Last year Pinterest introduced a map feature which has revolutionized my trip planning. Not only can I collect a bunch of pretty pictures of exciting places on one page, I can associate a location on a map with each of them. So before I had no idea what or where the gorgeous Alhambra is, so I kinda forgot about it after pinning. But once I saw it on a map I noticed that it's pretty close to Seville, where I had pinned a picture of the Giralda. And so it began.
Swedish schools have a week off in February for sportlov, but instead of persuing the intended skiing/skating/skijoring we chose to go someplace warmer. Steve found direct flights from Gothenburg to Málaga, on Spain's Costa del Sol in a region called Andalucia, so that gave us the framework for the trip. Speaking of Steve, bless his heart... He works so hard and his idea of vacation is to go somewhere to relax, preferably at a warm beach. My idea of vacation is to go see cool things since having the kids along isn't relaxing for me. Italy was not relaxing, so for Spain we agreed to stay at a beachfront place and build in some down time between crossing items off my bucket list. Also we returned on a Friday to have the weekend to recover from vacation.
The first day, Saturday, we walked along the promenade in Torremolinos. Many of the shops and restaurants were still closed for the off-season or gearing up for tourists, but there was still plenty of fun to be had and places to eat.
|There was a playground right in front of our hotel.|
|Monk parakeets nesting in the a palm tree.|
After lunch we took long naps, an important factor in a relaxing vacation with little kids. (I'm going to pretend like that's not an oxymoron.) In Spain the restaurants aren't "supposed to" open for dinner until around 8, but we had no problem finding food wherever and whenever we needed it. Steve and I had tapas for dinner (at 6pm): gazpacho, calamari, and chicken croquettes.
|There was morning and there was evening, the first day.|
|Orange trees everywhere|
Málaga Cathedral, inside and out.
|Climbing the steps of the Roman ampitheater (1st century)|
below the Alcazaba fortress (11th century)
|Candy break, an important part of traveling with kids.|
On Monday we took a bus up to Granada. I didn't know much about the terrain in Spain (except that the rain stays mainly on the plane). I knew that the Sierra Nevadas were around this part of the country, so I figured it would be rolling dry hills especially since it is winter. But once the bus climbed out of Malaga we started seeing craggy peaks, huge valleys dotted with miles of olive orchards, fruit trees blooming, and full sunshine like I hadn't seen in months. Since our trip to Italy in October maybe. (Gothenburg has had a mild winter, with temps hovering around freezing but oh, so gray and dreary).
I figured we'd only have time for the Alhambra Palace complex on a day trip so I hadn't learned much about Granada itself. There ate certain types of city architecture that really do it for me, like that in Gothenburg. I knew about the Arab/Moorish influence at Alhambra, but I was surprised during the incredible cab ride through Granada. Iron balconies, fancy corbels, carved wooden doors... Sigh.
|Plaza de Toros, bullfighting arena|
Of course my favorite part was all the intricate carvings lining the interior of the palace.
It's amazing to think about the tools and craftsmanship involved.
Olivia recognized that all that carving must have taken "hours" to create. However, when asked privately about their favorite part of the Alhambra, both kids said they liked the wild kitties wandering around. Ah, well. Something for everyone.
|Watching the fish|
|Caminito del Rey (the world's most dangerous path)|
In Seville we visited the Royal Alcazar...
...and the largest gothic cathedral in the world...
...Plaza de España...
|Steve took this one - gotta give props for a great shot|
...and finished up in Barrio Santa Cruz.
It was a little too ambitious to see Seville in a day, starting a few hours away. On our last day we were planning to go see Gibraltar but it was rainy, the cable car was down for maintenance, and Olivia was starting to get a cold. We decided to scrap that excursion and just beachcombed by the hotel and found a great Irish pub for dinner (Guiness & steak pie - mmm). I admit that it's disappointing to come all that way and not get to see everything we'd planned, but that means there is plenty left to see another time.
Friday was our departure day, so of course it was warm and sunny. We soaked up some Vitamin D before flying back to Gothenburg.
Spain was beautiful! Lots to see and do, and much warmer than Sweden in February.