Sunday, February 16, 2020

Spain - Our Two Weeks on the Costa Azul - Part 1

Our car returned and a few things taken care of like upgrading our phone service, and we checked into our Lisbon Airport Hotel.  A really nice newly renovated transfer hotel at the foot of the airport.  We enjoyed a quiet evening and an early start.  Landing in Seville, Spain mid-morning, our car rental pickup was a snap...and within an hour we were at the doorstep of our Airbnb waiting to check-in.  We had a bit of a surprise, my bad, when the hostess, as sweet and welcoming as you could imagine, showed up to our "room."  By accident, I have rented a private room in a family home instead of the whole apartment.  We adjusted to sharing the space and enjoyed three lovely days meeting family members and practicing our Spanish...Marilo did not speak a word of English.  

Our first order of business was to drive to the US Naval Base at Rota on the coast where I saw a doctor about my knee and a few other complaints.  It was nice to be "back in the USA" with an
English speaking doctor and staff.  The hospital was perfect and after a few hours, we were rewarded with a report that showed no damage, no pneumonia, and went away with a few meds to get along the healing road.  The drive was lovely, over rolling hills of wheat and corn.  It was a strikingly blue-sky day.

We'd been to Seville before and took in all of the sites over the course of three days.  Our stop here was to get into the car rental zone that would allow us to have the same automobile for three months, to the doctor, and to get ourselves organized for our big European road trip.  We reserved one day to visit the city again and chose our favorite venue, a free walking tour.  Our guide Jose did not disappoint us and we toured the main sites of the city for about three hours.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, and we covered nearly 6 miles on the tour.  Since we have been in almost all of the locations we visited, it was fun to see them again from the outside.  My knee got a workout and I survived.
Pretty streets and beautiful buildings. 

Plaza de Espana.  World Expo site.
The ceramics on the tops of the arches are Sevilha. 

We departed Seville for Gibraltar the following day.  It was a pretty two-hour drive to the coast once again.  After crossing the border check we parked our car at the Cable Car lot and took the ride to the top.  As soon as we got out, Bobbie was accosted by the apes...climbing on her and going after the lunch sack.  She had to knock it off.  We toured the mountain for about three hours, walking from historic site to the next, all downhill thankfully, and back to the car.  It was fun to visit the "rock" and the views were grand, even on an overcast and cold day.  It is amazing that over 35,000 people live in this UK territory that is less than 3 square miles in size...and it is packed.

 And of course there was a cave complex to discover.  Lit up just like in China.

 The mountain road winds down the south side in switchbacks and the views werre stunning.
 This Moorish tower dated back to the 11th century.
At the end of the day, we drove out of the territory and back into Spain.  In an hour we were at our B&B for the night.  The stately mansion is run by American ex-pats and it was like living in a modern art museum.  As beautiful and modern as it was, there were a lot of things missing.  It was cold, it was dark.  The kitchen appliances were filthy, especially the over, and the owner greeted us, took off, and we never saw her again.  With all this, it was nice to be in such a lovely place all alone.  We tried to find a local restaurant in the small nearby town.  All were closed.  So we stopped at the grocery store, picked up a few things from the deli and went back to warm things up...that's how we found the icky oven.  This was a reward night from so it only cost us $8.35 in taxes.  We wish them well.  I hope the mess was just because it was offseason.  

A surprise awaited us the next day as we drive three hours into the mountains to find the town of Ronda perched on top of two mountain plateaus separated by a canyon.  Wow.  The apartment we booked was right in the center of town and with a private gated parking area.  It was perfect for a three-night stay.  We wandered the historic city, climbed up and down the cliff trails, and relaxed in a really romantic and special place.

We left Ronda and traveled for five hours over the mountains and back to the coast.  Our destination of Roquetas de Mar, a small resort town just outside of Almeria.  As we got closer we started to see greenhouses, soon ALL WE COULD SEE were greenhouses.  It so happens that the Almeria region is the largest concentration of greenhouses in the world...some 26,000 acres and still growing.  Thi sis view of the area from the top of the mountain pass.
We we finally reached the city, we drove for miles through this area to reach our apartment. 
We lucked out and for $35 a night has a beach condo right on the water.  The view was great.  For the next five days we did nothing but take daily walks along the shoreline and watch Netflix at night.  It was a great rest period in our travel itinerary.

The beach went on for miles and the whole town is a huge resort with hundreds of condo buildings and even a fort.