Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Costa del Sol - Espana

Fall Break arrived a couple days early for the Olson's this year. Bart was unable to take any time off during the regular school break (same as last year) but could take off a couple days the week prior. So we pulled the girls out 2 days early and took a long weekend trip to the southern tip of Spain.

We flew into Malaga and drove about 1 hr southwest to Estepona. Bart planned this trip - it was supposed to be a relaxing trip - he needed to sit in the sun and not do anything. We did a pretty good job - only one day of sightseeing.

The girls were thrilled! with the "kids" pool that had a water slide. Up and down, Up and down - all we had to do was sit there and watch. Our one day of sightseeing was to a city in the Andalucian hills called Ronda. We had never heard of it but the Concierge said it was 'special' - contains the oldest bullring in Spain and the official seat of the Spanish Inquisition. They seem to downplay the Inquisition part.

It was interesting to see that many of the chapels/cathedrals were former Mosques that were re-fitted when Ferdinand drove the Moors out of this area - forcing them into Arabia and North Africa.
The Puente Nuevo bridge spans a deep gorge and connects the medieval portion of the city with the 18th Century portion.
The landscape is beautiful and as always, these medieval towns are built on high ground. All the better to defend themselves.
Many of the buildings have heavy wooden doors that open into tiled entry ways and then the actual door/entry to the shops/homes. The tilework was beautiful. There is a definite blend of Arabic and European in the buildings here.
City on a Hill. I should quickly mention the drive. It is a good, solid hour of almost consistently winding road. With speed limit signs that go from 80 km/hr to 60 km/hr every 40 feet or so! We kept laughing about the sign placement.
I was worried about 15 minutes into our drive about Rachel getting sick - she doesn't do winding roads well. I was driving and I was feeling slightly nauseous (could be the antihistimines and the severe sinus attack from the prior 2 days). Bart recommended we not say anything and see how she did. Turned out, she was fine on the trip there and back! She even mentioned it and thinks the train and bus riding over the last few months has helped. Yeah!
The Bullring was cool - Plaza de Toros de Ronda. (RMR = Real Maestranza de Caballeria, founded in 1572)
There was a little guy all dressed up in his Matador costume - perfect for a picture.
Our location in Estepona was not far from Gibraltar - most days we could see the Rock and the coast of North Africa. Gibraltar is attached by a small strip of land to the rest of Spain - it's not an island. It is still a British Commonwealth location and tax free. We were undecided on whether to go or not but decided as we weren't interested in tax free cigarettes or liquor or monkeys attacking the car (they have monkeys!), we'd skip it to do what we had come to do - relax. If I was going to do another sightseeing day, I would have loved to go over to Tangier for the day!
That's Gibraltar at the right and in the distance (bit hazy) is North Africa - the Mediterranean and Atlantic meet right here!

We did make a trip to the Mall while we were there - a real, live Mall! Girls need some winter clothes and it's cheaper and different options here than in Switzerland. Bless Zurich's heart but when they opened Sihlcity (their newest 'Mall') they were all excited and neighbors would ask us what we thought: "Do you like it? Our new shops are nice, yes?" I didn't have the heart to say "Well, it has all the same shops as are on the Bahnhofstr. - nothing is different - and it's half the size of the small Mall I went to in Des Moines - I won't even mention CA." I will say it is convenient and as it's enclosed - much warmer and dryer in the winter.
So, one day in Ronda, an evening at the Mall and the rest of the time at the beach or pool side.

We enjoyed our family time together relaxing and reading books. Books! All 4 of us were by the pool reading - Bart was pretty sure some people were looking at our kids strangely :). I felt pretty good - 3 books + 4 days=relaxing vacation.
The weather was in the mid-80's - perfect. Flew back to mid-40's, windy and wet. Perfect couldn't last. Hello Winter.


Anonymous said...

I was to go to Costa del Sol with Jody in 2004 but she twisted her ankle and canceled us out. Thank you for taking me there. I click on the pictures and they are wonderful.
Love you all,

Katherine said...

David and I flew to Málaga in May 2007 (a photo here: http://30seconds.blogs.com/archives/2007/06/chopin-nocturne.html ), and did drive down to Gibraltar and explore, enjoying the monkeys (actually, "Barbary Macaques"), the views of Morocco and Mediterranean/Atlantic, and the historic tunnels. Thanks for jogging my memory.