Ronda to Arcos de la Frontera

Today we drove west again (about 60 mile) to Arcos de la Frontera, another one of the white hill towns.

Before we left Ronda we went for a walk.

Duke in a garden overlooking the gorge in Ronda

About half way to Arcos de la Frontera We stopped at an artisanal olive oil mill in Zahara de la Sierra. Of course there is nothing much going on right now but it was fascinating to see all the equipment and ask questions. After the thousands of olive trees we have seen over the last few days we had lots of questions. The man behind the counter was very knowledgeable. He said his grandfather was a bull breeder for bull fighting. He had lots of very cool pictures.

Duke with one of the olive oil presses

Next we climbed up to the Castillo de Zahara de la Sierra.

Castillo de Zahara de la Sierra

A little bit farther down the road we stopped for a picnic lunch.

The road to the Parador in Arcos de la Frontera is very narrow. Duke pulled in the mirrors on the car and we made it to the Parador with no scrapes. We ate dinner at a wonderful little restaurant called La Carcél. We shared six plates including goat cheese and marmalade, stuffed mushrooms, prawns, and octopus.

The Parador of Arcos de la Frontera
The octopus we shared as part of our dinner
The road to the Parador
The view after dinner from the Parador terrace

Granada to Ronda

This morning we left Granada and drove about 110 miles west and a little south to the white hill town of Ronda. Along the way we took a short break at an overlook to eat some of our oranges.

Ronda is one of my favorite places in Spain. There is a gorge running through the center of town. The gorge is spanned by a stone bridge. Our Parador overlooks the gorge and the bridge.

The Parador of Ronda

The weather today was perfect. We enjoyed sitting outside overlooking the bridge for our welcome drinks.

We wandered around Ronda a bit.

The Bull Ring in Ronda

Before we went down to dinner we checked out the full moon coming up over the bridge.

We had a great dinner in the Parador.

Sea bass

Granada and the Alhambra

This morning we found a place for coffee near our hotel.

Tomato on toast with fresh orange juice and coffee

About 10 AM we went up to the Alhambra. It sits with a commanding view of the surrounding city and country. We have been there a few times so we did not take the tour. Our friends did take the tour and took some fantastic pictures.

Patio de Arrayanes in the Palacios Nazaríes
Jardines de San Francisco in the Alhambra

We explored the parts of the Alhambra that don’t require a ticket.

Puerta de la Justicia

In the Carlos V palace they currently have a temporary exhibition – Zirid Granada and the Berber Universe. It was fascinating. The introduction to the exhibition says:

The Berber (or Imazighen, as they prefer to be known) are the group of peoples who since ancient times occupied almost all of North Africa, from the Siwa oasis (west of Egypt) to the Atlantic Ocean

The Carlos V palace also houses the equally interesting Alhambra Museum. After Spending quite a bit of time in each Museum we explored a bit more then went to the terrace bar of the Alhambra Parador and had coffee. The terrace is in a beautiful peaceful spot in the middle of the Alhambra.

Duke on the Alhambra Parador terrace

After we left the Alhambra we had lunch.

We needed to buy playing cards. I learned something new. There are two kinds of playing cards sold here, Spanish cards and poker cards. It took us a while to find a place that had poker cards for sale. After a bit of rest we played cards on our hotel room balcony.

Getting ready to play cards

When We were in Granada in February of 2018 we had a wonderful steak dinner at Negro Carbón restaurant. We enjoyed it so much that Duke made a reservation in advance so that we could go there to night. It was as good as last time.

Almagro to Granada

Today we drove from Almagro to Granada and explored some of the back roads along the way.

The first stork of our trip

We saw thousands of olive trees and stopped for a picnic lunch next to an olive grove.

Picnic lunch by the side of the road

After lunch we were a bit farther down the road and found a dirt road up to a hilltop with a great view.

Castle surrounded by olive groves.

We found our way to our hotel in central Granada and after a bit of a rest went out for tapas and beer for dinner.

Tapas and beer in Granada

Valencia to Almagro

Here is the link to my video with a few of the sites we saw in Barcelona and Valencia.

This morning we picked up a rental car in Valencia and drove 210 miles west to Almagro in the Spanish region of La Mancha. One of the highlights of our day was when we stopped at a grocery store in a small town to buy some picnic food for tomorrow. The staff behind the meat and deli counter were super friendly. They gave us cheese and ham to sample and showed us a few of the many things they stock.

Pig face that you can buy in the meat section.

The young woman behind the counter is a expert ham carver. She has competed in competitions and won many awards. She showed us her album.

La jamonera

The Parador we are staying at in Almagro is a former Franciscan convent that was originally built in 1603. It was expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries but was in ruins when in 1977 they began the work to make it a Parador. The reconstruction took seven years.

The entrance to the Parador de Almagro
The Patio del Agua
One of our rooms

We spent quite a bit of time exploring after we arrived. We had our welcome drinks in the former wine cellar.

Welcome drinks next to old wine vats

We had a delicious dinner in the Parador restaurant. We had steak for our main course and various yummy deserts.

Fried artichokes to start.

Barcelona to Valencia

This morning after breakfast we visited Barcelona Cathedral. They started building the Cathedral in 1298 and provisionally finished it in 1450.

Inside Barcelona Cathedral

Our train to Valencia left at noon so our visit to the Barcelona Museum had to be short. The Museum tells the history of Barcelona since prehistoric times. The archaeological ruins in the basement of the museum are really fascinating. There are the remains of Roman building from around 300 AD. On top of them are the remains of a Chapel from around 600 AD. As you walk through the ruins more and more recent buildings are revealed.

The Archaeological Ruins below the Barcelona Museum

Our train to Valencia took about three and a half hours. It was a smooth and uneventful ride.

Our train to Valencia

Valencia is a beautiful city. We spent a couple of hours walking around and admiring the squares and the buildings.

Marion and Duke In Valencia

We had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant near our hotel.

Beet hummus and breadsticks
Spanish ham and rosemary crusted cheese
Covina fish with a peppermint sauce.

Barcelona

This morning we took the metro out to the airport to meet our friendS Rick and Elaine who will be traveling with us for the next two weeks. After they checked into the hotel we went exploring. First we went to the cafeteria at the top of the Corte Inglés department store on Plaza Catalan. for coffee and pastries.

Having coffee in the Corte Inglés department store on Plaza Catalan

Next we strolled down Las Ramblas.

Las Ramblas

We stopped to rest our feet and people watch for a while. While we were sitting there we saw a seagull kill and start eating a pigeon. It was gory!

A break on Las Ramblas

Next we went to the top of the Columbus Monument overlooking the harbor.

The Columbus Monument
The view from the top of the Columbus Monument.

Next we Walked through the Gothic Quarter on our way back to our hotel.

A street in the Gothic Quarter

For dinner we went to a restaurant called Raó. The atmosphere was great. The people were friendly and the food was wonderful. We had several small plates each of which we shared.

Octopus in a paprika sauce.

Gran Canaria to Barcelona

Here’s a link to my Gran Canaria video on YouTube.

This morning after breakfast we went for a great hike from Cruz de Tejeda along the ridge top. We could see all the way down to where we stayed in Las Palmas in one direction and in the other direction we could see the island of Tenerife.

Along the way we had a nice chat with a couple from Yorkshire in England. When we mentioned we were going to Barcelona they said “Beware of the pickpockets!” We agreed because we also know people who have been robbed in Barcelona. Of course we always try to be very careful and aware.

When we got back to the Parador we packed up and checked out. We drove to the airport, turned in our rental car and got a flight to Barcelona where we are tonight.

In Barcelona we took the metro to our hotel. As we were changing trains we started up a series of escalators. Then the escalator stopped. There was a well dressed couple right behind us. I started to climb up the stopped escalator and the guy behind me helped with my suitcase. We got on the next escalator and then it stopped. This time the guy was up by Duke and the woman tried to help me. As I ran out of breath and insisted on stopping I looked up and saw Duke push the man away from him and yell very loudly “You’re a f***ing thief!” By the time I got to the top of the escalator the couple were heading up the next escalator. We regrouped and I asked Duke what happened. He said he had realized the man had his hand in Duke’s pocket. The couple were pickpockets! They were stopping the escalators as a diversion. Luckily we didn’t lose anything. It was a very disconcerting experience.

We found our hotel, rested a bit, then found a tapas bar for a great dinner.

Las Palmas to Cruz de Tejeda on Gran Canaria

This afternoon we rented a car and drove up into the center of Gran Canaria. We are staying at the Parador Cruz de Tejeda. It feels like we are at the very top of the island. We have magnificent views in every direction.

View from Parador Cruz de Tejeda
Parador Cruz de Tejeda

This morning we walked to El Corte Inglés department store. They have a post office where we bought stamps and mailed a couple of post cards. Then we went to their restaurant and had a bit of breakfast.

Breakfast in El Corte Inglés

We wanted to have a picnic dinner tonight so we bought food in El Corte Inglés grocery store.

When we arrived at the Parador this was waiting for us in our room.

Here is our picnic dinner.

Avocado, cheese, bread, olives, Jamón Serrano, squid salad

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

It’s a beautiful day here on Gran Canaria, a low of 62 and a high of 70. We started out the day by walking along the promenade to the auditorium at the south end.

Along the promenade

Along the way we stopped for pastries and coffee.

Later we saw a churrería and stopped for more coffee and a churro.

Coffee and a churro

We were resting in our room when we heard the children’s parade starting so we went down to watch.

Part of the children’s parade
More of the children’s parade

Duke was really looking forward to seeing them mark the end of Carnival by burning the sardine. We found some seats in the bleachers and waited for the parade escorting the sardine to start. It was worth the wait. The end of the parade was the sardine followed by mourners in black.

The sardine
The mourners

We followed the sardine as it headed towards the beach. We were swept along by the crowd and were dumped onto the beach. Eventually the sardine was carried down to the water and loaded onto a barge.

The sardine being carried across the beach
The sardine being towed out from the beach

Eventually they lit the sardine on fire and then the magnificent fire works show started.

The sardine burning and the fireworks starting
Fireworks

As the fireworks were ending we found our way to an Italian restaurant overlooking the beach and had dinner. The pizza and ravioli were excellent.

Ristorante Pizzería Al Maccaroni
Anchovy and olive pizza
Shrimp and salmon ravioli

What a great day!