The Rain in Spain

Well, everyone, it’s time for my bi-annual blog post! If you’re still interested enough to read this it’s most likely because you are a good friend of mine, or my mom or you secretly want to see pictures of me in my bikini (You’re in the right place). So to everyone still tuned in, thanks!! I know I say this all the time, but I really am going to try to pick up the pace on this little blog o’ mine. Hopefully now that I have a good computer situation at home, I’ll be more inclined to share this humble life with y’all 🙂

So – the Spain Epic continues! (I really want to post all my Europe pics here so I have a nice little documentation for them – I promise there’s only one more Europe post!)

After the gruelling and wonderful day of walking through Alhambra, Jamie and I did some city sight seeing in Malaga – we stopped for tapas and walked through the fancy, shiny brick streets (reminded me of a European themed indoor shopping mall – except it was authentic and outdoors), stopped to get some gelato and watched as fancy Spanish women lead their fancy Spanish men into stores like Prada and Gucci. A far cry from the crispy Welshmen we had grown accustom to spotting on the Beaches of Benalmadena.

The next day was recovery day where we hit the beach and relaxed at our new favourite beachside restaurant, Rincon del Mar. The owner was very welcoming, treated us like royalty and kept our wine glasses full. We loved it so much, we told him we’d be back the next day for my birthday dinner celebration. I went to sleep with the excitement of tomorrow’s day – a Spanish road trip into unknown where we would celebrate my birthday.

The next day when I awoke, I thought “Wow! It’s my birthday and I’m in Spain! What could be better?!”. Then I opened the curtains to find that our sunny Spanish countryside had transformed into a bleak, grey drizzly mud puddle. Nevertheless, we set out to find birthday happiness on the roads. You will notice that this day is not well documented in the photos. That is because the pictures would depict a depressing day of solitude. Apparently when it rains in Spain, the locals abandon the streets like El Guapo is coming (I realize this is a Mexican reference but the image of the villagers shutting their windows in fear is the same as how I picture the Spanish locals shutting their doors to drizzle). So we spent a splashy day driving to seemingly abandoned towns and villages only to find that all the restaurants and stores were closed and every city we drove through might as well have been a ghost town. That being said, this allowed Jamie and I day to listen to music in the car and drive around and talk. Which, in the end, was sappy and romantic and perfect for a birthday.

When we got back to the hotel, we immediately head over to our new favourite restaurant as we were both ready for some much needed wine. Our host greeted us with enthusiasm and we were treated to a delicious meal. At the end of the meal, the owner (having not been reminded of the fact that it was my birthday since we mentioned it the day before) brought out a piece of pie with a tea light sitting on the plate. He then conducted his entire kitchen staff in singing “Happy Birthday” to me. This is not the customary birthday song in Spain and many of the boys faltered on the lyrics and tune, but it was so heartfelt that it remains in my memory, the best time this song has ever been sung to me. Awesome Birthday after all.

On our last day, the sun was shining again and we decided to climb a mountain. Well, that’s not accurate – we decided to let a cable car pull us to the top of a mountain where we climbed some stairs and pretended as if we had accomplished something great. (The walk to the where the cable car picked us up was actually challenging – that’s why I wore my workout clothes!). Naturally, we finished our time in Costa Del Sol sitting at the pool and soaking in the relaxation, as the next day we would be on our way to Madrid to experience some big city culture.

UGLY:

How rarely I blog anymore. This time it will be better, guys!!

The low point of birthday day was driving past a sad, wet carnival that no one was at, then stopping for food at the only open restaurant, where a man who was clearly 100 years old served us pizza which was removed from plastic packaging and then put in the microwave for us.

AWESOME:

Malaga was very fancy and nice. If we were to go back, I would have put on a snazzy dress and heels and paraded around like I had money to burn.

Although my birthday was a bit of a sad sack, the restaurant episode actually made me so happy that it pretty much turned the day around.


Next time on Ugly/ Awesome:

Madrid! Art! Statues! Bachelorette parties! A bar called “Latina Turner”! Don’t miss it!

Benalmadena – Your Home Away From Dublin!

Welcome to the museum of random tiles and archways and doors. Oh no, I’m sorry this is my blog post. I became confused because of how many random photos there are of architectural marvels (and non marvels) that occupy the space of this post.

Last time on Ugly Awesome we were rushing around Barcelona eating fried mush balls and drinking cava. This time on Ugly Awesome, we eat fried mush balls and drink Sangria and Cerveza… Andelé!

We landed in Malaga in the dead of night. We rented a space-aged European car and started our journey through winding roads and unfamiliar highways. Our GPS system kept directing us directly into water and hills and such so we were reduced to asking a man dressed as Elvis to direct us to Sunset Beach Club resort in the Beach town of Benalmadena. When we arrived, the area was pitch black and the only thing we could really see about our hotel was that it was right next to the beach – success! We checked in to our odd room with two single beds (Apparently it was the only option…I’d like to see the Honeymoon Suite). The room was good and our harrowing journey had made us tired, so we shook hands and retired to our own beds.

In the morning, when I woke up, I opened my eyes and had the surprise of my life – in front of me, through the window, was the most beautiful view of the Mountains. I hadn’t even realized the mountains were there the night before and here they were like they’d grown there over night. Thus began our week of Beach goodness.

I’d never had a vacation where the purpose of the trip was to sit on a beach and drink cocktails and soak up the sun (Sheryl Crow) so I was beyond excited. I threw on a bikini and informed Jamie it was Red Lobster time (time for me to sit in the sun until I resembled my arch nemesis). We head down to the pool and grew comfortable there. Along with the sandy, wavy beach, the pool became our grazing ground for the next several days. It was magic.

I should mention that our initial expectation of Benalmadena was that it was an exotic place filled with the scent of various spices and the sight of shirtless Spanish men (and women) and we would sip on coconut milk whist the breeze combed our sandy hair with it’s warm tines. That first day on the beach, we were informed through casual conversation that Benalmadena was the prime vacation choice for Irish, Scottish and English tourists. So instead of various spices, the boardwalk smelled more like Bangers and Mash. The shirtless Spanish men were in fact fat, sunburnt Irishmen (and women) and could be heard most times of the day slurring about more “pints from the dollar machines, you tosser!”. Jamie and I were surprised at first, but grew to love our Coronation Street companions and re-adjusted our beach vacation rose coloured glasses.

About half way through our beach week, we decided we should do something historic and productive, so we asked the resident event planner for ideas. She told us about Alhambra – Apparently the main reason why many tourists come to Spain, Alhambra is a collection of very impressive palaces located in Granada. It was built in the mid 14th century by Moorish rulers before it was re-possessed by Catholic Monarchs. It’s famous for being built by several different cultures, depending on who owned it over the years and who built more additions to the palaces. In the end, it incorporates traditional Arabic design elements with Christian and Jewish additions as well as parts of the palaces which are French and Italian inspired. Basically it looks like Paradise.

Jamie and I awoke extremely early in the morning in hopes that we could secure a spot to tour the grounds (Most people book weeks ahead – but we had only just heard of it!) We arrived at 8am and managed to grab a tour at 2 in the afternoon. We whiled away the time sipping delicious Café con leche and watching a mama cat transport her new kittens from their little nest in a tree to their new home behind the restaurant. We explored Granada – the town Alhambra sits in, and hiked up a steep, foresty hill to the entrance where we took our tour.

Alhambra can only be described in pictures, which is why there are so many of them down there! It was probably the most impressive place I’ve seen in real life and I would recommend going to anyone who happens to be doing the Spain thing. I won’t go on and on about it, just promise to look at some of the seemingly boring pictures…but then imagine someone making it by hand in the mid 14th century…And if it’s still boring, imagine them doing the hustle in the nuddy pants. See, history can be exciting!

Ugly

My red, blotchy face in most of these pictures. I walked too much that day. Too much.
Eating a questionable egg salad sandwich after it was in my hot backpack for several hours…bad idea.
Most British people, apparently. I watch Corrie – I should have known.

Awesome

Pretending you are a Ferrero Rocher goddess in Paradise who walks on water whilst eating the chocolate of the Gods…(it was actually a Haagen Dazs Ice Cream Bar, but it was tasty and refreshing after our long tour of the amazing Alhambra)
BEACH VACAY #1! (Hopefully 1 of several more)

NEXT TIME ON UGLY AWESOME:

Caitlin’s Birthday – Will it involve a Spanish carnival? YOU DECIDE!

Picaso Museum – White and bare just like my bikini bod!

Mountain Climbing – Not just for goats anymore!

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