Monday, September 30, 2013

Tarifa, Grenada, Alhambra, Cabo de Gata

There are some cool photos that didn't fit in this post! 

We left off having just boarded our ferry from Tangiers to Tarifa. It was a really beautiful day and a calm crossing. It was pretty interesting getting to cross the Straight of Gibraltar and to see the two continents at once. You can see it in this picture if you look closely! 

We spent 3 and a bit days in Tarifa. It is the southernmost point in Europe and is known worldwide as the place to be for wind and kite surfing. Because it is right on the Straight of Gibraltar, you can actually swim in both the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans with only a 3 minute walk in between. We had a wonderful AirBnb Apartment in Tarifa, only a 5 minute walk to the beach. We spent our first few days just sleeping, lounging on the beach, swimming and catching up on internet things and planning for the next stage of our trip. We both found we were pretty exhausted from the fun but packed itinerary in Morocco. The first day and half there were tons of kite and wind surfers and it was really fun watching them do jumps and glide along with the wind. The last half of the time, there were hardly any. We took the opportunity to spend a whole afternoon making a series of giant holes in the beach all connected with moats and rivers. It was wonderfully relaxing! 

We reluctantly left our beach haven of Tarifa, to head to Granada. After quite a bit of research at our apartment, we determined the best way to get around Spain would be driving. So we took a bus and taxi ride to a very interesting, very German resort just past Gibraltar to rent a Smart car. Our backpacks just fit in the trunk, but it was a great little car and we had a great time driving around for the next few weeks. 
We stopped by Nerja on the way, which is known as the "balcony of Europe." It certainly had a great view, and was a very cute little town. We were able to secure our tickets to go see Alhambra the next day from there, as well as enjoy the view over lunch. 

We spent the night in Granada. We found a small hostel type hotel downtown. Once we dropped off all our stuff, we went to explore the city, since we only really had the evening there. One thing we found amazing was this one square that was full of birds! We started to hear them a few blocks away and couldn't believe our eyes and ears when we came upon it. This video is just a small taste of it. Jerome had found a restaurant he really wanted to try out, but it happened to be closed for a private party. We ended up finding a pretty cool and tasty tapas restaurant though which was almost empty, but had great food and service. We headed back to our hotel happy and tired after having a long day of traveling, only to find our laundry soap had leaked all over one of our backpacks. Being in a hostel type place, we had to try and rinse out as much as we could in a shared bathroom and hope it would all dry in time to check out early in the morning. We hung everything on the tiny balcony and got into bed, and then we heard the rain start to pour... So we gathered it all in and re-hung it in our room, and were glad we'd brought so many extra plastic bags. At least we knew everything in the bag was very clean! 

We were up early to check out and make our way to Alhambra the next morning. We packed up our soggy belongings and headed out. Alhambra is an amazing palace built in the 1300's. It is amazingly impressive and we took a ton of pictures, which you can see more of here

The architecture and details are exquisite. And it has quite the impressive history as well. One of the rooms inside is where Christopher Columbus got the okay to sail off and end up discovering America! We spent the good part of the day there checking out the palace and amazing gardens. Once we were done being impressed, we grabbed our bags and car and headed to Cabo de Gata Natural Park. It has a very unique landscape, almost desert like which is quite a change from the surroundings. It has great beaches and hiking, which is why we chose to stop by. 

The first day after we swam at one of the beaches, we saw this crazy cool light in the sky. Our guess was it was a unusual combination of rainbow and sunset. 

We spent an afternoon and full day here, enjoying the unusual desert beaches and trails. This was what we thought was a deserted fort along the "Pirate Smugglers Path" hiking trail, only to see these three giant dogs guarding it from the roof. Check out our album to see some more pictures from the Park. You can see in the map below that we covered most of the bottom coast of Spain over this week. In the next post we head northwest all the way to San Sebastian. 

View Jerome and Laura's Trip to Europe in a larger map

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