A Travellerspoint blog

Marbella continued

Mar. 26th - As promised today was the day to ride horses. We headed out after breakfast in a taxicab high in the hills above Marbella to a small Andalusian town called Monda. As typical for the region, the buildings are all whitewashed with tile roofs, cobblestoned streets, fountains in the plazas and olive trees growing on the hillsides. We were greeted by the very friendly owners (Brits who have lived here for 20+years) and staff of Andalsian Horse Adventures and the girls were thrilled. There were two dogs, a cat and lots of horses to pet and visit with.

The setting was beautiful and we were all excited to get on our horses and head out for our guided ride. We rode high on the hills overlooking Monda and the weather and vistas were beautiful. My horse was named Muneca, Gracie's was Trillo and Lucy's was Jaime. It was such an enjoyable way to spend the day that none of us were ready to leave when our taxi came to pick us up.

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After we returned of course it was straight into the swimming pools and we met some new friends from Ireland, Lucy and Charlotte. For dinner we walked to a fondue restaurant and all REALLY enjoyed the cholocate fondue (we even have stains on our clothes to remind us of the wonderful event).

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Mar. 27th - Happy Birthday Uncle Brad! Today was the day we took a tour of Gibraltar. Since I still do not have my drivers license we are having to take tour buses and taxis everywhere. We hopped on the bus at 10am and arrived at the border between Spain and Gibraltar about 1 hour later. Gibraltar is a city of 30,000 people and is a part of the UK and it was an odd mix of British and Spanish cultures. The highlights of our time there were: eating fish in chips in a square as a group of British soldiers paraded by playing instruments; we saw Africa for the first time; visited the Saint Michaels Cave and played with the Barbary Apes. The rock is quite tall and was considered one of the two pillars of Hercules and in ancient times it, and a mountain over in Morocco, were thought to be the western end of the world.
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There was nice shopping in Gibraltar and I bought a new pair of sunglasses. Neither kid likes them and Lucy even informed me that I am not allowed to wear them to her birthday party :) I personally think they are quite stylish! As we left Gibraltar and re-entered Spain we were a little bummed that we didn't get our passports stamped. Oh well.

Mar. 28th and 29th - more kids club, relaxing, playing on the beach and swimming.

Mar. 30th - We walked to the post office and mailed all of the items we acquired in Spain home, including the guidebooks. It's hard to believe that our time here is drawing to a close but we are all quite excited about Morocco. Grandma arrives this evening and we have some chilled wine, manchego cheese, tortilla, pan y tomate ready for her arrival. It will be really nice to have another person in our party. I'll even get her to write some on the blog, it'll be her homework.

We head to Tangiers via ferry on Thursday and I'm not sure what type of wifi access we will have so this may be the last blog entry for a while. Our tour with Adventure Company UK starts on the 3rd and lasts two weeks. We will be heading over to Club Med in Agadir on the 17th.

Happy Easter!!!

Posted by k2arevalo 07:33 Archived in Spain Comments (5)

Manuel Rodriguez Sanchez

Researched and written by Gracie Arevalo

Manuel was born on the 4th of July, 1917 in Cordoba, Spain. When he was five his father died bullfighting. In 1939 he became a bullfighter and took on his father's nickname "Manolete". That same year in October through December he participated in 16 brutal, nasty, and harsh bullfights.

He made bullfighting an art and not a sport. He developed a new type of bullfighting and that is how he got his reputation. Manuel made it so the bull would be so close to him it would start to lightly rip at his pants.

Manuel took lots of maximum, dangerous, and terrifying risks. On the day he took his last stand in the bullring, the bull got him with his sharp, horrible, awful horn in the right thigh. "Manolete" was taken to an infirmary. They wouldn't let his girlfriend go with him because she had a bad reputation and they did not want "Manolete" to marry her on his death bed.

"Manolete" died in the bullring on my grandma's 4th birthday. He was known to be the greatest bullfighter in the world.

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Posted by k2arevalo 06:17 Archived in Spain Comments (3)

Marbella

and a whole lot of relaxing

Mar. 24th and Mar. 25th -
The weather has been a bit overcast but it hasn't kept us from relaxing. It has been almost 48 hours since I pulled out the camera and made the girls pose in front of some scenic and/or historic marvel. The days both started with some schoolwork and then the girls headed to the Kids Club while I went to the gym to workout. I think we all needed a little break from each other :) I know you gym-rats out there will find this funny but I did the elliptical machine for the first time yesterday and I fell in love with it. I had a great workout listening to Michael Franti blasting in my iPod. I bought his All Rebel Rockers album the week before Ken died and several of his songs have had an impact on how I've moved forward and looked at my life. I guess you could say they are sort of our theme songs around the house. Plus he is an SF boy and it made me feel a little closer to home.

While the girls were making bracelets and playing soccer (futbol) this afternoon I listened to the interview on NPR's Forum of Oakland's new police chief and I have to say that I am impressed and hopeful that he may bring about some change in our great city. This evening we took a walk along the beach before dinner (we made tacos!) and then it was on to our nighttime ritual of a swim in the indoor pool.

I hope all you Oaklanders enjoy the marathon this weekend and we'd love to hear stories. Also, good luck to St. Mary's tomorrow night in the Sweet 16! We are off to horseback riding tomorrow and Gibraltar on Saturday. I'll be sure to post photos and have more exciting stories.

Adios!

Posted by k2arevalo 12:49 Archived in Spain Comments (3)

Granada and Marbella

and the beautiful Alhambra

The Alhambra, Granada, and Marbella by Gracie:

My favorite part of the Alhambra was Charles V palace it looked like a place where gladiators would fight but it was never completed until present day. In the hotel that we stayed at I tried to face one of my worst fears... HEIGHTS. When I looked out the window EVERYTHING was so small it made me feel like a GIANT. Did I mention that we were on the top floor? I was petrified, terrified, and so scared that I couldn't move. It is very hard to write about this because it makes me remember that awful window. Marbella is great, thank goodness we are not on the top floor. Talk to u soon.
-GRACIE
(P.S. I am still a little scard even though we are on the first floor. They have floor zero here so at home it would be floor two.)

(P.P.S. Go GAELS)

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Kristie'e commentary:

Mar. 20th - After packing up all of our gear again (it's amazing how spread out we can get in a few short days) we said goodbye to our new friends and headed to the train station. Our ride to Granada took 3 hours and we again passed rolling hills with farms dotting them. The fincas look a lot like rural El Salvador and the landscape is really beautiful. On the trains the girls usually watch a movie and I enjoy the few hours listening to my iPod and just relaxing. It was lightly raining in Granada but fairly warm. Our hotel was high on a hill next to the Alhambra. We slept with our window open and listened to people talking and dogs barking far below and of course the regular chiming of church bells.

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Mar. 21st - The highlight of Granada is visiting The Alhambra. It is a palace high on the hill and it was built by the Moors and was occupied by them for centuries before the Spanish monarchs, Isabel and Ferdinand, captured it in 1492. The capture of the Alhambra was the final push to get the Moors out of Spain and it ushered in the golden era (literally since they snagged lots of gold from the Americas) of Spain. Many of the sights and monuments throughout the country are dedicated to the monarchs and explorers of the late 15th and 16th centuries. When Charles V (Isabel and Fernand's grandson) came to power, he literally ruled almost half of the earth.

The palace is large but does not look like much from the outside. In keeping with Islamic tradition, the outside is not elaborate but the further you get inside the palace the more beautiful it gets. Once inside the sultan and sultana's areas, the carvings on the walls and tile work are fantastic. There are fountains in many of the rooms and the sound of the water trickling is everywhere. We had a fun time imagining what it must have looked like 500 years ago with furniture and full of people.

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When Charles V came to Granada on his honeymoon he wanted a more "modern" palace so he constructed another palace with the walls of the Alhambra but it was never completed or occupied. This palace was Gracie's favorite and Lucy thought the exterior walls looked like waffles.

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The Alhambra is the most visited sight in Spain and they limit the number of visitors who can visit each day. You are only allowed to stay for about 5 hours but you could easily spend an entire day there just strolling around taking in the scenery. You definitely have to get your tickets in advance and we met some people that weren't able to get in. We were lucky and got them through a tour at our hotel.

After the tour we decided to walk down a stairwell path from the hotel down the hill to "town". We went to a Kebab restaurant and chatted with the Moroccan owner about Morocco and what to expect. We are all excited about that leg of our journey. We also got some swinging in at the park in the square :)

Mar. 22nd -
The sun is shining and we headed to the bus station for our trip to Marbella and the Costa del Sol. The landscape looked just like Napa Valley except instead of vineyards there were olive groves. Again, it was really lovely and made me a little homesick. The girls announced at breakfast that they are schoolsick (missing school) and we talked a lot about what they like to do a recess with their pals. I was also told my Lucy that I just don't teach as well as Mrs. Morozumi and she explains things better. I'm trying!

Our condo in Marbella is in a semi-large timeshare type facility with pools, a full kitchen in our condo and a short walk to the beach. Of course minutes after arriving the girls were in their suits ready for some pool action. This next week we plan on relaxing and making it feel a little more like a vacation. In the evening we walked to the ocean and saw people night fishing and it was pretty cool. The area feels like we could be in Hawaii or Mexico and I know we will enjoy our chill out time. Once more week and G'mama joins us and we are counting down the days.

Mar. 23rd - Our first full day in Marbella and we dipped our toes in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. We had a relaxing day of fun at the beach and swimming in the afternoon. Vacation is great!
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Posted by k2arevalo 10:45 Archived in Spain Comments (5)

Beautiful Seville (or Sevilla)

How the heck do you correctly spell the name of this city? By Kristie and Lucy

Mar. 17th - Happy St. Patricks Day!! We all awoke and quickly put on our green to keep from getting pinched. The girls were convinced we would run into other Americans that would pinch us if they saw us. And... low and behold, we met a girl named Aleena from Folsom in our hotel courtyard right after our conversation. Of course all of the kids had on green so there was no pinching. I've also realized I can put photos in the page I type on so hopefully they will spice up the entry. There are lots more photos in the Gallery and I've uploaded a video from the Real Madrid game as well.

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The weather is fantastic and we had a great day touring the Alcazar (palace). The Moors (Islamic Arabs) started the palace about 1,000 years ago and the Spainish monarchy continued it's expansion in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a magnificent palace with beautiful tile work, trickling fountains in many of the courtyards, and a fantastic garden.

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The highlight of the garden was the hedge maze that the three of us spent at least an hour playing hide-n-seek in. What a treat to be playing in a maze that is over 100 years old and has been played in by royalty. The Alcazar in Seville is still the official royal residence when they visit the city and it is the oldest castle still being used in the world. It was really cool to be within the walls and the garden and hear the clip clop of horse hooves on the cobblestones outside. There were times when we felt transported back in time.

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We had dinner at our apartment and then went out for an evening treat at a restaurant in a courtyard not far from our hotel. I'm telling you that it does not get much better than sharing chocolate and churros with my two girls on a balmy evening in a plaza in Sevilla :)
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Mar. 18th -
We totally feel like we are on summer vacation and it seems to be getting harder and harder to get up and get going in the morning. Our room stays dark and sometimes we don't leave the apartment before noon! On Thursday we walked along the river and visited the Torre Del Oro. We climbed to the top of the tower and it had a small maritime museum in it. It was fun to look out and imagine what the port was like centuries ago. We saw an old ship being restored and it added to the atmosphere.

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Then it was back to Maria Luisa park for some much needed play structure time. It's weird what you crave when you travel and we all wanted American style bacon so we bought some and I made spaghetti carbonara for dinner back in our apartment. Southern Spain is known for it's ham but we can't quite get used to the taste and there is something about crisp Oscar Meyer that made us feel at home. We met with our new friends (Aleena, her sister Kallie and their parents Kathleen and Lance) to talk about their travels and get some some tips on Greece since they just came from there and we will be there in late April. Afterward the girls all enjoyed a Harry Potter movie on the computer.

The highlight of the day was the news that our great pals Jen and Joe had their third baby today, a healthy (yet unnamed baby girl). Congratulations to them and big brother Jacob and big sister Jordan!! We cannot wait to meet the newest "J" family member.

Mar. 19th -
Another lazy morning and beautiful weather. The girls worked on their math homework while I sat a read "The Help" on my Kindle. We tried to go to an Irish Pub near the Cathedral on St. Patrick's Day and it was insane so we just walked past and settled on something else. Today we decided to try the pub and in keeping with our Lenten tradition on Fridays we ordered fish and chips. The food was delicious and I enjoyed the 1/2 pint of Guiness at noon. Vacation is nice!!

We then headed to the Cathedral for a tour. It is the third largest cathedral in world and the largest in Spain. It was impressive! Some highlights were Columbus' tomb and it's tower, the Giralda. We walked to the top of the Giralda which is a bell tower and the bells rang while we were up there and it was loud! There are no steps up to the top, only ramps. The tower was built this way because originally it was built by the Moors who are Islamic and the man who rang the bells to call people to prayer 5 times a day rode his horse to the top. It was actually much easier to go up 32 stories by ramp then stairs.

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We spent the evening sipping wine (me only of course!) and eating bread, cheese, fruit and veggies in the courtyard of our hotel. It was a nice evening and we were sharing more stories with our new friends from Folsom. We will miss Seville and I would recommend the city to anyone looking for a nice relaxing place to visit. We are off to Granada via train tomorrow. Adios!

From Lucy's Perspective:
Hi it's Lucy. One of my favorite things was getting a fan with my name on it. And I also liked meeting new friends and going to a park where it was fun and I liked to go on the very, very, very high monkey bars. I also liked petting the horses and on the first day going on a carriage. Plus we all agreed that a labrynth maze in a castle was one of the funnest things we've done. I found interesting the place where they take bulls and make them mad and then kill them in a bullfight. I also liked going to a flamenco dance performance. They had pretty dresses on but the one thing I did not like was when the heels on the back of their shoes bumped the ground and it was very loud. Also I liked in the castle that there was a secret entrance where a king went through because people didn't like him and he needed to escape.

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Posted by k2arevalo 13:33 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

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