Upon arriving in Barcelona we are already impressed just by the airport! What a great space, modern, beautiful stone floors, clean with great shops and places to eat. I have always complained about airport food until I ate in the Barcelona airport. We head to the Hotel Jazz by means of public transportation which was very easy and inexpensive, about 6 euro per person. It took about half an hour to get into the city and where we were dropped off it was about 500 yards to the Jazz hotel. Great hotel with easy walking assess to just about everywhere and a great roof top pool and bar.
Walking in Barcelona is easy and the Ramblas was so close we could just stroll out of the hotel and be there in less than 5 minutes. We also walked to the marina, Gaudi house and the old Gothic city easily. When we went to the Sagrada Familia we did learn to use the metro which was more confusing than most cities I have been in. With that aside the Sagrada Familia is not to be missed and you do have to go inside. We went on line at our hotel and purchased reservations on the web site. You do not want to go without a reservation as the line snakes around and I am sure takes hours to get in. The self guided audio tour is worth the money!
If you can get off the Ramblas and in search of some more local cuisine it is worth it! The public market had some great looking little restaurants and eateries that you could just belly up to a booth and eat fresh and local!
Next we flew to Seville on Vueling the local pretty inexpensive airline. Since we were traveling with three guys over 6 feet tall we were glad that it was a short flight. My knees were even in the seat in front of me!
In Seville we picked up two Audi A4’s (Auto Europe) and were off on the next adventure.
We rented a Villa in Zahara de Los Atunes for a week with four couples. Renting a villa is a great way to save money on hotels and have lots of space and cooking facilities. This particular Villa Las Rocas sat ont the top of a hill with spectacular views, we could see Africa’s twinkling lights of Tangier at night. We also had a pool, laundry facilities and all the comforts of home for a week. This area of Spain is pretty much off the beat and track. It is even hard to find on many of the maps, but it was wonderful with the beauty of wide open spaces, lots of wind mills and rural farm land with the Atlantic often in view. We were about 45 minuted from Tarifa, a wind surfing mecca and one of the towns where you can catch a ferry to and from Tangier .
We made several day trips including Tangier, a must if you are this close. I would recommend setting up a guide ahead of time if possible,you will get so much more out of your visit.
Time was also spent by our pool, walking the lovely beaches, touring our own little town and then some of us made our way to Arcos.
Arcos is one of the lovely little white washed hill towns in Andalucia that is picture perfect. A day spent wandering the serpentine streets, stopping for a coffee, shopping, taking lots of pictures only to be topped off by a cold beer and some delicious tapas! Home again to the pool and the evening festivities.
After a week of way too much fun we are all off in separate directions so we say our good bye’s.
Four of us are headed for Granada in our Audi A4 which has been great minus one flat tire!
I have to say that driving in Spain was a breeze. Very little traffic even around the big cities and the roads were easy to navigate. With that said I believe I did better navigating with my Michelin map than any of the electronic devices that were being used so keep that in mind when considering a GPS or relying on your phone.
Granada is another fabulous city! Upon arrival we dropped our car at the sleepy little airport and took the airport bus into the city. This was easy and inexpensive. I am sure that a cab would easily have been 50-60 euro.
Granada is a very walkable city and that we did. Great streets with lots of shops, restaurants and cathedrals. You are encouraged to stop for a beverage often as the tapas are all free.
We did make reservations to visit the Alhambra ahead of time, this time before I left the states, as the lines can be long. We easily walked up the hill to the Alhambra, which can be seen from almost everywhere in the center of the city. It was well worth the time and you should allow three to four hours to see it all. There are little mini busses that will shuttle you if walking is not your thing.
We did book a Flamenco show that included transportation to and from the venue through our hotel concierge. It was well worth it to see the part of the city where the gypsies hang out.
Two nights in Granada and our vacation is over and we are sad to be leaving Spain.
I will be back though. Like Australia it was such an easy place to be, the people are great and welcoming, scenery fabulous not to mention the perfect weather.