A real treat for us while here was meeting up with friends of ours from San Diego
who had a condo just a few kms from ours. I had planned on preparing a dinner so
that we could relax and share our experiences in the comfort of our "home." But,
when I went to the supermercado, I could not find what I wanted so we decided to
dine out instead (what a shame). Adjacent to our resort was a complex of casual
restaurants all with outside dining so we just meandered up there and enjoyed a
nice Italian dinner in Spain while sharing what we had seen and done. It was an
absolutely delightful evening and special to us.
Costa del Sol--the Sun Coast--playground of the English. We had two timeshare weeks we needed to use or lose so decided Spain was
as good a place as any to get rid of them. The first week--in the coastal town of Mijas (as opposed to the upper town of Mijas)--was
fine as there were many good day trips to take; however, when you get to the next section, you will find we were not so pleased.
The trip from Seville to Costa del Sol is not a long one--just a couple of hours so arrived at the time share around 13:00 (1 PM). After
lunch at poolside we settled into our spacious two bedroom apartment. There was a very large room for Casey where he could set up
shop with his toys. Found a wonderful new use for a breadbox as a storage place for his beloved legos. Casey had his own bathroom
which he thought was special--although he has one at home, too. Ken and Casey walked aroumd the complex while I found a little
convenience store where I was able to get coffee, milk and a few other things--nothing for dinner, though. After seeing the beautiful
pool side restaurant, we decided to have dinner there--which was a mistake as it wasn't very good.
Another great day trip from Costa del Sol is the absolutely charming "white" town of Mijas. While it clearly benefits from the
influx of tourism, it retains its picturesque and delightful qualities. It is a neat place to wander, enjoy and relax at lunch
surrounded by the quaintness of the village that "was." Here I tried and enjoyed the hot and spicy shrimp pel-pel which I had seen
on many menus.
Once seeing the pool, Casey wanted to go in so that is what we did. He had a great time
playing with the other children, finally, after so many days with just old grandma and papa.
English is the common language in this area--but--it is British English so for a while Casey
had difficult understanding his new playmates. It seems that this is an area that is a
playground for the English holiday. In fact, it is difficult to see or hear any Spanish along the
coast. It is not a place that I would settle into again but it was perfect for Casey. The general
area is rich in places to visit but I would choose to stay in the little villages by night and
experience their ambience and solitude.
One of the great daytrips to make from here is Gibraltar which is only a couple of hours
away along an excellent highway. After seeing pictures of this great rock all our lives, it was
interesting to actually see it arising there out of the sea. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring
our passports with us that day and so were not able to cross on to it. We did though have a
great time walking the almost deserted beach, getting toes wet and collecting enough perfect
shells for Casey to take one back to each of his preschool classmates--which, surprisingly
enough, they appreciated.
This is the note Casey put inside each baggy along with
one of the shells. According to the parents, children
viewed these baggies as special treasures and, in some
cases, even carried the "treasure" around with them.
Maybe this will give some other parents an idea as to
what little special things they can do. This was much
more meaningful to Casey than if we had just bought
something for him to bring home to friends.
And--here is a true confession as pictures do not lie. Another
McDonald's right here at Gibraltar. And--just look at the playarea!
Casey was in seventh heaven. It is an absolute truth--children can spot
the golden arches a mile away. The nice part of this is how secure this
makes them feel as they experience a taste of home--realizing that
they aren't so far away after all.
Back at the pool, we
invested in a rubber boat for
Casey which provided hours
of fun for him and his new
buddies. Having the boat
and a ball provided an
effective way to meet other
No trip to this part of Spain would be complete or right without visiting Granada
and the famous Alhambra with its mystic, mystery and intrigue. It is clearly part
of civilizations' folklore while in reality it represents a time of intense cruelty and
treatment of women as chattel. Without doubt though, those who resided in the
confines of the palaces were surrounded by great luxury and beauty.
As we wanted to experience a little bit of Granada and not be rushed by doing a
day trip, we made reservations at the Hotel America which is one of two hotels
actually on the grounds of the Alhambra. This is a delightful, small, hotel with a
wonderful old world ambience. It is built around a quiet, serene, flowered filled
courtyard. Breakfast and lunch are served within this secluded oasis just steps
away from the hundreds of tourists passing its doors. Night time, when the day
tourists are gone, the shadows return with their secrets of yesteryear, bringing
with them whispers of plotting, romance, murder and revenge.
A very nice feature of staying at the Hotel America is returning to it in the early afternoon for lunch and a short siesta before
continuing your explorations. This is what we did and then in the late afternoon went to the Palace of Carlos V and the Alcazaba
The best way to obtain tickets for the Alhambra Palaces is via the internet as far ahead of time as you can. If you wait until the day you
arrive, you may have a several hour wait until your assigned entrance time to the palaces--and that and the immediate 30 minutes after
are the only time you can enter. With that said, there is more to the Alhambra than the palaces so either before or after you explore
them, you will want to spend time wandering the grounds of both the Alhambra and the adjacent beautiful General Life gardens.
In the evening we took the bus to Plaza Nueva in Granada for dinner. This is a colorful plaza frequented by diverse groups of
people--tourists, wanderers, young people, what appeared to be homeless folk, 21st century hippies, etc. After a pretty good dinner, we
just wandered around awhile, soaking in the environment and then found our way to the bus that would take us back to our never-never
land of the Alhambra where peace and quiet reigned. My notes say: "By the time we return to San Diego, Casey will think dinner time is
at 9 and bedtime at 10:30---on a good night."
The Albaicin district of Granada is, in my mind, another must see. This is the very old, authentic, atmospheric area which has not been
altered by modernization--no regentrifying here. It was the area that the people who worked, served and slaved at the Alhambra lived.
We took the bus the next morning to this area-the only way to get there as only residents are allowed cars. Following our practice of
getting lost or doing things wrong, we went the wrong way direction upon getting off the bus--even though the driver made a special stop
for us to make sure we were at the right place. We ended up backtracking to the part o the village we wanted to see.
From the edge of the village, overlooking a chasm, there is an incredible view of the Alhambra-one not to be missed. We were able to
see and appreciate it in a way impossible to do when actually on site. It was quite awesome and breathtaking.