Burgos

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Wednesday 14th November 2018

After a fairly uneventful drive (with the exception of driving around Madrid towing a caravan!) we arrived in Burgos, a step nearer to our final destination in Spain (Santander), ready to catch the ferry home early evening on Sunday.  (STOP PRESS……..we have just been notified that due to bad weather on the Bay of Biscay the ferry has been rerouted to Bilbao and delayed until midnight on Sunday !!!!!)

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As always after a long drive I like to get out and stretch my legs if there is time.  The river Arlanzón flows close to the campsite, and as it was still light we set out for a walk.  It’s a lot colder here than it was in Aranjuez; time for long trousers and jumpers and coats!

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There is a “beach” on the river bank not far away from the campsite but it was a bit too chilly today to tempt me in…….mind you my wetsuit was back at the caravan……………..

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On second thoughts I decided to just enjoy the walk!

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Thursday 15th November 2018

A bit of an overcast day to explore the city of Burgos. We had been told not to miss the old town.

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It has many historic landmarks, and of particular importance is the Cathedral of Burgos which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984.

Castilian nobleman, military leader and diplomat El Cid Campeador is a significant historical figure in the city, as he was born a couple of kilometres north of Burgos and was raised and educated there.  The photos above were taken in and around the Cathedral and the bottom right depicts El Cid and not Elsie as Jane thought (not really!)

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The colours of the many stained glass windows was amazing, casting many different shades of light all over the cathedral .

 

After an hour or two of exploring it was time to make that difficult decision on what to have for lunch ……….Tapas or Menu del Dìa.  As it was a little chilly a full blown menu of the day was decided on.  We had three courses each and a bottle of wine and a coffee and it was only €30 for the two of us, amazing value for money!

Jane was telling this lady about the great meal we just had but she didn’t seem to want to listen !

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Mind you this chap was a lot more interested in what was going on!

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Royal Palace of Aranjuez

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Tuesday 13th November 2018

We left southern Spain on Monday morning to embark on our long journey through the middle of the country towards Santander to catch our ferry home. We aimed to get the majority of the drive under our belts on the first day, leaving us two more leisurely drives to follow and to arrive near Santander on Friday evening.  Val had read about the Royal Palace at Aranjuez and that the gardens were a match for those at Versailles near Paris. The top photo shows you the view we had from our pitch on our campsite.

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The Palace was only a short walk from where we were staying and it was great to be able to stretch our legs after yesterday’s long drive.

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We had left the dry summery weather of the Mediteranean  with its arid landscape the previous day, and had arrived here in the  middle of Spain with its more more lush countryside in Autumn!

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The bright sunshine totally enhanced the brilliant colours of the Autumn leaves!

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Jane and Val got in to full modelling mode, I think this was due to the interest that Kev and I took in a glamour shoot that was going on nearby!

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Everywhere I looked there seemed to be a photo opportunity so I make no excuses on the  quantity of pictures on this particular blog!

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To get to the Palace we first had to walk through the local park………

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Aranjuez is a town on the River Tagus in central Spain, south of Madrid. Its Renaissance, French-influenced Royal Palace has an elaborate facade and a lavishly decorated interior, including a porcelain room.  On the grounds, by the river, are ornamental gardens like the Jardín de la Isla. In the Prince’s Garden is the Casa del Labrador, an ornate neoclassical mansion, plus an ornamental pond with a Chinese Pavilion.

(Ok I did copy that from Wikipedia, but I thought you might like to know!)

 

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Being able to visit these places out of season is great as you don’t have to contend with too many other people!

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Also without too many other tourists it’s easier to get the photos you want without too much waiting!

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Mind you the ducks are always happy to pose!

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These long avenues of shady trees must give some welcome relief from the sun during the height of the summer!

As would dipping your hands in the cooling waters of the many fountains that are contained in these extensive gardens.

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There is also a maze should the fancy take you, not too difficult as I was tall enough to see over the hedges!

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We didn’t get to go in to the palace on this occasion as it seemed a shame to waste this gloriously sunny day, and besides, the geocaches were all outside!  We will definitely be back to this area again as I have never visited Madrid before. I’m not so sure I would take my caravan through Madrid again, but thats another story……………..

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Evening Stroll

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These rock formations were a short drive from our campsite. An ideal destination for an evening stroll and maybe a geocache.

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Las Gredas de Bolnuevo, also called Ciudad Encantada, are heavily eroded sandstone formations along the beach of Bolnuevo, Murcia, Spain. The sandstone shapes are sculpted by water and wind over thousands of years and are considered as a monument of natural interest. The Ciudad Encantada is formed by clay.

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Its like a very small bit of monument valley.

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This was my first earth-cache and Jane is there to prove we found it…….

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A very pleasant way to while away a sunny evening and it was quite easy to find a parking space as well! We will soon have to say goodbye to these warm evenings as we start to head north to catch the ferry home!

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Wild Swimming

 

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Before our first trip to the Iberian Peninsula  last year I purchased a book entitled “Wild Swimming in Spain”.  I never got round to doing any because either they were too far away, or the weather wasn’t conducive for me to try swimming in these remote locations with just my speedos on!

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What I really needed was some like-minded person to encourage/push me in to trying at least one location before heading on back home, and after reading the book Kev was that man!  With the promise of a lovely scenic drive Jane and Val were onboard for a fun day out.

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We put the GPS co-ordinates in the car’s sat nav and off we set. When we first arrived at the site it appeared deserted, but as we made our way down the steps we noticed a group of 4 people having a picnic.

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When you come to a spot like this ideally you would find no one else there, or if that wasn’t the case maybe a few more groups, but when you have got only 2 groups (including yours) it then feels a little awkward!  We were going to invade their peace and tranquillity by swimming around in the quiet waters.

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However the dragon fly didn’t seem to mind……………..

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And the fish seemed keen to find some thing else to nibble on…………..

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Kev surveyed the area devising in his mind what kind of dive would be appropriate in these surroundings…….

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We settled down on the rocks to partake of a little light lunch (I know you shouldn’t eat before you go swimming, but Jane said on this occasion it was ok!), to enjoy the ambiance of the location, and to let the other visitors eat in peace before we dived in! (Luckily, they went before we finished eating so we had no qualms about making fools of ourselves!!)

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Oh I forgot to say that we had got wetsuits, although the sun was shining the water was bloody cold!

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Jane had told me not to wear my dinner suit underneath but as I wasn’t sure where we would be dining that night I didn’t listen!

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Like a couple of olympic athletes we gracefully climbed over the rocks……………….

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… to explore ever deeper the hidden depths of the river…………..

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What a couple of posers!

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I don’t think I have ever had such a refreshing swim!

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Then afterwards we had to climb back down the raging waterfalls that locals have likened to the Victoria Falls, but we survived unscathed!

 

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Safety was almost in sight as we rounded the bend…………..

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And with safety came the knowledge that I still had a packet of crisps to finish off!

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Having finally realised how good I look in a wet suit there was no stopping me………….

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a bit a snorkelling was called for…………

 

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This time I took my dinner suit and rolled it up and placed it by my stomach for extra warmth!

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We braved the killer jelly fish and had a great 30 minutes watching all the brightly coloured fish!

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Los Madrilles

 

Sunday 28th October 2018

Camping Los Madrilles is close to the small seaside resort of Isla Plana.  It’s a great campsite mainly populated by long-stay residents who choose to spend the winter in warmer climes. Many people arrive here in October and don’t return to the UK until April.  I’m not sure that I’d like that but the lure of the sunshine and warmth is just too much for a lot of people!

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The site is well looked after, well maintained and very well manicured………….

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Many people return here year after year and have the same pitch which they make their own. They get a local internet connection and have huge great satellite dishes so that they can get BBC and ITV, thereby keeping up with the English T.V. (Strictly come Dancing, for example!!!)

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There is a real community feel here with large groups of northern Europeans looking for a warmer winter than they would get at home.

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The site is very well laid out with small closes of no more than 6-8 caravans or motorhomes in each area so it never seems very busy or overcrowded.

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A lovely sunrise to welcome you in to the day as you set off for your morning ablutions!

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The showers and toilets were all spotlessly clean and there were plenty of them so never any problems getting a shower when you wanted one!

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The pool area was great and again this was spotless …………..

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I liked the indoor pool best as it was easier to measure my daily mile……well almost daily!

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One of the main social activities centred around the boules courts where competitions were held 3 times a week, a great place to meet people. If you didn’t like boules there were walking clubs, cycling, choirs, pilates , yoga and much much more!

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A short walk from the campsite is the small town of Azohia which has a very nice promenade, ideal for an afternoon stroll followed by a glass of wine or two!

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The beach was one that was better to view from a distance rather than struggle over all the stones for a swim, especially when you have a great pool back at the campsite!

 

 

 

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Geocaching

During this trip I have really caught the Geocaching bug.  It is great to go out for a lovely walk with a purpose.  Caches are hidden in some very unusual places and you get taken to places that as a tourist you might not ordinarily find.  To start off with I downloaded the geocaching app to my i-phone.  The first page shows you the caches that are available to find in your area, and  if you highlight one of the icons on the map it will give you a description and a location of where to start your hunt.  On the example above the yellow smiley faces are ones that I have already found and the green ones are ones that still need to be searched for. The Lost Mine, for example, was one that I was heading for on this particular day, and on the bottom left screen shot you can see a blue dot, which is your present location, and the orange line is the most direct route as the crow flies  to where you need to be. This is not always the best way for you to get to your goal as rivers and lack of roads can really hinder your progress!  The green compass tells you how far, and in which direction, you need to go, and the last screen shot shows you one of the hints that are available for this particular cache.

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The distance on the compass shows that this cache was 2.8km away from our present location…………. but by the time we had walked “around the houses” it was a lot longer……. you can just about make out the deserted buildings in the far distance!

We were advised that the cache wasn’t hidden in any of the tunnels ….. as if !

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Well, I suppose if you had Indiana Jones with you then anything was possible!

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This cache was found under a few rocks beneath a sink in a crumbling wash block.  (Now that I am geocaching more often I have treated myself to a Garmin GPS which works when there is no phone signal.)

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This is Kev surveying the area, and he really wanted to explore in the mine entrance and beyond, that you can see in the distance.  I wasn’t so sure, and besides Jane has told me I have to behave myself, and not get lost…..well I think thats what she said!

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The view back down the valley to the sea was well worth all the effort, however Kev did point out to me that if I had studied the map a little more thoroughly then we could have saved the “around the houses” part of the trip and driven a lot closer and saved a bit of effort……..well I am still learning……..from the master!!!

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We have now done many early morning trips to explore the local areas close to our campsites, which gives Jane and Val plenty of time to “do” their hair and get ready for an action packed day!

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It’s amazing, during a 4-5 mile walk early in the morning, how many of the world’s problems we can solve!

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Then every half a mile or so we stop to find a cache hidden in a log………..

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Or by a crumbling shed (we didn’t find this one due to a recent landslide!)

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We couldn’t find this one either.  Well, there is always tomorrow!

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As I said earlier you get to see places a little off the beaten track and very often get rewarded with some stunning views!

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And plenty of photo opportunities along the way!

 

 

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And if you can’t get the whole trail done in one session, you get a chance to do a bit of off-road driving the next day so you can finish off your hunt!

 

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Cartagena

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Tuesday 1st November 2018

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ear……….and I will tell you all about our day trip to Cartagena.  This city is only a 45 minute drive away through some large hills with some great views. When we arrived we bought a ticket which allowed us entry in to all the sites of Roman ruins that we had come to visit.  These sites were dotted around the city so as you strolled from one to another you got a feel of the modern city as well.

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One of the sites we visited was of a Roman town house where you could still see the outlines of all the rooms and with a few of the walls still intact, and the artwork on the walls still vibrant, you could get a sense of how a wealthy merchant might have lived.

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The modern graffiti style art work grabbed your eye as you moved from one historic site to another…………

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2,000 years ago the Romans had underfloor heating……………now we are just considering it for our new house!

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This is the decoration on one of the walls from in a building which forms part of the Roman Forum.  In this area you can stroll along the ancient pavements of Carthage Nova and see many buildings from the thermal bath houses to the shrine of Serapis.

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This area gradually fell into disrepair and got buried over the years.  It was rediscovered during fairly recent building works and is now a national monument which attracts many visitors every year.

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The jewel in the crown as far as I was concerned was the Roman amphitheatre.  This huge building still maintains the level of grandeur from the days when it was built, and you can only wonder at what it must have been like before it fell into neglect and became the site of a local market!

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The wings of the theatre are still there where the actors would wait for their moment of glory……….comedies were the most popular shows of the day!

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From the top of the theatre you get a great view over the city!

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This is the stage that has displayed the talents of many famous actors and singers………the hills are alive with the sound of……………….

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A Villa Full Of Heards

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We have finally got to meet all the rest of K&Vs family.  We had met Matt and Emma and the girls quite a few times before over the last few years, and we have heard lots and lots about the family, but this was the first time we were able to meet. The grandchildren were as lovely as they had been described by their doting grandparents, as were their daughters-in-law and I thought Owen and Phillip were as charming as they had been described by their mum and dad!

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The family had all got together near Granada for half term in a villa rented out by K&V. It was great to see all the cousins getting on so well and enjoying all the wonderful facilities that this large villa had to offer. The kids were in the pool much of the time, but I only managed about 2 lengths as the water was soooooo cold!

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I think the trick here was to for Manon to jump over the net that Inigo was holding and to dive through the rubber ring that Bryn is pointing to……………….

Meanwhile Ezuo was content crushing the shells of the almonds he had got from the tree in the garden, and eating the contents!

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He wanted to wash them down with a sip of Kev’s beer………but Kev was having none of that!

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Phillip and Gabby took time to savour the stunning views from the balcony as the sun was setting.

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The villa was perched high in the hills and the view over Granada was breathtaking!

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It was great entertainment just to watch the sun go down……………

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With a glass of wine of course.

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Isla Plana

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Friday 2nd November 2018

The next few blogs might be out of chronological order as for some strange reason some photographs are taking longer than others to download, I think its all to do with which camera I have used and what quality level they have been set at!  These photos were taken last Friday when Jane and I went for a late afternoon stroll to find a few Geocaches.

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The early evening light with the sun struggling to break through the clouds was ideal for a few snaps.

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There is a beautiful picture to the right-hand side of these people but they are so engrossed in their phones they are missing it!

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I have not adjusted the colours of these photos at all, they are just as nature intended !

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I have saved the best shot until last………..I think it’s the socks that give it that certain gravitas!

 

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Granada the Old City

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Saturday 20th October 2018

Hooray K&V are here and with their car…… it has only taken more than 2 weeks to get it fixed! They have made it to Granada in time to meet the rest of their family later in the day. Their plan is to leave the caravan here with us whilst they spend the half term week in a rented villa with their sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren.

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We had visited Granada on our first long trip to Spain, at the beginning of our adventure last year.  On that visit we managed to get tickets for the Alhambra and fully enjoyed its beautiful buildings and stunning gardens. This time we had a chance to explore a little further afield and walk down some of the narrow cobbled streets, trying to avoid the many gift shops……..

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When the sunshine bounces of the white-washed walls  and lights up the purple bougainvillea it is hard to think that it’s the end of October and getting cold at home!

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Although we were dressed in shorts and T-shirts the locals were finding it a little chilly and most of them had their long trousers and jumpers on  Many were even wearing coats and scarves!

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Occasionally the narrow streets opened up to a balcony from where you could get a great view of the modern city below.

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And of course the majestic Alhambra dominated the skyline on the opposite hill!

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These peaceful little garden balconies were a great place to sit and catch your breath……

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And to take in your surroundings …………

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We had started this trip into the city from the Albaicin Quarter and made our way to the Mirador de San Nicolás so we could enjoy all the views as we walked down into the old part of the city………

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The only problem with walking all that way down was eventually we were going to have to walk back up again!

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Well anyhow that would be for us to worry about later…….we found this lovely square and decided to try a set menu of mixed tapas for 2.  This always works out alright for me as Jane doesn’t have a big appetite and I always end up with slightly over half of the meal! Our favourite dish was the black rice with squid.

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Whilst we we wandering around the back streets Jane noticed a Turkish baths that she had been reading about so it seemed like a great idea to book up a visit. Jane decided not to go but encouraged me to try it out. It was brilliant, steam rooms, hot water baths, plunge pools, warm water pools, tepid water pools, hot stones, followed by a traditional Turkish massage. After all that I was good for nothing apart from sleeping!

There is far more to Granada than just the Alhambra.  This is a great city to spend a long weekend exploring, try it, you won’t be disappointed!

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