A Travellerspoint blog

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Getting Started - Almost!

A million things to do....

It's a little over a week before we leave and we are busy getting ready, but still very excited. This blog is meant for family and friends who want to share our journey to Europe in early spring 2015. We hope to spend a month in Southern Spain - visiting the iconic cities of Granada, Malaga and Seville as well as many villages and coastal towns inbetween. As the weather warms, we will begin heading north, first to Lisbon, Portugal, and then to the historic town of Evora, before heading back to one of our favorite Spanish cities - San Sebastian.
We don't have any specific "locked-in" plans, but after San Sebastián, we hope to travel to Bordeaux, rent a car and wander through as many of the French wine regions as we can in the next six weeks. In addition to Bordeaux, we plan to see the regions of Gigondas, Languedoc, Cotes du Rhone, Chateauneuf de Pape, and Burgundy (whew!). We are going to take our time and find the sweet spot.
Other than a pre-booked week in Paris, we plan on being somewhat whimsical on where we go and where we stay. Along the way, we will try to share pictures, thoughts on people, food, wine, art, music and experiences. For us, the main thing is no more woulda, shoulda, coulda's.

Map of Spain

Map of Spain

Toledo, Spain

Toledo, Spain

The Alhambra

The Alhambra

Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

Posted by Catnchas 16:29 Archived in Spain Comments (1)


Monday, 2/23 9AMWe are off - finally! The last few days waiting to go were tortuous. Packed and re-packed, ready to go but can't leave. The anticipation was wonderful but the waiting was so boring!
After a ride to Portland from Geoff and Kendra and a final night at "our condo" at the Monaco (where I finished my piano gig) and a too brief evening out with Geoff, Kendra and her parents - we are finally off for the great adventure. Portland - Seattle direct to Amsterdam.
After a brief layover in Amsterdam, and a 2 hr flight to Madrid, our next post should be from Toledo, Spain - where we spend 3 nights getting acclimated to Europe, re-learning our Spanish accents, and searching out the best tapas bars, Rioja, and a long rest.
My mind can't help but wonder what lies ahead?....10 weeks is much longer than we have ever been away. Will we find our groove and sync into the culture like we hope?....Or, will 10 weeks away test our resolve and we succumb to homesickness? If the past is any indication, we won't want the trip to end and 10 weeks will go by too fast.
Hasta luego, mi amigos

Posted by Catnchas 09:36 Comments (0)

So worth the trouble...,






632C6B3609725350C319DCABCE7BA161.jpg6435BF1D00F96401A9BDDF3138B6DBA1.jpg6432D206A1C862691D0C61664DE76296.jpg64345AB3D63687E3600EAF27BC4EDAE4.jpg64373EA0037202F219B5ADBD928E1441.jpgOur Arrival
The journey was long, but uneventful. Business class makes all the difference. One actually goes from dreading the flights to looking forward to them. Basically, it's a comfy lie-flat bed with your own personal 24" TV with an unlimited stock of movies and music as well as a open bar with surprisingly good meals. Who wouldn't want to do that for 9 hours with no other responsibilities? Half of the flight is spent playing with all the buttons on the fancy entertainment center and wonders beds...up, down, back and forth....oh yes and you get this little Tumi bag of gifts and everybody reads the Wall St. Journal - which I suppose is why they are all in Business Class.
The two-hour flight from AMS to Madrid was back to normal air travel - just long enough to get a sore butt.
Upon arrival in Madrid, we took a 35 min shuttle bus to the Antocha train station, changed out our phone SIM cards and bought two tickets to Toledo - a 45 min train ride. Pretty long day, but we did OK. The late afternoon train ride through the countryside south of Madrid started to bring back memories of our trip to Spain 3 years ago and I started to get excited dreaming about the food, wine and beauty of the culture.
Now we are at the awesome town of Toledo. Check out the pics. Basically the cutest town ever... History, bars, restaurants, some old swords and armor, more more history, restaurants, bars, you get the picture. Our apartment is right next to the Cathedral, in the center of the town and super nice. Maybe we will just stay here for the entire time....

Posted by Catnchas 12:08 Comments (4)

More Toledo images


Posted by Catnchas 00:11 Comments (0)

Cathedral Toledo

Inspiring! Started in 1200, finished in 1600

One of the most amazing and beautiful places I have ever visited!C796B260E7C8F5D87B0CCE04FA5B5F4F.jpgC7989359A1B87C0321EE9367BAFC0138.jpgC79ABE61CAE37F3702EBC26EEFAA1D9B.jpgC79D0D3BACCBA9B859A8B6F2F01625AC.jpgC79EE5B7BC0C8C19F391B2FCAE55E144.jpgC7A0E0C6D77652B38FFCE5DA472D1008.jpgC7A2ABA3A7DE08DEE7C6E950CDCD91A4.jpgC7A42AE8EB770F4D6129F05D9E02FE01.jpgC7A5CB18DF8245406543ED2C54ADEEA3.jpgC7A769E1E5A404DD2177A6B1BB563EE8.jpgC7A8FBCFF8EB55AB40040EAC3C4FE079.jpgC7AB1E20C54CB56C1CA6AD714FB2AF6A.jpgC7AD20C4EE33BC7BE39EF0577204D03C.jpg

Posted by Catnchas 12:15 Archived in Spain Tagged toledo cathedral Comments (0)

On to Andalucia!



On to Andalucia!
We rented a car in Toledo and drove the 3.5 hours to Granada. The drive was easy with Google maps on my phone leading the way. Along the route we drove past VAST olive orchards - literally as far as you could see for mile after mile. We stopped for lunch in the mountains, and with some difficulty found our overnight hotel in the center of Granada. So far, it seems like all the Spaniards do is eat, drink and party. Within a quarter mile radius of the hotel, there is probably 50 bars and restaurants. Our meals so far have been interesting - mainly because what we think we are ordering and what actually arrives at the table are quite different. We will get the hang of it eventually. I kinda went nuts over the Jamon Iberico for the first few days. The prices for food and wine are really great. The Jamon Serrano or Iberico on a 10" french roll is less than 2eu and a lb of local aged Manchego cheese is around 3-4eu. The wine is incredibly cheap and the quality is surprisingly good. I have been sticking with the local regional wines which seem to be a blend of 3-4 grapes with Grenache as the predominant flavor. I literally have spent between 5-12eu per bottle and the quality seems equal to wines costing 4 times that much at home. Cathy enjoys the Verdejo white wine from the Rueda region which run 3-4eu a bottle. Unfortunately, we will be spoiled by the time we reach France - at least in terms of price.
Today, we moved to an apartment in the Albayzin for the next five days. Due to the narrow, hilly streets, the taxi could only take us to within a 5-10 min walk of the apartment - which made us hate our suitcases. However the view from the terrace overlooking the Alhambra makes the difficult walk very worthwhile. Look for an update later this evening that includes a partial bottle(s) of Andalucian wine.
25980E12FEB5E3FD9B8E9792E53C26FB.jpg259A52680B306BBF061F049E5B8DA19E.jpg90_259C8E9BEE5113022031619F16A55FBA.jpgup for the trouble.

Posted by Catnchas 06:24 Comments (1)

Granada Cathedral

No words....

sunny 68 °F


Posted by Catnchas 14:58 Archived in Spain Comments (1)


Our apartment in Granada - patio facing The Alhambra


Posted by Catnchas 15:08 Comments (0)

Romantic Granada and The Alhambra

Romantic Granada!
This is our third night in Granada and the end of our first full week in Spain. Our good fortune continues.
The beauty of this city is unmatched. We are staying in the Albayzin - which is the old city just under the amazing Alhambra. We have to walk the last 1/4 mile up the winding streets as they are too narrow for cars. It is a maze and quite easy to get lost. In order to visit The Alhambra, (which literally sits 300 yards directly across the hill from our apartment), we walked down the hill through the Moorish shops and vendors to Plaza Nueve and then up a very steep, but beautiful path to the gates at the entrance to The Alhambra. Of course, we were muy stupido and went on the Sunday of a holiday weekend when every Granadian citizen decided to use their free pass, but after an exhaustingly long line to buy tickets, we entered inside the compound walls and spent two hours in wonderment. After the long hike back down, I needed a drink, so we made it back to a small tapas bar in the Albayzin and watched the sunset. We would like to think that with all of the walking that we are loosing weight, but our belts tell us differently.
Tomorrow is our last day in Granada before we head to the sunny beaches of the Costa del Sol.96F266E00D23D10F30298F99DFAC1C7F.jpg96F08D78CE7AD4ABF9BF46811F740C15.jpg96ED4046D90D792D4DF3CBF6012F6C90.jpg96BFBFA2E67F0E8DF4EED741A8D21631.jpg96BCC72DFBE7E853E0E731A81C308DDF.jpg96BAB72ACF8B4FA5490F200F1149E8BF.jpg96B7999BDB7B037EB866B934EDACA2C1.jpg96B53B3EFFFA1672FC1E793712169789.jpg96B2AAE4A97EE7602B6876299CEB71D6.jpg96B002BBBBC73FF9F037CE68C6AC0E1E.jpg96AD8697E6F93A979F42CC898B038F10.jpg96AA8A06B16AA94B79D2F825B3F56FFD.jpg96A712EF9CFC400A0DA7C61630907F52.jpg96A40C6BBDFDB35B12D6EB1CC237FD54.jpg180_967363ADB9E7F0270F4848CBC62E7D42.jpg90_9670CE7EE9EAE1614462F4FE90C86A42.jpg90_966E883EF969F3C2B43241C53B1EC4B9.jpg

Posted by Catnchas 11:18 Comments (2)


Benalmadena and Ronda

Day 10
We left Granada by coach (bus). Very comfortable seats, wi-fi, large picture windows and only $12eu each to Malaga. We picked-up our rental car right next to the bus station and drove to our hotel/condo in Benalmadena - which is just 10km south of Malaga. After experiencing the historic Albayzin with the narrow, winding cobblestone streets, it was quite a surprise to find the large Florida style resorts lining the Costa del Sol. Especially bizarre as everyone here is English. It was weird and a little disappointing at least from an adventurist point of view. However, it did have its plusses - such as elevators, showers big enough to turn around in, TV we could understand, and bacon! We even went to an English pub and had a pint of Guinness.
On our second day here we took a long day trip to Ronda. It was a two hour drive into the mountains - often not seeing another car for 10-15 minutes, making us wonder what the heck we were doing. Once we arrived in Ronda we had lunch and spent the afternoon wandering through the enchanting streets and shops as well as admiring how they built this village along the cliffs of the deep gorge. I'm guessing the outside windows don't get washed very often.
It won't be hard to discern which are the Ronda pics and which are from our from the Costa de Florida (Sol).
We have one more night here and then we are off to Gibraltar and Cadiz and hopefully the more Spanish side of the coast.4BC1ABEFBDE3FA1B016FEF65213686FA.jpg4BBFD4CA06C19DE148188CC5AA6005AE.jpg4BBD9F1AC5BA404FAC4464BB3FC08957.jpg4BBB9A6CBD9EB6D2F2A50D2334BFEA4B.jpg4BB8C80EEC4C82BD9FD9F2294C5AD145.jpg4BB648F7B211EFA8170FB906BB961F49.jpg4BB42C3EF89C2237AAD9AC4BDF31632E.jpg4BB25804B3AE006225D909CAFEC0D60A.jpg4BAFAE99C5092F41E6A6B44A926AB900.jpg4BAB796DFC59E16010BAB7530EB617ED.jpg4BA81AFBD20C431147FA2147D1415B92.jpg4BA4EA10AE0458FB5287973B0E8B6F13.jpg96F266E00D23D10F30298F99DFAC1C7F.jpg

Posted by Catnchas 23:36 Comments (2)

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