Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Road Trip!

Just as we were getting settled in Torremolinos, Kenny and I decided to take a quick road trip to meet up with my cousins in Lloret de Mar (near Barcelona). This is our first time in Spain, so we were very excited to get to see a bit more of it and drive along the coast. It had also been more than six years since I had seen my cousins! We rented a car, downloaded maps and hit the road:

One for the road! There's a churro shop on the way to the train station, we stopped in for a quick to-go churro treatment.

Every time we have rented a car I have secretly wished for a Fiat 500. Not only did I get my Fiat, but I got a shiny blue Fiat to show off for the cousins! Off to a good start...

Spain is Beautiful! Driving up the coast (and further inland at times) was incredible. Fertile valleys with every kind of delicious thing growing (we saw artichokes, grapes, olives, oranges, lemons, all manner of colorful lettuce, and blossoming trees).

The driver.

This looks strangely familiar... Spain or New Mexico?

Blossoming trees!! Spotted from a random pull-off along the motor way. A wonderful treat for a stop-and-stretch, their scent perfumed a cool breeze which was pleasant in the warm sun.

Making shadows with Fiat

Tucked in for the night, see you in the morning!

We booked an apartment for a night to break up the 10(ish) hour drive into two days. When we arrived, the woman at the front desk seemed very excited about the one waiting for us. We rode the elevator to the top floor and opened the door to a two story penthouse! See below:

Such a penthouse! Huge kitchen and living area, two (!) balconies, one of them overlooked a bull fighting arena. What luck!

On the road again

KITTY! He and his buddy were napping in the sun at a rest stop. They were not as friendly as other Spanish cats. Or at least not as interested in collecting a scratch as payment for modeling.

First glimpse of Lloret: nice outdoor market

We went to the beach and found some equipment. I instructed Denise to reel in a boat for us but I don't believe she was serious about the task.

The castle of Lloret!  It's actually a private residence, built between 1935-1940.

Cousins! We spent the afternoon drinking mate, catching up and then made a feast. Notice me showing off the blog in the picture on the left. Cast of characters (bottom right, clockwise from left): Cloe, Mane, Maria Laura, me.

Kenny tends to take a lot of pictures. This series captures the occasionally resulting subject fatigue.

Just one of the incredible vistas around Lloret

Tossa! Just a bit up the coast from Lloret, comes with actual historic castle. Well, actually a lookout/wall combo but equally historical to a castle. Not faked by some eccentric industrialist.

Fighting the wind to get to the walled city

Nice view of the town!

Taking part in the evidently long-standing tradition of rubbing for good luck. When in Tossa...

View off the top.

Wandering the little streets within the walled city

I was held up taking pictures of the street (above) while Denise and Maria Laura went through a secret hole in the wall to a nice view. There was a dog in the opening to greet me and show the way, but the first picture I took was on the wrong setting and got overexposed. So here is a picture of Dog's butt instead.

View from the secret hidey-hole!

Lunchtime: the free tapas included a shorter cured, smashed olive. Very delicious.

ALFAJOR!! The cousins were kind enough to share some of their coveted "Havanna" brand alfajores with me. Thank you cousins!!

Trying to sneak a peak of the boat church while it was being revamped

Nice place!

Kenny tried to be a sneaky photographer, but Maria Laura was one step ahead of him

Sneaking comes easier when attempted from a distance.

I tried to be helpful in the kitchen until I realized that I would have to stick my hand in the oven to turn it on... seems like a good way to get burned. I'd better just watch.

This is the other side of Mane's apartment. I thought it was pretty sweet.

Sunrise over Lloret

Protest! No time to join up, though, focus on driving today.

Tucked away church in Granada

We stopped by Granada on the way back. Unfortunately this was just about as much as we got to see of La Alhambra...we didn't make it before siesta and didn't have time to wait for it to reopen.

(the outside of) La Alhambra!

An up-close olive tree! With olives on it! Having seen them along the road I was really hoping to get up close to one but they were always fenced off. La Alhambra visit was not a complete loss.

Walking to the cathedral: notice the hanging mime on the gate

Big ol' Granadic church.

Mission complete, Fiat returned to base.

Goodbye noble Fiat. You were everything I dreamed you would be!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Life in the Tor

Torremolinos is my favorite so far.  Just an incredible place to live.  The food is so cheap and the cheapest options are of amazing quality.  It never really gets below 40°F.  Plenty of Sun.  Well, and the beach of course.
A quick note: I know I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger in the last post, but I won't say anything more on that just yet. I don't want to jinx anything before it becomes more official...

Let's live somewhere else.  The man next door liked to laugh at 4 in the morning.  Since the wall on his side was so thin it was like he was in the same room with us. 
The new apartment! Our favorite features: big balcony with a view and no noisy neighbors. 
We went out for a drink!
Boquerones (fresh marinated anchovies) on the beach
There's a point along the beach path that has a really nice view.
We had to get a few things to make the house a home: a heater was my first item on the agenda. Despite the warmer outside temps, our apartment manages to be freezing (especially at night). I think it has to do with the stone tile floors and drafts that come in through the light fixtures. 
My external drive started making noise in Germany and finally died.  Actually the second Amazon purchase in Europe...I ordered a replacement exercise band in Germany.
Adjusting to tiny kitchen cooking: one-pot meals are the way to go to avoid cooking induced panic and dropped dinner ingredients. If you have any good recipes, send them our way.
The produce is incredibly good in Spain.  Super cheap and top quality.  We've been getting into large salads.

Gochujang Spaghetti: one of our favorite new recipes. Boy oh boy is this worth making. If you're interested, here is the recipe.
At the Carrefour mall they have a separate shop for the Jamón Ibérico. Now that is my kind of shop.
More beach time!  It's starting to get really warm some days.
Kenny wanted to test the water
I've never lived near a beach!  Gonna live it up.
The long promenade along the beach. This section is right next to a big rock that sticks out that we've deemed the "Cat Manor." For some reason, a colony of stray cats has settled on and this rock (kept well fed by tourists, I surmise). The promenade seems to go on forever in either direction and is lined with Tapas restaurants and shops. 
Kitty!  They're very friendly on the Manor.  A perfect place to colonize.
They utilize their environment to its full advantage.
Kenny has adjusted very well to the Spanish lifestyle: notice the expert integration of the siesta into his daily schedule.    
Mate time!  We put together a kit from provisions on hand.
We found an incredible amount of Argentinean products at the supermarkets. Kenny was able to taste his first Alfajor in Spain.
My new favorite snack.  Oh MAN the grocery stores!  The Mercadona has €0.40 baguettes which are phenomenal.  And the cheap olive oil is delicious and so is the €0.99 wine. 
One of Kenny's pretty pictures. Ladybugs are everywhere: We generally have a few buzzing around the apartment at all times.
Aline, our landlady, brought us flowers!
She also brought us a microwave! Sometimes you don't realize how much you've missed a machine until you get it back.
Kenny allowed me to do a bit of a photo shoot so that he could have a nice photo to put up on his new website (web development and site maintenance for hire: check it out!). The bottom right shot is my absolute favorite, but he didn't end up using it. The other two are the winning shots.