An Andalusian wedding and another pueblo blanco

Another grey morning and this on our last day. What were we to do? We began with a long and late breakfast hoping that it would clear up. No such luck therefore sightseeing and no beach. We ended up going to Alhaurín el Grande.

When we drove through the village we noticed a couple of people in fancy typical Spanish costumes. Figuring it had to be something special (hadn’t we already kind of gate crashed a funeral?), nosy me wanted to park right away and follow the fancy dressers. Annemarie was game, always easier when the driver is up for people watching as well. And we got lucky, saw an amazing wedding. Here comes the bride.20130915-001911.jpg20130915-001935.jpg20130915-002059.jpg

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And some of the guests.20130915-002210.jpg20130915-002231.jpg20130915-002401.jpg20130915-002455.jpg

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What was very interesting to see was that a lot of the guests arrived after the bride, stayed outside during the ceremony and smoked but sang fervently once the music started. Is that something you usually do in Spain?

We thought this couldn’t be topped anymore but decided to go ahead and drive to Mijas anyway. Mijas is one of the better known pueblos blancos (white villages) and was recommended by my guide book. Apparently lots of other tourists had the same information because the parking was packed (ok, ok, might have been the weather too).

Mijas meanwhile is a a quaint little village with a few quirks. First it has a bullring that has the shape of a bath tube and second it is well known for its donkey rides. According to the guide the donkeys were used by locals as a regular mode of transportation. When tourists started to ask for either a picture or a ride with the donkeys the tips for these were soon higher than their normal wages so the donkey business was opened. Mijas now has around 60 donkey taxis.

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The donkeys came in all kinds and sizes.

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We passed on the donkey ride and preferred to walk for a bit (also smelled better). We saw the shrine for the ‘Virgen de la peña’,

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20130915-095352.jpgthe bullring,

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20130915-214739.jpgsome bulls,

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20130915-215136.jpgWe even took the bull by its horns.

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After the bullring we explored the village a bit more.

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At the end of our village tour we climbed on a donkey and said goodbye to Mijas.

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As you might have noticed in the last couple of pictures the sun came out and we spent our last afternoon on the beach. The weather was perfect again to go for one more swim in the sea. And this was it with the summer for 2013.

A last dinner at the hotel with a bottle of Rioja rosado and a glass of Cava as aperitif. And also goodbye to one of the house cats. Yours, Pollybert

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Beach reads and Pablo

We started the day with the beach again. Two days in a row. That was new. I used my time well and started with another book ‘Don’t want to miss a thing’ by Jill Mansell which I got in the hotel guest library. The library is quite a big book case with four double rows of books and unfortunately on our way from or to the room. To make things worse there are always new books. Am not sure how this will end…

Annemarie meanwhile went for her walk on the beach. Once she was back we decided the beach was not so great today. There was a cool breeze and it was slightly overcast.

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We agreed on a trip to Malaga with a visit to the Picasso Museum. Once we arrived in Malaga we noticed a blue carpet had been rolled out in the pedestrian zone just waiting for us to strut along.

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But first things first and we started with ice cream before doing anything else. The place where we bought it also offered traditional Spanish cakes including these ones.

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Having so restored ourselves to our usual springy and zippy selves we continued to get to know the city. We started with the Cathedral of Malaga also called La Manquita (the one armed) because the second tower is unfinished. As usual lack of money is to blame for this feature.

20130914-185317.jpgInside it is 41 meters high. The sheer size of it was overwhelming.

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From there it was just a short walk to the Picasso museum. Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881 and although his family left already in 1891, never came back and he tried all his life to loose his Andalusian accent, the city is fiercely proud of its famous son.

20130914-191005.jpgNo pictures were allowed inside thus you have to be content with this one.

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On the way to the catwalk street we stopped for some more pictures.

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20130914-230440.jpgOnce there we figured we hadn’t done our duty in Malaga so far and went shopping. As elaborated the other day we all have to do our part. Problem is I have to carry it home. Yours, Pollybert

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Wa la ghalib illa Allah – There is no winner but Allah

This was the motto of the Nasrid dynasty which is found all over the walls of the Alhambra. I was finally there. 20130913-100630.jpg

We met our guide, a woman named Margarita, and started our tour again in German and English. But first we were hooked up to electronic devices and could leave the group for up to 15 meters. Any further and the static buzz would make your ear implode.

I can’t tell you anything new about the Alhambra and will leave this to books (eg ‘Tales of the Alhambra’ by Washington Irving) and online information. I found it breathtaking, beautiful and astonishing in its contrasts. The Alhambra is the whole complex within the red walls, each building within called by a different name. The Palace of Charles V, Alcazaba (fortress), Palace of the Nasrids and so on. I will leave you with the pictures to speak for themselves.

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The Palace of Charles V.20130913-103405.jpg20130913-103434.jpg

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The Court of the Lions and harem.20130913-105426.jpg20130913-105601.jpg20130913-105715.jpg20130913-105743.jpg20130913-105825.jpg20130913-110012.jpg20130913-110037.jpg

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View on Albaicín (the former medina of Granada) from the palace

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And then we were on the final leg of the tour the Generalife garden.

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The Alhambra in the background.

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And that was the end of the tour. It took us a bit more than 2 hours to walk through all the palaces and gardens. In the end it was not enough time. I got a good overview but there is more to see. Another reason why I have to come back to Granada.
Yours, Pollybert

Granada

On Wednesday I was finally taking the trip to Granada. From the moment I had booked the flight to Malaga I was on the lookout of a guided tour to Granada. Since Annemarie had already been there this spring, I knew I had to go in my own. The train was not possible, bus also not a viable option (would have gad to stay over night) and driving is not something I would willingly choose if there is any other possibility, I was going for a guided tour.

Already in Vienna I had sent out a couple of emails to travel agencies in Marbella, giving them all my details and asking about a tour. No answer from any of them (this is what I call good customer service). So two days before leaving for Mabella I made a resolution: it will either happen or not, but I will stop stressing about it.

The first evening after dinner we came back to our room to find a letter from the ‘Airtours Service Spanien’ (TUI group), offering their services. I seized my chance, wrote them an email and got an answer within an hour. They have a tour on the 11th of September, I can book it with them but have to call for it in Germany.

We wrote back and forth, in the end I had to call to give my credit card details over the phone. I asked if I could pay cash on the trip, no answer to this. I also asked for a detailed itinerary and a confirmation, all was promised. Two days later still no email, finally I decided to look into my spam mail, and there it was waiting for me: the confirmation. The trip was happening, I was going to see Granada with the famous Alhambra.

When I read the itinerary there was no description of the tour, only some history about Granada and the time and pick-up place. The pick-up place was next to the highway. Nothing better than a breath of fresh lead air in the morning to wake up.20130912-135344.jpg

But I am unfair here, it was only 7 minutes walk from my hotel and the bus from Transandalucia was on time. 8.05 was my time, 8.08 the bus was there. After picking up a couple of more people on the way to Granada our guide finally started with his program, telling us all he knew about everything. And he did that in English and German. There was just no escape.

Again slightly unfair from my side, he was telling some small interesting details. One of them being that the main olive oil production of Spain was from around here.
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At shortly past 11am we arrived in Granada and walked around for a bit. 20130912-213353.jpg20130912-213423.jpg20130912-213454.jpg

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Finally we got the first glimpse of the Cathedral of Granada.

20130913-084656.jpgRight next to it is the Royal Chapel where the ones who didn’t want to go for lunch were left on their own devices.

20130913-085315.jpgThe guy with the pink shirt is my guide Daniel btw.

Left on my own I decided to see the Royal Chapel with the mausoleum of Queen Isabel I and King Ferdinand II.

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We had 90 minutes in our own and I went through my list of must-see things in my mind. In the end I decided to go for churros, always on my must-eat list when in Spain.

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There was just not enough time to really go sightseeing, therefore best not to go at all and come back. Granada definitely looks like a place I want to see again.

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We met again at 1:15 and then we were finally on the way to the Alhambra.
Yours, Pollybert

The beach again

Lovely lazy day. I had a very long and relaxing breakfast again. Worked on my blog the whole morning and then later on went to the beach to join Annemarie. This is the view I have once I leave the hotel for the beach.

20130910-232439.jpgCould be worse, no?

So far every time we went to the beach we used the roped of area from the hotel. But you know what I find super annoying? This is a 5* place and you still have to pay extra for the chairs on the beach (after using the 2 vouchers we got). Yes, you read correctly. The hotel has 3 pools, all of them equipped with sun beds and chairs and whatever you wish for. And then it has a beach club for which you have to pay an entrance fee in a staggering amount if you want to use it. At the beach club you find another pool right next to the beach, an indoor pool, a spa area, the roped of area outside, a restaurant and so on. It is all quite lovely. But I don’t get that it is not included for hotel guests.

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Anyway, we camped down at the hotel beach place again (you pay a lot less if you just stay on the beach) and relaxed. I didn’t even make it to a bar today, it was so good to not move at all from the chair and soak up the sun. In the end we had to get up and go back for dinner.

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But before, I had a little me-time on our balcony.

20130910-234622.jpgWhile drinking my beer I enjoyed once again the view we have from our room.

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At dinner we shared our usual bottle of rosé,

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20130910-235214.jpgwent back too often to the buffet and shared some deserts. This is the way a vacation should be, very lazy and relaxing.
Yours, Pollybert