Tag Archives: Spain

Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción, Málaga

As most of you already know hubby and I took another trip to Spain at the end of August and through the first week of September. I’ve created a couple of posts already so feel free to check out my intro post as well as my summary of the food we had.  This post is all about that glorious Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción in Málaga.

I learned of the Jardín Botánico through TripAdvisor and after reading about it, I knew I had to make the trip to see it. In our previous trips to Málaga we had not ventured outside of the historic center.  We wanted to see more than just the sites in the city center so I learned about bus passes and the Jardín was one of the places we ventured to.  The nice gal at the tourist office confirmed which bus we needed and where to pick it up.  We had about a mile hike from where the bus let us off but we didn’t mind although it was pretty hot that day. It was nice to walk through different neighborhoods of the city.

The Jardín Botánico was acquired by the city of Málaga in 1990 and were created in about 1855 by the Marquis of Casa Loring. In 1911 the gardens were purchased and extended by the Echevarría-Echevarrieta family and display a beautiful open-air collection of tropical and subtropical flora. The plant species come from Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. In 1943 they were officially declared a historical-artistic garden and are currently declared as being Bien de Interés Cultural, a place of cultural interest. In 1994 the city opened it to the public and it’s been enjoyed by many since then.

Although it was hot the day we were there, we found refuge in the many shaded areas as well as benches to rest upon. We were given a map at the entrance and we wandered around and saw most of the gardens. The one exception to the shaded areas was their huge display of cactus plants. We were both so enthralled by the many varieties of cacti we almost didn’t notice the sun beating down on us.  My first gallery consists of the cactus plants. This is a combination of both mine and hubby’s photos. Take a look. I think you’ll be impressed!

The next gallery is a combination of the other areas of the gardens that we explored. By the time we got to the Palm Collection we were too tired to walk down there but we both got a photo of the entrance.

On our way out we noticed a beautiful tiled picture of the gardens that I’m including here. If you’re visiting Málaga, I hope you’ll take the time to tour this beautiful place.  It’s not just for gardeners as hubby really enjoyed it and I’m the gardener in the family.  Here’s the link  to their website for more information.  Stay tuned for future posts of our trip to Spain.  Enjoy!!

 

 

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The food in Spain

Or I should say, the food that we enjoyed in Spain this trip. If you missed my intro post about our trip to Spain, you can check it out here.  For this post I thought I’d talk about the food on this trip.

We landed bright and early in Málaga, even before the sunrise, on a Friday morning. I thought that we might be able to sleep on the plane, then we’d be ready to explore Málaga a bit before being able to check into our room. Oh that was not to be and we had four hours to kill before we could finally relax. I think no more early morning arrivals for this gal.

I had a few things jotted down that we could do that morning and the times those things opened. As we deposited our bags at the hotel, the receptionist giggled a little when I asked if Casa Aranda was open. That’s our favorite churros place and we were hoping to get a table on the patio. He thought maybe but it was so early!! Like I didn’t know that, heh. We did wander over to Casa Aranda and by now it was about 7:15 and they were just setting up the patio. They guided us to a table inside and we sat there until the patio was set up. I wasn’t really hungry as they fed us something on the plane before we landed. So we each had a coffee (and the two churros that the waiter comped us!) and moved on to wait for the tourist office to open at 9:00. It was nice to sit on the plaza and people watch. It was a pleasant 75 degrees with lots of people on scooters, some runners and many birds chirping and flying around.

Finally the travel office opened and I asked all my questions about bus routes for the things we wanted to see outside of the city center. The nice gal wrote all over a tourist map showing where the bus stops were. Hubby bought some post cards and we moved on again.

Then El Corte Inglés (Spain’s biggest department store) didn’t open until 10:00 so we stopped at La Canasta for refreshment. I had my first fresh squeezed orange juice of the trip. Oh my!! You have not tasted OJ unless you’ve had this fresh squeezed stuff. I had it every. single. day. Or close to it anyway. So delicious!! I had a warm croissant with homemade strawberry jam that was also delicious.

Some eating adventures in Málaga were not as good as we had hoped. We went back to one place we had gone to in 2016 but it was not nearly as good so that was too bad. So, no photos of that food, sorry.  There was another one in Plaza de la Merced. We got the sampler tapas deal which really wasn’t that great either. I’m now having trouble remembering what all the five tapas were. We did stop at El Pimpi after climbing around at Gibralfaro then walking down the hill back to town. We had their shrimp pil pil and it was delicious. Forgot to take a photo!

We did have a great meal at Matiz, the restaurant attached to our hotel in Málaga, Molina Lario.  Alas, I only have one  photo from that evening and it was the olives and bread we enjoyed before the meal. One evening we were being particularly picky I guess because it took us over 30 minutes to settle on a place to eat. We were called in by a waitress. Many waiters in Málaga will stand on the patio looking for customers when it’s not busy and try to get you to eat at their restaurant. And so this gal spoke to us in English and we looked at the menu. Oh good, they’ve got boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar) so this place is okay. This is one of hubby’s favorite things in Spain. And they had the shrimp that he wanted. Cold shrimp that you have to peel. Not my favorite but they were good, once you got the shell off. They had a really good ensalada mixta(mixed salad) so I was happy too. We shared everything and really enjoyed that meal. The waitress spoke about four languages, or was it five? She was Italian but knew English and Spanish and I heard her speaking French to the customers at the next table. When we told her we were Americans she said she’d love to visit America but she won’t because of our so-called president. She also said she likes Americans better than the British.

Yes, back to the food.

We tried different breakfasts this time. I really liked the croissants with ham and cheese. I probably had that the most for breakfast. We ate at Lepanto, a famous pastry and sweet shop in Málaga that also has a full menu.  Loved their croissant sandwiches. We had a tortilla espanola one morning. It was a plate with two pieces so was perfect for the two of us. We also partook of the fabulous breakfast buffet at our hotel in Madrid. Did I not take photos of that either? Well, here’s the sad tale. I travelled with sore shoulders this time. I had good and bad days so I guess this affected my photo taking. I did manage to get some food photos that I’m including in the gallery below. I’m also going to include some of hubby’s photos to fill in the gaps.  I included photos of our two favorite churros places in my previous post and I’ll include them again in this gallery. They are Casa Aranda in Málaga and San Ginés in Madrid.  And of course we had fresh squeezed orange juice at both too. Oh, yum!!

Some other nice meals included a meal of tapas at Nacalú, across the street from our hotel in Málaga. We kept seeing the place fill up in the evenings and decided it must be good and it was!  We got a sampler of tapas along with our ticket to the flameco show that we saw in Málaga.  The flamenco was at Cal Y Canto and the food came from the adjoining restaurant, El Gallo Ronco. We talked about going back for another meal but we didn’t make it. I read that the cafe in the Jardín Botanico was good and since I was hungry after exploring that glorious place, I decided to try it out. Score!! I had their spinach quiche accompanied by a mixed salad with the most tasty citrus-flavored dressing. Oh my!! One last meal in Málaga was at Quitapenas on the marina. Seafood and another ensalada mixta.  See a pattern here?

We had the same meal that we had three  years ago at Café Varela, the restaurant attached to our hotel in Madrid, Hotel Preciados. They have the best paella and ensalada mixta that I’ve ever had.  I managed to get my favorite tortilla española at El Brillante in Madrid. When I ordered it the waiter asked me if I wanted a whole tortilla española.  Oh no! I only wanted one piece.  Oh “pincho” he said.  Ah yes, I forgot that part.  Oops! Delicious and as perfect as I remembered it.  We wandered around central Madrid on our last day and then began searching for a place to eat. We stood outside El Botín for a long while because I hadn’t had any lamb yet on this trip. And Botín’s lamb is fantastic!  We hemmed and hawed and decided to try something different instead of somewhere we had been before. That and I didn’t want another high priced meal. So we ended up down the street at Mirador del Arco de Cuchilleros. Since their patio was full, a good sign that it’s a good place, we ate inside which was very pleasant. Nice waitress and good service. We had another meal of tapas including boquerones en vinagre, croquetas de jamón, acetunas and chuletitas de cordero (anchovies in vinegar, ham croquetas, olives and lamb chops). Everything was delicious!  They even gave us a little salad of tomatoes and cucumbers as a free appetizer.

I hope you’ll enjoy the following gallery of the food that I did manage to photograph. And stay tuned for more posts about our trip to Spain.

 

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Spain, revisited

We just returned from many adventures in Spain and I’d love to tell you all about them! We spent six nights in Málaga then three nights in Madrid.  It was magical and frustrating and beautiful and all of these things.  This was our fourth trip to Málaga and we got to explore the city further and visit new places like the automobile museum and the Jardín Botánico and we finally got to Gibralfaro, the castle at the top of the hill above the alcazaba.

It was sunny and in the mid to upper 80s every. single. day.  Hubby was in heaven, it was a tad too hot for me. But you put your hair up and just make sure you’re hydrated and take lots of refresco breaks. Because of the heat we did not go to the Alcazaba as planned and ended up paying for it but not using the ticket. We took the bus to Gibralfaro then walked down and we thought it was the trail that lets you into the alcazaba. Nope. By then we’d already climbed in the heat and we’d have had to climb up into the alcazaba. No. Time for a refresco at Pimpi. That’s the huge restaurant right next to the teatro romano. They have a nice patio and after climbing around up at the castle, the timing was good and we sat right down, ah……

We had a variety of meals and tried different breakfast items this time and made time for two of our favorite churros places.  Of course we had tapas many times and several boquerones en vinagre as that is hubby’s favorite. I tried several ensaladas mixtas (mixed salad) and my favorite, hands down, is Cafe Varela’s in Madrid. We saw a fantastic flamenco show in Málaga and it included a sampler of tapas and the food was great!! So was the flamenco. I’m so glad we did that.

We saw lots of art.  We love art. I read about and saw photos of urban art in the Lagunillas area of Málaga, to the east of Plaza de la Merced. Not the best neighborhood but they didn’t seem to mind us taking photos of the art. We naturally went to the Picasso museum in Málaga. We always go there. We love that museum! We also went to the Pompidou in Málaga, then the Reina Sofia and the Prado in Madrid. Lots of art!!

We were celebrating hubby’s retirement with this trip and we wanted to see if we could tell if we’d like living in Málaga. I do still love the city but I am no longer sure that I want to retire here.  We are rethinking our retirement plans and perhaps we spend 3 months in Málaga each year then do something else the rest of the year.  We’re able to stay for 90 days with our passports whereas if we retired there we’d have a lengthy retirement visa process. So, more to think about.

I’m going to create other posts of our trip but for now, I thought I’d share some highlights of our 10 day adventure in Spain. Be on the lookout for some more posts about España!

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Málaga, España

Hello out there! I have been neglecting my little blog and I have missed it greatly.  We had a busy summer and the blog posts are stacking up in my head so it’s time to get them out there finally.  Summer is a usually busy time anyway because you have to squeeze all the fun outdoor things in before winter comes.  But this year we had new music camps, a family reunion and an unexpected trip to attend the wedding of my brother and his partner of 22 years, whew!  Now that school has started again and fall is here, it’s time to get back to one of my favorite things, creating blog posts.  I hope you all will keep coming back :)

I had been creating a post a week about our trip to Spain earlier this year and I had at least one more that I didn’t create.  This one is about Málaga, the city we still think we want to retire to.  We started our trip in this charming coastal town in southern Spain.  We viewed a beautiful sunset as our plane descended and then spent the next four days holding our noses as we passed piles of trash all over the place.  I noticed the piles from our taxi as we drove into town.  We managed to be in Málaga during a trash workers strike! Hmmmm…..our timing was perfect eh?  Well it will certainly be something I’ll never forget!  We tried to not let it bother us but one pile was just steps away from our hotel and you’ll see a photo of it below.

We did so many fun things, some of which I blogged about earlier this year.  We paid another visit to the Picasso museum, toured the Alcazaba, spent an afternoon with a blogger friend who showed us cool street art, ate fabulous food and drank the sweet wines of Málaga.  If you missed either of my previous posts about Málaga, do click on the links and check them out.  I think you’ll enjoy them.

One day it rained a little and we decided to spend that time at the Centre Pompidou.  The city of Málaga signed a 5 year agreement with France’s Centre Pompidou to use its name and display pieces from its collection. These works of art date from 1905 forward.  In searching for a bit of information I found this article that gives more details about this lovely museum. The Pompidou allows photos so I’ve created a gallery of those.

I hope you’ll enjoy these photos from Málaga, including the photo at the top of the page.  This was taken from the roof of our wonderful hotel, Molina Lario, which I highly recommend. Málaga is still at the top of our list of places to retire.  A ver lo que pasa (we’ll see what happens)!!

And a few from the Pompidou museum:

If you’d like to see more of the artworks, check out their official website. I will definitely be returning when I’m next in Málaga. Here’s one last photo of the cube and the beautiful skies of one of my favorite cities in Spain:

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We love Barcelona!

The 4th of July holiday weekend has past and I have no more excuses for not creating another post from our trip to Spain this past March.  This time it’s all about Barcelona, a magical, beautiful city.

We had such fun in Barcelona.  We felt welcomed from the moment we arrived at the train station with a “Welcome to Barcelona!!” from a gentleman who heard us speaking English. And we chatted with him on the way to our respective taxis.  The taxi driver was jovial and talkative which had not been the norm this trip so that was nice too.  There were other friendly people as well.  The gal who heard us speaking English and commented about the view atop Las Arenas and the Bolivian waitress at our breakfast spot near our hotel(that had great tortilla española). She knew we were foreign and after asking where we were from commented on how well I spoke Spanish.  I loved her!! We had a couple of unpleasant experiences too but overall we thought the people were wonderful.  Fun waiters, one in particular suggested his favorite from that menu and it was great!  Fried potatoes with an over easy egg. Yum, yum!!

We went to the Picasso Museum, Palau de la Múscia Catalana and Sagrada Familia. I created separate posts for the Palau and Sagrada Familia so do check those out for more wonderful photos.  We ate fabulous food and generally had a great time in this amazing city.  The weather wasn’t the greatest but we didn’t let it deter us too much.  One night it was raining so we took advantage of our hotel’s “social hour”, from 5 to 7 p.m. They offered various teas, coffee and sweets to their guests.  There were a few places to sit near the treat table and we chose the one with the backgammon set and proceeded to teach Miss M backgammon.  She then proceeded to beat us both!  Beginner’s luck?  Definitely a different way to spend a couple of hours on vacation.

This post will be photo heavy with a few stories.  So with that I’ll start off with photos from our first day.  We got to Barcelona around noon and after checking into our hotel we headed off to Las Arenas, the bullring turned shopping mall.  Bullfighting has been banned in Barcelona so what a wonderful use for this structure.  We learned that there are fabulous views from atop Las Arenas so of course we headed up there. We shopped a little then had dinner at Pura Brasa which was excellent!

Next some photos in and around the Picasso Museum.  If you’re a Picasso fan then you must go to this museum! It’s the largest collection of his earlier works than anywhere else I believe.  It is fascinating to see his style from his early years.  This museum also houses the Las Meninas paintings.  I especially liked those as Las Meninas by Velazquez was a painting I studied at the Prado when I was a student in Madrid. The structure the artworks are in is also a museum.  It’s three old palaces combined to create a space for Picasso’s art. Very cool place!   This was our second visit and I’m certain we’ll go again.  One of my favorite museums, hands down. And this visit was completely different than our first.  In 2010 we happened to get there during the free hours which are typically very crowded.  We waited in line for about 30 minutes and chatted with some people from New Jersey also in line. And it was hard to see many paintings as it was just so crowded.  This time we got tickets ahead of time and arrived when it opened.  There were many times we had rooms completely to ourselves!  Pure bliss.  I definitely recommend getting tickets in advance.

Similar to my Sagrada Familia remake with Miss M and me, here are Miss M and hubby at the exact same spot in the courtyard of the Picasso Museum, 2010 and 2016:

We again visited the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar and gazed in awe of that amazing structure.  And oh, the stained glass!!  Check it out:

The remaining photos are from various days, more street scenes, some urban art, the Obama Gastropub? Yes, this pub caught my eye as we were looking for Casa Battlo.  Interesting name no?

I do have one amusing story to tell about the sandals I purchased on our last day in Barcelona.

I really wanted to buy a leather purse and/or leather sandals that were made in Spain.  I looked every chance I got and I finally found the sandals I was looking for on our last day of the trip in Barcelona.  Except that they weren’t made in Spain!  I had asked the clerk if they were made in Spain while I pointed to them in the display and she answered yes.  What made me wonder was that I could see the Italian words for “real leather” on the display sandal.  I told her my size and she had to go out of the store to get them.  I guess there is limited storage in that store? I tried them on and they were perfect!!  Cute and very comfy. She even commented (in Spanish) “they’re comfortable aren’t they?” and I agreed and then purchased them.  When I got back to the hotel and took them out of the bag I saw “made in Albania” on the box.  Made in Albania?!?!?!? That woman lied to me!!! I was so annoyed but later I thought it’s probably a good thing she did that because I’m not so sure I would have tried them on otherwise.  In the end I got the sandals I was looking for and I couldn’t be happier.  I’ve forgiven the clerk too.  I think she knew that I would love those shoes.

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Córdoba, España

Back to more posts about Spain!!  This one is about our day trip to Córdoba from Málaga, one of only a few nice weather days that we had on our trip.  It started out chilly but warmed nicely by midday.  We had tickets for a table for this train ride which was something new. When searching for these tickets, it was cheaper to buy four seats at a table than three regular seats.

It’s only about an hour train ride but it travels through very scenic countryside and pretty soon you’re in Córdoba.  Such a cute and very walkable little town with ancient buildings including the big draw, La Mezquita (the mosque).  We opted to take a taxi instead of walking to the Mezquita and the driver dropped us at the front door.  The moment you walk into the mosque you can smell how old it is.  What lies in front of you are row upon row of white and red arches, 856 of them! This humongous building has been through many transformations, starting out as a church, then it became a mosque and in the 16th century King Carlos V had a cathedral built in the middle of the mosque!  It is the strangest building I’ve even seen. The king himself did not like the way the cathedral turned out and famously said “they have taken something unique in all the world and destroyed it to build something you can find in any city”.  I hope you will enjoy this gallery of the inside of the mezquita/catedral:

Afterwards we strolled along the streets near the Mezquita to view one of three remaining Jewish synagogues in Spain, the other two are in Toledo.  It is so tiny that it’s hard to imagine people worshipped in there.  We made our way to Plaza de las Tendillas where we had lunch and visited some shops.  We wandered around some more and soon it was time to catch our train back to Málaga.

I will leave you with one of my favorite photos from the trip, taken from the train on our way back to Málaga:

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Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona

Back to Spain!! I still have a few more tales to tell from our trip in March.  This week is all about the wonderful Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona.  I learned of the famous and gorgeous stained glass skylight prior to our first trip to Barcelona six years ago, alas, I did not know that you could not view it on your own.  The skylight is the ceiling of the main concert hall and I wanted to be sure to see it this time.  Our choices were to get tickets to see a performance or to take the guided tour.  We were in Barcelona four nights but there wasn’t anything intriguing in the line-up on those days so we opted for the tour.  I’m so glad that we did as it was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  Barcelona is full of architectural wonders and this one is not to be missed.  One thing I learned since our last trip to Spain is to get tickets in advance.  There are many sites with tours that sell out days ahead of time and the Palau is one of them.  I heard an unfortunate exchange between a Palau employee and tourists inquiring about tours that afternoon, unfortunate because all the tours were booked.

From the moment we arrived at the Palau I was struck yet again by the beauty of the structure.  The building is covered in ornate tile-work and sculptures and is a sight to behold.  It’s truly one of a kind on that block.

The tour starts underneath the concert hall’s stage where the choir rehearses and a short video is shown.  I don’t remember too much about it but it included several artists who talked about performing there.  I was also a little distracted by a mother and son we met in line before starting our tour.  They were from Boston and were going to Madrid the next day.  We got to chatting and the mother was asking our opinion about which art museum they should visit as they had limited time in Madrid. Another question was whether to go to Toledo or Córdoba as a day trip from Madrid.  A tough choice to be sure! But, I suggested Toledo as it’s much closer to Madrid and they would have more time to view the sites.  I wonder if they took my advice.

After the video we climbed the stairs up to the main concert hall.  WOW!!  It was so much better than I expected it to be!  Beauty surrounds you and seeing the stained glass skylight in person was well worth the price of the tour.  I took many photos of it to ensure I’d get at least one good one.

The Palau was built between 1905 and 1908 by the architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner for the Orfeó Català, the Catalan choral group.  There are many musical themes throughout the hall.  A choir of 40 women surrounds the sun in the stained glass skylight.  There are also 18 muses on the stage and each are carrying a different musical instrument.  Miss M noticed something unusual about the violinist and I noticed that the flute player was holding the instrument backwards.  Or at least according to how flutes are played now.  They are stunning nonetheless.  There are many flower motifs throughout, especially roses.  Everywhere you look there is beauty.  Well, see for yourself in the gallery below.

Now that you’ve seen photos of the Palau you can probably see why it was one of my favorite sites on this trip.  When you’re next in Barcelona, do make a point to see the concert hall.  I can just about guarantee that you’ll be dazzled!  Just like I was.  I’ll finish with one of my favorites of the skylight.  Enjoy!!

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