcycles. The Club Alanda resort was very excellent and put Carol in an immediate good mood. We splurged a bit for my birthday dinner by ordering a freshly caught Turbot and having that prepared for us. A nice meal!

April 4:
We were a bit lazy this morning and barely made it up by noon, but we made up for it by spending a nice afternoon in Mijas. We ate lunch at a local tourist place followed by a jamon and orange juice snack later. Later, we drove to Estopona and cruised the boardwalk. We also ate at the boardwalk: a nice gambas and pollo meal.

April 5:
This time we had bought groceries and ate breakfast in the room. We then proceeded to drive to Gibraltar (again!) and took the cable car to the "Top of the Rock". The view from up there was truly awesome, and I took a bunch of pictures. On the way back through town, we stopped for some excellent gambas at an Arabic-type restaurant called "Al Andalus" (the Moorish name for Andalucia). On the drive back, we took a quick peek at the white town of Casares (very picturesque), but we didn't really stop. During the evening, we enjoyed a 3-course dinner and a flamenco show at the resort's main dining room.

April 6:
Today we drove to Tarifa and onwards to Cadiz. Tarifa is known not only as the southernmost point in Europe, but also as an excellent surfing location. The Mediterranean lies to the east, the Atlantic to the west, and Africa (across the Strait of Gibraltar) to the south. The drive to Cadiz was very pretty, with all kinds of green rolling hills. Cadiz claims to be the oldest city in Europe as it was founded by the Phoenicians in 1100 BC. Cadiz was very beautiful. We enjoyed eating on the beach as well as checking out the Castillo de Santa Catalina and walking out to the Castillo de San Sebastian (where people were fishing and swimming).

April 7:
Today we explored Malaga, which has a lot to offer. We started off by driving up to the Castillo de Gibralfaro (at the so-called Parador), which is an old fort built by the Moors right before they were expelled by the Caholics. We then walked down the the excellent Alcazaba, which was the palace of the Moors in Malaga. A lot of the rooms and grounds are decently preserved and it was interesting to observe the "airy" and "light" architectural style of the old Arabs. We also worked in a couple of rounds of tapas, of course. Finally, we drove out to the eastern Malaga beach of El Palo where we walked around a bit and had another snack (tapas, steamed clams, and some sangria).

April 8:
This was a low-mileage day as we merely drove into Marbella and checked out the "local town". It was actually quite nice, albeit a bit touristy. But our meal of grilled and salted sardines was truly excellent - one of the best meals of the trip. We then walked a bit on the "Venus" beach, and checked out the local marina. Dinner was at home today (tomatoes, break, olive oil and jamon) with some tarts and black forest cake for desert.

April 9:
Rain. We drove to Tarifa and walked around a bit in the old town and along the beach. We had some excellent langostinos for lunch at the tapas bar, followed by a desert crepe in the old town. For dinner we repeated last night's experience... minus the deserts!

April 10:
And it was already time to check out of the Alanda Club in Marbella! We drove to Sevilla via Malaga. Our hotel was the "Veracruz" and was actually located in Utrera (20 kms outside Seville). The hotel was nice, but we got the entire 3rd floor for ourselves, including a roof-top veranda! We still had time for an afternoon in Seville, so we drove in and parked next to the Plaza de Espana. That's a magnificent place! Truly inspiring! No wonder George Lucas picked this as the capitol of Naboo in Star Wars 2 (Clone Wars). We took a relaxing horse carriage ride through the streets of Seville. Then we walked over to the Cathedral, but it was very crowded due to it being Easter weekend. And there was also a ton of security since Spain has just been having terrorist trouble (March 11th and afterwards). We ate in old town where we found some delicious spinach with chickpeas appetizer and roast chicken. We finished the whole thing off with some cafe-con-leche in the Alfonso XIII hotel. A long, but satisfying day!

April 11:
We drove into Seville again and this time spent the first part of the day in the incredible Alcazar. This is the best preserved Moorish palace, even better than Alhambra in that respect. Half of the palace was still Moorish and half was in the gothic style of the Catholics. The Moorish part was actually the Mudejar style - which is what they call the work done by Moors who were employed by the catholics. The gardens in the Alcazar were very impressive as well. After some walking and tapas, we headed down to the river (the Guadalquivir), where Carol managed to snooze a bit. On the way back, we made another visit to the Plaza de Espana. The previous day's chicken dinner was so good that I insisted we go back for dinner again!

April 12:
We checked out of the Veracruz hotel after breakfast and drove into Seville. Today's big event was a tour of the Cathedral (the largest in the world in fact!) and the Giralda tower. The tower was built by the Moors and it was so excellent that they swore never to let it fall into the hands of the Christians, but the conquering kind Fernando III made it clear that he'd kill them all if they harmed a single stone - so it survived! The Cathedral happens to house the tomb of Christopher Columbus among other things. After some tapas, we drove back to Malaga and checked into the Ibis hotel by the airport, where we had an excellent dinner. Carol managed to sneak in a trip to Malaga before dinner - for some shopping and internet surfing.

April 13:
Time to go home. We drove to the aiport, returned the car, and flew back to Seattle (via Madrid and Chicago).

Stitches:

  1. Mijas
  2. Gibratar: north towards the bay and Algeciras
  3. Gibratar: east towards La Linea and the Mediterranean
  4. Gibratar: south towards Africa
  5. Casares
  6. Plaza de Espana in Seville
  7. The Seville Cathedral

Maps:

  1. Spain
  2. Andalucia
  3. Malaga Province
  4. Cadiz Province

Postcards:

  1. Gibralter from the air
  2. Straight of Gibralter
  3. Canons of Gibralter
  4. Bay of Gibralter from the air
  5. Satellite photo of Spain and Morocco
  6. The Alhambra in Grenada, next time...


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