Work hard, eat tapas: Andalusia

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sometimes I look at the amount of traveling BW and I do and feel a touch dizzy. Who gets to do this? We're just a couple of educators, not Sultans of Brunei, though we feel like it sometimes when we look at a map and realize the myriad places we've been.

Life is “ser pan comido”. In English: “to be bread eaten."

Through careful planning, generous school holidays and the beauty of home exchanges, we've managed to see a LOT of Europe. This includes an October trip to the South of Spain, my foodie husband's #1 bucket list stop. The bits we covered of Sra. Andalusia:


We stayed in a home exchange on the coast in October, which meant:
1) cool, quiet beaches - no sunburn or overcrowding
2) lots of retired people - everyone else had gone back to work

This little tourist town bordered on silence - except for when the German retirees filled a pub on a Tuesday night and had a sing-along. Nonetheless, the place was nice for resting, and we rooted out some local hotspots for tapas.


We only had a day here and mostly wandered around and visited the Picasso Museum. A highlight was the spectacular Ataranzas food market, where we indulged in tapas and cava. Note: The beautiful Castilla de Gibralfaro does not allow dogs, even when they are a few kgs and carried in a bjorn (hence BW's cheeky photo below).



What a spectacle! Overlooking the white-washed Albaicín quarter of Granada, this Moorish palace is awash in emerald gardens and prismatic tiles. Stylistically, the plaits of calligraphy, honeycombs of woodwork and webs of rhombuses enchant you not only with their beauty but also their algorithms. Wear good walking shoes and book tickets ahead.


Confession: We could move here. We were fed music, sun and tapas at every corner, and we couldn't get enough. And the people! Someone who shall remain nameless left a backpack with our iPad in it in a tapas bar and when we raced back to get it 20 minutes later, it was still there; the staff had found it and held it for us. Gracias!


BW enjoyed hopping in the rental and whizzing around the hill towns in the region, such as Nerja and Salobrena. That is, until we climbed one with streets so steep and wedged together that we weren't sure we'd get the car back down the mountain. A number of wizened old Andalusians shook their heads at us, which flushed us crimson.


We had only one afternoon here, before our flight back to Bohemia. We traipsed around Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral. It was Halloween, and at nightfall hordes of costumed roller-bladers poured down Calle Mayor; I dig that tradition. All was agreeable...

...until I ate this offensive plate of paella. The result? The worst food poisoning I've ever had in my life, topping even a terrible bout in Egypt a decade ago. My Czech doctor had to alert the Center for Disease Control because it was so bad and I wasn't allowed to return to work until I tested negative for Campylobacter - not that I could have, anyhow, being that I couldn't even sit up or hold down water for nearly a week.

Ahhh, the hazards of travel. At least this came at the end of what was otherwise an exceptional trip - and didn't involve our beloved tapas.

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