Málaga y Granada 2017.

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How do you follow Paris? Andalucía, in the south of Spain, of course. Después de París, ¿qué hay que hacer? Desde luego, Andalucía, el sur de España. 

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I have been to both Málaga and Granada many times before, and although I wanted to take my mom on a road trip from Cádiz to Almería, time wasn’t going to permit us. Granada is one of my favourite cities in Spain, and I hadn’t been since 2013. I thought my mom would like the mountains and coast aspect of Málaga as her favourite state is Hawaii and Málaga reminds me of Hawaii. Había estado en ambos Málaga y Granada en varias ocasiones anteriores, y aunque quería llevarle a mi madre en un viaje de coche desde Cádiz a Almería, el tiempo no nos permitió. Granada es una de mis ciudades preferidas de España, y la última vez que fui era en 2013. Pensaba que a mi madre le gustaría los montes y la costa de Málaga, como su estado favorito es Hawaii y Málaga me acuerda de Hawaii. 

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We flew to Málaga from París Orly without any problems, and my huge backpack (that will not be part of Camino 2018 #lessonslearned) arrived too. We rented a car, and driving in Málaga was a bit of a nightmare. I am not a fan of driving in Spanish cities. Salimos de París Orly en un avión destinado a Málaga sin problemas, y la mochila grande (que ni pienso llevar en el Camino 2018 #lessonslearned) llegó también. Alquilamos un coche. Conducir en Málaga era una pesadilla. No me gusta conducir en las ciudades españolas. 

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We stayed in some tourist apartments. They needed a lot of small repairs. My mom stayed to rest (theme of the holiday) and I went for a sunset walk around the Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro. It was a bit cloudy, and there were a lot of tourists doing the same. Nos alojamos en unos apartamentos turísticos que necesitaban muchas reparaciones pequeñas. Mi madre se quedó allí para descansar (como hizo durante todo el viaje) y fui por un paseo por la Alcazaba y el Castillo de Gibralfaro. Estaba nublado, y había bastante turistas haciendo lo mismo. 

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The Christmas lights were turned on in Málaga as it was late November. For dinner, I found my fave restaurant from my 2016 tripYa habían encendido las luces navideñas de Málaga como ya era finales de noviembre. Para cenar, encontré mi resturante favorito de mi viaje de 2016

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I wasn’t sure of the plan on Monday. Once again, I had planned on doing the Caminito del Rey, a famous hike through the mountains of Málaga, but alas, they’re not open on Mondays. I ended up staying in town exploring on my own. No tenía plan para el lunes. Quería hacer el Caminito del Rey, una ruta conocida por los montes de Málaga, pero no está abierto los lunes. Al final me quedé en Málaga para explorar más de la ciudad. 

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Around sunset, I found a short hike that I was originally going to count toward the 40 hikes, but it was only about 2 km total. It took me around the castle with beautiful views. Durante la hora de atardecer, encontré una ruta cortita que iba a contar con las 40 rutas, pero solo era una ruta de 2 kilómetros. Iba alrededor del castillo con vistas preciosas. 

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I had the opportunity to see the Christmas lights show. As I am more or less Valenciano, I did feel it was derivative of the Fallas Streets of Lights, but it was still fun to watch. Tenía la oportunidad para ver el espectáculo de luces navideñas de Málaga. Como ya soy más o menos valenciano verdadero, pensaba que era una copia de las Calles de Luces (Careers de Llum) de Fallas, pero era divertido. 

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On Tuesday, we headed to Granada with a stop in a Málaga pueblo, Frigiliana, which I will write about more later. The trip in total takes about two hours without stops. Martes, fuimos a Granada con una parada en un pueblo malagueño, Frigiliana. Voy a escribir de ello después. El viaje tarda unos dos horas sin paradas. 

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Granada, a city of 237,540 residents, is one of my favourite cities in Spain. It was the last city to be reconquered from the Moors in 1492 and the influence can still be seen today. The views of the Alhambra (and the Arab palace itself) are the highlight of an incredible city. Granada, una ciudad de 237.540 habitantes, es una de mis ciudades favoritas de España. Era la última ciudad para ser reconquistada de los mores en 1492, y todavía se nota la influencia hoy en día. Las vistas de la Alhambra (y el palacio) son uno de las mejores cosas de una ciudad increíble. 

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We stayed near the city centre. My mom had to rest, of course, so I went off to the Albaicin, one of my favourite barrios in all of Spain. It was an overcast day, so the sunset from San Nicolas wasn’t as spectacular as normal, but I wasn’t complaining. It still had the same vibrant atmosphere. Nos alojamos cerca del centro de la ciudad. Mi madre, como siempre, tenía que descansar, y fui al barrio del Albaicin, uno de mis barrios preferidos de todo España. Era un día nublado, y la puesta del sol desde San Nicolas no era tan espectacular como normal…pero no me quejé. Todavía tenía el mismo ambiente vibrante de siempre. 

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Do I wish my mom had seen more of the cities along the way? Definitely. I had been wanting to show her my home for nine years. It was frustrating and disappointing that her health wasn’t 100% to explore the cities like I had. Am I glad for the opportunity? Definitely. Ojalá que la salud de mi madre le permitiera explorar más de las ciudades que visitamos. Quería enseñarle mi hogar durante los últimos nueve años. Me puse frustrado y me decepcionó que no pudo explorar las ciudades como me gusta. ¿Me alegro haber tenido la oportunidad? Desde luego. 

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We still had the drive back to Valencia left. Todavía nos quedaba la vuelta a València. 

A continuación…

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Spain. The Set Meravelles of the Greatest Peninsula in the World.

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Today is the one-year anniversary of Set Meravelles. Hoy marca el primer aniversario de Set Meravelles.

Thank you to my readers (averaging 300 hits a month! Yay!) and the people who support me and my crazy Quixote dream of staying in Spain in time of CRISIS. Gracias a todos mis lectores y las personas que me apoyan y mi sueño de locura de Quijote de quedarme en España en tiempos de crisis.

Originally, I was going to do a revisit to the Set Meravelles of Vizcaya, as it is unfair to have grouped Bilbao and Vizcaya in the same entry as there are so many Meravelles in the province. (That goes for every province though!) Estaba pensado en hacer otra vez las Set Meravelle de Vizcaya, como es injusto hacer en la misma la entrada con Bilbao y toda la provicina como hay tantas Meravelle en la provincia.

Then I thought, as I am running out of provinces to write about, and I was planning on writing up the Set Meravelles of Spain to conclude the series, perhaps I should go ahead and just name the Set Meravelles of Spain to celebrate the occasion. (Mallorca, León, Cádiz and Álava are coming, and then when I finally get to visit Lugo, Ourense, Zamora, Huesca, Albacete and Sta. Cruz de Tenerife, they will be done after I have at least spent more than 20 minutes at the bus station (Albacete, looking at you!) Después, me pensé, como ya me queda poco provincias, y estaba planficiando escribir un blog sobre las Set Meravelle de España para acabar con la serie, ya debería nombrar las Set Meravelle de España para celebrar el aniverario. (Mallorca, León, Cádiz y Álava ya vienen en entradas futuras, y cuando por fin visite Lugo, Ourense, Zamora, Huesca, Albacete y Sta. Cruz de Tenerife. Voy a esperar hasta que visitarlas (y no cuento Albacete hasta que haya estado más de 20 minutos en la estación de autobuses)

This is going to be hard. Impossible. In a country as amazing as Spain, you can not name just seven wonders. Impossible. So before I hear “You left out Lepe!”, keep that in mind. I tried to choose from a wide variety of interests for this list. I’m sorry for leaving out whichever wonder, but I can’t write about all  193829382938293918192383982495492 wonders of Spain.

Es imposible elegir solo siete maravillas. Por eso, no te quejas que se me olvidado Lepe o tu maravilla preferida. Lo siento mucho, pero no puedo escribir de todas las 193829382938293918192383982495492 maravillas que hay en este país tan espectacular. He intentando incluir cosas de todas las intereses para esta lista.

There are 17 autonomous communities in Spain, and each of them has a ton of history and amazing places to visit. I tried to spread the love, but the north seems to have more due to my love of the natural beauty found here. I also love Andalucía. Hay 17 comunidades autónomas en España, y cada uno tiene mucho historia y sitios preciosos para visitar. He intentando incluir un poco de todo, pero hay más en el norte porque me encanta la belleza natural del norte. Pero también me encanta Andalucía, tranquilos. 

What are your choices for the Meravelles of Spain? I’ll probably agree with whatever you write as long as it’s not Madrid city! ¿Cuáles sitios elegiría tu para las Meravelles de España? Probablemente voy a estar acuerdo, menos los que dicen Madrid capital xD. 

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Camino de Santiago

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No matter which Camino you take, how you do it, where you leave from, how much of it you do, the Camino de Santiago is a unique experience. Most people who have done it say it was one of the best experiences of their lives. I’ve only done about 120 kilometres so far, but I cannot wait to arrive in Santiago. No matter wherever you are in Spain, you’re not far from some Camino to Santiago.

Granada y La Alhambra

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Granada remains one of my favourite cities in the world. Although I’ve only been to the Alhambra once, I’ve been to the city four times, and I am looking forward to a fifth time in the future. For me, the best of the city lies directly opposite the Alhambra: Watching the sunset from Mirador de San Nicolas.

Valencia y las Fallas (y paella)

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Ay, mi Valencia (i la seua caloret). I wanted to include a festival on here, and after living through the Fallas in March 2011, no other Spanish (or any place) festival compares with the awesomness of the Fallas. And the paella is amazing for the foodies.

San Sebastián- Donostia

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Ay, Donosti. I agree with the guide I read during my first visit to this city. There may not be much to see, but it’s a place you have to see. I probably have offended every single person I know in Bilbao by listing it and not Donosti, but I will also remind them of Miguel de Unamuno’s quote about Donostia being beautiful but insignificant. Although it’s difficult to find good weather, their beaches are among the best in the peninsula for me. I love sitting along the rock along the river watching the wave crash into the shore.

Toledo,

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Segovia

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y Ávila:

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Tres capitales castellanas

The best thing about Madrid is its connection to three amazing Castillian province capital cities. Toledo is beautiful and medieval, Segovia has its Roman aqueduct and Alcázar that inspired Disney’s Cinderalla Castle, and Ávila is also a charm that’s a bit more off the beaten path.

Cangas de Onis y Covadonga

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When I saw this bridge with its cross where the Reconquista of Spain supposedly began, I felt moved. I can’t explain it. The nearby Basilica of Covadonga and the church in a cave are also jewels  of Asturias, and I can’t wait to see the lakes of Covadonga. But it is the bridge and the Asturian cross that somehow spoke to me most.

El Quijote

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 What would Spain be without Quijote? Although a fictional character, Don (Sir) Quijote says so much about Spain. I think my dream of staying in Spain long-term is becoming a bit quixotic itself. Many Spaniards boast of never actually having read this brilliant novel, but they are most definitely missing out.

Granada. The Southern Enchantment.

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Granada is my favourite Spanish city that I can actually call Spanish and not offend everyone, although fourth favourite city in the part of the Iberian peninsula lying between Portugal and France/Andorra. My two favourite cities are Basque (San Sebastián-Donostia and Capital of the World Bilbao and Catalán Barcelona.) Granada is one of the most enchanting cities I have ever visiting, and I try to route any trip through Andalucía so I have at least one night in this enchanting city. I’ve been here a total of four times now, and each time I find something new to fall in love with.

My first time was in February 2009. I used a four-day weekend to explore the town and forget about being single on Valentine’s Day (really, Spain, this is one holiday you can let the guiris keep, you’re better off without San Valentín.) I immediately fell in love with the city of 237,000 people. My favourite part was by far the labyrinth of the Albayzín, a cluster of small streets that keep their strong Arab influence. (Granada was the last Muslim holdout to fall to the Reconquista of the Catholic Kings in 1492, the most epic year of Spanish history. For that reason, Granada still has a very Arab feel to it.)  My hostel was at the heart of this part of town, and I explored it as much as I could, always getting lost. However, in Granada, getting lost is half the fun.

I was lucky as I knew someone studying at the Universidad de Granada who could show me around. This is how I discovered the best part of Granada: watching the sun set over the Alhambra palace from Mirador de San Nicolas. This lookout is always full of people, and 95% of the time they are singing flamenco.

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My friend also showed me the university and went with me to tour the Alhambra. I took off on Sunday to the Sierra Nevada, not because I wanted to go skiing but because I wanted to play in snow. Finally, finally, finally, I had snow. There was a traffic jam going up the hill to the mountains, and Spain being Spain, there managed to be a Osborne toro on the highway. Five years later I still remember the fun I had seeing snow and feeling at home.

I went back to Granada a few months later on my way back from Málaga and spent the night just to have an excuse to see the streets once again. My third time was 2.5 years later (I’m getting old) in December 2011 on the way back from Almería. The city still charmed the pants off of me. My fourth time was on the way back from Ronda in June 2013, as I knew by moving to Bilbao it would be harder for me to go to al-Andalus. Each and every time, the city enchants me (enchanting is the best word and most used English word, encantador being the word in Spanish) and leaves me waiting for the next trip.

While the vast majority of the province awaits my exploration, the city is amazing enough to have no shortage of meravelles. I know the city has been written about a million of times, but whatever. I love it, and I want to go back again soon, whenever I have money to go to al-Andalus. Two meravelles await me my next trip.

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Alhambra

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The Alhambra is Granada’s main tourist attraction, and while we all know I like to avoid touristy stuff, this one is worth the admission price and the long waits to see. The Alhambra began as a Moorish fortress in 889 and was rediscovered and rebuilt in the mid-11th century and later converted into a royal palace in the 13th Century. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it is a must-see attraction for history buffs.

Mirador de San  Nicolas

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Hands down, one of the best places in Spain to watch the sun set. It’s located in the Albycín barrio directly across from the Alhambra and offers stunning views of the Arab palace. There is almost always someone playing flamenco, and it is always crowded with locals and tourists alike. The sun setting over the Alhambra is a site for romantics everywhere.

Albycín 

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One of the most popular and well-known barrios in all of Spain, the Albycín is a maze of small streets. One of the streets you can take to get here is the Calle Calderería Nueva, which has many Arab shops and restaurants. Most of the buildings are white, and you never know when you’ll come across a plaza or a fountain. One of the easiest places to get lost even with a map.

Sacramonte

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The Sacramonte is a barrio de gitanos (gypsy barrio) set apart from the rest of Granada. The neighbourhood is beyond the Albycín, found by following the Río Darro. Many of the houses are built into caves on the hill. It wasn’t until my third trip to Granada when I finally discovered this place. A gypsy invited me into see the house, which she had open to the public, and then tried to sell me beer (I hate the taste of beer. Wine is better.) for about 3€. This is Andalucía…beer is a Euro, I think!

Sierra Nevada

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The Sierra Nevada mountains are stunningly beautiful. The ski station is about 45 minutes from the city, but as I don’t ski, I went just for the opportunity to play in some snow. It was well worth it for the views alone.

Salobreña

Salobreña is a town of 12,000 people located on the coast of Granada, complete with a castle and a 6000 year history. It’s off the beaten track between the beaches of Málaga and Almería (Granada has beaches too!).

La Alpujarra 

La Alpujarra is a mountain range in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada. It is the subject of Gerald Brenan’s South from Granada (and the film based on it). The isolation of the area has kept it from progressing as quickly as the rest of Spain, and many people have left the villages to find work elsewhere as the economic crisis has hit the area hard. Still, one day I would love to explore this beautiful region and find out more about it for myself. For more on this region, check out Con Jamón Spain’s blog…someone who actually lives there and is quite informed on the region.