Showing posts with label Costa del Sol Spain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Costa del Sol Spain. Show all posts

Monday, April 9, 2012

I want to “Go with Oh” to Barcelona

We spent a bit of our Easter Sunday determining how we’d spend our time in Barcelona if we were to return for a stay in a self-catered apartment. . . pretending we lived there, like we did for a week in Madrid last year.
DSCF1989We’d have a daily ritual of setting out to see ‘our’ neighborhood come to life – that early morning time when the only thing disturbing the quiet is the crash and clang of shopkeepers raising their heavy metal gates.

We’d admire flower-decked balconies above us and greet passersby with a nod of the head and “Bon Dia” as if we were locals.  We’d  pick a different café each day to sip cafés con leche (hot milk laced espresso) while planning that day’s adventures.

Among the things we would do in this Catalonian city by the sea are:

DSCF19601. We’d eat and drink!  Finally we’d have time  to try those tempting cheeses (like Cabrales and Manchego), and hams (Jamon Iberico and Serrano) for which Spain is famous. We’ve had to pass up those seductive selections on display at municipal markets on previous short cruise ship stops.

So we’d be regulars at the famous Mercat de Boqueria, Rambla 85 –86; a market whose origins date back to1217 when meat was sold from tables set up near a door of the once-walled city. The present-day market built in 1840, still has a metal roof that was added in 1911. Other days we would head to Mercat Santa Caterina, Francesc Cambo, 16, in the Ribera District in Cuitat Velta.

DSCF19472. Late in the evening we’d stroll through the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) letting our imaginations run wild. . .do ghosts lurk in the shadows of the narrow streets that twist and turn through this centuries-old area?  The buildings -- most of which date back to the 15th Century -- are interesting in the daytime but become simply magical at night.

DSCF19533.  We’d tapeo through the city, stuffing ourselves at Tapas Bars. Returning to our favorite places and finding new ones – we’d seek out the best deal, the best atmosphere -- the kinds of places we’d tell you that ‘you must visit’ when in town.
Some of our favorites are tiny places so small you could almost miss them. 

Often times the only place to sit at these bars is outside, at tables wedged into a small corner of the sidewalk. That’s my empty stool there, inches from the street’s curb.

DSCF19594.  We’d visit museums like the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona and Museu Picasso. We’d finally visit Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia or Casa Batilo’ and ponder his wild, wonderful architecture. . .…all of those places we’ve never quite had enough time to get to.  And on the way home we’d buy flowers from the many flower stands that line La Rambla to fill ‘our’ apartment with the color and scent of Barcelona’s fall.

DSCF19625. Sometimes we’d take advantage of the fact we were but short-term visitors here. We’d catch those double-decker buses that whirl tourists around a city pointing out important sites ~ a moveable feast of history and culture served in easily digested bite-sized bits.

  So what travel bee got into my Easter bonnet? 

badge[1]It was seeing an announcement of a blogger’s competition on  “Go with Oh” a company that got its start in Barcelona and has grown to include 9 other European cities. They rent hotels and apartments.  I spent time on their site picking out apartments to show Joel where we ‘could live’ whether we won the contest or not.  Yes, the prize is a stay in one, maybe more, of their apartments for up to 30 days.  Our travel juices started flowing and our imaginations ran wild. 

Information about this contest as well as another one they have going on Facebook (with other great prizes) can be found at:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

TP Thursday: Malaga–Anything to See There?

“But is there anything to see there? we are often asked about places we have been.

To our way of thinking, everything is to see there. And some of  most spectacular aren’t on a tourist map nor do they require entry fees.

Such was the case in Malaga, a city of more than a half million people and birthplace of Pablo Picasso, on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

All we knew about its Ayunamiento, or Town Hall, was that a bus stop we were looking for was near it and that it was located in the shadow of the towering tourist attraction, the Alcazaba (which means Citadel in Arabic).

When we reached the building constructed in the early 1900’s, its Neo Baroque exterior stopped us in our tracks with its beauty.


With such a stunning exterior we had to see the interior. . .

All visitors pass through a security screening/bag check.  When the security guard asked our destination, we responded, ‘Estamos touristas ~ solo veyamos’ (‘We are tourists – we are only looking’) with me pointing to my ever-present camera to emphasize the point.

And then we were greeted by the most magnificent sight:


The marble stairway leading to the building’s second floor is bordered by stained glass windows depicting scenes of the city’s history from its founding by the Phoenicians to the entry of Felipe IV. We’ve since learned they were made by the Parisian glass studio of Maumejean.


We missed the second-floor Hall of Mirrors, a room so beautiful that it is often rented for civil weddings because we didn’t know it was there until after I did some research for this post.


Even without the Hall of Mirrors, the building’s interior was stunning. Paintings – the fine art type – turned our stroll on the second floor hallway into a gallery tour. We perused a hallway lined with the framed portraits of all Malaga’s mayors.

And I can tell you it is the only City Hall I’ve ever visited that offers a bidet next to the toilet in its public restrooms, (or WC’s as they are called there)!

If you Go:  El Ayunamiento is located on Avda. de Cervantes, phone number 34 952 135 000, website (in Spanish)   Although we had no difficulty entering the building and exploring the hallways on our own, I noticed at least one web site advises getting permission to visit in advance by writing

For more photos from around the world, head to Budget Traveler's Sandbox, the creator of TPThursday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TP Thursday: Costa del Sol’s Signs of the Times

While on Spain’s Costa del Sol we’ve headed to the beach each day the weather has allowed for such an outing.  Sunday morning we decided not to be deterred by the threatening clouds and headed out for a walk on this stretch of beach with sand so fine it’s like walking on sugar crystals.   We passed but a dozen others along the way.

Not far from our place we happened upon an 18th Century torre, or tower; once a bastion of security for this stretch of coastline. Its doors were locked so couldn’t explore its interior but gun holes visible in the exterior stonework set our imaginations soaring. What might have been the battles fought there?

malagamarbella 032

A bit further down the deserted beach we happened upon another sign of the times, this one a bit more modern but none the less it let the imaginations soar:

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For other travel photos, head to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox, the creator of Travel Photo Thursday.

Costa del Sol: Dog Days of Autumn

malagamarbella 045 Our last full day on Spain’s Costa del Sol is living up to its name.

The Mediterranean sun called out for a long morning stroll. As we walked towards Marbella our relaxed pace and the slow-paced beach activities could best be described as one of those memorable Dog Days of Autumn.

malagamarbella 048 We watched dogs play in the ocean.  Then sipped cafe con leche at a beachside cafe and watched the waves wash over the brown sugar sand.

The water was so clear we often paused to remark on rocks, shells and the shifting sand.malagamarbella 047   We also pondered how a week could have slipped past as rapidly as this one has done.

We have a bit more sunning to do this afternoon, a final cocktail hour with our friends, dinner at one of the many nearby beach cafes, and then it will be time to pack.

Our friends fly back to London tomorrow and a few hours later we board our train for Barcelona, to begin the next  phase of our Spanish adventure. 

We’ve enjoyed this beach getaway - even with its few days of rain - and now that the sun has returned, we understand the draw of the Costa del Sol.malagamarbella 046

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spain’s Costa del Sol: Trading Places

malagamarbella 023
We are ‘at home’ this week in Spain’s trendy, modern tourist mecca, the famously over-built Costa del Sol, that stretches for miles along the southern coastline.

malagamarbella 017 Home is a three-bedroom, three-bath unit with kitchen, dining area, living room and deck (with a to-the-side view of the Mediterranean Sea) at the Marriott Marbella Beach Vacation Club. 

We are here, because we quite literally, traded places.

malagamarbella 030
Three years ago, after a lifetime of saying, ‘We are not timeshare people!’ we purchased a timeshare in Hawaii – a Marriott property – and this year traded one week of our unit there (the small hotel-room-sized side, known as the 'lockoff' in timeshare lingo) for a week here in our spacious Spanish digs. The only cost involved was for the paperwork and administration fee of $169 – a miniscule amount in comparison to renting the same unit for a week.

The trading option helped us when we planned this trip. We designed the itinerary to give us a taste of the old historic Spain, such as we found in our hotels in Sevilla and Osuna, and this stay to experience the hip, modern tourist area on this over-developed, but strikingly beautiful, bit of the Costa del Sol.

malagamarbella 034 We’re based on Playa Elviria, not far from the coastal town of Marbella.  We’ve spent our time exploring nearby towns as Joel maneuvers our 'delivery van' to nearby cities and sites. We return in time for siesta at the pool, beach or room.  We’ve eaten meals out and at home. Shopping for groceries at municipal markets, super markets and even at a roadside fruit stand has been easy and fun.

Our weather hasn't lived up to the area's name though. Costa del Sol, the Sun Coast, has been cloudy the last couple of days, with occasional bits of blue sky. It has rained a couple of times today, so we've been somewhat housebound but with this much space - that has not been a problem. And sunshine is predicted to return tomorrow!

Photos:  Top:  A view of Marbella’s beach, our living room, our unit (bottom floor) and one of several pools on this Marriott property.


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