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Andalucía (March 15-23) Trip Report

Hi All! I’m sorry if this is long but I wanted to share my experience because I feel I benefited ao much from those of everyone who posts on this website.

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Oops forgot to paste!
We didn’t quite start off on the right foot as our plane had a technical issue and we were grounded for two hours before we left Los Angeles. It was a 10 pm flight and we didn’t get into the air until sometime after midnight and the delay caused us to miss our connecting flight. We were put onto a later flight and finally arrived in Madrid at 10pm the next day. A taxi took us to our Airbnb and the host was waiting for us and quite nice. We were hungry and tired but we decided to find a quick bite to eat and ate something that was neither especially tasty nor memorable.
Day 1-we woke up quite early and took the 7:30 AVE train to Malaga. From their we caught a bus and then a taxi in order to walk the Caminito Del Rey. The reviews that I had read online said “nice walk” so we had on tennis shoes...big mistake. It’s most definitely a good hike that I would recommend wearing some type of hiking shoes or boots for. It was quite breathtaking and a good way to start our trip. The taxi driver offered to pick us up when we finished and drive us back to Malaga (and it was the same price as the taxi plus bus combo we took going) so we called him once we finished and he drove us back to Malaga. I’m not sure if it was because we are Muslim or what but we found the people of Malaga to be quite rude and not very helpful so it kind of upset my girls but we, nevertheless, wandered around Malaga waiting for our evening bus to Granada. Arrived in Granada at about 10pm and the taxi driver dropped us off at our “address” and left us. We were waiting for the Airbnb host but he didn’t show up so I called and he said he would be there in 5 minutes. We waited with no sign of him and finally I called and he said he was waiting in front of the apartment. The taxi driver had dumped us off at the wrong address! Our Airbnb host was kind enough to come and get us and walk us to the apartment. By the time we reached it, we had walked 9.6 miles for the day and were exhausted. The Airbnb host gave us lots of food recommendations but we were tired so we ate at Granada Mar which was right in front of our Airbnb. Food was pretty good and the place was very lively. (8.6 miles walked for the day)
Day 2-We made our way to Alhambra for our noon tickets. The architecture was beautiful, grounds were stunning and the views of the city from the Alhambra were just gorgeous. We hadn’t eaten breakfast so by the time we walked the grounds, we were very “hangry”. We decided to stop at the restaurant on the grounds and I tried salamonjera...not a fan. By not eating breakfast (4 young ladies take a while to get ready in the am), I feel we did ourselves a big disservice because we didn’t have the energy we needed to fully wander and appreciate the Generalife gardens. We then Wandering in the main plaza in Granada for a bit until 6pm which
Swas the time for our Granada Night Adventure walk..had some amazing gelato while waiting. The night walk was outstanding but I wouldn’t call it a walk because it was a lot of hiking so again I wished I had put on my hiking boots. The guide gave us a lot of history of the city, took us to amazing view points and to see the only mosque in Granada. It was a highlight of the trip. Once we were done, we wandered around the main plaza and albycin and had dinner at Spala (I believe). I had a nice steak but the girls were underwhelmed by the food again. More gelato (this time from a place that had been around for 90 years). 9.6 miles walked and 50plus flights climbed.
- [ ] Day 3-The plan was to hike Los cahorros and paraglide before finishing up our wandering but the pilot from the paragliding asked me if we could come at 11:30 instead of our agreed upon 4pm so we decided to switch the hike until later. After misunderstanding his meeting point directions, we finally asked and got on the right bus to the office meeting point but arrived at closer to 12:30 then 11:30.

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  • [ ] It was just my 3 girls and I and I had planned this for them as this was the type of activity that they were interested in. We drove up tiny winding roads and nerves began to sit in as we reached the place we would park to walk (more like a hike) the rest of the way up. The pilots of Granaltura were friendly, funny and very welcoming. Each of us were paired up with a pilot and given a video camera to hold on to (mine wasn’t working so we used the my daughter’s GoPro for me). I’m not a camera person so I didn’t realize I was supposed to taking a few snaps of myself but I did get beautiful footage of Granada and it’s surroundings. I would definitely recommend the experience for anyone who wanted to do something different while in Spain! Once done, we made our way back to the main area and went to eat at the recommended Los Diamentes. My eldest wanted the tapas experience but the bar area where tapas were free was very busy so we sat and ordered. They gave us fried anchovies as a free tapas and we all enjoyed the other fried seafood that we ate there.By the time we finished 2 of my daughters were too exhausted to do the hike and I was worried we wouldn’t have enough sunlight to complete it so we decided to wander around the city with a disappointed 3rd daughter. We loved looking at the little shops and tasting the offerings of freshly made caramelized nuts and seeds. We saw so many beautiful ceramics but decided to wait until we got to Sevilla to buy....another big mistake. Not only did we ever find anything that we liked as much as we did in Granada but we also realized (too late) that the prices were the best. Dinner was Italian and pretty tasty as the girls were not loving Spanish food. (5.5 miles walked)
  • [ ] Day 4- 10am bus to Sevilla. We found whatever we could find open for breakfast and I had churros con chocolate which was tasty and the girls had tortillas and toasts. We arrived at 1pm. I know I was told we were going to be wasting a lot of time traveling from place to place but because we weren’t walking so much I felt the travel breaks were actually a good time to rest up for the next adventure. Airbnb wasn’t ready so we left our bags and started our exploring. The Airbnb was right in front of the Guadalquivir river in Triana so we decided to go to the Triana Market first. It was our first taste of a Mercado so we wondered up and down the stalls and decided to get lunch at the very end on the right hand side. The host didn’t really give us the time of day and my daughters were so fed up that we almost walked away as so many others did but I’m happy to say we stayed because this ended up being our favorite Spanish meal of the trip. The spinach and chick pea stew was so delicious that we ordered a second! The fried fish was seasoned yummy and finally someone utilized salt! We wandered Triana for a bit and enjoyed some gelato and coffee and then made our way to Las Setas de Sevilla (the mushroom). On the way we loved the gelato at Giolatto, shopped and had more coffee. We paid the entrance fee and made our way to the top for stunning views of the city and a gorgeous sunset. Dinner was somewhere close and I had a very tasty sea bass but not everyone enjoyed their meal. (7.6 miles walked)
  • [ ] Day 5-We didn’t realize that we had to be at the Real Cuarto 15 minutes prior to the tour so we missed it by a few minutes. The lady in front was so kind to let us join the next one. It was interesting but it was nothing comparable to AlHambra. We wandered the grounds and gardens and grabbed a snack on the grounds. The gardens were beautiful with the orange blossom aroma just filling our nostrils. The ducks were so friendly and my daughter was delighted to feed them and the peacocks. We made our way to Plaza de España and got rid of our tired and grumpy mood by making fools of ourselves trying to maneuver the row boats.
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  • [ ] The plaza was full of people enjoying their time together, women dancing in costume, and musicians playing. Again hangriness determined our next meal so we ate and rested at the little restaurant im front of the plaza. We learned that cuttlefish isn’t really fish at all and that we didn’t like it.We made our way back to Triana to find crowds gathered with cameras along the river. The super moon was an absolutely gorgeous site from that spot. We couldn’t find any food in Triana that didn’t seem like what we had been eating for the last few days so my daughter pleaded for middle eastern food and we found a very tasty place which ended up being so close to the Real Alcazar which made the extra taxi and hour of confusing walking seem like a waste. The food was excellent though! (8.2 miles for the day)
  • [ ] Day 6-We were supposed to catch the 8am train to Cordoba but missed it by 3 minutes. We had to buy new tickets and no one spoke enough English to explain this was a longer train than our original one. We made it in at about 10:30 and I was worried we wouldn’t find lockers but we did. While making our way to the Mezquita, we stopped to shop at the little stalls on the way and my daughter found headscarves that were dirt cheap. We stopped at Pastelerias Roldan which had lovely looking pastries but no sandwich offerings without pork except for bread and butter which my eldest and I had. The Spanish way of eating was not being enjoyed so 2 of my daughters decided to go for a familiar face...Burger King! The Mezquita was very lovely and interesting. My daughters just sat on the floor to capture the feeling of how it felt to be praying there when it was Muslim ruled and we were quickly confronted by a guard and pretty much told to leave which we did. The winding streets of Cordoba are beautiful and the flowers are so pretty against the white walls. We had plenty of time to explore so we walked around, shopped for souvenirs, daughters got on cool swings at a park and went to Palacio de Viana. Since we were not in Cordoba to see the patios, this was a great alternative. The 12 (I believe) patios were lovely and it was a relaxing way to enjoy. It appeared to be where Spaniards brought their children all dressed up to with professional photographers! By about 6:30, two of my girls were exhausted so we made our way with them back to the train station and went to look for some food to bring back. We wandered but couldn’t find anything so we headed back to wait for our 9pm train to Madrid. I was hoping to get to the Roman bridge to see the sunset but didn’t want to risk missing another train so I skipped it. We arrived in Madrid at 11:30pm exhausted (10.2 miles walked).
  • [ ] Day 7- Our last day in Spain and the only one to see Madrid. I let the girls sleep in since we had nothing set in stone and they are exhausted. My eldest and I woke up first and found a place for breakfast, la Panaria. We enjoyed salmon toast, tortilla, and a turkey and cheese toast. Then we were off! We started out by walking to Puerto Del Sol. It was lively and there were lots of street entertainers. The girls loved the Madrid vibe and we were enjoying walking around and getting the last of our gifts. We also went to Plaza Mayor and had tapas there (nothing stood out as exceptional): We also stumbled upon Mercado de San Miguel and loved it. So many different types of food! We had Asian stir fry. We kept walking trying to finish up my daughter’s gifts and we saw an amazing sunset as well as the beautiful architecture. I really wanted to taste the churros from Chocolateria de San Ginés and they did not disappoint! I grabbed a bag of the chocolate sauce mix to try and make some for my son who did not make the trip with us. We kept wandering around and made it back to the Mercado to try some fruit, sweets and olives. We were ready to head to the Airbnb to pack and get ready for our 12pm flight the next day. (7.6 miles)
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Afterthoughts:
If you can’t handle the smell of cigarettes, Spain (and I’m going to assume Europe) isn’t for you. I am so grateful we were there in cooler, breezier weather because the smoke would have really got to us otherwise.
Spaniards love bread! We left so sick of bread and appreciating the variety of food that we ate.
The smell of orange blossoms is absolutely amazing!
I agree with everyone who told me that I was trying to do a lot with time we had. I wish I had time to the hike in Granada and a little more exploring, I could I have spent at least one more day in Seville and would have loved to do a few day trips from there as well. I wish we had the time to spend a night in Cordoba and even an extra day in Madrid as we didn’t make it to Reitro park and I would have loved to explore the other barrios.
-Spain was a beautiful, different experience that had something for everyone. Be prepared to walk (we are walked over 60 miles in 7 days!)

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I also really enjoy the night walks offered in Andalucian cities -- they have a crackle and energy that adds to the fun.

I took a walking tour in Granada with a Muslim guide that included an old caravanserai that had been turned into a coal storage warehouse after the reconquista and a nice stop in the central courtyard of the city hall -- the guide timed his cigarette breaks for when we were wandering apart from him :-)

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Yws my daughter was shocked when our night tour guide gave us a break to roll a joint and smoke it!