Barcelona and Cuenca Spain, Dec 2017

Barcelona

Back to Spain we flew! Barcelona was gorgeously unreal, creatively genius, inspirational. 

The renowned Casa Batllo by Antoni Gaudi
Casa Mila, designed by Antoni Gaudi

We loved seeing Antoni Gaudi’s many works of art and architecture throughout the city, with the icing on the cake being the Sagrada Familia, which is still under construction with the end date forecasted for 2026 (one hundred years after his death).

Ceiling and post details, Sagrada Familia
light from stained glass windows in the Sagrada Familia

And of course the delicious tapas!!!

Tapas in Barcelona

We spent 4 hours on 2 trains to get from Barcelona to Cuenca. This town is famous for its ‘hanging houses’.  It reminded me of Ronda, Spain.

The famous ‘hanging houses’ of Cuenca
Balancing act in Cuenca
Cuenca, UnescO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

With it’s steep cobblestone streets, hanging houses, beautiful views of limestone cliffs and the town’s unique home made liquor, this is a perfect place to relax just an hour from Madrid. Salud!

 

Ronda Spain, November 2017

Puente Nuevo

“Ronda is, indeed, one of those places which stands alone. I know of nothing to which it can be compared.” – Lady Tennyson 1850

The town of Ronda with it’s white walled buildings is perched on a high plateau split by the El Tajo gorge. It’s one of Spain’s oldest towns and was loved by historical romantic travelers such as Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles. 

Gorgeous views abound. We had an amazing 15 year anniversary in this romantic town and even tried the ajoblanco (cold almond and garlic soup with strawberry jam). The soup was weird.

Salmon and avocado salad with ajoblanco soup

 

 

 

 

Seville Spain, November 2017

Plaza de Espana

Seville is the land of fairytale romance. So far it’s my all time favorite city. There are plazas that have gorgeous streets leading off into every direction and each one leads the imagination down a different storybook theme. Couples of all ages are holding hands and public affection is the norm. This is also the land of the passionate flamenco dance.

Flamenco dancer in Plaza de Espana, Seville
El Arenal area of Seville

The beautiful royal palace of The Real Alcazar is worth waiting in line to see. This is the oldest palace still in use in Europe and where part of the fifth season of Game of Thrones was shot.

Gardens in the royal palace of The Alcazar
Beautiful Moorish arches in The Alcazar Palace
‘Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla’ in The Alcazar

There are many peaceful gardens to wander through, fantastic tapas to delight the palate and awe inspiring architecture around every corner. Seville should be on everyone’s ‘Must See’ list for Europe.

Ian in front of the Seville Cathedral, where the remains of Christopher Columbus are said to be ENTOMBED

Granada Spain October 2017

Court of the Myrtles, The Alhambra

You can’t go to Granada and not see the monumental complex of The Alhambra. The dramatic towers hover over the town, strategically built there in 1237 by Muhammad I al-Ahmar. It changed hands many times over the course of history and remains a beautiful blend of Muslim and Christian art and architecture. Get your tickets to visit the grounds early because they sell out fast. 

Inside The Alhambra, near The Court of the Lions
Partal Palace, The Alhambra

We had the amazing luck to stay in an air bnb with this view!

View from our air bnb in Granada

The free and delicious tapas kept coming (you can read about that tradition in my Tapas and Tinto post :)) and the winding uphill streets kept us hungry for more.

Free fried fish and salad tapas in Grenada
An example of tight, medieval streets in Granada

We loved the medieval feel of the historic area and the amazing food found in all the cafes along the river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almunecar Spain Oct 2017

Playa Puerta del Mar

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Hotel Casablanca in the dreamy resort town of Almunecar. Everyone here seems to be in the Tranquil Zone. The seafood was fresh off the boat, the cocktails were frosty and the Mediterranean sea was cool and refreshing after a stroll down the beach in mid 70 degree sunshine.

Enjoying some vino at our Hotel Casablanca

Our room was $58 in US dollars, and the restaurant right in front had the most amazing dish of braised oxtails for $18 US. 

Entrance of the Hotel Casablanca
Cactus Garden above the Bird Sanctuary

The bird sanctuary was located right across the street from our hotel and had a large selection of tropical birds as well as lemurs and meerkats. A short path uphill led to beautiful cactus gardens.

Another gorgeous view in Almunecar

Peace and tranquility rule the day here where you can drink a bottle of wine with your menu del dia (menu of the day) and then sleep the afternoon away on the beach.

Playa San cristobAl at sunset

Buenos noches!

 

 

 

Tapas and Tinto (aka Food and Wine)

A bottle of vino blanco and free calamari tapas with Spanish coleslaw

We’re pleased to discover the wonderful tradition of getting a complimentary plate of tapas when you order a glass of wine in some restaurants in Southern Spain. For example, you can order a copa de vino tinto (a glass of red wine), nibble on the ubiquitous brine and sherry soaked olives in the bowl placed before you and before you can say ‘yum’ the kindly server has brought you a plate with two fried, breaded, goat cheese and bacon stuffed mushrooms. For free. You pay as little as 1.8 Euro ($2.10 US) for another copa and like some kind of Spanish magic now there’s a plate of paella. Another place may serve a plate of linguine with garlic and pork belly, or fried anchovies, or calamari with a side of Spanish coleslaw. Some tapas are hot, some are cold, some are served on a toothpick and others an entire plate full. How delightful is Spain! 

Wine is available by the glass usually between 1.8 and 3 Euros. You can buy a bottle for as little as 8 Euros or spend 20 on a nice bottle of Spanish wine. 

Free calamari tapas with a glass of tinto

Another tradition is the menu del dia (menu of the day) where you pick a starter, an entre, dessert and your bottle of wine of choice for around 10 Euros. Lunch is the big meal of the day in Spain, so its no surprise that everyone is taking a siesta mid-day after enjoying one of these amazing value meals.

Starters for a menu del dia: mussel soup and salad

For breakfast you can order a pile of churros to dip into thick hot chocolate for 3 Euros per person.

Churros dipped in hot chocolate

You can’t go wrong with a cold glass of sangria to toast the sunset. Salud!