A Travellerspoint blog

Spain: Part 4

Granada

Sunday, April 1st:

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Our final big day trip had us heading northeast towards Granada, a beautiful city about 2 hours away. We headed out really early to avoid traffic, and enjoyed the views of sunrise over the Mediterranean as we wound through the mountains.

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It was yet another day of sightseeing, castle visits, and enjoying the lifestyle of Spain!

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Devon trying out a tampas of deep fried anchovies, delicious!

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Things to see in Granada include a Picasso museum where we tried to guess the name of the artwork (tricky!) and the tombs of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand (one of my SS topics, yeah!).

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Another one of the highlights was the Alhambra, a fort on the top of the cliff that overlooks all of Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountains. The place is huge, with sprawling gardens and ancient buildings to explore. The palace was filled with carved ivory, beautifully tiled walls, and stunning views.

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We relaxed and enjoyed some sangria at the base of the Alhambra and watched as the sun set and the lights came on across the fortress. We then made our way to a local restaurant for a flamenco show which was amazing! The women moved their feet so quickly they were blurry! Devon, mom and I learned a few dance moves, but our favorite is the stiff hand that the dancers "wave" at the end of their performance. Awesome.

Some tasty treats, classic.
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Our beautiful ride for the week:
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Mom showing off our new flamenco move!

Adios Spain!

Posted by BlakeSims 00:03 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Spain: Part 3

Malaga

Sunday, March 25th:

So, when everyone asks where we went on vacation, I say Malaga. Not because I expect anyone to know where that is, but it's where I THOUGHT we were staying. Actually, we stayed about 20 minutes southwest of Malaga, and one afternoon, decided to venture into the city and check it out. Surprisingly, it was a pretty metropolitan location. Obviously business revolves around the port which was filled with huge barges, but there was also shopping and interesting historical places to visit as well.

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Our first stop, as usual, was a cafe to get hydrated for the day. Whilst sitting around, we were serenaded by an accordion player. He wasn't alone; we probably saw at least a dozen street performers thoughout the day, including our original accordion player later at lunch!

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We then checked out the ancient Roman Theater, the large Church (everybody's got one MAIN church to see) and roamed the streets enjoying the people and shops.

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The highlight of the day was visiting the Alcazaba: the fort that sits atop the hill in Malaga. It's a combination of Moorish architecture, with Roman influences. It offered some great views of the city, as well as fun (but dangerous since there aren't any railings observed Dad) walls to climb on and gardens to walk through.

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The day ended with, yet again, San Miguel beers outside of the famous El Pimpi restaurant. Yum!
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Posted by BlakeSims 10:08 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Spain: Part 2

Ronda, or as dad prefers, Rhonda, which the Garmond just could not find!

Wednesday, March 21st:

Help me Ronda! What to do when you've got a beautiful Mercedes, even if it is a C-class, and a free day in Spain? Well, after much debate, we decided to visit Ronda, a little town about halfway between Malaga and Sevilla which boasts the best bull ring in all of Spain. Plus, Hemingway had been there, so according to mom, we HAD to check it out!

After about an hour and a half driving up windy hills, and then missing our turn (the roundabout said the exit was closed!), we eventually found ourselves in the very quaint and picturesque town of Ronda. Stop one, coffee. Nothing beats parking after a long and rather confusing drive and sitting in a comfy chair, located on the edge of a classic square, watching swarms of tourists fully equipped with headphones and their fearless, umbrella-carrying, leader.

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We followed the masses to Ronda's bull ring, a beautiful building that still houses, on occasion, a bull fight or two. We traveled through the stalls while hearing about the history of Ronda and the ring, and found ourselves standing center stage. Mom's red jacket just screamed, "Ole!" and we took turns basking in the matador's glory.

Connecting with our inner bulls:
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Now connecting with our inner matadors!
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We continued our adventure and came across the central bridge that separates the older section of Ronda from it's relatively newer half. The bridge spans a huge chasm and provided a lovely backdrop for lunch.

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On our walk around the older area of Ronda, we came across a shaded garden, and eventually stumbled into a wine tasting opportunity, yeah! Once the group of tourists cleared out, we had the entire place to ourselves. We sampled their different wines from the spigots or barrels along the walls, and then were given a tasting of three of their different bottles.

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Bodegas La Sangre de Ronda:
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Ronda was a delightful find and day trip. Nothing can beat aimlessly exploring an ancient city and stumbling across beautiful vistas and unforgettable memories.

Or Devon enjoying some local chorizo and African shopping!
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En route home, we happened to stop in Marbella, a town just southeast of where we were staying. Since the roads were packed, we knew we were in the right spot. We came across a boardwalk filled with stores, restaurants, and local vendors. We eventually settled on an outdoor spot with views of live music performance and horse-drawn carriage. We sipped sangria as the sun dipped behind the coastline. Glorious.

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Posted by BlakeSims 12:43 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Spain: Part 1

Benalmadena & Gibraltar

Tuesday, March 20th:

Wow, just got back a few days ago from a FANTASTIC vacation with mom, dad and Devon touring around southern Spain. It great seeing someplace new, driving around Spanish highways and hills, eating TONS of cheese, bread and olives, and enjoying as much wine and sangria as I possibly could.

Each day was a new adventure and what I loved most was just strolling the streets and taking it all in. Being slightly OCD, mom and I poured over our travel books each night, planning the day ahead. We'd announce the time of departure and dad and Devon would obligingly follow along. I just couldn't help myself taking over the local maps and guiding us up and down the narrow streets and plazas! Gibraltar was especially hard on our bodies, and for days, we'd wince and cringe at the sight of stairs (it didn't help that we were on the 5th floor of the hotel, either)!

We did SO MUCH and had such a great time, that's I'm going to do installments of our trip.

The first stop on our vacation was Paris, aka Charles de Gaulle airport. Nothing says "French" more than a baguette for breakfast!
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Day One:
Benalmadena: the seaside location of our hotel.
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This also surprisingly turned out to be a hotspot for Brits on vacation, and we enjoyed our fair share of too-tiny tank tops, sunburns, socks and sandals and all the fry-ups (eggs, sausage, beans, and tomatoes for all you unsophisticated readers) we could eat! The boardwalk was also full of characters, and my personal favorites included a waiter sporting a curled mullet and the dozens of Africans selling us artwork of Masaai, sunglasses or watches. A real treat.

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It's a little blurry, but nothing says business in the front and party in the back like a curly mullet!

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Authentic artwork anyone?

This great people watching only added to the beautiful location. We had gorgeous weather everyday, a little bit chilly for my equator lifestyle, but sunny with blue skies. Our hotel was only a few minutes walk from the beach, and we visited the boardwalk and the restaurants quite frequently when at home.

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First night's best find: late night pizza!

Day Two:
Gibraltar: we drove along the coast and even ventured onto the toll road to get to Gibraltar the next morning! I hadn't realized that Gibraltar is actually owned by the British, and we needed to show our passports and go through "border control" to enter. It too was a magical land of Brits and pubs.

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The Rock of Gibraltar

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Gibraltar's Flag

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Laundry that mom swears looks like a bull.

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Our first stop was the famous Rock of Gibraltar. The town is a thriving port and from the top of the rock you can see the northern coast of Africa and Morocco. We wisely went up to the top via a gondola and as we arrived, we were quickly greeted by the local group of monkeys on the island. They are curious and almost got into my bag! At one point we even saw a baby climbing all over an unlucky tourist in a narrow passage known as the Monkey's Den. It was a little terrifying walking through, so mom made sure to wildly wave her arms over her head and yell as she passed. Very entertaining.

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The views were great, and there were a number of other sites to see on our "walk" down. The first was a cave that had previously been used as a hospital during WWII and now hosts musical concerts.

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The Queen Mum is coming!

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Bathroom break anyone?

Next we made our way to the Moorish castle which was one of the first buildings erected on the island.
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It took us awhile to meander our way back down, and our legs were feeling it for a few days afterwards! Before we headed out we stopped in the garden at the bottom of the rock.

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What a great start to an amazing vacation!

Posted by BlakeSims 12:37 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Kiambethu Tea Farm

A day outside of Nairobi with some co-workers and delicious tea!

Sunday, Feb. 26th:

Last Sunday I spent the day at the Kiambethu Tea Farm, a beautiful home, garden, forest and farmland. It was the perfect day and everyone had a great time strolling through the garden, learning about tea, exploring the indigenous forest and eating some delicious food!

The garden was absolutely stunning. Tons of flowers bursting with color, with a backdrop of the Ngong Hills. Nothing compares to fresh air and sunshine!
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After hanging out in the garden, we moved inside the farm house for some delicious tea samples and a lesson in the fine art of growing and processing tea. Who knew that tea was the largest export in Kenya?! The farm began around 1910 by Fiona (our hostess') grandfather and has been in the family, with only a few governmental incidents, since then. The house is filled with family portraits, as well as newspaper clippings about the family and other famous environmentalists.

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All of the tea gets shipped to Mombassa where major vendors sample and purchase it. We learned all about the different grains of tea and the impact the size of the tea has on flavor. Very interesting!
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Off for a walk through the farmland and indigenous forest with our two wonderful guides!
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What a lovely day!
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Posted by BlakeSims 11:20 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

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