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Spanish Splendour - San Sebastion to Salobrena and Off to Sea

SPAIN | Sunday, 20 November 2011 | Views [395] | Comments [1]

Spain immediately enchants us with gorgeous green valleys in the foothills of the Pyranees.

We stroll along the esplanades and ramblas amongst the locals of all ages, who stop frequently to visit with each other. The enjoyment of food, wine and family are obviously important in this country.

We sample the specialty tapas in San Sebastian, after curling our toes into the sand in the magnificent bay.

We have three weeks to discover the castles and diversity of this large European country, so we head south to Madrid.

Driving is easier here, with wide new roads and lack of aggressive (Italian) drivers.

As we roll into Segovia, we're impressed by its massive Roman aqueduct and narrow cobblestones lanes. And its Alcazar! Wow! What a wonderful complex that Isabella and Ferdinand ruled from. Lined by tapestres and small-size armour and some of the coolest stained glass!


We accidentally booked a room in Priego de Cordoba rather than Cordoba…but instead of this tiny error turning into "Ah Crap!", after an hour drive south of Cordoba to a lavish villa in the hills of Andalucia, it proved to be the right choice. The white towns (Pueblos Blanca) amidst olive groves are beautiful to wander. We were "citied out" anyways and so continued through the backroads from here to Ronda, where we marvelled at the precipitous town clinging to the cliff edges.


Completely hooked now on Southern Spain's countryside, we wind our way through the hills and occasional shiny white villages to the tip of Europe, Tarifa. Setup in a lovely beach bungalow we set our toes to wandering through the sand with the African coastline as a backdrop. The African coastline eventually calls us and we spend a day in Tangiers ushered through the narrow lanes and shops and a fabulous Moroccan lunch followed by a wee camel ride...tehee.


Back to Southern Spain and Baelo Claudia's Roman ruins (complete with vomitorium). We blast through the 100km of over-development along the coast heading east and end up in Nerja, the Balcony of Europe. What a great town with beautiful little beaches and sunshine. However, we lost an entire day here pinned to our bed after a rather exuberant "all you can drink" dinner followed by all the pints we could drink with new German friends in the local Irish Pub! Fabulous night followed by a horrible day of suffering. But...forged new friendships as only a night like that can do!


Lovely Salobrena is next, with its spectacular old town perched on a hilltop and the beaches and ocean cliffs to wander....a really laid back local scene, perfect for doing absolutely nothing.


Then, the Alhambra! Yes it's grand and the setting stupendous! This moorish palace fortress looms over Granada and the snow capped Sierra Nevada frame it beautifully. The Cathedral here is also quite stunning, complete with El Greco paintings. There's a different kind of buzz in this Spanish town, more like a hangout for neo-hippies, and its fun wandering it's old cobblestone streets in search of tapas and beer.


The drive east to the coast is what a Spaghetti Western may look like, and indeed here they were filmed. We end up in a coastal beachtown, Peniscola(castle on peninsula!), slumbering now for the winter but still warm enough to walk the wet ocean's edge for hours...bare toes in the sea.


After nearly two months of driving it's time to hand in the keys in Barcelona. We find a great locals neighbourhood with a wonderful pedestrian Ramblas where it seems the entire neighbourhood strolls before and after dinner. The Segrada Familia is simply gorgeous and Gaudi's park in the rain, beach walks and fabulous romantic dinners make this a memorable closing to our western Europe travels.


Its time now to put another dream into reality and cross the Atlantic by luxury liner. Two weeks of total relaxation and unspeakable eating feats punctuated with occasional late night dancing and ports of call to stretch our legs. Alicante, with its brilliant tiled squares reminiscent of Macau. Malaga, with its unforgettably beautiful Alcazar apparently used as a design for the Alhambra. Gibralter and its wonderful trails and too curious monkeys. The Canary Islands with green mountain chains and old town centre followed by 8 days of nothing but blue blue ocean and then finally Florida ...ahhhhhh. Our new Florida friends drive us down to Miami and we board another ship that afternoon for another week of reckless eating and tropical ports of call. Cozumel for shopping and cervezas in 30 degree heat, Belize City in the pouring rain (stayed on boat!), Roatan, Honduras for a dive with a turtle and many unusual corals and finally the Cayman Islands to snorkel off a stunning beach amongst Eagle Rays...



Great Article ! Will try a few of the towns you mentioned in Spain. Can you let me know how you rented a car for 2 months in Spain ? Is there an affordable way to do this ?
Thank you,
Ryan, the Homeless Writer

  Ryan Xavier, the Homeless Writer Apr 3, 2012 1:55 PM

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